And why do we fall, Bruce?

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

My parents were pretty awesome, but I think the best gift they gave me was the confidence to try and fail. I’ve been playing in the kitchen since I can remember, mostly baking but really just making anything that struck my fancy. My mom had a bunch of cookbooks that I always enjoyed leafing through, and a big ziploc bag full of loose recipes. I was never afraid to pick out one of those recipes, change the things I didn’t think I’d like or add something I thought would improve it. I had a pretty decent success rate, and I learned good lessons from most of my failures.

Eventually I grew confident enough to just start randomly throwing ingredients together, and though I don’t do it often (because even though it’s playing, it’s still a lot of work, so if I did it all the time it wouldn’t be a treat anymore) it is truly one of my very favorite things in the world to do. I feel strong and powerful and knowledgeable…I feel much like I imagine a wizard would: I can make magic in my kitchen, but there’s always the chance that I’ll (hopefully only figuratively) blow the whole thing to smithereens, too.

Tastes better than it looks, I swear.

Last week, the mood struck me. I wanted to cook, and I didn’t want to make the same old thing, or even a new variation on a known recipe. I wanted to play. I had some ingredients in mind: chicken, bacon, and cheese (go ahead, show me your surprised face), but had no idea what I wanted to do with them. I was thinking maybe pound out the chicken and then just wrap the bacon and cheese inside. Tasty, but a bit boring.

Then I came across this recipe for a ricotta-based gnocchi that the OP had sauteed to give it a quick crisp, and it sounded pretty tasty, except I don’t like salt and pepper so I decided to substitute basil, which I like very much. I also ended up changing the second cheese in the gnocchi from parmesan to asiago to get a little stronger flavor, which worked very well, and it was super fun to make. It’s definitely a keeper as-is (though my timing got a little frazzled at the end and I didn’t have a chance to crisp it like the OP —  I’ll give that a try next time).

I decided I’d chuck the bacon and just do the chicken and gnocchi with maybe some butter and parm on top. Then when I was at the store to pick up the ingredients for the forthcoming feast, I spotted raspberries on sale. Serious sale. Like super crazy cheap. I had a Eureka! moment in which I knew that there would be a raspberry bacon sauce to go over the gnocchi and chicken. Perfect.

Except not so much. I’m going to call this one an 85% success. All of the parts worked, but they just weren’t right together, so I’m going to split the recipes and give them to you separately. The biggest problem was that the raspberry flavor was just overpowering (and also as a minor issue gave everything a kind of weird pink color). I think if I toned it down with a little cream it would actually be pretty great in a savory dish like this, but as is it would be a perfect topper for waffles, pancakes, or ice cream.

The chicken I just sauteed, and I don’t think it was at all necessary to the final dish, so I’m not going to include lengthy instructions here. Basically, if you want chicken along with your gnocchi, cube it up and saute it until it’s cooked through.

Recipe – Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 2c. low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2c. asiago cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2Tbsp. basil (Note: I recommend you use freshly chopped or freeze dried if possible)
  • 1 1/4c. flour
  • 4qts water

Bring water to a boil. Combine both cheeses, the eggs, and the basil. Mix until thoroughly combined, then slowly add flour until dough is soft and still a little sticky. Grab a handful of dough and roll into a rope about 1″ thick. Pinch off pieces of the rope to create pillows about 1″ square. Place on parchment or silpat until you have about half the dough ready to go, then place in pot. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until dough floats to surface. Remove cooked gnocchi from boiling water with a slotted spoon. While the first batch is boiling, create a second batch in the same way and proceed to boil them after removing the first batch from the water.

Recipe – Raspberry Bacon Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2qt. fresh raspberries
  • 3Tbsp butter
  • 1Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and diced (Note: if you dice the bacon raw just by cutting across the slices then cook it, you’ll save yourself a lot of burned fingers.)

Using a potato masher or fork, slightly mascerate berries and let sit at room temperature for about an hour. Melt butter in 3qt saucepan. Add berries, soy sauce, and vinegar. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Let sauce remain at a full boil for 1 minute, then reduce to a simmer for 10-20 minutes. Sauce should be reduced and thickened. Toss bacon in sauce and serve.

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