Homemade “Green” Gnocchi

I had a ton of arugula from a farm harvest that would take forever to finish if eaten as part of salad. I decided to make gnocchi with them. 🙂 You can imagine achieving same results with spinach.

Ingredients:

To make arugula puree
4-5 cups of fresh arugula leaves
1/2-3/4 cups of assorted nuts (I used walnuts, cashew and some almonds)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To make gnocchi
1 cup of arugula puree
1 egg
6 medium-sized potatoes (about 3 lbs)
Salt
1-3 cups of flour (depending on how wet the puree is, how big the eggs and the potatoes are, you need to add flour slowly and stop whenever the dough reach desired consistency)

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In a food processor, mix all the ingredients in the first part and blend until the mixture becomes puree. Scope out the puree and set aside. In a large pot, boil the potatoes in the pot for about 1 hour or more until the potatoes are soft enough to be easily mashed. Bring the cooked potatoes under icy cold water and peal the skins off. Note that you need to do this very fast and the potatoes still need to be warm when being formed into a dough. Use a towel help peel the skins. Add back the arugula puree and mix the mashed potatoes and the arugula puree well. In the food processor, mash the mixture until there is no visible potato lumps. Let the mixer cool in the food processor for about 20 min. The mixer should present a gooey consistency. In a bowl, beat the egg until the white and the yolk mix together.

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Transfer the potato puree mixture and the beaten egg and salt all to one large bowl for kneading. Add 1/2 cup of flour first and 1/4 cup in increment or preferably a pinch if you are patient. Knead the dough until it reaches the consistency where it is moist but not sticky, and somewhat dry. Knead gently after a ball is formed for a couple more minutes.

Cut the dough into a few smaller pieces and roll each piece out into a snake-shaped long tube. The tube should be about the thickness of your thumb. Use a knife to cut every 1/2 or 3/4 inch and dust with flour when putting away. If you want to curl the gnocchi, use a fork but otherwise they are great just the way they are right now. Put the made gnocchi in a freezer and freeze over night before ready to use. If you plan on eating them later, place them in a bag and keep them frozen. They will last at least a couple weeks in the freezer.

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They were fantastic, especially the color! Paired with homemade pork bolognese sauce, they will be the bomb! Thanks for checking in.

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Seafood Risotto featuring Lobster

I got two Lobster tails from Wholefoods from a deal when I purchased some ribeye steaks for Valentines’ day. With Arborio rice, chicken broth, and mushrooms in stock, I decided to make a seafood risotto featuring the lobster meat. 🙂

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Ingredients: yield 3-4 meals
1 – 1 1/4 cup of of Arborio rice
2 lobster tails
30-40 tails of wild shrimps, peeled
10 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/3 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
A handful of Italian parsley, minced
2 Tbsp of chives, chopped
2.5-3 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of half & half
1/3 of a butter stick (about 4-5 Tbsp)
3-4 Tbsp of coconut oil or duck fat or lard, divided
1/3 cup of cooking wine, divided
Salt and pepper

Steam the lobster tails for about 10-15 min until the shell turns bright red. Remove all the meat from the lobster tails and chop into small 1/2-inch cubic chunks. In a pot, put in the rest of the lobster shells and 2 cups of water and simmer. The lobster broth will be used later.

In a pot, warm the chicken broth over low heat. And turn the oven on at 150F.

Heat up about 1 Tbsp of oil in a pan. Throw in all the mushrooms on medium-high heat for 2-3 min until all the mushrooms are soft. Pour all the mushrooms and the liquid into an oven-safe container and keep the bowl in the oven while cooking the risotto.

Heat up another 1 Tbsp of oil in the pan. Throw in all the shrimps in the pan first. If the shrimps are already cooked like the lobster meat, you can throw them in together. Cook for about 3 min until the shrimps start to look opaque and the redness is more prominent. Add the lobster meat. Cook together for about 1 more minute and stir constantly to mix well. Pour in a 2 Tbsp of cooking wine and cook for another minute. Pour in all the half & half and cook for another 3 min and stir constantly. Set all the shrimps, lobster meat, and the liquid aside in the oven like the mushrooms for later use.

Heat up the rest of the oil in a skillet in medium heat. Add garlic, onion and shallot to the skillet and cook for about 1 min till when the onion and shallot start looking translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat every grain with the oil. When all the rice has taken on a golden coat, pour in the rest of the cooking wine and stir until all the wine is absorbed. Add a ladle of chicken broth and stir until all the broth is absorbed. Add chicken broth ladle after ladle once the liquid is mostly or all absorbed. Add a couple ladles of the lobster broth (about 1 cup, definitely no more than 1.5 cups) to the skillet and mix well. Add butter and stir until it all melts. This whole process takes about 20-25 min.

Turn the heat down a bit to medium-low or low heat. Add the bowl of mushrooms and the bowl of shrimp/lobster meat/half & half mixture back into the rice and stir well. When the whole bowl reaches a creamy consistency, add parsley and chives and stir to mix well. Then you can dish the risotto out and serve!

I really love the texture and the savory flavor of risotto, especially combing the umami of seafood and the earthy-ness of mushrooms. Oh my! That was such a satisfying meal! Thanks for checking in! 😛

Italian gem in a strip mall – Il Pastaio

I have been to Il Pastaio quite a few times and every time I went in a grumpy and annoyed mood mostly after work and I left a very happy person. That is how magical this little place is to me.

The location of Il Pastaio is by no means, a prime one — a pretty bad spot quite frankly. How can you expect to sell when you are out of peoples’ sight most of the time and stand right next to a giant grocery store, some laundromat, some fro-yo place, etc. all by a big gas station and absolutely nowhere near downtown Boulder?

But, on a Wednesday night, they will be booked up to 8:30pm and I had to make a reservation right before they close. Even when I remember to make a reservation for 7pm in advance, we still end up waiting for our seats for a good 20 min. That is how busy they are, which is incredible given their location.

They do not feature anything “fancy”, no buzz words like “farm to table”, “organic”, “non-GMO”. For how much they charge, my guess is it is probably not going to be packed with expensive, full-on organic ingredients. But, a good chef knows how to make most mundane ingredients just fabulously delicious and Il Pastaio has some great Italian cooking going. Plus, they make all the pastas in the house, making it taste all the better! I like organic food, don’t get me wrong. But in general, I just like food, GOOD FOOD, food that is made with care and love, no matter it is organic or not. I would take a well-prepared dish made without organic ingredients any day over any plain organic salad that speaks no character of the chef whatsoever. Saying that, I would eat at Il Pastaio whenever I can. 🙂

The most recent trip I had was like before, a fantastic one! For appetizer, we had their calamari salad. Not your usual fried calamari smothered in the batter. Very refresh and light.

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Husband had their gnocchi, which he really liked but deeply regretted that he did not order what I had. And I had their special of the night, a seafood stew, with a gracious portion of scallops, shrimps, calamari, mussels and some white fish meats. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good, oh my gosh, talking about some orgasmic, onolicious flavor!!! I remember last time I had their “Tilapia Mare Chiaro”, which totally blew me away! The guy knows how to cook seafood man!

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We had their tiramisu for dessert and enjoyed it tremendously as well. Their flan is also quite stellar from my past memory.

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During the meal, the owner/chef came over to greet us and we shared a little conversation about cooking and Italian food. The owner/chef grew up in Pisa and is deeply in love with the cuisine as anyone can tell. We had a blast that night. 🙂 Cannot wait to go back again or just go buy some of their house-made pasta products!

Thanks for checking in!

the Mediterranean scene – Dagabi Cucina

At Tuesday nights, Dagabi Cucina in North Boulder right by Lucky’s market serves tapas at happy hour prices all night. So, that means, we are not going to miss that one! Lol.

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This is a hidden gem serving Mediterranean food. We ordered a table full of food: bread with balsamic sauce, steamed mussels in tomato-chili broth, croquetas de pescado, sauteed button mushrooms, fried calamari, assorted cured meats, sauteed Venus clams, and Pizza Focaccia. Everything was very good, but not exceptional. A few broth and sauces were flavored really well as far as I recall. But definitely, value beyond price. For how much we paid for the dishes, it was a great deal. I have to admit, this might have to be put there among my all-time favorite happy hour to-go places.

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For dessert, we picked zabaglione, an Italian chilled custard. Think pudding if you are curious about the texture. It was really good. Not overly sweet, quite light, delightful!

Since both of us were completely stuffed after sharing all 8 tapas and 1 dessert, we are going to have to come back again for the proper food on the menu. We will have to come back again for seafood paellas!