sweet potato gnocchi with a sage corn pancetta cream sauce

I’m going to admit this pasta dish rocks. I’m also going to admit I didn’t use anyone’s recipe it came together as I started to plan it.

I have written down both the recipe for the sauce and the pasta as best I can. I hope it comes together for you like it did for me.

I think the sauce is amazing and could easily be translated to a fettuccine or something.

The Creamy Pancetta Sage Sauce

  • • 4 ounces diced pancetta (Wegmans sells it)
  • • 4 tablespoons butter
  • • 2 small vidalia onions chopped
  • • 1 small red hot pepper diced (no seeds!)
  • • 2 ears of cooked corn off the cob
  • • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • • 1 pint light cream (2 cups)
  • • 2 tablespoons Wondra flour (super fine for sauces)
  • • 2/3 cup fine grated Parmesan
  • Melt the butter. Add the onion and the red pepper and some salt to taste. Add the corn. Chop fine the fresh sage and add that. Cook until the onion starts to get translucent.

    This should all be low to the bare minimum of medium heat. You don’t want anything to burn.

    Add the flour. Stir briskly in the pan so nothing sticks and the flour is absorbed.

    Add the wine. Stir briskly. Let that cook for a minute or two and add the light cream.

    Allow the sauce to come together and stir constantly until an even warm temperature. You want it to come to almost a boil but not a boil because you don’t want to scald the cream.

    Add the Parmesan cheese gradually till all incorporate it and let it cook on low a little while longer. Let it cook down, and it will cook down some and thicken a bit. It doesn’t get stand your spoon upright thick, but it thickens in consistency.

    Gnocchi

    The gnocchi are an approximation. I make my pasta by feel.

    • 1 1/2 cups of leftover mashed sweet potatoes.
    • 2 cups of semolina flour
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • A few dashes of extra-virgin olive oil

    Combine everything in a bowl and bring your dough together. After everything is evenly mixed place a damp cloth over the bowl that your dough is in and let it rest for an hour.

    Roll out between your hands thin “snakes” of dough and with a sharp knife cut even sized bite-size pieces.

    Your pasta should be laid out on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking pad. You should have enough for two layers of bite-size pieces and the layers should be separated with parchment paper and covered with parchment paper and a linen towel and put in your refrigerator until you are ready to cook your pasta.

    Fresh gnocchi only take a few scant minutes to cook in boiling water. They will rise to the surface as they cook.

    As you remove your gnocchi add a little bit of sauce in between and then finish with sauce on top.

    Mangia!

    summer sauce

    I made this yesterday and everyone keeps asking for the recipe. There isn’t one per se but here’s how it evolved:

    2 lbs of ground sausage sautéed in olive oil with 2 sweet onions, 6 mild/medium chili peppers, 2 long hot peppers, 5 cloves garlic minced, 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes from the garden halved, sea salt to taste.

    Next I added a huge handful each of fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a 10 ounce package of fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms chopped up.

    Cook on medium low and stir a lot until sausage is cooked through.

    Add two cans (28 ounce) of canned tomatoes- what I had on hand was crushed, add 1 small can of tomato paste (6 ounce size), and a good dash of red wine or red wine or balsamic vinegar.

    Reduce heat and allow to burble on the stove, stirring frequently for at least another hour. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed. I didn’t find it needed it.

    This is the kind of sauce that if I had fresh eggplant, that would have been peeled and chopped up and added as well.

    It’s not complicated and it’s easy to make your own homemade sauce. The chili peppers came out of the garden as well and the end result was a flavorful but NOT a spicy sauce. It just tastes fresh. It will be dinner later this week over spaghetti or some shape pasta. Serve with a salad and you are good to go.

    Easy summer dinner.

    Leftover sauce can be frozen.

    summer chili

    Yesterday since it was rainy, I decided to make chili. I was thinking about this chili that someone who was the father of a girl I knew growing up made.  It had corn in it.  I remember having it on a rainy August night in Avalon when I was in about 6th grade. These people used to rent this house that looked like a red Victorian farmhouse. It had a big, dark kitchen with a rickety wooden table.

    So yesterday I decided to make my own summer chili.  The ingredients:

    1 pound ground pork

    1 pound ground lean turkey

    4 chili peppers all chopped up (my were Hatch red and green that I grew myself)

    2 red bell peppers chopped up

    2 jalapeño peppers chopped up

    2 red onions chopped up

    1 small bag frozen corn (plain, no “sauce”) or fresh kernels off of 4 ears of fresh corn.

    1 lime zested and juice of same zested lime

    A good handful of cilantro chopped

    A handful of basil and oregano chopped

    4 garlic clothes minced

    2 large  carrots grated,

    1 28 ounce can of tomato purée

    1 28 ounce can of strained crushed  tomatoes,

    3 15 ounce cans of white beans – Cannellini ,Navy, Great Northern. ( I used 1 can of each type)

    1 15 ounce can red beans (Kidney or even Pinto)

    And lots of chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.

    First I sautéed the garlic and onion a few minutes in olive oil.  Then I added the peppers (all of them) and cooked everything down a few minutes more.  Then I added the carrots, ground pork, ground turkey and some salt.  As the pork and turkey started to look cooked through  I added the beans, and cooked that all together for a few minutes, then added the chili powder (I have no idea how much I added, I kept dumping).  After that I added the tomatoes, the zested lime and juice of one lemon followed by the fresh herbs and the last ingredient: the small bag of frozen corn.

    I then bought my pot to a simmer and it just simmered low and slow for probably a couple of hours.  I stirred every half hour or so, and remarkably nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan.

    I can tell you that my husband and son ate SO much of the chili that there was only two 1 quart bags for freezing and 1 quart container left over. I made this chili in my 8 quart Great Jones “Big Deal” pot, and it was 2/3 full as you can see from photo at bottom. As a related aside, I absolutely LOVE this pot and highly recommend the Great Jones company.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    cool old cookbooks

    Eastern Cookbook Waynesboro, PA – 1976. Stumbled across this today and it is like opening a culinary time capsule and totally fun!

    I have written about my love of vintage cookbooks before.

    Check out some of the recipes:

    I also found this cool Good Housekeeping cookbook and household hints book from the 1920’s.

    It’s so fun to go through these books. Cookbooks like this have all sorts of fun old recipes and tips you never see in modern cookbooks. I love these books around the holidays, especially.

    Pick up a vintage cookbook next time you see one. I guarantee you will find recipes or techniques you want to try.

    desserts from memory lane

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    A ladyfingers cake photo I found on the Internet

    I have been hunting through my recipe binder for my banana cake recipe.  What I found instead was this old recipe for…wait for it…. ladyfinger cake…

    I have zero idea where it came from, someone gave it to me ages (as in decades) ago.  Tiramasu is sort of a ladyfingers cake too isn’t it? And some Icebox cakes?

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    I went a Googling and found  additional recipes for ladyfinger cake:

    Tia Spring’s Lady Finger Cake

    Bittersweet Chocolate-Rum Icebox Cake

    Strawberry Ladyfinger Icebox Cake

    Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake

    There are actually a LOT of ladyfinger cake recipes.  I am guessing what is old is new again?

    Image result for chocolate lady finger cake

    Another photo of a ladyfinger cake found on the Internet….

    not your grandmother’s cucumber salad

    One of my favorite cucumber salads is made by Hu Nan Restaurant in Ardmore. It’s hot and sweet. They do a similar cabbage salad as well.

    I have never been able to exactly replicate their cucumber salad, but they have inspired my updating a summer staple.

    I take three English hothouse cucumbers and peel and slice them into thin rounds. These are the cucumbers considered “burpless”. If I don’t like the way they look at the grocery store, I will use regular cucumbers and peel and cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.

    When my cucumbers are all sliced I put them in a bowl and toss them with salt to taste and about 4 tablespoons of white sugar and set aside.

    Salt. I am in love with a locally made seasoning salt my husband found for me. It’s called Jake’s Prime Seasoning Salt. It’s a small batch salt from Wallingford, PA. You can order it on their website. It is the first seasoning salt that I think can give Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt a run for her money.

    Next I slice up thin one red onion and cut it into more bite size pieces. I add that to my bowl.

    Sometimes I add a chopped up red bell pepper to this, but never a green bell pepper.

    Following adding the red onion to the bowl, I add the fresh dill. I love dill and do not have a set pre-measured amount. I just chop up a healthy handful from my garden (if I have it and at present almost depleted thanks to the rain), or I buy a bunch at the grocery store.

    Next comes the “dressing”. I usually just eyeball it but will attempt to write it down:

    1/4 white wine vinegar (or half wine vinegar and half rice wine vinegar)

    2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil

    2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or Hatch green chile flakes

    I wisk the dressing together in a little bowl, pour it over the cucumbers and onions and dill in the larger bowl and mix it all up. Then I cover and refrigerate until it’s time for dinner (or lunch as it also makes a lovely luncheon salad.)

    Enjoy!

    snow day baking: applesauce cake

    Over the weekend I wrote about a little vintage recipe box with recipes in it that I bought. Another thing I bought was a vintage aluminum 9″ Mirro clampless side pin release spring form pan. (Model 1359 M if you are interested.)

    The pan looks like this:

    The little side pin just slides on and locks into place. The pin is an easy piece to lose, so the spring form pans I usually see around have a latch. I hadn’t seen one with a pin intact for years. Needless to say that made me psyched to find this pan, which was completely in round and in perfect working order.

    Yesterday in a fit of pre-snow domesticity that included a batch of chili for later this week, I decided to bake.

    In my little recipe box there is indeed a recipe for applesauce cake, but the one I am sharing is my own recipe that I use. My mother and grandmother used to make applesauce cake all of the time, so this was basically the recipe they used but I tweaked it to my liking.

    My mother and grandmother used to bake their applesauce cake and a 13″ x 9″ rectangular pan. I like the tube pan better for simple cakes like this. Besides, it looks prettier for the presentation of it all. (Yes, sometimes I have to let my inner Martha Stewart shine absurdly.)

    The vintage Fiestaware round platter in the photo I already owned. A few years ago I swapped out all of my “every day china” for vintage Fiestaware. I don’t know what it is about the dishes but they make me happy. Probably the colors.

    However like any other vintage plate, I never ever put it in the microwave. In the case of the Fiestaware it also has to do with the old glazes. (Check out this article from Smithsonian and The Spruce.) Old plates were designed pre-microwave and pre-dishwasher.

    My Fiestaware is fine in the dishwasher, although sometimes I just hand wash it. Other old plates I have like Limoge never, ever go in the microwave or dishwasher because of the glazes and the metallic gold leaf touches. But having to do a few dishes by hand never hurt anybody.

    However this post is not a primer on vintage dishes is it? It’s about the applesauce cake. (Yum)

    I will note that yesterday this cake took 50 to 55 minutes to bake. So once you hit the 45 minute mark you have to keep an eye on it depending on your oven.

    (And yesterday, shhhh don’t tell I didn’t have applesauce but I did have homemade apple butter I had made. And what is apple butter except more cooked down applesauce, right?)

    And here is your hack for flouring and greasing a pan. Depending on what kind of a cake it is sometimes instead of dusting with flour if it’s a chocolate cake for example, I will grease the pan and dust with unsweetened Cocoa. Or I will dust with almond meal otherwise known as ground almonds. But for a cake like this, I am just going to dust with flour but I prefer the flour you use when making a roux: Wondra.

    Wondra is super fine. That’s what makes it quick mixing for a roux or a gravy. That’s what makes it ideal in my opinion when you have to grease and flour a baking pan. I sometimes use it for dredging meat to brown for a stew.

    But again, sorry, I got off track. Here is the recipe:

    Applesauce Cake

    3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted but slightly cooled

    1 cup brown sugar

    1/2 cup white sugar

    2 eggs

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

    2 1/4 cups flour

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/2 teaspoon cardamom

    2 cups applesauce

    1/2 cup white raisins

    1 cup chopped walnuts

    Powdered sugar to dust cake when cool

    • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees

    • In a big bowl whisk white sugar, brown sugar and mix well.

    • Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.

    • Add to the creamed mixture salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, then the applesauce. Add the flour.

    • Finally fold in the raisins and walnuts.

    • Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then pop it out of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.