Greetings to all my Juniper Berry friends and family out there!
I love cooking with you and sharing my recipes with you all. Since we are heading into the fall, I wanted to introduce some of the first recipes I ever had the pleasure of making in the kitchen. Some of my earliest and favorite memories of childhood revolve around the time I spent upstairs with my grandmother! One of those amazingly flavorful yet incredibly simple breakfasts I would eat with her was Italian toast with butter, a soft-boiled egg with a dash of salt, and a cup of tea with milk and a sugar cube. As simplistic as it was is as delicious as it was!
I can still remember the excitement when grandma would pull out the large wooden board and her special rolling stick. This meant only one thing………WE WERE MAKING PASTA!!!
While I made many different types of pastas with her, I am going to focus on two that can be made without any special equipment. Without further ado:
Gnocci alla Grandma Served in a Herb Roasted Garlic Butter Sauce
Let us start with making our Gnocci. Here is what you will need:
• 2 Russet Potatoes (peeled and boiled in salted water.)
• 2 Cups AP (all purpose) Flour
• 1 Large Egg
Start by draining, cooling, and ricing or finely mashing your potatoes. (Ricing the potatoes will make them lighter and airier)
Next on your board incorporate the potato, flour, egg & potato. Mix and knead until you have a smooth ball. Cut your ball into 4 pieces and roll out into long logs. Cut into 1⁄2” pieces and once they are cut, roll a fork over the gnocci to create flavor grooves for your sauce to stick to! Once they are ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water up to a boil and cook on hi until they are plump and floating for 4-8 minutes. You will want to time the cooking so you can drain and add them to sauce right away.
Garlic, Herb, Butter Sauce
For this super simple and savory sauce, you will need to add extra virgin olive to a large saucepan, lightly toast 4-6 cloves of minced garlic. Once the garlic is lightly toasted, add 1 1⁄2 sticks of salted butter and melt down. Once the butter is melted, add one sprig of rosemary, 4 sage leaves, a pinch of dried oregano and 5 leaves of fresh chiffonade basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is ready, remove the sage and rosemary. Drain your gnocci and sauté them in the sauce vigorously. Serve hot and enjoy with a little aged, grated pecorino romano cheese.
Since these gnocci are so delicious and can be enjoyed in so many ways, here is another great yet simple way to serve these Italian dumplings.
Gnocci con Marinara e’ Burrata
Prepare your favorite marinara sauce, add your boiled gnocci and sauté vigorously. Add to a serving bowl while piping hot and add 2 balls of burrata cheese. Slice open the burrata and let it get warm. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, grated pecorino romano and fresh basil, serve and enjoy!
Next, we will be making Ravioli
Here is what you will need to make the dough:
• 2 Cups AP (all purpose) Flour
• 1⁄2 TSP Salt
• 2 TBSP Water
• 2 Large Fresh Eggs
• 1 TSP Olive Oil
What you will need for the filling:
• 12oz Fresh Ricotta Cheese
• 1 Large Fresh Egg
• 1⁄2 Pound Finely Chopped Fresh Mozzarella
• 1 TBSP Fresh Chopped Parsley
In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, eggs, and salt. Slowly start to incorporate the wet mixture into the flour. Mix into a smooth ball. If the dough is sticky, simply add small amounts of flour until it smooths out. Now you’ll want to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Now it is onto our filling. In a bowl, add the ricotta, egg, mozzarella, parsley, parmesan cheese and guanciale. Mix thoroughly and chill for up to 30 minutes in the fridge.
To make the ravioli, roll out the dough into thin sheets and cut them into top and bottom pieces. Take 1 TBSP of the ricotta mixture and space them out roughly 1” apart. Egg wash around the filling and place the top sheet of pasta on top.
Press the sheets of pasta together with your fingers well creating a tight seal. Cut the ravioli with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. Press the ends of each ravioli ensuring a tight seal.
Boil the ravioli in salted water for 5-10 minutes or until they are floating nicely. When it comes to ravioli, I love to serve them with Alfredo Sauce, Vodka Sauce or a simple yet delicious Filetto di Pomodoro Sauce.
• 1 Pound Guanciale (cut into small cubes and pan fry until crispy, drain well and let cool)
Let us make our dough. First on your board, make a mountain of flour and create a bowl or well in the middle. It should look like a little volcano.
1⁄2 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Happy cooking to you all,
I really hope you enjoy these simple yet special dishes!