Monthly Archives: November 2014
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is something that on the surface would seem more appropriate for an Italian cookbook. Storzapretis are, in fact, Corsican, and the recipe comes from one of Dorie’s friends in Paris who shared her Corsican father’s recipe for these ricotta dumplings.
The alternate name for this recipe is “Corsican Spinach and Mint Gnocchi“, though I found it to be closer to gnudi. Some fingerwork on the internet uncovered the difference between gnocchi and gnudi to be the amount of flour. Gnudi uses very little flour, which was true for storzapretis too. I made gnocchi last year, and the shaping was different too. With the gnocchi, long rolls were cut into the smaller gnocchi, where the storzapretis are formed by making quenelles between two spoons.
Storzapretis are made from a mostly flourless mixture of ricotta, spinach, egg, Gruyère, and fresh herbs. From its alias, I assume the recipe originally used mint, but I love the floral undertones of marjoram (an annual form of oregano) so given the choice in the recipe, I picked marjoram.
After shaping the dough into quenelles and tossed in flour, they are frozen to firm up, then cooked in a pot of the gentlest simmer of water. The way the dumplings sank to the bottom of the pot, then floated up to finish cooking reminded me of making matzo balls, my favorite kind of soup dumplings.
The storzapretis resemble the insides of ravioli, which might be the origin of the name gnudi, which means naked, like ravioli filling without its wrapper.
Finally, the dumplings are laid out in a baking dish, covered with marinara sauce, sprinkled with more Gruyère (the French touch) and baked until it’s heated through and the cheese is melting.
I enjoyed discovered something completely different. I didn’t realize how much work it would be to shape the dough though. I didn’t eat dinner until 8:30 pm, much later than intended. I liked it, but I’m not sure I’d take the time to make storzapretis again. I’m hoping leftovers taste OK because we’re having it again for dinner tonight.
I don’t have any pictures to share, but on Wednesday night, I braved the frigid cold to attend Dorie’s book signing for Baking Chez Moi at the Harvard Book Store. It was so nice to see her again. She is so down-to-earth and genuine. She shared stories about life in Paris for nearly an hour and then entertained a few questions before signing books. When it was my turn, she came out from behind the table to give me a hug and kiss, then signed both the copy of Baking Chez Moi I purchased that evening PLUS my well-used copy of Around My French Table. I’m hoping to occasionally jump on the Tuesdays with Dorie bandwagon to bake from the new book, but I won’t be fully committed.
For my American Dorista friends, because we won’t meet again until next Friday, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving along with safe travels if you’ll be away from home. I give thanks for the many friends I’ve made on this cyber-culinary journey!
Before I started cooking with French Fridays with Dorie, eating duck was reserved for restaurant dining. If duck was on the menu, it was often my first choice of what to order. Admittedly, it’s the sides that are usually served with duck that help suck me in: lentils, roasted root vegetables, pan-fried potatoes… One of my favorite takeaways from this cooking group is learning to sear duck breasts in my own kitchen. I have the added good fortune that the grocery store closest to my house usually has a few duck breasts and legs in the meat case, though I’ve taken to keeping a few duck breasts in the freezer for impulse cooking.
The third and final duck breast recipe in Around My French Table is Duck Breasts with Kumquats, which is a sort of deconstructed,simpler version of duck à l’orange. All of the recipes are based on the same technique of searing the duck breast and letting it finish cooking while it rests in a warm oven, each with a different sauce. The sauce this week was a citrusy red wine reduction sauce. From past experience, I knew that using a saucepan to reduce lots of liquid takes way too long, so I used a wide low sauté pan, which worked really well. In the end, the sauce was satisfactory, but not that memorable. Actually, I didn’t enjoy the sauce from any of these recipes (the others were honey glazed and with peaches). I think I prefer the duck plain, but bring on those sides! (I have lots of leftover sauce. Any ideas on how it might be used?)
On the other hand, the garnish, candied citrus, was outstanding. It’s a little too early here for the called-for kumquats, but I found some tiny clementines to stand in. The sliced fruit simmer in a dilute simple syrup until they are tender, which happens in about 10 minutes. The house smelled great! And the candied slices tasted wonderful, even just tasting them on their own straight from the pot. I’m excited to add the syrup to a glass of seltzer for a refreshing beverage. Or even to spoon the fruit and syrup over vanilla ice cream.
I wasn’t organized enough for any restaurant-worthy sides, just some Israeli couscous, but it was still good. For anyone who wonders, Howard did eat it without the sliced fruit.
This morning was our first snow! It was a light dusting of wet snow, and it melted by noontime. No big nuisance, just a little reminder of what’s coming soon.
Today is also “Bella Day”, the 5th anniversary of our adoption of our furry monster. I still remember Howard and I walking her around the parking lot at the shelter in the pouring rain, a test drive of sorts. It was only six months after we’d lost our first dog Lily. When I asked whether he thought she was the one, he responded, “What would she have to do for us NOT to take her home?”. So we became family. She’s been a joy, full of personality, a mix of sweetness and stubbornness. From her chow heritage, she’s not especially cuddly, though she likes to hang out close by her people. We also count Bella Day as her birthday, so Happy 10th Birthday, Bella!