We celebrated my husband’s birthday last Sunday. The kids (our boys and their girlfriends) wanted to do an all day cook-a–thon again and my husband was delighted. As we did last year, we all made a different course while some of us created several dishes. Of course the food was great. With so much love and care going in to it, why wouldn’t it be! My boys are getting to be better cooks than me. And they correct me all the time on things. (I think I raised monsters.) But truly, the best part of this day, this party, is being all together, working in the kitchen and the banter that goes on. I LOVE it! My two courses were a pasta course and dessert. I made homemade gnocchi with a simple red sauce and pecan pie with whipped cream, which was Steve’s request.
Here’s a photo gallery of our afternoon and evening of celebration food.
And I really want to share this gnocchi recipe from Grace Parisi at Food and Wine magazine. This is the second time I have made this and it is so good and oh so very light. They came out like little delicate pillows. Two of the kids raced to the kitchen for seconds, of which there was little. This is really easy to make too. So give it a go and impress everyone. I served this with a simple red sauce with garlic, shallots and a couple of anchovies and garnished the dish with some fresh chopped chives. Basil or parsley would have been better but I already had some chives washed, dried and snipped so in they went. Serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese to grate fresh on top.
POTATO GNOCCHI – adapted from Grace Parisi at Food and Wine magazine – serves 6 as a first course
2 lbs. baking potatoes (about 4)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tbs. unsalted butter (optional) or a simple red sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°. Pierce the potatoes in 4 places with a fork. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until tender.
Halve the potatoes. Scoop the flesh into a ricer and rice the potatoes into a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the 1/2 cup of flour; stir until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough gently until smooth but slightly sticky.
Line a baking sheet or platter with wax paper and dust with flour. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 pieces, rolling each into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges; transfer to the baking sheet or platter.
In a large, deep pot of simmering salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer for 2 minutes longer. Make a simple red sauce in a skillet and using a slotted spoon, add the gnocchi. Fold to coat all of them in the sauce. Serve immediately garnished with chopped chives and pass Parmesan or Romano to freshly grate on top.
Alternatively, in a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Using a slotted spoon, add the gnocchi to the butter. Season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The uncooked gnocchi pieces can be frozen on the prepared baking sheet, then transferred to a re-sealable plastic bag and frozen for up to 1 month. Boil without defrosting.
TIP: Save the baked potato shells. You can top them with a little grated cheese and warm up them to make a great little hors d’oeuvres on another evening or I like to warm a half up in the morning and put an over-easy egg on top for breakfast – delicious!!