Two Roads & A Recipe

Ricotta chive gnocchi with brown butter, lemon and chive sauce

Ricotta chive gnocchi with brown butter, lemon and chive sauce

Moving forward on this grief journey I am taking a bend in the road and celebrating my William and his favorite Robert Frost poem……..

Two roads...photo by William Keys

Two roads…photo by William Keys

…..with the concept of “two roads and a recipe”. If ever there was a book title that is it. I will be twisting up one recipe and featuring it in two ways. In addition, I hope to highlight what is growing in my garden path. While the poem may highlight looking back with regret these recipes will only have you sighing with satisfaction. Which sauce do you choose?

gnocchi with meat sauce

gnocchi with meat sauce

And while we are out in the garden lets pick some joyful moments to add to the menu. The more joy you add the better life tastes.

beautiful, fresh from the garden, chives

beautiful, fresh from the garden, chives

Caitlin and Sam are celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary next week. I wish them a long life of commitment to each other and no regrets. May they make each other better people every single day. Thanks for bringing such joy to our families. They love gnocchi and I love them, so from my heart to yours enjoy.

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

Ricotta Chive Gnocchi with Two Sauces

1 (15 oz) container part-skim ricotta

3 egg yolks

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons finely snipped chives

few grinds grated nutmeg

pinch white pepper

1¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting board

the dough

the dough

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and sprinkle with semolina flour. In a bowl, combine all ingredients adding just enough flour for dough to hold together. It will be a bit sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Cut dough into 6 portions. With floured hands and using just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, roll each dough piece into a rope about ½-inch thick. Cut the rope into ½-inch pieces. Roll each cut piece on the tines of a fork or a gnocchi board. Place on prepared baking sheet making sure gnocchi don’t touch each other. Cover and chill until ready to cook. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to a month. Cook gnocchi in boiling salted water for about 1 minute or until they are floating. Serve with lemon brown butter or bolognase sauce.

gnocchi board is made in Philadelphia by

gnocchi board is made in Philadelphia by

To make Lemon-Chive Brown Butter: melt 1 stick of unsalted butter over medium-low heat until it turns a toasty brown color, about 6 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of snipped chives and a pinch of salt and ground pepper. Add cooked gnocchi, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

To make Bolognese Sauce: In stock pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add ½ cup each diced onion, small dice carrot and chopped celery; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add 1 pound ground beef, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon and cooking until no longer pink. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and few grind of pepper. Add 1-cup dry white wine. Increase heat to high and continue cooking until wine has evaporated. Add ½ cup of milk; cook until mixture again appears dry. Add 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, on very low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Spoon over cooked gnocchi. Sprinkle with shards of parmesan cheese.

the ridges create places for the sauce to cling onto the dumplings

the ridges create places for the sauce to cling onto the dumplings

The Challenge & Lemon Cookies

lemon cookie

lemon cookies

If you are following this blog you are either grieving or mourning or both or know someone who is. What? Grieving and mourning aren’t they the same thing? In a nutshell, no they are not. Today’s challenge is to understand that grieving and mourning are different. They are two separate experiences. If you understand the distinction you can be a catalyst to healing. That’s a good thing.

heart

Let’s start with grief. Grief is an internal experience. It is one’s feelings about the loss. It is about natural reactions to pain and one’s private protest to the assault. It’s one’s wish to undo it and have it not be true. Grief is often accompanied by keeping a stiff upper lip. It’s not looking weak. It’s carrying on, but in a kind of isolation. The griever may look OK on the outside, but on the inside is a lonely turmoil.

Mourning, on the other hand, is grief gone public. It’s wading through the territory of loss and pain surrounded by supportive people. It is active work of recognizing the loss and how to change and adapt to it. Different people mourn in different ways, but essentially it is expressing your feelings or doing something outside yourself.

The truth is that many people grieve, but they don’t mourn. Take the challenge. Be active in your grief. Step outside yourself. Share your feelings and celebrate yourself and your loved one. And if you know someone who has suffered a loss encourage them to mourn and be the catalyst to healing. Take the challenge.

afghanistan

Recently, my neighbor asked if I was up for a challenge. Apparently, the local bakery refused to share their recipe for her favorite lemon cookie and she was having trouble trying to duplicate it. Always up for a challenge I got busy in the kitchen. Luckily, I already had my winning lemon cookie recipe from a Mrs. Field’s Cookie contest to use as a base. With a tweak here and there I came up with a pretty good replica—at least that is how my neighbor called it.

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mine on the left and bakery on the right

mine on the left and bakery on the right

Mine are more crispy and more lemony than the bakery version. Both are good.

Lemon Drop Cookies

 2-½ cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1-cup sugar

2 egg yolks

Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Heat oven 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon zest, juice and extract. Add dry ingredients; blend well. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 16 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Food For Thought What Not To Say

lemon thyme madelaines

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

Does your mouth ever work faster than your brain? The words cause “a stir”. Too late to take them back the inevitable pain and confusion is regrettable. It takes courage to own the wrong and recognize the only appropriate response: “I’m sorry”.
Addressing someone who is in mourning is always difficult. The right words are often hard to come by. The truth is there is nothing you can say to make the bereaved person feel better. When in doubt about what to say a simple, heartfelt, “I’m sorry” is all that’s needed along with the touch of a hand or a hug….make that a big bear hug, please!
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Here are a few examples of WHAT NOT TO SAY. These cliches can do more harm than good.
  • He’s in a better place   (nope–alive and well next to me is a much better place)
  • Heaven needed an angel  (nope–I need him/her here)
  • Be brave  (nope–I need to experience this pain if I am ever going to be normal again)
  • God has a plan  (nope–we had plans, too)

madeleine pan

Here is more food for thought. Madeleines. Don’t call them cookies. In certain company you will regret calling them that as they really are a little bite of heavenly buttery cake. They can be sweet or savory. Lemons are very inexpensive this time of year and a sure sign of spring. A staple in my kitchen, lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Fresh and tart it adds balance to any dish and wakes up your taste buds. Next time you want to comfort someone set out a plate of these lemon thyme madeleines. You won’t have to say a word.

madeleines

like a delicate bite of poundcake

Rosemary Thyme Madeleines

  • Servings: 3 to 4 dozen small or 2 dozen large
  • Print

½ cup cake flour*

¼ teaspoon salt (use fine sea salt or table salt not kosher salt)

1/8-teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Grated zest of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 375F. Spray the molds of a 12 to 20-piece madeleine pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, salt and cream of tartar; set aside. In food processor, pulse sugar, thyme and zest until uniform. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add sugar mixture; blend well. Add eggs and lemon juice: blend well. Add flour mixture; mix just until blended. Spoon batter into molds until even with rims. Tap pan a few times to level the batter. Bake 8 to 10 minutes for small madeleines (10 to 12 minutes for larger ones) or until edges are just golden brown and cakes feel firm when touched with the tip of your finger. Immediately invert madeleines on to a cooling rack. Cool pan before repeating with remaining batter. Cool madeleines completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

* To make cake flour: measure out ½ cup of all purpose flour then remove 1 tablespoon of flour from that half cup and return it to the flour sack. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your measured flour, whisk and presto you now have cake flour.