Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter

Prep time – 90 minutes

Cook time – 30 minutes

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 large sweet potatoes

2 egg yolks (no whites)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

pinch pepper

roughly 1 cup of flour + 1/3 cup for your work surface (just sprinkle all over to avoid sticking)

 

Maple Cinnamon Brown Butter

1 stick unsalted butter

15-20 sage leaves

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp of cinnamon

heavy pinch of salt

heavy pinch of black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

 

Using a fork, pierce the potatoes all over, wrap in tinfoil and place in oven.  Bake for 45 mins – 1 hour depending on the size of your potatoes.

**Nicky Gnocchi Tip – Only let the potatoes cool SLIGHTLY!  This will ensure a soft and airy gnocchi.**

Sprinkle 1/3 cup additional flour on your work surface.  Remove potatoes from oven and peel tinfoil carefully – potatoes will be HOT! Once tinfoil is removed, peel skin from potatoes and discard.

**Nicky Gnocchi Tip – The best gnocchi is done with a ricer.  No question, without a doubt the ONLY way to make sure your potatoes are the smoothest they can possibly be is with a ricer**  (If you don’t have a ricer, mash the potatoes as best you can)

Rice potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add the parmesan cheese, cinnamon, 2 egg yolks, salt, pepper and gradually add flour until a you have a soft dough.

On your lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.  Using the palm of your hand to your finger tips, roll the dough with light pressure until dough becomes 1″ thick ropes…or “gnocchi cigars”  Using a dough scraper (if you don’t have a dough scraper, a pizza cutter works great).  Cut rope into 1″ pieces and place on lightly floured wax paper and set to the side.  Repeat for all ropes.

Bring a large pot of water to a soft boil.

In small workable batches (5-8 pieces) drop gnocchi into lightly boiling water for no longer than 2 minutes or until gnocchi begins to float.  Remove with slotted spoon and place gnocchi on clean wax paper.  Repeat until all gnocchi

 

 

are boiled.

Bring a separate saucepan to medium heat.  Add 1 stick of butter and allow to melt and cook down.  Bubbles will occur, don’t freak out!  This is what you want.  When the butter has melted completely, add all sage leaves.  Lightly stir occasionally until the butter begins to lightly brown.  Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, maple syrup and salt/pepper and set saucepan to the side.

Put a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

When pan is ALMOST smoking, add half of your cooked gnocchi to the pan for 1-2 minutes…you want a nice sear on your gnocchi for max flavor!  Flip gnocchi for even sear on both sides.  Add the other half of your gnocchi to the pan and the brown butter mixture.  Lightly toss gnocchi over low heat in butter mixture coating all sides for 1-2 minutes.

Serve gnocchi with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!

 

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Watermelon Splash Cocktail

Beat the heat with this refreshing and surprisingly awesome cocktail!

 

Ice

1.5 ounce Vodka

2 oz fresh watermelon juice (puree a few slices of watermelon rind removed, in a blender)

5-7 mint leaves (depending how minty you like it)

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz agave nectar

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Fill a cocktail shaker with your ice and the above ingredients.  Cover, and shake well for about 10 seconds.  Pour into your favorite cocktail glass and garnish with watermelon and mint (my girlfriend was in charge of this step)

Cheers!

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Bufala Burger

You probably thought I spelled “buffalo” wrong…NOPE! “Bufala” is actually a female water buffalo who’s milk is rare and expensive and is used to make buffalo mozzarella.
Yields 4 Servings

1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
2-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 shallot (finely chopped)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
large pinch of fresh Basil (julienned)
large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. fresh Buffalo Mozzarella (cut into thick slices)
2 cups fresh arugula
1 large heirloom tomato (cut into thick slices)
4 fresh brioche buns
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper

Grab your lighter ladies and gentlemen…it’s time to light your grill! Crank it all the way up to HIGH heat – beef should always bee cooked over high heat to seal those juices in!
In large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and combine with ground beef. I like to use my hands for this job – they are the best tools we have! Be careful not to over work the mixture to avoid dry burgers. Section out beef into 1/4″ thick round patties – again, be careful not to over work your burgers! Set aside.
*Quick Tip: Before cooking ANY meat, you want it to be at room temperature, especially when grilling. This ensures a perfect sear and locks those juices in.
Place patties on grill over high heat and cook 3 minutes on each side (flipping only once). Place fresh buffalo mozzarella on patty after first flip. Once burger has cooked and cheese has melted (about 3 minutes) remove patties and set aside to rest. This seals in all those juices.
Place brioche buns on top level of grill face side down for toasting. This should only take a couple of minutes so watch your bread!
Once buns are lightly toasted, build your burger. I like to use a little mayo on the bun and top burger with arugula, heirloom tomato and mustard. This one could get messy!

 

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Prosciutto & Melon Appetizer

10-12 thin slices of deli fresh Prosciutto

10-12 pieces cantaloupe (half moon shape)

1/3 cup fresh basil (julienned)

 

Wrap fresh melon with thin slices of prosciutto (seam side down).  Garnish with fresh Basil and arrange lengthwise.

Simple, fresh and delicious.

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Lamb Ragu

1 shallot – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 cans crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)

2 cups red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)

1 lb ground lamb

2-3 lamb chops (deboned and cubed)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or heavy duty pot over medium-high heat.

Add shallots and cook down until translucent (about 4-5 mins).  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes – watch your garlic and be sure not to let it burn!

Add ground lamb and cubed lamb chop and cook for 2-3 mins breaking up the ground lamb until it is no longer pink.  Add tomato paste and pour red wine into pan and stir.  Let the wine reduce about 5-6 minutes.  Add the can of Sam Marzano tomatoes and stir until combined.   Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for at least 1 hour or up to 90 minutes.

*Quick Tip:  add your cooked noodle to the sauce pan and stir.  The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce and absorb all of the flavors of your sauce…

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Simple Short Bread Cookies with a Bourbon Caramel Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter (softened)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flower

– Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

– Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until combined

– Roll dough until about 1/2 inch thick

– Cut dough into desired shapes (I like 2 inch rounds)

– Place rounds on baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart

– Bake 14-16 minutes or until a light golden color

 

Bourbon Caramel Glaze 

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup cream

1 tbsp good quality Bourbon

 

Using a stand up mixer, cream all ingredients together on medium-low until well incorporated (sugar should not be grainy)

 

Once cookies are done, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack immediately.  Let cool for 2-3 minutes.  Stack cookies and top with your favorite ice cream and warm Caramel Bourbon sauce!

 

Homemade Shortbread Cookies with White Peaches Topped with Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

 

Summertime Ceviché

1 lb high quality raw shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails removed and diced into small pieces)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
zest of 1 whole orange
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced shallot
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
pinch of salt and pepper
1 whole diced jalapeño (seeded and deveined)

Place chopped shrimp into a large mixing bowl. Add lime juice, lemon juice and orange zest. Let stand for 15 minutes so that the shrimp can “cook”. The acidity from the citrus juices will transform the shrimp from an opaque color to a nice fresh white – watch it transform while it sits in the bowl! Do not let stand longer than 15 minutes. Nobody likes chewy shrimp!

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, mix together the cucumber, cilantro, shallots, and jalapeño and add to the bowl of shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. I like to taste the shrimp along the way and adjust the seasoning. Now, grab whatever kind of scooper tool you like! Tortilla chips, crackers, a spoon or even pita chips and enjoy this cool summer meal!

ceviche

Italian Shrimp ‘n Grits – Recipe

Grilled Shrimp

1 lb jumbo shrimp (deveined)

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup Basil

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

BIG pinch red pepper flakes

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper

1.5 tsp paprika

2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 tbsp brown sugar (this is the secret weapon!)

Combine all above ingredients in a large bowl and coat the shrimp well…

shrimp mix

Roasted Tomato Relish

2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved – preferably multi-colored heirloom tomatoes)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt and pepper

1 tbsp EVOO

Set oven to BROIL.  Mix all above ingredients in a bowl and coat tomatoes well.  Place tomatoes on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven and broil for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst and blister a bit.  Remove from oven and let rest.

Creamy Polenta

1/2 cup polenta

1 cup water (you can substitute chicken/seafood stock if you have it on hand)

1/4 cup of heavy cream

2 tbsp finely chopped basil

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring water to a boil in saucepan.  Once water is boiling, add the polenta, cook over LOW heat and slowly stir until well mixed.  Continue stirring polenta and slowly add the cream.  Continue stirring and follow package instructions.  When polenta is done add basil, parmesan cheese and salt & pepper to taste – the heat should be turned off at this point.

Remember those shrimp you set aside?  It’s time to get those bad boys fired up!

Place large saucepan over HIGH heat until it just starts to smoke.  Add shrimp and all contents in the bowl to the pan and spread evenly.  Cook shrimp for about 1 minute on each side and remove from heat – do not overcook!  Shrimp will be a nice light pink color if you got it right!

Top polenta with cooked shrimp, roasted tomatoes and parmesan cheese (you can add any roasted veggie as I have if you are extra hungry!)  Manja!

Italian shrimp & polenta

On The Go Tuna Tostada – Recipe

Flour tortilla

Coconut oil

1 can tuna in water

1 tbsp mayonaise

Pinch of salt & pepper

1 tbsp green onion (chopped)

1 cup spring mix greens

Handful cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup corn (optional)

Jalapeno slices (optional)

Sliced carrots (optional)

 

Heat 4 tbsp coconut oil in non stick pan at med/high heat.  Add flour tortilla to oil and “fry” for 1 minute each side or until a nice golden brown and crispy.  Remove from pan and add pinch of salt while the tortilla is still warm.  Mix tuna, mayo, salt, pepper and green onion together and set aside.  Now, the fun part – building your tostada!  Top the crispy tortilla with mixed greens, tuna, cherry tomatoes and whatever fixings tickle your fancy!  Have fun and make this your own!

tuna tostada

 

Herb Crusted Lamb Pop with a Sundried Tomato and Brown Butter Gnocchi – Recipe

 

Lamb Pops

Rak of lamb cut into individual “pops”

5-6 fresh Sage leaves (fine chopped)

3-4 tblsp fresh Thyme (fine chopped)

2-3 tblsp fresh Oregano (fine chopped)

1 tblsp fresh Rosemary (fine chopped)

Heavy pinch of Salt

Pepper

EVOO to coat

Lemon Zest

Gnocchi 

1 Russet Potato

3/4c Flour

1 egg yolk

Heavy pinch Salt

Pepper

 

3/4 stick unsalted butter

3 tblsp chopped sundried tomato

Heavy pinch salt

pepper

 

Coat and cover lamb with evoo. Salt, pepper, and chopped herb mix and set aside.

Bake potato in oven at 400 until tender. Pull out and let cool.  Peel and put potato thru ricer and place in large bowl or on lightly floured surface. Slowly add flour while gently mixing with potato. Be careful here, if you over work this dough it will get tough and chewy.  Add the egg, salt and pepper and finish folding and kneading together. Cut into even pieces and roll out thinly over floured table. Cut into gnocchi size pieces and press lightly with fork.

Get grill smoking hot and place lamb on grill. About 3-4 minutes per side. Take off and let rest.

In sauce pan add butter, sundried tomato and salt and pepper and let simmer lightly until combined.

Add gnocchi to boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

Add drained gnocchi to sauce pan with butter and toss and cover well.

Lamb & Gnocchi