This time last year was a bit of a whirlwind. We were dealing with nasty weather, Christmas was over, New Year's a day away, and I was three days away from leaving for the airport. My friend Nancy and I were heading for two weeks of fun, adventure, and sinus infections (bah) in Amsterdam and Berlin.
This week for Travel Tuesdays I'm heading back to Amsterdam since this is the only vacation in my forseeable future. (BAH . . . again)
Our weekly CSA deliveries have included a squash each week for the past while. It hasn't taken long for us to be overrun with squash. A few weeks ago I carved into a giant butternut squash for a recipe and I have had the remaining squash hanging out in the fridge taking up room ever since. I was determined to take care of it yesterday.
While checking out recipes using google, this one popped up. It's by Lidia Bastianich who certainly knows a thing or 79000 about Italian food. Gnocchi are various thick, soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, or similar ingredients. Gnocchi can be light as air or heavy and doughy. When I have attempted to make them at home they have fallen into the latter category. SIGH
This type of gnocchi is a speciality of Friuli - the northern region of Italy that borders Slovenia and Austria. It is a mountainous region known for it's food (of course, which region in Italy is NOT known for it's food?) This particular recipe hails from Trattoria Da Tonia a restaurant many list as one of the best in the region.
The gnocchi were easy to make - the only challenging part was remembering that the recipe requires two days of prep - on the first day you roast the squash and set it to drain. One the second day you make and cook the gnocchi. These gnocchi were light - almost too light as some broke apart in the boiling water . . . likely because we had more than a 1 1/2 pound squash. Nonetheless they tasted amazing!
We served these with a butter sage sauce. It is one of the easiest, and we think tastiest, pasta sauce. You just melt a stick of butter, toss in some chopped fresh sage (can you believe I still have fresh sage in the garden in December?????), let it sit for while the gnocchi is cooking. When the gnocchi are ready toss them in the butter sauce and serve with a heavy flurry of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (no green can of Kraft here folks!!!)
It's a simple but complex dish -so typical of Italian food. Because it has few flavourings the quality of your ingredients will really make or break things here.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
1 butternut squash , about 1 1/2 pounds 2 eggs, beaten 1¼ teaspoons salt 1½ cups flour
Starting the night before, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, wrap it loosely in foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake until tender when pierced, about 35 minutes.
Scoop out and discard the seeds. With a large spoon, scoop the pulp from the skin directly into a fine sieve. Set the sieve over a bowl to catch the liquids, cover and allow the squash to drain overnight in the refrigerator.
Next day, puree the squash in a food processor, transfer the puree to a large bowl, and add the eggs and salt. Mix well, add the flour, and blend thoroughly. The dough should be soft and quite sticky.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Using a teaspoon, scoop up some of the dough (about a walnut-size piece) and use a finger to slide it into the water. Cook the gnocchi in batches of ten to fifteen, poaching them for 2 minutes after the rise to the surface. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Set them aside to drain, and repeat the process until the remaining dough is used up.
I don't know if the turkey was bigger this year or if we all just ate less of it but we have been enjoying the leftovers for a couple of days now and there is no end in sight! This is on top of sending some home with all of our guests. I know that this is not a unique problem because there are a gazillion sites on the internet featuring suggestions for leftover turkey.
How about this one for a 'cake' made from your leftovers:
I decided to give this one a 'pass'!
I did find a recipe for a turkey pie with a mashed potato crust that looked delicious - particularly since I had 2 containers of mashed potatoes in the fridge. This is not a pot pie but more commonly known as a cottage pie - a British term for a pie made with leftover roast meats and topped with mashed potatoes.
I made quite a few changes to the recipe in my desire to use up as many leftovers as possible as well as make a dent in some of the stockpiled veggies from our CSA delivery. I also wanted to use up a large wedge of Asiago cheese which had been in the basement refrigerator for close to a year!
The end result was delicious - an excellent way to use up those Christmas Dinner (or Thanksgiving) leftovers.
Turkey Cottage Pie with Asiago Mashed Potatoes
2 tablespoons butter 1 cup chopped leek (you could use onion but we had a leek in the fridge from our CSA that needed using) 1 medium bell pepper, chopped 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 tsp dried sage 1/2 tsp dried savory 3 tablespoons four 2 cups chicken broth (or turkey stock if you have some handy) 3 cups chopped, cooked turkey 2 cups leftover vegetables (we had eaten all of our leftover vegetables so we used 1 cup fresh peas and 1 cup chopped CSA carrots) salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2 cups grated asiago 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
Preheat the oven to 350
melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the leeks. After about 2 minutes add the chopped pepper and spices. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over top the cooked leeks and peppers, stir for about 2 minutes. Mix in the broth and stir until thickened - about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked turkey and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish or ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet (very important as this will likely bubble over while baking).
Heat the mashed potatoes in the microwave. Stir in the grated cheese. Carefully spread the mashed asiago potatoes over the turkey, vegetable mixture.
Bake until the filling bubbles - 30 - 45 minutes.
Turn the oven broiler on and place the casserole dish under the broiler until the mashed potato topping is golden, about 3 minutes.
These photos were taken at Toronto's wonderful new Aga Khan Museum. The museum is set among 5 large reflecting ponds. The surface of the water of smooth and calm. I loved the way the buildings, flags flapping in the winds, and natural features were reflected in the smooth surface of the waters . . .
I think I shall be in a food come for the next week!
That just about covers it. :-)
Paul was feeling under the weather so he slept in a bit more than normal. When he work up we opened our stockings and had some snacks in the family room.
The cats loved their new cat toys.
But of course, in the end, Beckett was happiest just trying to destroy my stocking!
After tidying up we decided to have breakfast BEFORE opening gifts.crazy, I know. It must be the impact of turning 50 but apparently I have finally become an adult in this regard.
We made panettone french toast, 2 kinds of sausage, 2 kinds of bacon, and had some fresh fruit on the side. Paul whipped up a yummy mimosa with prosecco, mandarin orange juice, and blood orange liqueur. MMMMMM
After the dishes were done we moved into the living room for gifts.
Beckett appreciated the fact that the gifts were gone from under the tree.He curled up on the tree skirt and had a bath.
Once everything was cleaned up we did all of our dinner preparations.
Paul set the table - he did a great job!
Mom was to come over at 1:00 to open the round 2 of stockings. Of course she showed up at 1:50.
Whatever, we had a candy cane martini and some snacks (because we had not had enough food, don't you know).
Once we had finished with the stockings mom went around thecorner to our cousin's house. Paul and I hopped in the shower and got dressed (it had been that sort of day. :-) )
The cats had their special Christmas dinner (and notice that they were also dressed for dinner!)
Our guests arrived at 4:00. We started with appetizers and drinks in the family room (always with tons of laughter with this group).
Once everything was ready for dinner we moved into the dining room. Dinner was turkey (which was made the day before - if you haven't done this before you really need to try it out Christmas day was so relaxed), dressing, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes, carrots, and corn. For dessert (I have no pics of this for some reason) we had Christmas pudding with a warm vanilla sauce, cookies, cake, chocolates, and fruit jellies.
Poor Paul had to work early on the 26th so people left a bit earlier than normal. We had everything cleaned up and put away by 8:00.
I hope that Santa has found his way to your house and spoiled you with treats.
It certainly looks as if he found OUR house!
Notice the tunnel through the gifts to the left . . . So the cats can continue to make their way to the back of the tree and curl up on the tree skirt. Pet owners will appreciate doing things like this.
Back in 2012 when we knew Paul's store was closing tossing he and hundreds of other retail employees out of work wedecided to do something that may seem odd to some. We took advantage of his unemployed status to go on vacation. Time off at Christmas is impossible for a retail employee but forced time off was to be taken advantage of.
We rented a wonderful apartment near of the Piazza Navonna with our friends Palma and Brad. Later our friend Nancy flew over to spend a week with us. It was wonderful to wander Rome and see the city all decked out for the Christmas season. ..
Traditionally, the main focus of Christmas decorations in Italy is the Nativity scene, presepe or presepio in Italian. Every church has a presepe and they can be found in squares, shops, and other public areas. Displays often go beyond the manger scene and may even include a representation of the entire village. Presepi are usually set up starting December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, through January 6, Epiphany but some are unveiled on Christmas Eve.
Many people set up a Christmas crib in their house and figurines for nativity scenes are made in many parts of Italy, with some of the best coming from Naples and Sicily. Although the presepe is usually set up before Christmas, baby Jesus is added on Christmas Eve.
The Nativity scene is said to have originated with St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 when he constructed a nativity scene in a cave in the town of Greccio and held Christmas Eve mass and a nativity pageant there. Greccio reenacts this event each year.
Carving figurines for nativity scenes started in the late 13th century when Arnolfo di Cambio was commissioned to carve marble nativity figures for the first Rome Jubilee held in 1300. The nativity can be seen in the museum of Santa Maria Maggiore Church.
Naples is the best city to visit for their presepi. Hundreds of nativity scenes are erected throughout the city. Some creches are very elaborate and may be handmade or use antique figures. Starting December 8, the Church of Gesu' Nuovo, in Piazza del Gesu', displays nativity scene art work from the Neapolitan Nativity Scenes Association. The street Via San Gregorio Armeno in central Naples is filled with displays and stalls selling Nativity scenes all year.
Vatican Cityerects a huge presepe in St. Peter's Square for Christmas and is usually unveiled on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Eve mass is held in St. Peter's square, usually at 10 pm.
In Rome some of the biggest and most elaborate presepi are found in Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Euclide, Santa Maria in Trastevere, and Santa Maria d'Aracoeli, on the Capitoline Hill. A life-size nativity scene is set up in Piazza Navona where a Christmas marketplace is also set up. The Church of Saints Cosma e Damiano, by the main entrance to the Roman Forum, has a large nativity scene from Naples on display all year.
These pics are from our vieit to Italy in December 2012:
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.