Gnocchi Alfredo

My wife is a big fan of gnocchi. Who isn’t for that matter? I remember when she had some dental surgery done she had to eat some soft food, or heck jello for that matter (which she wasn’t having any part of), so I decided to make her a homemade batch of ricotta gnocchi. She fell in love with it from that day, and so did I. Soft, pillow like dough made from potatoes and a bit of flour, I mean what is not to love and love to make for that matter. So on a recent trip to a store, we saw this package of gnocchi. I typically would never buy something like it, but my wife and I both looked at it and said ‘should we try it?’. This is where the gnocchi alfredo came into play.

Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe
Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe

Before I was going to make the homemade alfredo sauce, I was really torn to make a sage and brown butter sauce (one my kids totally love), but to me that is a bit seasonal and I had no sage growing as it is winter in Wisconsin. That’s when I knew my kids would love a creamy and cheesy alfredo sauce. They devoured this pasta.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of gnocchi (make your own, or try store bought)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste

Now the gnocchi we tried was from Costco. It was from Maffei, and something we have never tried before. You can try any brand if you want and it is typically found nowadays in your frozen section, or refrigerated pasta section at your grocery store. Again, if you don’t want to go that route, make your own. It’s not difficult, and in all honesty the texture is better when done homemade.

Maffei Gnocchi
Maffei Gnocchi

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. This will take a handful of minutes, so make your alfredo sauce as this is happening. Grab a good spoonful of course salt and add it to your water as well.

Let’s make the sauce.

To another sauce pan, bring it to medium heat and add in your butter. Let that begin to melt, then toss in your garlic. Let that cook a minute or so and once the butter is melted and slightly bubbling, stir in the flour. Mix well so that it forms a nice paste. Cook this for another minute or two but be careful not to overcook the flour. You want a light blonde, if that, for this sauce. Remember, it’s alfredo sauce.

Add in the cream, and milk, and continue to whisk until the flour breaks up, and begins to thicken. Once that sauce begins to thicken, add in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue to whisk. Lower the heat, and stir occasionally while you add your gnocchi to your boiling, salted water.

This particular gnocchi took about 1 1/2 minutes to cook. Once these babies were floating, I removed with a slotted kitchen spider, let the drain, and added them directly to the alfredo sauce. Once all added, stir them gently into the sauce, and serve family style.

My family devoured this stuff. Creamy, cheesy, garlicky. It was right up everyone’s alley. The store bought gnocchi? Uh, not a big fan but something that was quick to make during a busy work night. The sauce. Make the sauce. Enjoy.

Char Siu Pork Ribs

I am a huge fan of Chinese char siu pork. If you have never had it, it is basically a reddish colored pork (primarily from red food coloring which is optional), and perfectly seasoned from things like Chinese five spice and other wonderful ingredients. So this past week, pork ribs were on sale and I knew my kids would love for me to go out into the cold, and smoke some ribs, but that was not about to happen, especially with a lot of people kidding bad colds around these parts. So instead I came up with two batches of ribs, one Chinese char siu style and the other using a rub from Dizzy Pig.

Char Siu Pork Ribs Recipe
Char Siu Pork Ribs Recipe

These almost fall apart Chinese char siu pork ribs will have you smacking your lips and licking those fingers.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of pork ribs, membrane removed from the backside
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice (a little goes a long way)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp dark Sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/4 water
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring, optional
  • Cooked Jasmine rice, optional

I know this sounds like a bunch of stuff, but most should be stocked in your household for standard Asian style cooking.

I like to cut my ribs into 4 rib segments so that they fit nicely into a sealable bag.

Start by making the marinade. To a mixing bowl add everything but the honey, ketchup, water, and food coloring.

Give a good mix, then add your ribs to a sealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, seal, and gently toss the marinade around so it penetrates all of the ribs. Place into your refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Char Siu Pork Ribs Ingredients
Char Siu Pork Ribs Ingredients

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. We are going to cook these ribs low and slow, then increase the heat over time.

During this time, take the ribs out and set the bag onto the counter for about 20 minutes or so to take off the chill.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and using tongs, remove the ribs from the bag and let any excess marinade fall into the bag. Reserve the marinade as this is going to cook down with the sauce.

Place the ribs in the oven and cook for about 2 hours. About 1 1/2 hours in, crank the heat to 350 degrees.

Take the reserved marinade and add it to a pot on the stove. Add the water, ketchup, red food coloring, and honey and give a good stir. Cook this on medium-low heat until it has reduced by half, and adjust the heat to low if necessary. This is going to be our glazing mixture to finish the ribs.

Take a look at the ribs. Once they begin to slightly caramelize (you know how you like your ribs), slide the oven rack out so you have access to the baking sheet, and begin brushing on the glaze, all over the ribs. Return back into the oven, cook for a few more minutes, then repeat with the glaze. Keep an eye on them as you do not want the glaze to burn. Repeat this a few times, then once you are satisfied, remove them from the oven, finish with another brushing of the cooked glaze mixture, and plate and serve.

Serve alongside cooked rice, and you have yourself one heck of a meal. If you are looking to jazz up some ribs, and want to go to a great Chinese route, give these a try, I’m almost certain you are going to love them. Hope you enjoy!

New Orleans Style Shrimp

Years ago my wife and I took a trip to New Orleans. We fell in love with it. Granted we stayed on Bourbon street, but never really spent much time on it to be quite honest. We steered away from that main street and entered other areas in town to try an array of food. I could eat that city all day long, and if my wife was not with me, I probably would have practiced gluttony. There’s one dish known as New Orleans shrimp that I think everyone must try. It is not spicy, but it is balanced by a bunch of butter, lemon, and other spices that makes you digging for bread to dunk into these delicious juices.  I tossed mine with pasta to make it more of a meal, but you can simply pour the cooked shrimp into a bowl, get some rustic bread, and get to town.

New Orleans Style Shrimp Recipe
New Orleans Style Shrimp Recipe

Let’s get started.

  • 2 lbs peeled shrimp, tracts removed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • salt to taste
  • pasta, cooked (optional)
  • chopped parsley, optional
  • Rustic French bread, optional

This dish goes pretty quick, so if you are cooking pasta, you can do it in parallel.

To a large bowl, add the lemon juice, worchestershire, black pepper, Creole seasoning, and garlic. Give a good mix, then gently fold in the shrimp. Marinade the shrimp for about 10 minutes. If you are going to be folding the shrimp into the cooked pasta, this is the time to get the pasta water boiling before dropping the pasta.

Next, get a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the the entire mixture from the bowl, and cook just until the shrimp become slightly pink. This is when you are going to want to lower the heat, and begin adding the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time.

New Orleans Style Shrimp Ingredients
New Orleans Style Shrimp Ingredients

Once the butter begins to melt, add in a few more tablespoons at a time until the butter is completely gone. Yes, I know it is a lot of butter, but so is bagna caulda, and that is what makes the final sauces so flipping delicious.

Once the butter is fully melted and the shrimp cooked, season with a pinch or two of salts, and pour into a serving bowl, or fold into pasta (your call). If serving from the bowl, place the bowl on a large plate surrounded by chunks of French bread, and dig in. Get some shrimp, dunk into that delicious sauce, and repeat.

If you are looking for a great game day food, and one that will serve plenty, give this one a try, it’s super delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham

I have bee tinkering with Vietnamese nuoc cham for some time now, tinkering with both a red version and a green version. The subtle difference between the two is the red uses sambal (which I totally love), and the green one does not. Both versions can be used in many different ways, but my preference for either one is to be used as a dressing, or dipping sauce for grilled meats, or spring rolls. There is something so addicting in both that when no one is looking, I will simply eat it by the spoonful.

Packed full of tart, sweet, and spicy ingredients, this sauce is one of my favorites. Hands down.

Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham Recipe
Vietnamese Green Nuoc Cham Recipe

As with any nuoc cham, it uses fish sauce, so if you have never tried either, this is a great chance to stock up on some good fish sauce, a super ingredient for umami goodness.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of quality fish sauce (I like 3 crabs brand or Red Boat)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 green Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced

Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl, and mix until you get that sugar dissolved. Give a taste. See? Flavor bomb!

You can keep this out at room temperature until you are ready to serve. This was used in fresh lettuce wraps, along with vermicelli noodles, and egg rolls, all wrapped in lettuce and drizzled with that sauce. My boys, and wife do not care for the sauce as it is a bit too spicy for them, but my daughter and I simply love it. This can be stored in the refrigerator, cover, for a few weeks, but my guess is that if you fall in love with this sauce, that it will not last that long. Hope you enjoy!