Milk Street The New Paris (Ep 315)

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Potato Gnocchi with Butter, Sage and Chives

Start to finish: 13⁄4 hours, 20 minutes for sauce | Servings: 4 to 6

Our take on classic potato gnocchi was inspired by a cooking lesson we got in Paris from chef Peter Orr at his Robert restaurant in the 11th arrondissement. It helps to have a kitchen scale to weigh out the 11⁄4 pounds of cooked potatoes needed to make the gnochhi dough. To process the cooked potatoes, a ricer or food mill works best for obtaining the smooth texture needed for light, fine gnocchi. A potato masher works, too, but the gnocchi will be slightly denser (yet still delicious). The gnocchi can be cooked, cooled completely, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to a day. For longer storage, after covering with plastic, freeze the gnocchi until solid, about 2 hours, then transfer to a zip-close bag and freeze for up to a month. To thaw, spread the gnocchi in an even layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet and let stand at room temperature until soft to the touch, about 1 hour. Heat the chilled or thawed gnocchi by adding them to a skilletful of hot sauce, tossing with a silicone spatula until warmed.

Don’t use Yukon gold potatoes. The high starch content of russets is needed for light, tender gnocchi. Also, don’t mash the potatoes without first drying them in the pot on the stovetop, then letting them cool on the rack-lined baking sheet. The drier the potatoes, the lighter the gnocchi. Finally, don’t sauce the gnocchi immediately after removing them from the water. Give them 15 minutes to cool and firm up a bit.

INGREDIENTS

For the gnocchi:

  • 2 3⁄4 to 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 146 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • 1⁄3 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 recipe potato gnocchi
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, combine the potatoes and 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high, then stir in 2 tablespoons salt. Reduce to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes break apart when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and line the rack with kitchen parchment.

Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking the colander to remove excess water. Return the potatoes to the pot and cook over low, gently folding with a silicone spatula, until the potatoes look dry and slightly powdery and the bottom of the pot is coated with a thin film of potato starch, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared cooling rack in an even layer. Cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.

Weigh out 1 1⁄4 pounds (about 4 cups) of the cooked potatoes into a large bowl; save the remainder for another use. Discard the parchment from the baking sheet, then line with fresh parchment and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil; set aside. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the potatoes and pass the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill fitted with the fine disk back into the bowl, or mash them with a potato masher until smooth.

Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the mashed potatoes. Using your hands, lightly toss the potatoes to distribute the flour mixture. Add the egg and gently mix with your hands until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently knead just until smooth; do not overknead. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide the dough into 4 pieces.

Roll 1 piece of dough into a rope about 16 inches long, then use the dough scraper to cut it into 16 pieces. Place the pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Dip the back of the tines of a fork into flour, then gently press into each piece to create a ridged surface. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Set a wire rack in another rimmed baking sheet and line the rack with kitchen parchment. Coat the parchment evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil and stir in 3 tablespoons salt. Add half of the gnocchi, return to a boil and cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until the gnocchi float to the surface. Cook for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi, letting excess water drain, to the prepared rack. Return the water to a boil and repeat with the remaining gnocchi. Let the gnocchi cool for at least 15 minutes before using.

For the Butter, Sage & Chives Sauce:

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the butter just begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add the gnocchi and 1⁄2 cup water and bring to a simmer over medium-high, gently tossing with a silicone spatula.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook, swirling the pan to melt the butter, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in the lemon juice and chives. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


Lamingtons

Start to finish: 41⁄2 hours (50 minutes active) | Makes 16 individual cakes

The inspiration for these Lamingtons— small chocolate-coated, coconut-covered cakes from Australia—came from Le Petit Grain boulangerie in Paris. We skipped the customary jam filling, but these treats are so delicious we don’t think you’ll notice. We bake a simple butter cake in a square pan, then cut the cooled cake into two-bite cubes. Freezing the cubes before coating them with the chocolate glaze allows for easy handling, and helps the coating firm up quickly. The cake can be cut and frozen up to two days in advance, but if you freeze it for more than just an hour or so, be sure to wrap it well to protect it from drying out. Finished Lamingtons will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one day or in the freezer for several days (if frozen, let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving).

Don’t cut the cake while it’s warm. Allow it to cool completely, about 2 hours, so it cuts cleanly and neatly. And make sure to use a serrated knife; a regular knife will crush the cake’s delicate crumb.

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 150 grams (11⁄4 cups) cake flour, plus more for pan
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 214 grams (1 cup) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) salted butter, cut into 6 pieces, room temperature

For the glaze:

  • 3⁄4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup refined coconut oil
  • 124 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 225 grams (21⁄2 cups) unsweetened shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the cake, heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist the interior of an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, dust with flour, then tap out the excess. Line with Kitchen parchment. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the egg whites, the milk and vanilla; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, then mix on low until combined, about 10 seconds. With the mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time. Once all the butter has been added, continue mixing until sandy and no large butter pieces remain, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, pour in all but 1⁄4 cup of the egg-milk mixture and mix until combined. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce to medium, then slowly add the remaining egg mixture, scraping the bowl once or twice.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a paring knife around the edges to loosen. Invert the cake onto a large plate, lift off the pan and remove and discard the parchment. Re-invert the cake onto the rack to be right side up and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. Using a serrated knife, trim off the edges of the cake, then cut the cake into 16 even squares. Place the squares on the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

To make the glaze, in a medium saucepan over high, bring 1 inch of water to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. In a medium heat-proof bowl that fits on top of the saucepan, combine the milk, chocolate and coconut oil. Set the bowl on the saucepan, over the simmering water, and warm the mixture, whisking gently and occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan, then whisk in the powdered sugar and salt; reserve the saucepan and warm water. Place the coconut in a small bowl.

Remove the cake squares from the freezer. Using your fingers, dip 1 cake square into the chocolate and turn to coat each side, then scrape off any excess against the edge of the bowl. Toss in the coconut to coat on all sides, then return to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cake squares, chocolate glaze and coconut. If the glaze cools and becomes too thick, return the bowl to the saucepan and gently rewarm the glaze. Let the coated cakes stand until the glaze sets slightly, about 30 minutes.


Greens with Walnuts, Parmesan and Pancetta Vinaigrette

Start to finish: 15 minutes | Servings: 6

Bitter greens—such as frisée, endive, radicchio, escarole or arugula—paired with a rich dressing are an ideal counterpoint to typically heavy winter meals. For this salad, use any combination of the greens. To toast the walnuts, spread them evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. A sharp Y-shaped vegetable peeler is the perfect tool for shaving the Parmesan cheese.

Don’t allow the dressing to cool down before adding it to the greens. Its consistency is best when warm, and its heat slightly softens the sturdy greens. By the same token, make sure the greens are not cold when dressed so the dressing doesn’t congeal on contact.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces (12 cups) mixed bitter greens, torn
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1⁄2 cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the greens in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt.

In a medium skillet over medium, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon pancetta fat from the skillet, then return it to medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the oil and the vinegar mixture, then remove from the heat and whisk until combined. Let sit for 30 seconds to warm through.

Add the warm dressing, walnuts and pepper to the greens and toss well. Taste and season with salt. Divide the salad among plates and top each portion with pancetta and Parmesan.

PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES