The Recipes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I can't believe how much I hated sweet potatoes as a kid.  When they would come around the Thanksgiving table, I would practically gag.  Now, they just scream fall/winter/holiday eating to me.  They actually are pretty darn easy to make, you just have to be patient.  In this recipe, I swapped out the typical egg that I use as a binder for gnocchi dough for some great, fresh ricotta that I picked up from my favorite cheese lady at Bower's Cheese at Eastern Market.  Every time I come in, besides making me sample something new (which usually results in me buying more than I intended!), she tells me how all the men must love me.  Cheese and an ego boost?  Well... okay then.

This was the third course for our framily dinner last week.  Enjoy the second picture which shows you a tiny sliver of how gorgeous my friend Dean made the entire house look.



Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients:

- 2-3 sweet potatoes
- 3/4 c. ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- salt
- pepper
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1 stick of butter (8 T.)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 c. of sage leaves and thyme leaves, picked from the stems and chopped
- salt
- pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Let cool completely.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour.  Once the potatoes are cool, cut them in half and scoop out all of the flesh.  Pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill onto the baking sheet.  Place in the fridge until they are chilled.

Sprinkle a clean working surface with flour.  Add the riced potatoes to the center of the board.  Add the ricotta, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Start to combine, adding 1/2 c. of flour at a time to the dough.  You want a consistency that isn't too dry. 

Separate the dough into manageable amounts.  Roll it out using the palms of your hands into 1-in. thick ropes.  Have a cookie sheet sprinkled with semolina flour next to your working space.  Cut the ropes into 1-in. pieces.  Roll each dumpling over the back side of a fork to create dimples or lines (or, if you're fancy and have one of those gnocchi-shaper devices, use that).  Drop them onto the baking sheet and transfer it to the freezer.  Once they are frozen, you can dump them into freezer bags to store.

When you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop in the gnocchi and cook until they float to the top and plump.  Don't take them out the second they float to the top - let them go another minute or two.  

While the gnocchi cooks, put the butter and cinnamon stick in a small pot.  Let it melt completely and start to brown, waiting for the foam to disappear.  Once it does, add in the herbs and cook another minute or two.  

Drain the gnocchi, plate them, and spoon the browned butter over the top.