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jcg

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  1. Found this old thread via a google search and figured I should reply as I used the technique mentioned about and it worked perfectly. Covered the steamers/ipswich clams with the boiling water for exactly 30 seconds exactly (then into cold water), and their neck skins came right off and they were super easy to clean/shuck. jcg
  2. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    I was not aware of the 1 hour time limit to edit your posts and I can't get a moderator to edit my post #4, so here is what I intended to put in that post. The thread will be out of order, but not much I can do about it now. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Real post #4: The final test I did was comparing 00 flour to bread flour. The same chef that told me about using a pastry bag to pipe out the gnocchi also told us he used bread flour. Bread flour has more gluten in it than regular flour and gluten is not your friend if you are trying to make a nice light gnocchi, so this seemed a bit odd. He explained that bread flour is lighter than regular flour and will soak up more water from the potatoes so you can use less of it. Also this is the reason he uses the pastry bag as there is virtually no kneading of the dough, so therefore no gluten is really formed. Out of all the recipes I have researched I have never seen any of them use bread flour or use a pastry bag to pipe out the gnocchi, so I was excited to try this out to see if it could improve my gnocchi. First let me recap the most important things (in order of importance) I had learned to this point: - Getting as much water out of the potatoes as possible is the most important thing. That is why poking holes in the potatoes (so the steam can escape during cooking) and baking them is key. Boiling potatoes (even with the skin on) is going to give a much waterier potato. Also ricing the potatoes right after they come out of the oven and spreading the riced potatoes on a baking sheet and letting them cool (and letting the steam dissipate) helps in this regard. America's Test Kitchen (ATK for short) used all these techniques in their recipe. - Next most important issue is the amount of flour. ATK used 4oz per 16oz potatoes (4:1 ratio) and my final version reduced this to 3 oz per 16 oz of potatoes (5.3:1 ratio). You MUST use a scale so you get this right! Remember the 16 oz of potatoes is after cooking/ricing/cooling!! - Be very gentle with mixing / kneading the dough. It really gets all the kneading it needs just during the rolling out process, but if you want a little firmer dough you can gently knead it for maybe 30 seconds tops. - Don't add salt to the dough as it pulls water out of the potatoes (as per the first link I posted), but instead use highly salted water to salt the gnocchi during cooking. Ok, so onto the final cookoff where I made the final version of the recipe that I posted in my first post (did it both piping the gnocchi with the pastry bag and rolling it out), and compared those to a version with 2.5oz of bread flour (piped & rolled). The gnocchi with the bread flour came out too mushy, with the piped one being the mushiest as it doesn't get any gluten formed since there is no rolling. One could knead the dough first and then pipe it, but I don't see the benefit. The final recipe that was piped out also didn't have enough bite to it, so in the end I realized it's just best to roll the gnocchi out. Since I used 2.5 oz of bread flour vs 3 oz of 00 flour it's not clear whether the slightly mushy texture was just do to the smaller amount of flour or the fact that it was bread flour. In the end I think it's the amout of flour that is key and if you used 3 oz of AP/00 or bread it wouldn't make much difference. Lastly a few comments on freezing gnocchi dough. I never freeze my dough as it changes the texture - from my reading/research it will make the consistency a bit heavier and/or a bit mushier. Tom Colicchio (in the first link) freezes the dough after it is cooked, as he says at his restaurant he has tried freezing it before and after cooking and the after cooking method is the best. If you need to freeze your gnocchi I'd go with his recommendation. Remember most restaurants need to freeze their dough as it would just be too difficult in a restaurant environment to make it per order. This is why you can actually make gnocchi at home (fresh) that will be better than almost any restaurant! Anyways, looks like we are at the end of the road so I hope this was a useful thread and it helps you make your perfect gnocchi. Remember that some people might like a gnocchi that is a bit heavier that what I like, so you can always try 3.5oz or 4.0oz of flour in your recipe to see what you prefer (or knead the dough a bit more, etc). Enjoy! jcg
  3. I used the mixed fruit from the link below, and I bought it at Costco where you can get a good deal on the 24 oz bag. I originally bought it to add to homemade granola, but it also works great for these energy bars. The lara bar recipe ends up with kind of a sticky bar that doesn't have much "stiffness" to it (at least compared to a real Laura bar), so that is why I mixed in the puffed rice at the end. Also the puffed rice I got is bigger than say rice krispies, so next time I would give them a very rough chop to make most of the pieces a bit smaller so they integrate better when you mix them in. I just wrapped the bars in saran wrap and leave them in the frig, so I can bring them with me when I want a snack. https://www.madeinnature.com/product/organicantioxidant-fusion-blend/ jcg
  4. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    I am using 00 flour from Italy. The brand is called Antico Molino Napoli and says produced by Antimo Caputo. It also says tipo "00" on the bag.
  5. Actually when I made them I pulsed the dates / dried fruit by themselves a few times to get them down to a paste type consisitency. I also forgot in the recipe I posted that when everything was pulsed together I mixed in 1/2 cup of puffed rice cereal. For some reason I can edit my posts now (maybe the site is doing maintenance) but once I can I'll edit the recipes I posted to correct them.
  6. Alright I made my first homemade energy bars yesterday, and they came out really good. I made 2 versions that both started out with the the Lara bar as the foundation to the recipe. The first was a peanut butter / chocolate chip version and the 2nd was an espresso dark chocolate version (both recipes below). 1 cup (10-11) dates (pitted and soaked in warm water) 1/4 cup mixed dried fruits 1/2 cup cashews 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1 cup rolled oats 1T cocoa powder 2T peanut butter 1T honey 1/4t salt Add everything to the food processor and pulse 5-10 times and then press into a 4"x8" bread pan. Freeze for 15 minutes and cut into 8 bars & wrap. 1 cup (10-11) dates (pitted and soaked in warm water) 1/4 cup mixed dried fruits 1/2 cup cashews 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup grated dark chocolate 1 cup rolled oats 2T ground coffee 1T honey 1/4t salt Add everything to the food processor and pulse 5-10 times and then press into a 4"x8" bread pan. Freeze for 15 minutes and cut into 8 bars & wrap.
  7. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    The final test I did was comparing 00 flour to bread flour. I'll edit this post later with the details.
  8. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    Here are the notes/results from my 2nd to final test that I emailed to a friend that also loves gnocchi (with just minor edits). ---------------------------------------------------------------------- I used my original America's Test Kitchen recipe (which I've emailed you before), and at it's base it uses 16oz of baked/riced russet potatoes to 4 oz of flour (I use the Italian 00). The only change is per Tom Colicchio's (he's from Top Chef - posted his link in prior post) where I didn't add any salt to the potatoes. Tom says it draws out water and as a result you will need more flour, so he says to add 1T per 4 cups salt to the water, and the gnocchi gets it's salt when you cook them. Makes sense so I followed those steps and used his exact amount of recommended salt. The big change for this experiment was to try and reduce the amount of flour. One batch had the original 4oz of flour (4:1 ratio), and the 2nd batch had 1.8oz (a 55% reduction). The 2nd batch is almost a 9:1 ratio, and not sure if you remember but I sent you a link at one point that said the best Italian gnocchi makers get down to a ratio of 10:1 (so I was close). The 2nd change for each batch was to roll out the dough, or use a pastry bag to pipe out the dough (a trick I had never heard of but got from a chef that is known for his gnocchi). 1. The original rolled is still very good, but is a bit heavy when compared to the ones with less flour. These held together the best, but that was to be expected as it has the most flour. 2. The original piped was the best. It was slightly softer / less heavy than #1, but again that would be expected as there was no rolling which will knead the dough somewhat. 3. The 1.8 oz flour rolled was a bit difficult to work with as the dough would break apart in certain parts as you were rolling it out. It was also lighter, but here is the main point - there is a point where you use too little flour and the gnocchi gets a bit mushy. 4. The 1.8oz flour piped was even ligher as expected, but lighter in this case was even mushier. It was easier to pipe them out, and doing it this way there was no issue with the dough breaking apart. Conclusion: I think I went too extreme in reducing the amount of flour. Maybe 3 oz of flour (a 25% reduction would be perfect), and maybe piping that dough will be the best option. Next up we still need to test bread flour vs 00 flour, and there is the option of not using any eggs in the batter too. We are getting very very close to the ultimate gnocchi!!!
  9. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    Here are a bunch of links that I found while doing all my research, so we can give credit where it is due. In a follow on post I'll summarize all the keys I learned from reading these. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/18/dining/18CHEF.html http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/six-steps-to-reaching-gnocchi-nirvana http://www.inpraiseofsardines.com/blogs/2006/02/secrets_to_maki.html http://www.starchefs.com/events/studio/techniques/JCampanaro/ http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/10/how-to-make-the-perfect-gnocchi http://localfoods.about.com/od/basics/r/potatognocchi.htm http://www.lurpak.com.au/lurpakchallenge/recipe/porcini-gnocchi-with-button-mushrooms-sauce
  10. jcg

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    Gnocchi is one of my favorite Italian dishes and it's what I usually order and use it to judge how good a restaurant is. After seeing an America's Test Kitchen show where they made gnocchi I learned I could make a very good version at home. It was better than or equal to most restaurant versions, but not quite as good as the best I've had so I decided to start researching the keys to making great gnocchi. By the way for those that live in the San Francisco bay area the best gnocchi I have ever had are the black truffle gnocchi at Lillian's Italian Kitchen in Santa Cruz. First I'll just post my final recipe and then I'll post some followups on what I learned after making many batches and comparing the recipes. Potato Gnocchi – (Serves 2 to 3) For the most accurate measurements you must weigh the potatoes and flour. After processing, you may have slightly more than the 3 cups (16 ounces) of potatoes required for this recipe. Discard any extra or set aside for another use. Ingredients: 2 pounds russet potatoes 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten 3 ounces all-purpose flour (or if possible use 00 Italian flour for even fluffier gnocchi, plus extra for the counter 1/2 teaspoon pepper (black or white pepper OR 1/4 teaspoon each) 2 tablespoon salt (for salting 8 cups cooking water) Instructions: 1. Adjust oven rack to 2nd from top position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Poke each potato 8-16 times with paring knife over entire surface, or cut a few slits lengthwise along the potatoes. Microwave potatoes until slightly softened at ends, about 5 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through cooking. Transfer potatoes directly to oven rack and bake until skewer glides easily through flesh and potatoes yield to gentle pressure, 60-70 minutes and internal temp is ~210. 2. Holding each potato with potholder or kitchen towel, peel with paring knife. Process potatoes through ricer or food mill onto rimmed baking sheet. Gently spread potatoes into even layer and let cool for 5 minutes (until completely cool!!!!! As warm potatoes will absorb more flour making the gnocchi less tender. Letting the steam release gets rid of more water). 3. Transfer 16 ounces potatoes to bowl. Using fork, gently stir in egg yolk until just combined. Sprinkle flour (3 ounces) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over potato mixture. Using fork, gently combine until no pockets of dry flour remain. Press mixture into rough ball, transfer to lightly floured counter, and very gently knead until smooth but slightly sticky, about 30 seconds, lightly dusting counter with flour as needed to prevent sticking. 4. Cut off a piece of the dough and gently roll into ½-inch-thick rope, and then cut rope into ¾-inch lengths. 5. Bring 2 quarts (8 cups) water to a Medium boil (so gnocchi are gently cooked and won’t break apart) in large pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt – (ratio is 1T per 1 quart of water – This seems like a lot but this is where the gnocchi are salted and they only cook for a little over a minute so the water needs to be quite salty). Gently lower half of the gnocchi into water (if water temp drops and it stops boiling immediately turn heat back up to get water back to a gentle boil) and cook until firm and just cooked through, about 60-90 seconds (gnocchi should float to surface after about 1 minute, and then you want to cook them an additional 30-60 seconds). Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Gently toss gnocchi with sauce and serve.
  11. Well my beans came in so I'm ready to start. I've decided to make a few different batches so I can compare to see what I like. I bought some 8oz canning jars, and plan to fill each with 4 oz so I can make the following: 1. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 12 grams grade A Madagascar beans 2. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 12 grams grade A Madagascar beans + 1 teaspoon sugar 3. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 18 grams grade A Madagascar beans (1.5 fold) 4. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 24 grams grade A Madagascar beans (2.0 fold) 5. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 1/2 oz of slivered almonds 6. 4oz Skyy 80 proof vodka with 1 oz of slivered almonds I'll report back in 3 months with an update, but I don't think they will be fully done until 6 months. Plus I'll be using my leftover beans to make some awesome vanilla bean ice cream! jcg
  12. OK, so that works out to 1.5 teaspoons per 8 oz alcohol (for slightly less than 4%) and 2 teaspoons per 8 oz alcohol (for slightly less than 5%). That's based on a google search saying 1oz sugar is equal to 1.81T. My beans should be here any day so I might add 1.5t to one of my jars to see if it makes any difference. jcg
  13. How much alcohol did you add 1 Tbsp of sugar to? Or how much sugar would you use per cup of alcohol?
  14. thock, when you say "four-fold extraction" do you mean you are using 4X the amount of beans, so 24x4= 96 grams per 8 oz of alcohol? That sounds like it would be pretty strong indeed! In regards to the almond extract I actually posted 2 different sites with the 2nd site using almost 3X what the first site's recipe called for. My post that I was going to use .75oz per 8 oz of alcohol is about what the 2nd stronger recipe calls for. Are you saying the first or 2nd link recipe won't be as strong as the store bought?
  15. Ok for those interested in the almond extract I found another link. This person is using way more almonds 16 (vs 6) per cup of alcohol. I'm going to use .75 oz (of slivered almonds) per cup and see how it turns out. http://www.localharvest.org/blog/50346/entry/how_to_make_homemade_almond
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