Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A sweet potato success and a fudge fail

Today I've hit the two-week mark of my Pantry/Freezer Challenge, and I'm just starting to see the bottom of my pantry drawer and the back of my freezer. This challenge has really helped me refocus on being mindful in the kitchen - about what I buy and how I prepare it.

After a trip to the local produce mart (an amazing place called Stanley's, where you can buy a whole bag of fresh fruits and veggies for under $10!), I came home with a mutant sweet potato I was itching to use for something special.

The spoon is there for your benefit, so you can see what a colossal tuber I acquired.
That something special turned out to be whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi. Why? Well, I'd never made gnocchi before, and I like eating it, so I wanted to try to make it - without using any 'special' equipment (food mill, ricer, etc). Also, I knew I could get away with using only half this sweet potato and still have enough leftover for another meal (coming later this week!).

Paired simply with sauteed portabellos and sage-infused browned butter, this homemade, healthy gnocchi was simply delicious.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Gnocchi
(serves 2; makes about 30 gnocchi)

1 1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled (or part of an oversized one)
1 t olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 t salt
nutmeg (to taste)
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

Cut the sweet potato into a few large chunks and roast on a foil-lined pan with the olive oil at 350 degrees until soft, about 30-40 minutes (this step can be done a few days in advance). Place the potato chunks in a medium bowl, and add the minced garlic, rosemary, salt, and nutmeg. Using a potato masher, mash the potato and the spices well until well mashed, broken down and combined. It's okay if the mixture still seems a little coarse, it doesn't have to be a fine puree. Add the egg and incorporate into the potato with the masher until the mixture is wet. Now, using a spoon, add the flour a few tablespoons at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. You want the resulting dough to still be soft, but not so wet that it sticks to the bowl and the spoon and your hands. Don't worry, this recipe is forgiving.

When you've used up all (or almost all, depending on how it feels) of the flour, place the dough in a medium/large plastic bag - this is our makeshift pastry bag, and is way easier than rolling out and cutting the dough. Move the dough to one corner of the bag and cut off the end. Squeeze the dough out of the corner of the bag and use a sharp knife to cut it off in one-inch sections, directly into boiling, salted water. Cook the gnocchi for 3-4 minutes, until they float to the surface.

The finished gnocchi, with mushrooms and sage-brown butter. Yum!

Marshmallow Fluff No-Fail Fudge

So the real P/FC part of this meal was the dessert. I wanted to use up a half-jar of Marshmallow Fluff I've had in my pantry forever for some fudge to bring into work, in celebration of my coworker passing the US Citizenship Exam (congrats on being able to read the sentence, "Where is the White House?", Athos!). However, contrary to its name, this no-fail fudge failed me. Or I failed it. Either way, I set out for fudge, and this is what I got:

Chocolate dirt candy. Let's just say I played it off as congratulatory 'ice cream topping' rather than fudge.


  1. I think we've all got our own fudge failure stories. :-) That stuff is not as easy as some grandmas make it look. Nice Gnocchi!!

  2. The Gnocchi looks yummy! I've heard a lot of people talking about gnocchi, but never knew what it was until now. Delicious.

  3. Annie,

    Love the blog .. how about a "snow special" to commemorate the blizzard. I am sure you can come up with something for all the folks with cabin fever.

  4. @MessyMissy - I'm glad I'm not the only one who's failed at fudge! :)

    @Tawny - Gnocchi were new to me too until a few years ago, never knew the goodness they were - or how many kinds are out there! Surprisingly easy to make.

    @MEP - I have posted a 'snow day special' as requested! :) Check out my newest post.