Category Archives: Frankly Speaking Food

Homemade Croissants

Lately, I have been super into Sur la Table‘s cooking classes. I love going to them because 1. I get to eat and 2. I don’t have to do the dishes. Since I am marrying a frenchman, I obviously needed to learn how to make some authentic French food. So I decided to start with something I thought would be easy: croissants. I could not have been more wrong. They were the most time consuming and difficult thing I have ever baked. But so, so worth it!

We made traditional croissants, pain au chocolat, and ham and cheese croissants. Because the recipes are so long and complex, I scanned them and added the images to the end of this post for you to download!

It takes a really long time to make the dough (I’m talking like 2-3 hours), so our instructor had to make it the night before and refrigerated.

There is a lot of measuring, cutting, and rolling involved when making croissants, so you have be really precise (which I’m not). You also can’t handle the dough for too long, otherwise the layers of butter that have been folded in will start to melt (learned this the hard way).

After you cut into perfect triangles, you cut a little slit in the widest part and pull apart the dough for about half an inch. It should look like an upside down Eiffel Tower (only fitting). And then you roll the dough into a perfect crescent like below.

Its important to rotate the croissants halfway through baking to ensure they are all evenly baked.

Look at how perfectly baked and flaky! They were seriously so yummy straight from the oven. I wanted my own tray. Literally drooling at my desk right now…

My fiancé and I made these on our own a few weeks later and they turned out even better! But we decided that homemade croissants will only be made for special events. They just take way too long to make, but if you have the time they sure are worth it. The next time I make croissants, I’m going to attempt to make pretzel croissants. There is an amazing bakery in Dallas called Village Baking Company that makes them and they sell out EVERY DAY. So if I can master the pretzel croissant, I’ll be golden. I’ll keep you posted if they are a success!

Thanks so much for a fun cooking class, Sur la Table!

If you don’t have time to make your own croissants from scratch, try the Williams Sonoma Croissant Dough. You can buy them in large and mini versions, but they are only available certain times throughout the year. So keep checking! Honestly, you could totally pass them off as homemade and no one would know. I won’t tell.

Here are the three recipes for the croissants, plus one for just the dough (click to view and download):

Dough     Classic Croissants     Ham and Cheese Croissants     Pain au Chocolate

Be sure to tell me how your croissants turn out! Happy baking!

Here are some things you might need:

Homemade Gnocchi

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I’m going to be honest, I am not the best cook. I love to do it because I love food and eating, but I just am not very confident with my cooking skills. When it comes to baking though, I’m a champ. Anyways, when my cute mom asked if I wanted to take a cooking class at Sur La Table, I immediately said yes especially since it was a class in the art of making homemade gnocchi (my all-time favorite pasta dish). The class was so much fun, so informative, and really made me feel more confident in my cooking skills. The chef taught us all of these knife tricks that made me feel like a pro! He also opened my eyes to a whole new world of gnocchi making. Did you know there are so many different types of gnocchi? I had no clue. We made a two new types that I had never heard of and one of them is my absolute favorite now and the sauce we made for it is literally to die for. Sharing the recipes for all three recipes to make the perfect pillow gnocchi below!

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Traditional Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

Potato gnocchi:

2 pounds of russet potatoes

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1/2 cup cake flour, plus more as needed

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for simmering

Brown butter sauce:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons thinly sliced sage leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

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Preheat the oven to 400 F

To make the gnocchi: Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Place the potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

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Using a kitchen towel and paring knife, carefully peel the potatoes and immediately process potatoes with a potato ricer or food mill and evenly spread out on a clean flat surface or baking sheet.

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Using a fine-mesh strainer, dust the potatoes evenly with flours. Drizzle egg and salt over and knead until you have smooth, cohesive dough, about 2 minutes. If the dough feels sticky, incorporate up to 1/4 cup more cake flour. Set gnocchi aside, covered with a kitchen towel, to rest for twenty minutes.

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Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into quarters with a bench scraper. Roll each portion into a long rope, about 3/4 inch diameter. Using the bench scraper or a knife, cut the rope into 3/4 inch long pieces. Set the cut gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel as you form the rest.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and season generously with salt.

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To prepare brown butter sauce: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk solids turn golden brown and the butter takes on a nutty aroma. Stir in sherry vinegar and sage. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low.

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Meanwhile, add gnocchi in batches to the simmering water and cook until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked dumplings to the skillet with the sauce, gently stirring to coat with the butter and sage. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

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Transfer dumplings to warmed shallow pasta bowls or large rimmed serving platter; garnish generously with grated parmesan and serve immediately.

Let me just tell you, this was sooo yummy. Especially the sauce. A must try!

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Gnocchi Gnudi with Hazelnut Pesto and Goat Cheese (MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE OF THE DAY!)

Gnudi (pronounced nudie, how scandalous!) is a type of gnocchi made with ricotta cheese instead of potato.

Gnudi:

1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for simmering

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Hazelnut Pesto:

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned

3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 medium clove garlic

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

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To prepare gnudi: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and seasonings; stir until well combined. Sift the flour over the mixture and using a spatula, fold until a soft dough forms.

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Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into fourths with a bench scraper. Roll each portion into a long rope about 3/4 inch in diameter. Using the bench scraper, cut the ropes into 1 inch long pieces and transfer gnudi to a lightly floured baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and season generously with salt.

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To make pesto: Add the hazelnuts, parmesan, and garlic to a food processor or blender. Process until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and parsley and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the lemon juice and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

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To cook gnudi: Working in batches, add gnudi to the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, drain gnocchi and transfer to the bowl with hazelnut pesto and toss until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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To serve: Transfer gnocchi to warmed shallow pasta bowls or large rimmed serving platter (or just shovel into your mouth which is what I would do), dot with goat cheese or parmesan cheese and serve ASAP.

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I didn’t put goat cheese on mine because personally, I hate goat cheese, so I sprinkled on some parmesan and let me tell you this was THE BEST THING I HAVE EVERY EATEN. Literally heaven in my mouth. You HAVE to try in immediately. I promise you will love it.

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For both of the above dishes, we used this little wooden board to create the ridges on the gnocchi. This allows for the sauce to cling to the pasta instead of sliding back off. It’s awesome! You can buy it here. For grating the parmesan, we used this handy grater that makes the cheese so light and fluffy. Seriously, I tossed my old grater out and will only be using this from now on. You can get it here.

You can shop all of the tools that we used at the end of the post!

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Things got a little interesting and creative with the third type of gnocchi. I had never heard of Semolina Gnocchi before so I was super excited to try this type out.

Semolina Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and Olives

Known as “Roman” gnocchi, this version is made from coarsely ground semolina flour, milk and eggs. The gnocchu are formed by preparing a polenta-like paste which is cooled and then cut into quares and baked in a hot oven. The result is a crispy exterior with a soft creamy center.

For the gnocchi:

4 cups whole milk

1 cup semolina flour

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped and pitted Kalamata olives

10 large basil leaves, cut into ribbons, plus more for garnish

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Preheat the oven to 400 F

Add the milk to a medium saucepan, place on the stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Slowly add the semolina flour in a thin stream, whisking constantly. When combined, use a wooden spoon to constantly stir until the mixture is very thick.

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Reduce the heat to low and beat in the egg, continuing to cook until combined, about two minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, butter, cheese, and pepper to taste. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

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Pour mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, cover with plastic to prevent a skin forming on the surface and refrigerate until cool and firm to the touch, about 1 hour.

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Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut the chilled semolina gnocchi into twelve 3-inch squares. Carefully arrange the squares onto the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven; bake the gnocchi until the bottoms become golden brown, about 15 minutes.

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To prepare the sauce: Add olive oil to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add garlic and shallot; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, add the olives and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in basil ribbons.

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To serve: Ladle the tomato sauce onto the plate, place semolina squares on the top of the sauce; sprinkle with grated parmesan and basil ribbons. And enjoy!

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The Semolina Gnocchi was so yummy and unique. While we were making this dish, I couldn’t believe that these little squares were actually a form on gnocchi. Definitely a must if you want to try something unique in the kitchen!

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Taking a cooking class was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while! If you have a Sur La Table near you, be sure to sign up for a cooking class! You can find a class schedule here. They also offer online courses as well, so you can cook in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Shop some of the utensils we used to make gnocchi below:

Queen of Hoxton

Queen-of-Hoxton

My friends and I have made it a goal to explore one new area or a new restaurant in London every week this summer. Last week we decided to try Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch. This groovy joint is themed as a tribute to Dr. Strange and is a space for music, dancing, food, and rooftop parties.

Queen-of-Hoxton-Menu

Rooftop-Bar

We decided to pop up to the rooftop to explore and grab a bite to eat. And boy did we eat…

Piri-Piri-Chicken

Let’s talk about these chicken skewers. Piri-Piri chicken, grilled halloumi, and chorizo…really what more could you want? We soaked in the London sunshine as we tucked into our kebabs.

Chicken-Kebabs

Dr-Strange

Flower-Boxes

Stuffed full of chicken, halloumi, and chorizo, we sat and chatted and enjoyed our first weekend of summer on a London rooftop. We were totally satisfied and ready to head home…and then this happened…

Rainbow-Bagel

The psychedelic ice cream sandwich.

Rainbow-Ice-Cream-Sandwich

Sprinkled covered artisan salted caramel ice cream sandwiched between a rainbow bagel. It was every bit of weird as you would think it would be.

Groovy

The bagel was so-so, but the ice cream was literally amazing. It’s from Hackney Lick and I’m pretty sure you can buy it buy the tub so I will be stocking my freezer immediately.

Ice-Cream-Sandwich

Sprinkles

Though the ice cream sandwiches were a little weird, we still had a groovy afternoon enjoying the rooftop at Queen of Hoxton. Be sure to check out their calendar of events. They have rooftop cinema every Sunday to Wednesday and every Friday night there is a 90’s dance party, so you know where to find me!

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