Did I ever mention to you that my husband grew up on a beautiful Northeastern Ohio produce farm on Boughton Drive in Copley, Ohio? If so, I am adding a chapter to it - my potato story.
You see, the farm has been in the Boughton family since the 1860s. It originally had animals like the song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” When I started dating my now husband, he worked on the farm and from time to time I was invited to join him. To me it was a fun novelty, not work. I rode the potato picker, sorted the potatoes as they were dumped into the long trough like shoots and had a blast riding around on the back of the wagon.
I soon graduated from picker to bagger… inside the barn the potatoes were washed, sorted and bagged. I even mastered the art of twisting those heavy wire ties (they don’t use those now, just plastic or tape like twisties).
To say I’m a master at potato picking, sorting, grading, bagging and cooking would be a downright lie, but I am very good at baking and cooking them and I want to share a few recipes with y’all. So “Please Join Our Table” as I whip up (pun here) a few of my favorite recipes!
My Easy Gnocchi
I finally tried my hand at making gnocchi. You know those darling little Italian potato dumplings that you see on almost every Italian restaurant menu. I have had it several times in restaurants but since my husband doesn’t like it (he says it tasted like eating dough in a sauce) I have never made it at home. It was fun making it and watching the cute little “gnocchis” rise from the bottom of the salted boiling water, like sea monkeys floating around in a fish bowl, to the top.
I have a lot of friends who are of Italian descent, and of those who make gnocchi, they all have a slightly different family version of the ingredients. Like Texas chili, we all have our own version with basically the same ingredients but we add our own secret spice etc. to it!
There are lots of recipes out there and an easy finish I did was to top it with Rae’s marinara (raos.com) or an Alfredo sauce with cooked, drained spinach added to the Alfredo sauce… pure heaven!
This fast easy recipe freezes well. Put rolled gnocchi on parchment lined baking sheets until frozen, and then put into Ziploc freezer bags.
2 cups dry potato flakes
2 cups boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Dash of nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon)
3 cups all-purpose flour
Optional: 2 tablespoon grated hard Italian cheese (your choice)
DIRECTIONS: In a medium mixing bowl, place the potato flakes and boiling water, mix until blended and set aside to cool. Stir in eggs, salt, grated cheese and pepper. Begin adding flour a little at a time to make dough stiff. Turn dough out on a floured board. Knead it lightly. Divide dough into fourths. Roll each into a long thin roll, the thickness of a large pretzel stick or hot dog. Dip a knife in flour and cut the dough logs into bite-size pieces. Boil water in a large pot, and at this time I warm up my sauce in a saucepan and hold it at a low simmer. Place gnocchi in boiling water but don’t crowd them or they may stick together. Add about 4 to 6 at a time, depending on the size of your pot. As they rise to the top of the pot, remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat until all are cooked. Serve immediately.
Note: When making it with Alfredo sauce, sometimes instead of nutmeg, I add a dash of sage, I omit the spinach and top the Alfredo sauce gnocchi with a few leaves of sage *chiffonade cut or maybe go over the top and fry a few whole leaves and gently place them on top of the dish… It adds a wow to your easy gnocchi dish!
*Chiffonade: Gather the cleaned leaves into a stack. Use a cutting board underneath your leaves to avoid cutting and scratching your countertop. Start with the largest leaf on the bottom and build up from there. Finely slice the “cigar” roll into ribbons. Begin slicing across the “cigar” at a 60-degree angle. Let your knuckles be your guide (but be careful not to cut yourself). The closer your cuts, the smaller your shreds will be. Most people chiffonade at about 1/8” wide. Use a rocking motion so you don’t have to pick up the knife every time; this will seriously speed up your cutting time. Finish slicing the entire roll, down to the pointy edges. Fluff the shreds with your fingertips, separating them from their tangles. If you cut any stems, throw them away, you only want the cut leaves.
My Easy Greek Potatoes
I’m letting you in on my secret Greek potato recipe. You will never want to order them again from a Greek restaurant or a Greek wannabe restaurant! Fun Fact: As kids, all of the cousins ate them with ketchup, to the chagrin of our Greek YiaYia (grandmother) and all the Greek theías (aunts).
5-6 potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut into horizontal wedges (6 per potato)
1/4 cup EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling)
½ teaspoon semolina
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper (freshly ground)
1 teaspoon garlic powder and 2-3 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh Greek oregano, no stems and 1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, no stems, chiffonade cut
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 lemons (juiced), save lemons after juicing and cut into quarters
If not cooking with a leg of lamb, use lamb fat or EVOO and 1/2 cup chicken broth.
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Add the potatoes to a large bowl of water, let rest 30 minutes or so. Drain potatoes, pat them dry then put them back into the bowl. Drizzle EVOO, minced garlic and semolina over the potatoes; then season with salt and lemon pepper, garlic powder, Greek oregano, rosemary and mint and toss the potatoes well to cover.
Place the chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan; add the potatoes and all the marinade from the bowl. Make a well in the center. Lay the lamb fat and lemons on and around the potatoes. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to roast uncovered until tender 20-25 minutes. Once done, you can switch the oven to a low broil setting and give the potatoes a little extra color if needed. Otherwise, remove the potatoes to a platter, garnish with chiffonade chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of salt and Greek oregano and a dash of EVOO and then serve with lamb, etc.