butternut-squash-gnocchi1.jpg

Whew!

The past four weeks have been tough, to say the least. I had a big work assignment that pretty much meant almost no baking or cooking for me and that of course translates to almost no blogging.

Now that the project is done, I am slowly readying myself for the greatest baking time of the year: Christmas.

While I adore Christmas, I do not adore starting the celebrations too early. So I’m ignoring all the decorations everywhere and the music that’s already bombarding you everywhere you go.

It’s. Still. Too. Early.

Right now I’m focussing on returning some order to my disordered life. I’m opening mail, going through long-abandoned books, tidying up around the house and generally just wiping the slate clean so I can start December prepared for the baking that lies ahead.

I’ve missed quite a few Magazine Mondays over the past couple of months and I thank all the great people who stepped in to host for me. MM is a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of responsibility and I plan on sending it on the road more often to help me cope and also to give MM fans the chance to share hosting duties.

As we approach the final editions of MM for 2010, I turn to a recipe that I tried about a month ago, with mixed results.

I should start off by saying that I adore Lidia Bastianich. She is a teacher to the core and the fact that food happens to be her subject is a blessing to all of us.

I own most of her cookbooks and find them to be thoughtful, detailed and serious. You will always have good results with Lidia’s recipes.

For this reason, I was a ever-so-slightly disappointed by the Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Butter from the October 2010 issue of Bon Appétit.

While the end result was quite good, I found the method for this recipe a bit confusing. I admit that I changed the method in several instances to be more in line with what I’m used to when it comes to gnocchi.

I grew up in a family where gnocchi were made frequently. I’ve made gnocchi myself many times and while I would never call myself an expert, I’m familiar enough with the process.

The first thing that stumped me in this recipe was the instruction to roast the squash but boil the potatoes. If you’re going to roast the butternut squash to cook it, why not also roast the potatoes along with the squash to save yourself the step of boiling them? To avoid that extra step, I threw my potatoes in along with the butternut squash to bake until done. Once cooked, I peeled the potatoes and passed them through a ricer.

What really stumped me was that once the butternut squash is cooked, the recipe instructs you to puree the squash in a food processor and then cook in a saucepan until the puree thickens.

I have roasted butternut squash many, many times and it has never been exceptionally liquidy or even moist. I could not figure out why I would have to dirty the food processor and then dirty another saucepan when all I had to do was pass the cooked squash through a ricer, as I did with the potatoes? Again, I saved myself several steps there.

The rest of the recipe proceeded nicely right up until cooking time. After forming the adorable little dumplings I chilled them for an hour as instructed. Prior to cooking, I brought a large pot of salted water to boil and that’s where I did the double-take.

Cook for 15 to 17 minutes?!

I don’t think so.

I have never ever seen anyone who makes gnocchi at home cook them for that long unless you’re aiming for some sort of paste-like substance.

I was always taught that when you put gnocchi to boil, you should allow them to come to the surface and then cook for a few minutes, at most.

Against my better judgment, I decided to cook the first batch for about 15 minutes and I knew almost immediately that I’d make a mistake. My gnocchi were mushy and in some cases had fallen apart altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. They were delicious and once you covered them with butter and sage, it was all good.

It’s just that the recipe had me scratching my head a few times and that’s not what I’m used to from Lidia Bastianich.

butternut-squash-gnocchi2.jpg

I would definitely try this recipe, but I would save myself some effort (and cleanup) by roasting the squash and potatoes together and then passing the flesh of both through a ricer.

And when cooking the gnocchi, I wouldn’t boil them for more than 5 our 6 minutes.

I managed to put a very small dent in my food magazine pile this past weekend and here are some other folks that did the same:

Melissa of Baking Makes Things Better made Caramel Brownies from the October 2010 issue of ‘recipes+’.

Sue of Couscous & Consciousness made Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs with Couscous from the November 2007 issue of Delicious magazine.

Janie of Panini Girl made Baked Orrecchiette with Pork Sugo from the October 2008 issue of Food & Wine.

Janet of Taste Space made Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad from the 2007 issue of Gourmet.

Melissa from It’s the Way She … made a Golden Brown Butter and Praline Tart from the November 2010 issue of Bon Appétit.

Valerie of Sex, Food, and Rock & Roll made Eggplant, Fontina and Tomato Pizza from the 2004 issue of Gourmet.

Remember that Magazine Mondays is your chance to take control of that magazine pile and all those clipped recipes!

Have a great week, everyone!

Ciao!