Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From Our Kitchen to Yours: Homemade Potato Gnocchi

We served this with the Roasted Tomato Bruschetta we shared last month. The cookbook notes, "If made properly, these dumplings from northern Italy will be as light as a feather. The secret is to use floury Idaho potatoes, cook them in their skins, and mix the dough while still warm. A light hand is needed, and as little flour as possible. This recipe contains egg to make handling easier - the gnocchi will be a little firmer than those made without egg."

Potato Gnocchi
Source: Viva Italia - The New Flavors of Italy (Maxine Clark/Hamlyn)

2 pounds Idaho potatoes, unpeeled
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
2 - 2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
semolina flour or white flour, for sprinkling
To serve:
Butter, melted
Sage, chopped
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes until very tender. Drain well. Alternatively, bake the potatoes in the oven until tender.

Holding the potatoes in a dish towel, peel off the skins and pass the potaties through a potato ricer or sieve into a bowl.

While the potatoes are still warm, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the butter, beaten egg, and half of the flour. Lightly mix together, then turn out onto a floured board. Gradually, with a light hand, knead the rest of the floru into the dough until it is smooth, soft, and a little sticky.

Roll the dough into long sausages, about 1 inch thick and cut them into 3/4-inch pieces.

Take each piece and roll it over the back of a fork with your florued thumb so the gnochhi form ridges on one side and an indentation on the other.

Spread out the gnocchi on a dish towel sprinkled with semolina flour or white flour. (We set them on a piece of parchment paper.)

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they float to the surface.

Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with melted butter, chopped sage, and plenty of grated Parmesan.

Variation: for a more elaborate dish, serve the potato snocchi with the sauce of your choice. Both tomato-based sauces and creamy sauces taste delicous with gnocchi.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 22-24: Cincinnati MidPoint Music Festival

Three days of live music will commence soon for the Cincinnati MidPoint Music Festival. For more information on bands and tickets, check out their website at http://mpmf.com/festival.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 17-18: Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati

According to the official website, "Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA is an outdoor festival held in downtown Zinzinnati, Ohio that showcases the rich German heritage of Southwestern Ohio, as well as tasty samples of German-style music, food and beer. First held in 1976, the event has grown to be North America's largest Oktoberfest with over 500,000 people attending each year."

Festival Hours
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, 11 a.m.-midnight
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

5th Annual Running of the Wieners
Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, noon-1 p.m.

Gemuetlichkeit Games
Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, 1-2 p.m.

Opening Ceremony and Keg Tapping
Saturday, Sept 17, 2011, 11:30 a.m.

Worlds Largest Chicken Dance
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, Noon, Fountain Square

On six blocks of Fifth Street, from Race Street to Broadway in Downtown Cincinnati.


Convenient parking can be found in the Fountain Square Garage for only $5.

For more information and directions, visit the Oktoberfest website at www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time for a Summer Picnic!

With the end of the summer looming ahead, thankfully the temperatures are still pleasant for outdoor attractions and exploring. As we've mentioned previously, there is a special Excellent Adventure itinerary for guests who want to combine a trip to Burlington with Louisville, which included a picnic lunch. We've decided not to limit the picnic option to those choosing the itinerary, so it is now available as an option for any guest stay (with advanced notice).

Picnic Lunch for Two $60
Our picnic includes homemade chicken salad croissants with fresh fruit, lime-flavored tortilla chips, Ghirardelli chocolate brownies, and a liter of flat or sparkling water. Packed with disposable containers/cups, plastic silverware, and napkins so you can travel well. Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cincinnati Restaurant Week: Sept. 9-18

Held just twice a year, the Original Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week will be running from Friday, September 9th thru the following Sunday, September 18th. This week long event is presented by the Greater Cincinnati Independent restaurants, and features special deals and unique cuisine at 25 local, independent restaurants.

Their slogan this year: "Eat LOTS. Spend Little." Each restaurant will be offering a three-course dinner for just $26.11 per person (not including drinks, taxes or gratuities). Not only will you eat well, but proceeds will support the local Cincinnati Cystic Fibrosis chapter.

The official website includes links to menus, online reservations, and up-to-date information at www.eatlocalcincy.com/taste.asp.

Our last-minute special is in effect for those looking for a special getaway in conjunction with Restaurant Week. Guests receive a 20% discount for same-day reservations in the Graves’ Suite, William Rouse Suite, William Rouse Retreat, or Thomas’ Room. After a nice dinner, enjoy our fresh baked cookies waiting on your pillow and a gourmet breakfast the next morning - you may be too full to drive home!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From Our Kitchen to Yours: Slow-roasted Tomatoes on Bruschetta

This is a delicious, savory summer appetizer or side dish. The cookbook we found it in notes, "These firm but juicy tomatoes burst with the flavor of the sun. They take no time to prepare but spend a long time in the oven and smell fantastic while cooking. You can use other vine-ripened varieties if you like - just make sure that they have plenty of flavor."

Slow-roasted Tomatoes on Bruschetta
Source: Viva Italia - The New Flavors of Italy (Maxine Clark/Hamlyn)

4 large vine-ripened plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 ounces salted ricotta or feta cheese, crumbled or cut into slivers
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
4 thick slices of country bread
2 garlic cloves

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways. Put them cut-side up on a baking sheet. Mix the garlic and oregano with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon or brush this mixture over the cut tomatoes and bake them in a preheated oven, 325 degrees, for about two hours, checking every now and then.

The tomatoes should be slightly shrunk but still a brilliant red color. If they are too dark, they will be bitter. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool.

Cut the bruschetta slices so that 2 tomato halves will sit comfortably on each one. (For the bread we bought, one tomato per slice was a better fit.)

Toast or grill the bread on both sides then rub each slice with the bruised garlic and drizzle with olive oil. (We also added some shredded Parmesan cheese.)

Cover the tomatoes with the cheese and top with a basil leaf (optional).

Serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings.