Tuesday, November 10, 2020

T-day with an Italian twist

Unlike many other years, 2020 held our breaths till the Biden-Harris' victory. Now we all can finally move on and think about our Thanksgiving Day or Holidays menu.

This can be a delicate issue as families have their staple dishes and expats around the world don't always have access to certain ingredients. For one, Italian turkeys are different animals and taste different from the north American ones. Also more people have decided to go vegetarian, or even vegan, or to detox their system. In view of all these considerations, we are sharing two of our successful recipes to give an Italian twist to your Turkey Day table: pumpkin gnocchi and pumpkin chocolate bread as we talked about in our last Italian class:

2020 Cheesy Pumpkin Gnocchi

You can find our basic pumpkin gnocchi recipe here together with our other pumpkin suggestions: pumpkin risotto, pumpkin chips and great suggestions of white wines from Piedmont to pair them with.

Our 2020 pumpkin gnocchi recipe includes:

  • about 450 gr / 1 cup of pumpkin purée* 
  • 1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or any hard cheese of your choice or ricotta 
  • 3 cups of farro and buckwheat flour with flex seeds or any whole wheat flour  
  • regular white flour, as much as you need to make a gnocchi dough 
  • optional: 1/2 tsp of turmeric, a bit of pepper to activate it, some chopped or grated fresh ginger as you like it, or chopped fresh herbs. You can also add 1 egg as in your regular gnocchi recipe.

This recipe makes about 3 portions. We also recommend:

  • a stainless steel scraper
  • a silicone mat
  • Chinese skimmer

* If pumpkin purée isn't available where you live, it is very easy and quick to make! We cut the pumpkin into large cubes, wash them and bake them in the oven at 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Smaller cubes will bake quicker, so keep an eye on your pumpkin cubes after 10 minutes. Feel with a fork the tenderness level of the cubes: they are ready when very soft.
When cool off, put the cubes into your food processor and puré them.

At this point add the fresh ginger, the turmeric, the pepper, the parmesan cheese or the fresh herbs, so that they fully blend in with the pumpkin purée.

Take off the blade or move to a bowl and fold in the farro - buckwheat flour with a spatula. If you are used to, add the egg now and then fold in some regular flour.

When well incorporated, start adding 1 cup of white flour and move to a floured kneading table. Add as much white flour as you need to achieve the normal elastic gnocchi dough.

With a stainless steel scraper cut the gnocchi dough into 4 to 6 portions and start rolling one down into a 1 inch / 2 cm thick snake or sausage. Cut your gnocchi with the scraper or a knife and roll the ridges on the back of a fork, or simply flour them and place them on a silicone mat.

To freeze them: move the silicon mat to your freezer and make sure the gnocchi are well distanced. After 1h, when hard at the touch, you can portion them in ziplock bags.

Fresh or frozen they cook on the stove in a large pot of salty boiling water.

Fill a big pot of water up to 3/4, add 1 tablespoon of Kosher (coarse) salt. When the water boils throw in your gnocchi portion(s) and gently stir them every once in a while.

Cook them at medium heat, when they float they are ready to be plated: scoop them up directly into your bowls with a Chinese skimmer - the best kitchen tool to pick up the gnocchi while draining all the water.

As these gnocchi are very delicate, we love them simply with some EVOO, soy sauce and a generous dust of medium grated parm on top. But if you used fresh herbs, you may want to consider making a pesto with some pecans or other nuts to top them with. If you have some balsamic vinegar glaze or a soft mild cheese they will do the trick too 😋

Gnocchi always give us plenty of pastabilities, are easy to make and also an easy way to involve everyone in the preparation of your family meal. Needlesss to add they can be also very romantic to make together with you SO.

Best wine pairings from Piedmont: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Gattinara or Freisa.

If you don't have access to any of our delicious Piedmont DOC and DOCG wines, we recommend you try a: Sauvignon, Shiraz or Pinot Noir. A blonde Belgian beer or a red one will be good too, as well as hardcider. Nothing will compare to our Piedmont wines though, but it'll be better than Coke 😁

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Our chocolate pumpkin bread makes a great alternative dessert to the classic pumpkin and pecan pies, and by adding some chestnut flour you'll enjoy a traditional Italian castagnaccio-like flavor. This bread is great for breakfast and the mid-afternoon coffee or tea too. As it is very low in calories is it actually great for everyone watching their diet and your house will smell like cake for a couple days too!

To make a 9x5in. loaf:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (see above for our recipe to make it at home)
  • 1/2 cup of fat plain white yogurt, we use Müller cream of yogurt, but Greek yogurt or canola oil will do it too. 
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of chestnut flour for the best castagnaccio flavor, or any other flour: hazelnut, almond, whole wheat, even farro and buckwheat
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup of muscovado sugar or cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup or regular white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of pure Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts: we use hazelnuts and peanuts, pecans will be great too
  • 1/2 cup mixed seeds but you can also try raisins

Oven: 350F / 180C   
65-50 minutes

We normally make the pumpkin purée at home and mix all the wet ingredients in the blender bowl. We always add one ingredient at the time starting by the eggs: we pulse them till reaching a nice foamy mix. One by one, we add the rest of the wet ingredients and before removing the blade, we also coarsely chop our hazelnuts and peanuts.
In a large bowl we add all the dry ingredients but the seeds.
We combine the wet with the dry ingredients in the large bowl and after whisking them well together we finally add the mixed seeds.

Grease your loaf pan and pour in. The loaf is ready with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow 10 minutes before unmolding and in case, portion and freeze what you won't eat within the first 3 days.
Remember to seal it well to avoid any freezer burns.

Whether you make it for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving or any other important breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, serve it lukewarm with some fior di latte gelato, vanilla ice cream or sugar-free home whipped cream.

2020 has been a very hard year for everyone so far, we all need some pampering and some soul food to fill up our hearts and souls 🙏

We are very grateful for all of you who have been following us online through our virtual 7th edition of Turin Epicurean Capital, our lockdowns and local ups and downs.
A very special thanks to all those of you who check in with us about how we are doing and who send prayers our way.
Thank you so much, amici, we feel your friendship, affection and compassion despite the miles, the mountains and the oceans that keep us apart.

This will be a special Thanksgiving Day due to the pandemic that brings us together reminding us that hope is the last to die and the vaccin is getting closer.

Keep visualizing yourselves here in Turin, sitting down at one of our royal coffee shops, sipping vermouth, enjoying an artisan gelato or savoring a Barolo chinato - our meditation wine. Sooner than you know, you'll be here, walking down our mile long arches munching on our grissini breaksticks after visiting our Porta Palazzo market or one of our amazing museums.

Chocolate, coffee or both (Bicerin anyone?) or even fashion, whatever you passion is, be certain that Turin will always satisfy it 😎

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento a tutti, amici 💃 Happy Thanksgiving Day you all 🙆

Stay safe and positive!

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