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Gnocchi is an excellent accompaniment for meat and poultry dishes. When prepared right, they are light as pillows, like dumplings. The secret is to not over mix the dough and to use just the right amount of flour. There are so many ways to make gnocchi; I prefer to bake the potatoes instead of steaming them, making a softer dough. Gnocchi is quite popular in the Mediterranean, with each country having their own version. I share below my version of Gnocchi which pairs well with bitter greens, like spinach.

Potato Gnocchi 
Recipe Chef George Hirsch | chefgeorgehirsch.com

2 pounds russets (baking potatoes)
Approximately 2 cups flour (variable) 
1 large egg
A pinch of sea salt

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake potatoes until easily pierced with a fork or a paring knife will easy slip through potatoes. Cool slightly, then peel the potatoes. 

Mash them while they’re still warm (a potato ricer or food mill works best). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt and slowly knead in enough flour to obtain a fairly firm, smooth, non-sticky dough; exactly how much flour depends on the moisture from the potatoes. Add the egg, and enough flour so the dough does not stick to your hands. 

Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, as it will resemble regular pasta dough. Divide the dough into four pieces.

Roll the dough out into a rope shape about 2/3 of an inch thick, cut the rope into one-inch pieces, and gently score the pieces crosswise with a fork to obtain slight ridges. With your finger, gently roll the pressed dough back off the fork. This may take a little practice. If the dough sticks to the fork, dip the fork in flour before you press the dough against it. Making this shape will help the gnocchi grab on to the tasty sauce it’s served with. 

Cook the gnocchi in abundant salted boiling water, removing them with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain them well and serve them with a few leaves of sage, melted unsalted butter and Parmesan, or meat sauce, or pesto sauce. 

Serve immediately while they are full of steam. The gnocchi are wonderfully light when hot. Once they cool off they become dense like a tire without air.

My Gnocchi with Spinach Recipe

image; istock | © Claudia Fernanda Furlan Germain


Jamón Serrano

Jamón Serrano is Spain's dry cured country ham, much like the more popular Prosciutto of Italy, but slightly little less fatty. Jamón Serrano can come from any region in Spain, unlike Prosciutto di Parma, a certified product specifically marked from the Parma region in Italy. Jamón Serrano is aka mountain ham, a nickname given because originally the mountain regions were where the hams were cured, possessing ideal climate conditions for curing the hams for at least a year. This Serrano ham is a common ham, embraced and ingrained in the customs and traditions in all Spain's regions. And also, enjoyed on a daily basis at most Spanish meals.

Available at specialty markets.

Serve: carved paper thin with hard cheese and fresh fruit.


Eat Cake, Travel Well

Got Spring carrots? I can think of a hundred ways to prepare carrots - but how about a recipe that enhances their natural sweetness? Think Carrot Cake, in convenient cupcake portions. Happy Spring and whatever you plan to celebrate this week. Cupcakes travel well. Did I mention the delicious Cream Cheese Frosting? Enjoy!

Carrot Cupcakes
Makes about 2 dozen
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle eMagazine

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3 cups carrots, finely shredded 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, applesauce and vanilla. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly while mixing.  

Mix at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl every minute.
Pour batter into cupcake liners until they are 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pans, then move to wire rack to cool. 

Tip: Taste carrots before using. Use the freshest carrots possible, the sweeter the carrot the better the cupcake. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes approximately 4 cups 
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle eMagazine

1 pound Cream cheese, room temperature and softened
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature and softened
2 cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
2 teaspoons Grated orange zest

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, orange zest and gradually stir in the confectioners sugar. Scrape bowl, mix two additional minutes.

Refrigerator after use.

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