The Food Groupie Club

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to food. I have been a chef professionally for about 12 years now and am currently teaching cooking classes at a culinary school. I seriously love to cook and eat good food. The problem with cooking and eating like the professionals though is that it can be kind of intimidating for a home food enthusiast. My goal is to bring good food into every-day homes. Anyone can make healthy, good quality, good tasting, and good looking food with the right know-how. So here you made easy by a professional!

I will be featuring some of my favorite chef's recipes in my posts and will note in the post what book was used. Their books that I use will be listed in my must have cookbooks tab.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banana Whole-Wheat Bran Muffins/Bread

I think I'm in love with this recipe. I've been playing around with baking with whole wheat flour and have been also trying to sneak wheat bran into certain recipes.  So far most of the biscuit and other quick bread recipes I have tried end up being pretty heavy and sometimes too strongly flavored, especially with bran in the picture. This is the best recipe by far that I have made.  I found a whole wheat banana bread recipe on a blog I follow, then made some adjustments so there are no fats or oils and added bran to it. So not only is this recipe super healthy, its also super amazingly good. Light, fluffy, moist...... can't beat it. Plus, make several batches.... these freeze well. Great breakfast or morning snack!

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Wheat Bran
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking soda

3 Ripe Bananas {mashed}
1/4 cup Plain Non-Fat {preferably organic} Yogurt
1/4 cup Honey
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Applesauce {no sugar added}
1 tsp. Vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 350

2.  Stir together all the dry ingredients into a large bowl

3.  Add all wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Do not use an electric mixer or stir too much.  It will make the bread tough and rubbery.

4.  If you are doing muffins, line or spray a muffin pan and fill 2/3 full with batter.  This will make about 1 1/2 dozen muffins.  If you are doing a loaf, spray loaf pan and fill with all of mixture.  This will make 1 regular sized loaf.

5.  For muffins, bake 20-25 minutes. Check doneness with toothpick.  Should insert easily and come out clean.  For full loaf bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Roast A Chicken

Ok, You may be thinking "who roasts a chicken anymore?". I know its super convenient to just buy the bags or packages of parts and just cook those up, but I believe we should bring back the bird.  Seriously, why do we only roast whole birds once a year at thanksgiving? And we even do that poorly most of the time! Bird roasting is a long lost art that very few people dare to do. I've heard one too many people say recently that they have NEVER roasted a whole chicken and I decided I want to do something about that.  I always tell my students that a sign of a good chef is knowing how to do the simple things well.  I take advantage of the fact that I do this frequently and forget this is not a normal activity for normal people.  So here you go: Bird roasting 101.  I did a chicken, but you can do whatever bird you want... like a turkey... no, its not against the law to cook one outside of the holiday season.

First step to a beautiful roasted bird...... Brine it! 

Letting poultry spend some time in a brine is a magical thing. A brine is just a salty bath for the bird. As it soaks in the brine the salt pulls out the moisture then it all gets absorbed back in: Moisture, salt, and other brine flavorings.  And when it's roasting, less moisture is pulled out because the salt helps to lock it in the meat. Salt doesn't evaporate like water does. Not only will you have the moistest bird ever, but even the leftovers will be moist and the meat will be seasoned and flavored from the inside out instead of just on the skin of the bird.  See, magical! You have a lot of options on the brine.  You can just use salt and water, but I like to use juices and wines in my brine's so there is more flavor. You can do orange, cranberry, or apricot juice, white wine, stock.... pretty much anything you want as long as it is a liquid.  If you do juice or wine, do 1/2 juice 1/2 water to dilute it a little.  It will be a very expensive brine plus the flavor might be slightly too intense if you don't.  You always want to taste the flavor of the bird, don't cover that up with other flavors and spices.  You can also just google "poultry brine's" and find some good suggestions on some combinations and measurements.  For my 4 1/2 pound chicken, I used 15 cups of liquid to 1 cup of salt. Then I just added in some spices I had laying around : black peppercorns, parsley stems, herbs de province, garlic, and lemon juice.  Just dissolve the salt into the liquid then pour it over your bird in a pot or bowl.  You can dissolve the salt by stirring it in, or you may need to warm it slightly.  Just make sure its cool before you pour it over the bird.  Pop the whole pot in the fridge to keep it cool and let it go a minimum of 3-4 hours or up to overnight {12 hours or so}

When you're ready to cook it, pull the bird out of the brine, rinse it slightly and pat it dry with paper towels.  Now its time for some real fun. 
I bought this chicken at whole foods.  I've been researching free range and organic chickens a lot lately and came across Mary's Chickens.  Mary's is a family farm and they provide a great product. No over-crowded chicken houses with un-naturally fat, sickly chickens stumbling around.  I'm very impressed with their handling of their birds.  Plus, while I was checking out this company I realized that I know the son which makes me want to support this farm even more.  Anyways, whole foods distributes their chickens and even for whole foods I thought the price was amazing for the quality of the product.  I just got the free range chicken {$1.99 a pound} but they also do free range organic {$3.99 a pound} and pasture raised {don't remember the exact price. I think it was about $6 or so a pound}  I just chose to get the free-range only because even though its not labeled organic... they're being fed the same and raised the same so I was fine with it.  Whole foods sells these packaged or you can buy them un-packaged from the meat case. 

I really want to reinforce something I have already said..... When you start with a good quality product before cooking, you end up with a good quality product after cooking.  This chicken was amazing.  I've always noticed with the bags of chicken breasts that I buy from Costco, they always have this weird super chicken-y almost sour flavor to it.  Its hard to describe, so hopefully you know what I'm talking about. Its not good.  This chicken tasted like chicken. I loved it! And it had a really good texture to it also.  So worth it.  Really, if you buy 1 chicken, that will feed 2 people at least 2-3 meals.  Plus you can make stock with the bones.  Not too shabby for 9 bucks.

Second step: Prep the bird for roasting. 

Really, if you want to keep it simple, all that needs to be done with the bird at this point is to rub the skin with a little bit of olive oil or melted butter and its ready for the oven. The oil will help the skin get nice and crispy and golden brown because oil helps to conduct heat to the bird. I like things more than simple sometimes though.  I like to cram compound butter under the skin!! Compound butter is a flavored butter.  You can mix in whatever you want in a compound butter.  They are amazing to just have on hand because they make a great finishing touch to a lot of different things.  I used 1 stick of softened {room temperature} butter and added minced parsley, lemon pepper, and garlic.  Add as much as you want of these things, there isn't an exact recipe for this. 
If you gently loosen the skin with your fingers first, you can take finger-fulls of this and push it under the skin and just massage it into all the nooks and crannies of the bird.  Sorry, I don't have any pictures of this but I was home alone and couldn't touch my camera with my butter covered chicken infested hands. But here is the finished product:

You may have notice my Ghetto-rigged trussing job.  I didn't have any butcher's twine to truss my bird.  Trussing is where you tie the legs and arms into the bird to keep it compact and prevents it from flailing everywhere while its cooking.  Its nice, but not 100% necessary, but still.... I couldn't handle the legs just dangling there in the pan.  That would be sad.  So instead I took a piece of foil and rolled it into a snake and wrapped that around the legs then tucked the wings under the body where the head used to be. Good enough right?  OH.... and put some fresh rosemary in the caboose if you have any growing in your yard. Aromatics make a difference!

Final step: Roasting

First let me address temperatures.  You will probably find a million different temperatures to roast a bird at.  Most recipes say 325-350 degrees. I prefer to go a little higher at 375-400 degrees.  The reason I like the higher temperature is I feel it gets better color on the bird and it cooks faster which means less time exposed to heat where it can dry out.  One thing you should not do is low temperature roasting {250-300 degrees}  Let me tell you something......{say that like fire marshal bill}... Chickens and turkeys are not your grandma's chickens and turkey's anymore.  Grandma did a low temp roast and let it cook all day because she ate birds that were running around her backyard.  Those birds had a really nice fat layer between the skin and meat which protected it from drying out.  The fat would melt and self-baste itself and be all nice and delicious with very little external help.  That doesn't happen anymore... so up the temp and just cook it.  If you low temperature roast today's birds, they will end up dry because of the long heat exposure. 

Put the bird in a preheated oven and LEAVE IT ALONE! Do not open the oven to baste it.... it doesn't need it.  Especially if you crammed it full of butter.  Without getting all Bill Nye on you again, basting really doesn't do anything to your bird but sogg out the skin and helps to encouraging drying. Its not necessary.  My 4 1/2 bird took about 1 hour and 15 minutes uncovered at 375 and looked like this when it was done:
I forgot to turn the pan 1/2 way through.... turn yours.  In a conventional oven with all those hot spots you'll get a more even browning on the bird if it gets a little turn. 

How do you know when its done??  BUY A PROBE THERMOMETER!!  This is a must have if you like to roast anything.  
These are wonderful because you can stick it in whatever you are roasting and leave it in.  The oven door closes on the wire and you can monitor the temperature the entire way through and will always know the exact temp the food is at.  You can even program it to beep when it hits a certain temperature.  I also love it because it goes to a high enough temperature so you can use it for cooking sugar too!  

Remove the bird from the oven once it reaches 160 degrees.  Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and carryover cooking will take it up to the approved finished temp of 165.  Now its ready for carving and serving! 

I hope this inspires you all to tackle the easy task of roasting a whole bird.  I promise you will not regret trying this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Easy Granola

Adapted recipe from the  100 days of real food website

Hopefully you have been following my previous posts about eating more "real" food.  My husband and I have challenged ourselves to whenever possible eating only unprocessed no refined or modified anything foods.  We already didn't eat "processed" food that often, but we had no clue how many seemingly healthy foods in fact aren't. Label reading woke us up! One of the main packaged foods we did eat A LOT of is cold cereal. We wake up early for work and so anything quick for breakfast is a heaven send. {ok and sometimes for dinner too} No more cold cereal. Ouch.  So I am madly in love with the 100 days of real food website. Its probably the most useful site I have come across with recipes that are actually good.  Anyways, since we are on a no more cold cereal kick that means I needed to make something in its place.  I found Winco bulk foods just in time! I stocked up on nuts, dried fruits and all sorts of other stuff which all go great in granola.  Here is the recipe I use from the site {with a few of my own adaptions of course!}

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds or kernels
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg or allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • parchment paper or foil

You can also add in dried fruit to replace the nuts if you have allergies.  I love nuts, so I love this recipe.  I like to add a little handful of dried fruit and milk to this for breakfast.... or just munch on it for a great little snack.

Step 1:
Add the butter, honey, and vanilla to a microwave save bowl. Heat on high for about a minute or until the butter is melted.

Step 2:
Add all of the remaining ingredients into a large bowl then add the melted butter and honey.  Stir ingredients until evenly coated.

 Step 3:
Line 2 sheet pans or cookie sheets {any shallow pan} with parchment or foil. Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 pans and press it flat into a thin, even layer.

Step 4:
Bake at 250 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes {should be a light golden brown}.  Do not stir while its cooking.  

Step 5:
Once again, don't stir it.  Just let the granola cool in the pan.  It will harden and get crunchy as it cools.  Once it is completely cool, break it into chunks then store it in an air tight container.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Alice Waters Baked Peaches

The Art of Simple Food Page 366
**can also be done with nectarines

This is a great way to use in season peaches as a light dessert.  If you have never heard of Alice waters, you have been missing out.  She is well known for a more natural way of eating.  She uses GOOD, simple ingredients in her recipes. She mainly focuses on sustainable organic foods, but more than anything she's a heavy hitter in the "eat real food" movement.  Her cookbook is amazing {no pictures, but don't let that be the reason you don't try her recipes.  They're easy and with ingredients you have heard of}  The name of the book title will hopefully tip you off on the difficulty level of her recipes. 

You will need:

4 large ripe peaches
5 Tablespoons Apricot Jam {or any flavor of your favorite jam, as long as it goes well with peaches}
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 cup water {I like to do 1/2 c water, 1/2 c white wine as a variation}
1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
2 Teaspoons lemon juice
Brown sugar as needed

Ready for the easy part??

Whisk the jam, honey, water, & lemon zest and juice in a small bowl.  I have mint growing in my yard so I like to add a couple sprigs for a little extra flavor.
Cut the peaches in half and pull out the pit.  Place them flesh side up in a baking dish and pour the sauce over it, making sure the tops of the peaches are well coated with the sauce.  Sprinkle the tops of the peaches with a little bit of brown sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees until you can easily slide a knife into the peach.  The final cooking time will vary depending on how ripe the peach is.  {about 20-40 minutes.  20 minutes for ripe and ready to eat.....up to 40 minutes if its still hard}  Baste the sauce over the peaches a couple times while its cooking. 
You can eat this as is....or you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.  If you want to do whipped cream, please note..... cool whip or that other stuff that you squirt out of a can.... IS NOT WHIPPED CREAM! Seriously, making your own is super easy.  You just use manufacturing cream, or whipping cream, or heavy cream {or whatever your grocery store calls it these days}.  They're all pretty much the same thing.  Whipping cream vs. Heavy cream.... slightly different fat content, but not by enough to impact its whipping abilities.  So buy whatever is cheaper.  

Pour about 1/4-1/2 cup of cream into a bowl and add a couple teaspoons of vanilla and enough powdered sugar to slightly sweeten it. {do this to taste....and taste it before you whip it}  Also, a pantry necessity is a good vanilla. Buy either pure vanilla or vanilla bean paste {like this can buy it at Sur la table or Williams Sonoma. Its about $10-11 but super worth it.  Makes things look and taste like you used fresh vanilla bean pods}  Vanilla extract is mostly alcohol and doesn't have a very good flavor.
Just whip everything together until the cream forms stiff peaks on the whisk.

Don't whisk it past this point otherwise it will first get super grainy then eventually you'll end up with butter.

To serve, place a peach half in a bowl {or do a whole peach if you really really love this} and spoon some of the hot sauce over the peach and top with either ice cream or whipped cream.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Pancakes

In honor of eating healthy natural foods I decided to show everyone how easy it is to make whole wheat pancakes from scratch. {easier than Krusteaz!} ok, not easier, but not too much harder.  Everything I will ever post on this blog will of course always be from scratch with no processed ingredients. I just wanted to do something simple that everyone can do and enjoy.  The best thing about scratch pancakes is that it only takes a few ingredients that you should already have in your cupboard.  These also freeze well, so make a bunch and freeze them so you have a good breakfast even when your morning is crazy.  Just warm them in the microwave or toaster.
You will need:

8 oz. (about 1 3/4 cups) Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbs. Honey
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
2 Cups Milk
4 Tbs. Applesauce

Makes 12 pancakes

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until just blended.  DO NOT over mix. Its ok if there are a couple lumps.  They will be tough if you whisk them too much.

Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup (slightly under-filled... about 2/3 full), pour batter onto 350 degree griddle.  
Cook the pancakes until golden brown on the bottom and starting to set up on the sides. Then flip and cook the other side. They should puff up. Do not touch them or else it will deflate. Pancakes should never be flipped more than once. Let them cook until golden brown.

Remember I said to read the labels on the things you eat. Don't forget I have a job, a very tiring job. Its ok to buy some things already made, just as long as you know what's in it..... Like this....
 Check this out: 3 ingredients and you can pronounce them all!

We eat a lot of "food"

Ok.....I'll fess up..... I watch Oprah sometimes. I know her show is over, but there's still reee-ruuuuuns!!! {say that last part like how Oprah introduces her guests....its funner that way.}  Anyways, there was an episode on recently that I have seen before and I'm glad it was on again.  Its about how we eat in our country. It features the movie Food Inc. and Michael Pollan, who is the author of "Food Rules". If you have not read that book or watched food inc. you totally should. This is a subject that I feel is really important so I'm pulling out my soap box. Being a chef I'm around food all day. The number one question I am always asked is "how do you stay so skinny".  I usually just shrug and say that there's no time to eat while you work. That's not true though. I may ruffle some feathers with this post, I may have a lot of people agree with me..... but no matter how you feel on the subject this is something every family should assess and I hope I can at least get you thinking about what you eat.  I totally agree with Michael Pollan that we don't eat real food in this country. Everything is pre-made and processed, including all of the food at your favorite restaurants.  Its become way cheaper and easier to eat "food" {I put quotes around that on purpose} than it is to eat healthy, and that's sad.  I am by no means perfect here either. Sometimes I get busy and too tired to cook and cave to the call of the box or the golden arches. {oh that tempting dollar menu} Look at the state of our country... diabeties {in kids too!!}, heart disease, obesity, etc. are all out of control. And the biggest problem is it seems like we have accepted it as part of life and I feel like we're all just ok with it now.  Its ok that your 5th grader weighs 150 pounds. Its normal. That's not normal. I am by no means what I like to call a "granola" {hippies and vegans}.  I love meat. I love cheese. I believe animals were put here to be in my belly.  But I also believe in raising them right so they are healthy and good for us like God intended and not having to have the traditional dinner of meat/veg/potatoes forming a triangle on the plate for every meal.  The thing about eating real food isn't about giving things up. Its about getting back into the kitchen and making things the way grandma used to. I found a website       that is about a family who took on a challenge to eat only natural foods for 100 days that is pretty amazing.  I encourage you all to check it out. Has a lot of good tips and suggestions for actually making the shift to better eating.  She goes a little too far for me and cuts out ALL sweets though. I don't think there's anything wrong with the OCCASIONAL {not every night as a reward for eating dinner like eating dinner is a punishment} dessert. But make it a dessert that is worth eating. Did you know most ice creams are no longer ice cream? For reals..... read the label...its "iced milk' or "frozen dairy product" fact you should read the labels on ALL food. Its not hard to make your own cake or ice cream or sorbet or brownie or mousse {i can keep going} from scratch.  We set attitudes in our children early on in life about how they feel about food based on how WE feel about food.  Vegetables and fruits should not be made out to be "bad" or punishing.  Saying kids are only willing to eat chicken nuggets shaped like a dinosaur is insane. If that's all they know, of course that's all they're willing to eat.  As adults we don't know what food should taste like because we're so accustomed to the taste of processing. Its sad. People don't recognize good food anymore because our palates are numbed.  Anything that is labeled as "low fat" "sugar free" "low calorie or carb" is not food.   It is OK to eat butter and cream.  Just not everyday for every meal and 5 servings worth.  Everything in proportion! Anyways...check out the movie, book and linked site. You'll be amazed at what you are eating.  { the soap box now!}

Monday, August 1, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta

Here's a super easy pasta dish that I actually used to make when I worked a certain restaurant in town {I won't say which because then everyone will want the recipe for a certain popular dish there aka sweet potato fries with jalapeno arugula aioli} I'll probably post that at some point, I'm just boycotting it right now because I have to make/explain that one for so many people.  Anyways, this is a vegetarian dish, but you can easily just add some grilled chicken on top if you need some carnage.  

Angel hair {cappellini} pasta is one of the easiest/hardest pastas to cook.  Its very thin so even though I used dried it still cooks in just a couple minutes. Because it cooks so fast, this is where it gets hard. Its VERY easy to overcook. It goes from perfect al dente to mush in seconds. I prefer to actually cook this less then you think just to make sure its not over done. Basically keep your eye on it and don't walk away from the stove while its cooking and taste it frequently to check the doneness.  I don't really measure when I'm just winging it {not following a recipe} so I can only give guesstimates on amounts here. Basically you have to have a little bit of your own judgement here and add as much as you want of the ingredients.

Also, this recipe calls for Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the sauce.  Pasta cuts are designed for certain sauces. Fettuccine was made to go with Alfredo.  Spaghetti appropriately pairs with spaghetti sauce{hmmm}, and mac or shell noddles begged at creation to be baked in cheese sauce. Because angel hair pasta is so thin, it is commonly just warmed with olive oil because everything else is too heavy for it and would make it just stick and clump.  Speaking of olive oil...... there are different quality levels.  Extra virgin is the first press of the olives and has the cleanest, purest flavor.  It also should not be cooked very much. You'll notice when you read the recipe it says to keep the heat moderately low.  Olive oil burns faster and at a lower temperature than butter. When you go through the grades of extra virgin to virgin to olive oil to pomace oil, that just means the olives have gone through additional pressing and have impurities from the olives in the oil.  All the varieties below virgin will tend to have bitter or sour flavors and are not good for saucing pasta. However, the lower grade olive oils can be cooked with because they don't burn as fast and are cheaper.  Heat breaks down the flavors, you are paying bigger bucks for that flavor in extra virgin, so completely ignoring the whole burning thing, you'll kill the flavor on the good stuff.  Extra virgin is like wine. Every brand will have a slightly different flavor with varying undertones.  Use a good quality one, but you don't have to get one of those crazy bajillion dollar priced ones you can find at the boutique stores.  I picked up some oil at Trader Joe's and it was only $7 for a liter.  It was just fine.  Just make sure what ever bottle you pick up is imported from Italy and is 100% pure extra virgin olive oil.  Just like wine... you get what you pay for sometimes. 

1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1 pound container grape or cherry tomatoes {I used heirlooms.....these are the best!}
4-5 cloves minced garlic
handful of basil cut chiffonade {see explanation below}
3/4-1 C. Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted Pine Nuts 
{optional if you can find them for less then $20 per pound...they are ridiculous right now!}
Goat Cheese as needed {about 4 oz}

This recipe made enough for 2 entree portions and 2 lunch portions.

FYI.......Prep everything before you start cooking! Everything needs to be ready to go because seriously the pasta will be done in 2-3 minutes and the sauce only takes that long also.

Step 1:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and if using pine nuts toast them in a 350 degree oven until slightly golden brown.

Step 2:
While waiting for the water to boil, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mince the garlic.

Step 3:
Chiffonade the basil.  Remove just the leaves from the stems and stack a small pile on a cutting board

Thinly shred the leaves with a sharp knife. {the thinner the better}

 You are officially prepped! {in the industry you would say you are all mise en placed out.... Mise en place means everything in its place}

Step 4:
Warm a saute pan on moderate-low heat. You can now go ahead and add the pasta to the boiling water pot.  Stir frequently so they don't clump or stick.  Add the extra virgin olive oil to the saute pan and let that warm slightly.  Add the tomatoes to the pan.  Season them with a little kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
 Cook until the seeds start to burst from the tomatoes and they wrinkle a little

Finally add the garlic and let it cook slightly until softened. Turn off the heat.  By this time the pasta should already be cooked and drained. Add the pasta and basil {and pine nuts} to the pan and toss it all together with a pair of tongs.
Plate and top with however much goat cheese you feel is necessary.  I love goat cheese so I'm usually pretty heavy handed with it....just do what you like.

Ta Da!! Dinner in 15 minutes.... suck on that one Rachel. Finished product:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potato Gnocchi

Thomas Keller "The French Laundry" page 90

2 lb Potatoes
1 1/2 C. Flour
3 Egg Yolks
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Two posts in one day.... What a return! On the menu tonight was potato gnocchi (nn-yo-key).  Gnocchi's are just little potato dumplings, also known as little pillows of potato heaven.  If you can handle making mashed potatoes you can handle making these from scratch. Yes, you can find these pre-made and dried in the pasta section, but where's the fun in that??  I have tried many recipes for this and once again boyfriend TK has taken the cake here.  He has just the right proportions of potato/flour/egg yolk to make these the right consistency. You're looking for some three bear action here: not too hard, not too soft........

Step 1: Cook The Potatoes
Lets do a little potato education first before we get to the cooking here. There are different types of potatoes and each type will give you different texture results.  Russets are high in starch and will break down and get fluffy when cooked. Then you have reds which are higher in sugar than starch. Sugar helps the potatoes to hold their shape which is why reds stay firmer after being cooked.  Gnocchi recipes usually call for russets, and these work fine. I prefer using Yukon Golds. They are moderately starchy but will still have some texture after cooking. Plus they have a richer buttery-ish flavor which I love.  Your choice..... really just use which ever one you have available. You can get the Yukon's at any grocery store. the cooking..... Leave the potatoes whole, skin on and put in a pot and cover with water. Don't forget to salt the water! The best time for potatoes to absorb salt is during the cooking process.  You can peel and cut these before cooking, but that's an unnecessary step that can be avoided.

They are done when a knife easily slides into the potato and it splits a little where the knife is.  Here is why I don't bother peeling them. The skin just rolls right off after cooking. Way easier than peeling with a vegetable peeler.  {ok..... there are a ton of chefs who may punch me for saying this, but........ If you want to cool down your potatoes faster so you can handle them to peel, rinse them for a couple minutes under cold water. Most chef's freak out at this statement because "the potatoes will absorb water and water-log".  OK, calm down. The skins are still on. If they were peeled I would agree with the no rinsing potatoes after cooking. With the skin on, the actual potato is doing no more absorbing than it does during the cooking process.  Its a time saver.  Don't cool them too much though because they need to be hot to mash nicely.}

Step 2: Mixing The Potatoes:
Throw the whole peeled potatoes into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth and there are no chunks.  If you don't have a stand mixer you can use any masher you want. A hand mixer or one of those old manual hand mashers will work.  Just get them smooth!

Once they are smooth add in the egg yolks, flour, dijon {This is my own addition to this recipe. TK uses it in his pate a choux gnocchi and I love it, but for some reason doesn't use it in the potato version. It adds a nice touch, so I made the change.}, and salt & pepper. Mix until the flour and egg is combined into the potato.  Do not over mix, the potatoes can get gluey and weird. They should be stiff and stick to the beater.

Step 3: Shaping and boiling
Like I said above, these are like little potato pillows.  In classical gnocchi recipes you are supposed to take a hunk o' potato and roll it into a cylinder {like a play dough snake} and cut the snake into 1 inch long pieces, then roll it on a fork to make marks on it.  I don't know about you, but I don't care about fork marks enough to do all this.  Plus I sucked it up as a kid in the play dough snake department. My snakes always looked like they just ate several mice.  Once again.... thank you TK {he's my boyfriend for a reason} for coming up with a more practical way of doing things.  We are of course going to go non-traditional on these.  Put your potato dough into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.  Get a large pot of water boiling and squeeze your bag until about an inch of dough comes out of the tip, then scrape it into the water with a knife.

Potatoes are heavy. They will sink upon contact with the water.  As they cook they will get light and float to the top. Once they start to float, let them cook about 1-2 more minutes before removing from the water with a slotted spoon.  Keep cutting the gnocchi into the water while they cook, just stop periodically to remove the cooked ones and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Step 4: Cooking Part Deux
Yes, this is a two part cooking process. Boiling first, then finish with a pan fry. Heat a large saute pan and melt about 3 Tbs. Butter in the pan combined with a little canola oil so the butter won't burn. It needs to get HOT HOT HOT before you add any of the gnocchi to the pan.  You need to hear it sizzling pretty loudly when you add them in.  Obviously if the pan starts billowing smoke and things are a burnin, you got it too hot. Here's that three bears thing again.  You will need to cook these in batches, they won't all fit in the pan at once. Repeat this with each batch.  Let them cook without fussing with them until they start to turn golden brown, then you can start flipping them to brown the other side. By flip I don't mean individually. Use a spatula or if you know how to do the pan flip have at it.  Remove to browned gnocchi to a separate plate.

Step 5: Finishing and eating
There are endless possibilities on what to serve these with. My fave is with roasted butternut squash and mushrooms. Tonight I kept it simple and just did some sauteed zucchini, herbs, and Parmesan cheese. 

 Add about 1-2 Tbs. butter into the same saute pan that you cooked the gnocchi in and let the butter brown slightly.....Add the zucchini {medium dice} and cook for 1 minute. These cook fast so watch out! You will need about 1-2 cups diced zucchini depending on how much you heart zucchini. 

Mix in the gnocchi and toss to combine then add a handful of Parmesan cheese and minced herbs. I used thyme and parsley, but use whatever you want. Basil, oregano, or chives would also work.  This can be served with a sauce, like a home-made marinara, but I like it with just the butter it's sauteed in.

Finished product: