I have a friend who is an artist. (I have A LOT of friends who make art!) This is a special one, she’s a single mom and everyone knows that single parents are pretty much superheroes. Twice the love. Twice the effort. Half the time. Half the resources. Kate Temple. She taught art in NYC for many years and her work is in lucky homes (mine!), establishments, and galleries all over the world. Kate is fortunate enough to travel the planet making installation art. The piece above is part of a site-specific installation created for the Luminaria Festival, in San Antonio, TX in 2013. I’ve had this picture on my computer beaming out at me for months as a reminder of my dear friend Kate, as well the deep meaning of the word. Life was throwing more balls at Kate than she had enough time or bats with which to swing. So, taking her own neon advice, Kate and her son left New York City and are creating a life in Northern California. Surrender.
Surrender gets a bad rap. “I give up. Wave the white flag. Give in. Throw in the towel. Concede. Resignation.” For me, surrender is a good thing. It is acceptance. It is giving up what we think should be happening for what is actually happening. Surrender is really assessing a situation and making a new plan. That’s all. Not so bad, right?
I love looking at things through rose-colored glasses. But they’re just tinted glasses. The lenses don’t change the circumstances, but they change how I FEEL about the circumstances. They give me hope for brighter days. They remind me that I have triumphed over sad days, notsogreat days, disappointment, and failure.
My sister used to tell me, “No one gets to have a bad day when they’re around you.” I have plenty of bad days. I just try to disarm them right away so they don’t turn into bad weeks or months. And how do I do that? I look at the truth of a situation. I acknowledge it, I ask the universe for guidance to get to the next moment, and I keep on going. The denial of what is, worrying, complaining, wallowing - those are what fortify the yucky stuff that happens. They actually make things worse. I am not always successful with this recipe for beating the blues and overcoming obstacles. Recipes fail all the time - in life and in the kitchen. Keep going. Keep cooking. Get some rose colored glasses.
Disclaimer: this is the most beautiful failed recipe I have made so far. In the cooking process, they were gorgeous pillows of perceived deliciousness. Okay, they were tasty, but they were tasty pillows of mush. Look at them! Gloppy and mangled. These gnocci disintegrated when I put them in the water to boil. They melted into each other once out of the water. It is a wonder I even got some of these to hold shape while Cheryl took the picture. I surrender. I will make them again. I will keep going.
Carrot Ricotta Gnocci with Herb Oil
Adapted from Serious Eats
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled (1 pound after trimming), cut into chunks
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 cup sheep’s milk ricotta cheese or drained whole cow’s milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the gnocchi
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the carrots in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over them. Sprinkle with a little salt and toss. Roast the carrots for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are completely tender and browned in spots. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
2. Heat the butter in a frying pan placed over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, stir in the shallots and sauté, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the roasted carrots and toss to combine them with the shallots. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3.Transfer the carrots to a food processor and process until fairly smooth (a few little bits are good for texture). Scoop out the carrot puree into a bowl. Add the ricotta, egg yolks, Parmigiano, ½ tsp salt, the nutmeg, and a few grinds of pepper. Gently stir in the ¼ cup flour, taking care to combine everything thoroughly.
4. Place a scoop of flour in a shallow bowl. Have two standard tablespoons at hand. With one spoon, scoop up about 1 tbsp of the carrot mixture and then transfer it to the other spoon. Transfer the mixture back and forth a few times to help shape the mixture into a quenelle. Gently drop the quenelle into the bowl of flour and coat it lightly. Transfer to a lightly floured rimmed cookie sheet. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture. You should end up with 32 to 36 gnocchi.
5. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.
6. Spoon some of the herb oil (You will find this recipe below in last week's entry Rewards.) into a baking dish large enough to hold all the gnocchi in one snug layer. Set the dish near the stove.
7. When the water is boiling, carefully drop half the gnocchi into the pot. Cover the pot until the water returns to a boil, then uncover and cook the gnocchi for about 5 minutes. They will float to the top when they are nearly done. Using a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi to the prepared baking dish. Cook the remaining gnocchi in the same way and add them to the baking dish. Drizzle them with more herb oil.
8. Sprinkle the ¼ cup Parmigiano cheese over the gnocchi and place in the oven. Bake the gnocchi for about 15 minutes, or until they are hot throughout and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Pass additional cheese at the table.
food photos by Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Studio