Friday, April 22, 2011

Gastronomy: Homemade Gnocchi, an Easy Delight

I love gnocchi. And, although it continues to frequent more and more menus, it’s difficult to find a gnocchi that’s served the way it’s intended—light, airy, and delicate. Since I rarely make pasta, I shelved the idea of ever making homemade gnocchi, too. However, after watching season-after-season of Top Chef and repeatedly observing the chefs using gnocchi as their go-to pasta when under extreme pressure and time limitations, I finally realized that it may not be as difficult or tedious as I originally expected.

As fate would have it, the week I made homemade ricotta (, I also stumbled upon Chef Michael Symon’s ricotta gnocchi recipe. No longer with any excuses in hand, I ventured to create my first homemade gnocchi and it was worth every last velvety bite.

Michael Symon’s Ricotta Gnocchi with Lemon Brown Butter


• 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more to cover work space
• 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1 lemon zest
• 1 c ricotta cheese
• 1 egg

Lemon Brown Butter

• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 1 lemon, sliced

In a large bowl, combine flour, Parmesan cheese, and lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the ricotta cheese and egg. Combine well with a wooden spoon or with your fingers until the dough just comes together, taking care to not overwork and causing the dough to toughen.

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface and pat into a rough square. If it’s tacky to the touch, add a bit more flour so you can form it with your hands. Evenly cut the pasta dough into 4 even pieces. Gently roll each piece into foot-long ropes, about 1-inch in diameter, flouring as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface (think of making snakes with Play-doh). Cut each rope into 1/2- to 3/4-inch wide pieces. Place the gnocchi onto a floured, parchment or wax paper-lined, baking sheet and into the refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to cook.

In the meantime, add salt to a pot of boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, add gnocchi, and allow to cook, approximately 2-3 minutes. Continue to watch the gnocchi closely.

While the gnocchi is cooking, add butter and lemon slices to a sauté pan and melt over medium heat until brown and bubbly.

Once the gnocchi starts to float, remove from the water using a slotted spoon or hand strainer and add them directly to the butter mixture in the sauté pan. Allow to brown on medium heat for about two minutes.

Serve as a side dish for 4. Works wonderfully with a hearty salad and roasted pork or chicken.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventure Palm Beach: Buccan, a Go-To Destination

Any town populated with tourists in high season is usually not a destination for foodies. Restaurants experiencing high traffic in touristy vacation spots are infamous for lackluster food, second-rate service, over-priced run-of-the-mill drinks, and the typical chicken-finger kids' menu. On a recent vacation to Palm Beach, I was proven wrong.

Palm Beach has beautiful-old buildings, great weather, and an ocean view that is unmistakably gorgeous.
It is also filled with wandering tourists, snowbirds, and mediocre restaurants. After a few abysmal dinners, I started to worry if we would have to settle for pizza every night. That was until my sister spotted a Tweet by foodie and author Michael Ruhlman, who was happening to visit Palm Beach at the exact same time. His suggestion? Buccan. With his recommendation in hand, I immediately made a reservation for my husband, my two young boys, and me. Buccan was so outstanding, we ended up going twice.

Buccan is not a family restaurant but if you go early, children are welcome.
In fact, the food, our service, and the treatment of our four year old were unbelievable. The menu is comprised of mostly small plates that are approachable and utterly delectable in every way. The brick chicken served with Parmesan fries in a small, aluminum pot is delish. My son had it on both of our visits—the juices from the chicken were so amazing that I managed to get him to eat arugula if he dipped the leaves in the sauce.

Everything we had at Buccan including a spicy conch and octopus ceviche, beet salad, spring pea risotto, a squid ink orecchiette
with house made sausage and conch, and a bacon-wrapped tuna were delicious. The Hamachi on a crispy lotus salad with spicy chilies, steak tartare with a crispy egg yolk, and a three-inch grilled swordfish steak are eats that I think about in the middle of the night. Because it was the best tartare of my life, my brain is still trying to determine how to recreate a crispy egg yolk. Desserts and cocktails were equally yummy and the wine list selection, both glass and bottle, were lovely. If you ever make it to Palm Beach, Buccan is a go-to destination. I would actually visit Palm Beach again, if only to dine there. Details:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Style: The Harbinger Co.—Wear It, Hang It, Love It

Being the urban-centric moms that we are, we first fell for The Harbinger Company’s silk screen cityscape prints—detailed maps executed in a stark and bold style. Digging deeper into The Harbinger Company’s collection, however, we discovered that Yvonne Hung, the artist behind the company, also creates a line of jewelry that ranges from the laugh-out-loud to the elegantly beautiful. Hung’s necklaces, bracelets, and earrings include a wide-variety of designs, incorporating everything from the organic to the geometric and warm bamboo to sparkling bling.

Our favorite, Hung’s metal-worked rings, is a series of eye-glass designs that consists of cat-eye frames, horn-rim specs, and a Groucho Marx-inspired disguise. If this is not your style, each Harbinger piece (whether sporting it in on your hand, neck, or wall), manages to offer a fresh and whimsical take on a timeless treasure. Details:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gastronomy: Homemade Ricotta, Fun Making and Eating for the Whole Family

My husband and I fell in love with fresh, handmade ricotta during our first trip to Italy. Richer yet more buoyant than the ricotta we were acquainted with, these creamy cloud droplets won both our hearts and palates. Upon our return to the U.S. with our new-found penchant for good ricotta, we were left with but one choice: To make it ourselves.

Ricotta recipes overflow on the web, but the proportions vary little. We ended up trying Maria Helm Sinskey’s recipe from her cookbook, Family Meals. Beautifully illustrated and down-right fool-proof, we found Maria’s recipe deliciously easy! Whether you fold in herbs to stuff a cream puff or accompany a sandwich, top it on pizza, mix it into your favorite pasta, or create a crowd-pleasin’ lasagna, handmade ricotta is an unrivaled velvety treat that the whole family can enjoy making and eating together.

1 gallon whole milk
2 c heavy cream
¼ plus 2 T distilled white vinegar (lemon juice can also be substituted for vinegar)
1 t kosher salt

Large, nonreactive pot
Instant-read thermometer
Cheesecloth (can be purchased from any hardware store)
Large bowl
Slotted spoon or strainer
Airtight container
Clean cloth/towel

Pour the milk and cream into a pot. Over medium-high heat, heat milk and cream to just below boiling or to 185 degrees. With a spatula, keep stirring so liquid doesn’t scorch. Just before the milk boils, the surface will bubble and begin to release steam. Do not heat to over 185 degrees. Turn off heat. Add the vinegar and stir for 30 seconds; add the salt and stir for an additional 30 seconds. Cover the pot with a dish towel and let the curds stand at room temperature for two hours.

Line the colander with a large square of cheesecloth and place the colander over a bowl to catch the draining liquid. Using the strainer/slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pot to the colander. Let the ricotta drain for about 30 minutes.

Gather the cheesecloth by its corners and twist together to force out the liquid. When the liquid turns from clear to milky and the cheese starts to push through the cheesecloth, stop the draining process. Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator. The ricotta can be saved for up to 1 week.

Adventure (26) Gastronomy (38) Obsession (39) Style (26)

About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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