Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dark Days #13: Local Valentine's Dinner

Sunday Night I set about transforming my purchases at Saturday's Winter Market into a romantic Valentine's dinner for Gail and I. I was extremely pleased with the results. We had a delicious and mostly local dinner which we enjoyed together. Below are photos & recipes for our wonderful meal.

The first thing I set about making was a batch of garlic bread sticks. Unfortunately there are only 2 of us and this recipe made 20 bread sticks. I'll be bringing them to lunch and snacking on them for some time! What I liked about this recipe is that I was able to mix the dough in the bread maker which allowed me to do other prep work during that time.
Soft Garlic Bread sticks
1 1/8 cups water (room temp)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder or 2-3 cloves crushed and finely minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced basil (fresh if possible)
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon butter, melted.
-In the bread machine pan mix all of the ingredients except the butter.
-Once dough is done, turn onto a lightly floured surface & divide dough into 20 portions, shaping each into a ball.
-Roll each ball into a 6-9 inch rope
-Place on greased baking sheets, cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled
-Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until bread sticks are golden brown. Remove bread sticks to wire racks. Brush warm bread sticks with melted butter.

Next up was a simple salad of mixed greens, carrots, apples, chive goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was made using frozen raspberries that Gail & I picked last summer. Simple Raspberry Vinaigrette
1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
-Combine all the ingredients in a blender/food processor except the vegetable oil.
-Puree until smooth
-Slowly incorporate the oil until well combined.
After the salad it was on to the main course. Butternut Squash Gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan with a side of sauteed beets & radish tossed with dill. This was my first time making any sort of gnocchi and the results were fantastic! I wanted a simple side dish and the beets & radish fit the bill!
Sauteed Beets & Radish with Dill
2 beets
1 radish
1 tbsp butter
-Thin slice beets and radish. Try to slice all of the pieces to be approximately the same size.
-Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat
-Toss in beets and radish and cook for about a minute
-Add 1 tbsp of water and cover, cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes.
-Season with salt and pepper
-Toss with dill
For the seasoning and tossing with dill I used a metal prep bowl.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
1/2 large butternut squash, seeds removed
kosher salt
ground black pepper
12 oz all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting.
-Preheat over to 400 F. Place squash cut side down on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. Turn and roast an additional 45 minutes, or until tender. Let rest for 15 minutes.
-Peel and puree roasted squash. Spread the puree on a baking try and let it cool to room temperature.
-Place squash puree in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
-Stir in the flour. Transfer to a work surface and knead the dough until smooth.
-Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
-Roll a piece of the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope and sprinkle lightly with flour. Cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll each piece along the back of the tines of a fork, pressing slightly with your thumb.
-Continue with this process until all the dough has been cut into gnocchi sized pieces.
-Layer the finished pieces on lightly floured parchment paper or baking trays and let dry for up to 2 hours.
-Cook the gnocchi in 2 batches in a large pot of boiling, salted water. They should cook up in 2 to 3 minutes. You will know they are done because they float to the surface of the water.
I served the finished gnocchi with a jar of homemade pasta sauce and a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese, though it could be served with brown butter & sage sauce instead.
The gnocchi were very filling as a main dish and we had plenty left over.
For dessert it was Gail's favorite: Ice Cream! We had a serving of vanilla ice cream with defrosted strawberries and blackberries. I drizzled the juice from the defrosted berries over everything and served it all on a bed of homemade vanilla drop cookies. A simple and delightful end to a wonderful meal!
Simple Vanilla Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
-In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar
-Beat in egg and vanilla
-Combine dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture, mixing well.
-Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
-Bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes.
-Let cool on wire rack

What was local in our Valentine's dinner?? As much as possible!
For the bread sticks: Garlic (Red Fire Farm) Basil (my garden) Bread Flour (Four Star Farms & King Arthur Flour), and Butter (Katie's Homemade)
For the salad & vinaigrette: Baby Greens (E&T Farms), Carrots (Red Fire Farm), Apples (Charlton Orchard), Goat Cheese (West River Creamery), and Raspberries (Tougas Farm via our freezer)
For the Gnocchi, Sauce, & Vegetables: Butternut Squash & Beets (Winter Moon Farm), Flour (King Arthur Flour), Radish (Red Fire Farm), Dill (my garden), all of the ingredients in the homemade pasta sauce except the olive oil came from local farms or my garden and was made in late summer when everything was fresh.
For the dessert: Ice Cream (Batch Ice Cream), Strawberries (Cider Hill Farm via our freezer), Blackberries (Tougas Farm via our freezer), Butter (Katie's Homemade), Eggs (Baffoni's Farm), and flour (King Arthur Flour).

With the exception of a few pantry staples like salt, pepper, olive oil, etc. I was able to source most of the ingredients for our dinner from local farms or producers (like Batch Ice Cream or Katie's Homemade Butter) even in the middle of winter it has been possible, and only slightly challenging to source some of our produce/items locally!


Laura said...

Wow. I can't decide which part of the meal is most impressive!

Fred said...

Thanks Laura! It was a big hit with Gail that is for sure :-)