Sunday, November 10, 2013


I've wanted to make homemade gnocchi for years, and dating an Italian I knew that if I could pull this one off, then I'm officially inaugurated as a real Italian cook. So one Sunday afternoon my good friend and I set out to achieve our dream: making gnocchi! Here's how we did it:

1) Peel and boil the potatoes. (In this case, a couple pounds. We made a lot.)
2) Let the potatoes cool slightly and then mash them in a potato ricer. If you don't have a ricer then you can mash them manually, but I found that this nifty device gave the potato the right fluffy consistency that you want in gnocchi.

3) Next crack the eggs in flour, and begin to combine with the potatoes to form the dough.

4) When the dough is near play-dough consistency, roll into a log and use a knife to cut into pieces. *Note: remember to flour your work surface so the dough doesn't stick!

Me rolling dough

5) Press the tines of a fork into the gnocchi pieces to make indentations. (I have no idea if this has any practical purpose, or if it's just for aesthetics.)


I also made pumpkin gnocchi, using sweet potatoes and a roasted sugar pumpkin in place of the traditional white/yellow potatoes. This dough was wetter, so I rolled the gnocchi in more flour to keep from sticking:

6) Next drop the gnocchi into the pot of boiling water to cook, for only a few minutes each. When the gnocchi are ready they rise to float to the surface of the pot; fish them out with a ladle or a spider and transfer them to saute in your sauce of choice.


We sauteed the pumpkin gnocchi in sage butter:

 Then served our festive fall meal:

The classic gnocchi we served with a beef bolognese:

And finished with a salted caramel apple pie I made for dessert:

Gnocchi success.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Garden at the Cellar

Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge is a hidden gem. It's a tiny little place tucked away in a less-commercial block of Mass., so nondescript you might walk past without noticing it. It's above a dive bar, next to a wine shop, a gastropub-style restaurant. Inside it's understated brilliance: with a couple of tables lined up by a wood-paneled bar, an exposed brick wall behind the booths, the ambience is cozy and the food is fantastic.

For appetizers we started with the bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, one of my favorite snacks that I've tried all over the city (Brick and Mortar in Central Square and the Regal Beagle in Coolidge Corner also serve these incredible confections.) Next I had to have the beet slider:

I swear it's all veg, but tasted like a little burger.

For my entree I had the caramelized scallops over roasted butternut squash, topped with pickled radish and toasted pumpkin seeds:

The scallops were perfectly cooked, with the savory golden crust that paired perfectly with the sweet creaminess of the squash and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds - the flavors melded in every bite.

We got a number of small plates for the table to share so I was able to taste a number of different dishes, and all were great: lobster tempura, roasted pesto cauliflower, truffled mushroom flatbread with herb-whipped ricotta, roasted garlic, arugula, and lamb with lentils and curried carrot puree. The glazed shortrib came out late (served with a turnip puree, brussels sprouts, and crispy shallots), which was unfortunate mostly because it was so delicious when it arrived. Between the inventive cocktail menu and interesting food, we liked every single part of the meal, so we were disappointed to find there was no dessert menu. Because had there been, despite being stuffed to the brim, we definitely would have ordered dessert, since no doubt it would have been amazing, too.

I recommend this restaurant for a romantic dinner date, a girls night out, or a place to bring family visiting, as I did. 5 stars.