Roots and Seeds

©cookinginmyheels.com

©cookinginmyheels.com

Here’s the thing about “rebooting” your life; it usually involves uprooting it too. Ultimately that’s a good thing. If the roots have been in place for too long, flexibility, or rather the lack of it becomes an issue. I’m not saying I’m against roots, far from it. Roots provide strength. The trick is to know the difference between being rooted, and being stuck. For me, being rooted in an idea led me to being stuck. I’m talking major stuckage here. And as everyone knows, major stuckage leads to major suckage. My life, to speak plainly, sucked. Until I decided to reboot, and uproot. Let me explain.

For over three years I’ve been by most definitions, unemployed. Oh sure I consulted, somewhat steadily at first, but as the economic quagmire of late got thicker, the work got thinner to the point of non-existence. At least the work I had been rooted in and built a 20-year career in did. Bring on the suckage! So there I was, stuck in the well-worn rut of assuming my next job would be in the same path as my last. Any well-meant suggestions to “do something else” and “maybe move someplace else” were quickly shot down (and I belatedly apologize for the large chunks I bit from caring suggestor’s heads.) I mean, I was 50. You don’t start something new at 50! And leave New York? MY New York City??  Yeah, like that was ever going to happen.

But…What if I did do something else? What if I picked up and made a fresh start, doing something completely different? And what if that completely different thing was something I actually loved to do? The seed of an idea was planted. And as my Sisyphean efforts pushing my 20-year resume up the career path carried on, the seed took root. So in about three months, I’ll be packing up, picking up, and planting that seed in a wonderful bakery & café owned by friends in Oregon. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? You bet. But am I stuck? No, not any more…

Speaking of roots and seeds (ah, the recipe segue…) the other day as I was cleaning out a collection of cooking magazines large enough to rival my shoes, I ran across two recipes for gnudi. Gnudi are often lumped in the same category as gnocci (because things beginning with “gn” should be, I suppose.) But gnudi are far more delicate, like little cheese pillows that melt in the mouth. Ricotta is the main ingredient in these darling little dumplings, with a little egg, flour and breadcrumbs to hold it all together. And they are very adaptable to add-ins like spinach or in my case, beets. I make a beet ravioli with butter and poppy seeds that I just love, so they too served as inspiration for these Beet Gnudi with Brown Butter and Poppy Seeds.

Beet Gnudi with Brown Butter and Poppy Seeds

Makes about 40 gnudi, or six servings as a first course

  • 1 15oz. container of whole milk ricotta
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 oz. cooked beets, grated (about two 2-inch beets)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3 TBSP dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 4 TBSP flour
  • ½ cup semolina for dusting (or flour if you don’t have semolina)
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP poppy seeds

Sprinkle the semolina on a sided cookie sheet. Mix together the first 9 ingredients until just combined. Scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and roll into flattened balls. Place on the cookie sheet and roll around a little in the semolina to coat. Continue with the rest of the mixture. Cover and chill the gnudi in the refrigerator for at least a half hour.* (* At this stage , if you wanted to make them another day, you could put the pan in the freezer and once the gnudi are frozen, stow in a freezer bag for future use. Just remember to defrost them before cooking, or they will fall apart as they cook.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Do NOT salt the water (the gnudi are salted already.) While you are waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a pan over medium high heat. When it starts to foam, turn down to medium and add the poppy seeds. Continue cooking, swirling pan until the butter is a nutty brown and fragrant. Keep a close eye on it so the butter doesn’t burn. Once the butter is browned, turn off heat.

When the water is boiling, carefully drop the gnudi in and cook at a slow boil until the gnudi float, about 1 minute. Do this in 2-3 batches if you are making the full recipe. The gnudi are very delicate (which is why they are so light and wonderful) so too rapid a boil and they will break apart. When they are just floating, remove with slotted spoon to a warm serving platter. Drizzle the browned butter and poppy seeds over and devour!  Calories: approximately 285 per serving.

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6 thoughts on “Roots and Seeds

  1. These sound so good it makes my knees weak; and I don’t even like beets! But recipes like this are steadily winning me over.

  2. Mmmmm,…. Beet gnudi sound wonderful and look so beautiful! FYI, Mark was 53 and I was 48 when we had our mid-life epiphany (no crisis!) and moved to Tucson. Enjoy the adventure!

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