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goat cheese gnocchi with thyme

One of the most important things I’ve discovered about farming food as opposed to buying it is—surprise!—seasonality. Eating seasonally sounds all well and good on a farm-to-table menu, but on a farm itself it’s less glamor and more what am I going to do with 2 giant zucchinis a day for the next three months running? As a cook you have to get creative (or just really like zucchini bread), and while it’s true that inspiration strikes, I’ve found it’s helpful to have a few good lightning bolts on hand for days when my creativity needs a little extra sizzle.

My particular arsenal of lightning bolts is divided into two related camps: great cookbooks and favorite food blogs. As you know I’m a sucker for books, not just for the recipes but for the thick pages, the thematic presentation, and the pictures so perfect you could eat them right off those thick pages. Cookbooks aren’t just selling you food, they’re selling you a scene in which you are an active participant—cook these meals, and you too can be a roaster of goats or a forager in Denmark. There’s nothing quite like spending an hour or two in a bookstore browsing through the cookbook collection, imagining yourself inhabiting the world of food each book creates.

That being said, food blogs also have something unique to offer. It’s exciting to follow someone’s journey with food, checking every day to see what new breakthroughs they’ve made or ingredients they’ve discovered. With my cookbooks I carefully plan the feast I’ll make, purchasing everything I need and laying it out on the kitchen counter. With food blogs it’s much more spontaneous: I browse until I find a recipe that catches my eye, then play with it to make it fit what we have in the pantry. And when we’re overwhelmed with one ingredient—as we often are—I turn to both book and blog for inspiration. Case in point? While I’ve happily eaten goat cheese on toast with avocado for the past few weeks, Sprouted Kitchen’s yogurt and goat cheese tart laced with plum and the tangy goat cheese gnocchi from my newest cookbook Chefs on the Farm were much more fun uses of chevre.

Need inspiration? Here are a few of my favorites:

The New York Times columns by Mark Bittman and David Tanis—you can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take the New York Times out of the girl.

Lucky Peach—the new (and deliciously entertaining) quarterly journal from David Chang of Momofuku fame.

101 Cookbooks—the grande dame of food blogging, Heidi made my college cooking something to write home about.

Smitten Kitchen—one word: desserts. Well, maybe two: empanadas.

Sprouted Kitchen—my current photography inspiration and oh-so-lovely.

Jeni’s Ice Creams—I was drooling (literally) over her book in Bookstore Santa Cruz the other day, and this recipe did not disappoint.

One Bite World—my dear friend Rachel’s wonderful journal of food and running.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Thyme

I adapted this from Quillisascut Farm’s recipe for ricotta gnocchi, and the results with goat cheese were fine indeed.

4 cups chevre

1 egg

2 cups flour

4 Tbsp thyme, chopped

1 Tbsp nutmeg

salt & pepper

Salt a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed, using your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Pull off a small piece of dough and test it by dropping into the water and letting it rise to the surface when done; taste and check for seasoning. To make the gnocchi, pull off a hand-sized piece of dough and roll it into a long tube, then cut your roll into bite-sized pieces. Use a fork to make an impression on the top of each piece–this will catch your sauce. Cook pieces in boiling water as before, waiting for them to rise to the surface and cooling on a plate. Serve with a tomato sauce with rosemary or a little browned butter.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rich #

    OK, I’m going to presume I was a dolt and had only put in a single cup of flour because I added another cup and it was fine.

    I also toasted some pumpkin seeds and added a shallot.

    I really enjoyed making this – thank you!

    September 8, 2011
    • So glad it worked out! Toasted pumpkin seeds sound wonderful…

      September 9, 2011
  2. Rich #

    Are you sure I should be using 4 cups of cheese but only 2 cups of flour? It seems pretty cheesy.

    September 8, 2011

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