Tag Archives: Borealis Breads

when nothing else will do

After work, I rode to the Rockland Public Library to see John Piotti of the Maine Farmland Trust give a talk called “Are Farms the Key to Maine’s Future?” The short answer: Yes. The long answer: If $50 million dollars doesn’t get poured into agricultural conservation easements,  property value will force farmers (more specifically, family of deceased farmers) to sell their property to developers instead of other farmers. Luckily, the Maine Farmland Trust, which was founded 12 years ago, is optimistic about raising these funds and achieving their goal to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland by 2014.

One the drive home from this talk, my coworker shared that Waldoboro, the town where my office lies, used to be the pumpkin capital of New England, growing the majority of the pumpkin for canning by One Pie. As far as I know, nary a commercial pumpkin patch exists in Waldoboro anymore, but all this talk of pumpkins got my stomach screaming for pumpkin gnocchi.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi
Adapted from this recipe on Tastebook
Serves 2

I lost the recipe I used to use to make these, but after going through ten or so Google search results, I settled on a recipe that called for whole wheat flour. Normally, I look at whole wheat pastas in disdain because the larger flour grains fail at mimicking the texture of white or semolina flour, but I was running seriously low on all-purpose flour, so whole wheat would have to do. These gnocchi turned out so light and lovely regardless, and the choice of grain made me feel a little better about eating a bowl of (basically) flour and cheese.

When I made these in the past, I would pan-fry them in browned butter after a quick boil to add a contrasting textural element to the edible pillows, then serve them with fresh pesto. (Sometimes, I even opted for cilantro pesto with pumpkin seeds and red onion and cumin to make my Italian relatives turn in their graves.) This time, I had pesto butter (!) in the refrigerator from Borealis Breads, so I used that to cover my butter and pesto bases then topped my dinner with grated cheese and pumpkin seeds.

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (or homemade pumpkin puree, drained thoroughly)
1/2 cup Parmesean or Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg white, whipped until frothy
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of your favorite butter or oil

Fill a large pot with water (and some salt) and let it get boiling. (It takes about as long for a large pot of water to boil as it does for this dough to come together. Amazing!)

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Carefully fold in the frothy egg whites. Next, fold in the whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Add the all-purpose flour until just incorporated. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle about 1-inch high. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1-inch pieces, as shown above. (Another method is to roll the dough into 1-inch-wide snakes and then to cut each snake into 1-inch pieces.)

Put some butter in a frying pan and set it to medium heat. Add your gnocchi to the boiling water, give a quick stir, and leave them be until they rise to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the buttered frying pan. Toss a few times until they are at your desired level of doneness, transfer to a bowl, top with more cheese, and enjoy.

I was cooking for one so after I finished eating, I shaped the rest of the gnocchi and went at them with a fork to get a more traditional gnocchi look. (With the job I did, I think I caused my Italian ancestor grave-turning, but taste matters more than presentation, right?) I placed them all on a cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet, threw them in the freezer for about 90 minutes, and then transferred them to a bag. They will be ready to greet my tongue and tum in the ides of March when I am as likely to find pumpkin as I am to find gold at the end of a leprechaun’s rainbow.

three months in maine

It has required more than one pinch for me to believe that I am already a quarter of the way through my contracted time in Maine. These three months have been very fulfilling: sometimes difficult, often fun, and nearly always delicious. Cooking has provided a consistent comfort throughout these three months of hard work and increasingly short days. Shopping at Rising Tide Community Market and Sheepscot General Store have made that cooking even more enjoyable because I look forward to the actual food shopping as much as putting the ingredients together. I often resort to Facebook Mobile Uploads to share images of my culinary endeavors instead of this blog because by the time I’ve worked all day and finishing my meal, I’m ready to drink a beer and go to bed. Since my blog audience and Facebook friend community are nearly identical, I am not going to fret about my delinquent ignorance of “one palate, many plates.” Instead, I will fill in where it seems right, and settle into the rhythm of a long winter’s blogfest. Or at least that is the intention.


Pictured above is some apple-zucchini bread French toast. Half a loaf was going stale in my refrigerator so I revived it into French toast. I credit San Francisco’s famous Mama’s for turning me onto making French toast out of quick bread. Their cranberry-orange bread and banana bread versions blew my mind and altered my palate to crave this denser French toast.

A few notes about the other items in the picture:

  • Since moving to Maine, I have made the switch to raw milk as my milk of choice. The last time I went to the store, they ran out of my favorite (from Straw’s Farm in Newcastle), so I got some raw goat’s milk instead. It is delicious, with an almost savory tang that lends goat cheese its distinctive taste. [The next product I want to try from Straw’s Farm is the lamb. Lee Straw boats his animals out to an island where they forage on seaweed and other goodies until it is time for slaughter. I don’t think I’ll ever find an animal that has lived a more chill life.]
  • I put maple syrup on/in everything. Yogurt, roasted vegetables, cookie batter (instead of sugar), tea, toast, salad dressings. You name it.
  • That smaller jar has homemade “apple butter” in it. I use quotation marks because whatever that stuff is does not resemble apple butter in the slightest, but it is a delicious apple spread that I’ve enjoyed coating breakfasts like this one, mixed with Grey Poupon and apple cider vinegar to drizzle over roasted squash, or eaten by the spoonful straight out of the jar.

When I lived at home, it was not uncommon for my father to bring home an unmarked paper bag filled with fresh mozzarella (like, milk-leaking-everywhere fresh, not whatever that stuff is you buy at the supermarket), butcher paper lined with thinly-slice prosciutto di Parma, and a loaf of panella bread sliced to order. At Haverford, I lived minutes away from Carlino’s Market where I could get my fix. In Maine, I have to search a lot harder, but I occasionally visit Sweets & Meats for positively scrumptious baguettes and an expertly curated selection of meats and cheeses. The sandwich above is from the first visit to the store. I layered foraged oyster mushrooms (first sauteed in butter) on the bread with prosciutto and local cheddar for a Italian-American/Mainer fusion sandwich that hit the spot, and several other spots I didn’t even know were there until I was hitting them.

Fried eggs are the perfect food; the runnier the yolk, the better. My eggs come from the backyard of one of my co-workers, whose sons raise chickens and sell their unbelievably fresh, orange-yolked eggs for $2.50 a dozen. This dish paired a fried egg with roasted radicchio with balsamic vinegar and a sourdough olive roll from Borealis Breads. Few things are better than sopping up egg yolk (this time with balsamic vinegar as well) with good bread to finish a meal. Yum.