Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry-Walnut Pesto
The first truly delicious gnocchi I ate was at a random trattoria in Genoa.  Those lithe pillows swimming in pesto were the start of a love affair.

Two years ago, we spent eight months in Buenos Aires.  Italian roots run deep in Argentina so while there is plenty of beef with chimichurri there is also amazing pasta.  Every neighborhood has their "pasta joint" which sells fresh pasta.   I found the world's best gnocchi not to mention incredible agnolotti on the corner of Soler and Dorrego in Palmero Hollywood.  The traditional potato version was delicious. But nothing compared their heavenly gnocchi de calabaza (pumpkin gnocchi).  We must have eaten hundreds during our stay.

Organic Cabernet from Argentina
Nowadays, if I need a gnocchi de calabaza fix I can't run to the corner and pick it up.  Those days are gone.  All cravings have to be satisfied with my own cooking know how.  So I did a little research and discovered a Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto recipe on Would Rather Gather's blog.   Not only is it delicious but it is also vegan.  You can see how it went below;

The key to this recipe is having the dough remain a bit ooey-gooey.  A more solid dough will yield tough heavy gnocchis.  So stick close to the flour amounts provided and resist temptation to add much more. 

I boiled the gnocchi and then transferred to a pan for a quick sear.  Then mixed it with the pesto.  Viola it was ready to serve with a wonderful organic wine.   

This is an incredibly tasty recipe that I can't recommend enough.  It has the added bonus of being vegetarian, vegan so wonderful even meat-eating pals would pronounce it a satisfying meal. 

This year we'll be eating this for Thanksgiving with simple green salad and a meringue topped cranberry curd tart.  But that will be a future post all it's own.    

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Orlando Philharmonic Concert at Bok Tower

 On our recent jaunt to the Orlando area to see family and do a little shopping we added an outdoor concert by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to our itinerary.

The event was held at the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida about an hour outside Orlando.   The setting was lovely in spite of the uncharacteristically windy and chilly night.  

Live music, especially classical or opera, holds a special place in my heart.  The love affair began when my parents took me to see The Nutcracker.

My mother bought me a gorgeous burgundy velvet frame bag with a gold tone chain strap.  I held it on my arm as if it were a Birkin bag.  It seemed that glamorous to twelve year old me.  The bag was just the beginning.

Bok Tower

While I loved the lithe graceful ballerinas, I was entranced by the music.   There was a power and life that simply didn't exist when played on our stereo.  It gave me goosebumps.  As a teenager, I patronized the El Paso Symphony but my tastes turned a bit modern.  So I also saw Gwar or The Smithereens while still dressing up and listening to string quartets.

While I still listen to alternative tunes favored by aging wanna-be hispter goofs, I remain faithful to classical music and my beloved opera.  So this was a real treat.
My Pop and I

Shoes off and relaxed.

This concert was a much different experience than my usual symphonic outings.  My mother's lovely gift had impressed upon me the need to dress up if someone was putting to bow to strings.  So an outdoor concert presented more than a few challenges.

For seating we "borrowed" a blanket from the hotel.  It was the perfect size and easily smuggled out in a large tote bag.  With that taken care of my concerns turned to wardrobe.

The nippy weather was perfect for comfy snuggley clothes.  Even so for me jeans or a sweatshirt with sneakers wasn't an option.  My mom didn't raise me that way. I wore tweed pants, a silk shirt and cozy cowl neck sweater.   I actually showed up in heels!  Once I saw the grassy pathway to the venue I put on my trusty ballet flats. 

My dad wore his beloved West Virgina baseball cap.  And despite his aversion to taking pictures he posed for a few to pacify his pushy daughter.  

He loved the music even singing along to a few of the songs.  I shooshed him and he ignored me.  Order remained in the universe. 

When the cold got to be too much we packed up and headed out.  Each of us chilled to the bone but happy to have ventured out to enjoy the music and the company.
Snuggling my fave partner in crime and concerts.
A little wine to keep warm.