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A Big Batch of Ricotta Gnocchi Should Be Your Next Cooking Project

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Welcome back to Dirty Work, our series of dispatches from the MUNCHIES Garden. We’re inviting chefs, bartenders, and personalities in the world of food and drink to explore our edible playground and make whatever the hell inspires them with our rooftop produce.

Chef Nick Elmi’s ricotta gnocchi with white truffles has been a hit at his French-inspired Philadelphia restaurant, Laurel, since the beginning. “It’s amazing how many people still geek out over white truffles,” Elmi tells us on a visit to the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen—though the dish’s consistently glowing reviews have certainly helped, too. When he stops by to walk us through the dish, however, we don’t need any truffles; most people don’t have them around at home anyway. Instead, Elmi will show us how to riff on his popular ricotta gnocchi in a format that’s more doable for home cooking.

Recipe: Easy Ricotta Gnocchi with Eggplant and Swiss Chard

Unlike the potato-based pillows that most people might associate with the word gnocchi, Elmi’s version follows the Parisian style. Gnocchi à la Parisienne, as they’re known, rely on flour, water, and eggs instead of potatoes, which results in lighter puffs of dough. Adding a French cheese like Comté to that might be more common, but Elmi opts for ricotta to keep things fluffy. Making the gnocchi dough is easy: Elmi combines everything in a stand mixer, folds in a dash of chives, and then puts the mixture in a piping bag, so it can cool in the fridge.

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While the dough chills, Elmi thinks through what to do with the gnocchi. One thing he likes about this dish is its versatility, he says. “That’s what I love about these gnocchi. [At Laurel], we literally do it with truffle butter and water and shave truffles in it,” he says. “I make them at home, and my daughter likes them with tomato sauce. Whatever’s in the garden, throw it in.” At the time of his visit, vegetables are still growing on the MUNCHIES rooftop, so Elmi roots around and grabs a few eggplant, sungold tomatoes, and a bunch of Swiss chard. As the season turns to winter, let the same logic apply to whatever looks good at the store.

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As we walk through the garden and make our way back inside, Elmi tells us about Laurel, his small, sophisticated restaurant that celebrated its sixth birthday this month. “I have a picture of my son standing in the restaurant like, the day before we opened and now he looks like a teenager,” he says. Now, Laurel still makes the ranks of the city’s best restaurants, and its most iconic dishes have been immortalized in Elmi’s first cookbook, Laurel: Modern American Flavors in Philadelphia, which was co-written with Adam Erace and hit shelves in September. Elmi didn’t always plan to make Philadelphia his long-term home, but now he’s got roots; Laurel is joined by a casual sister restaurant, In the Valley, just next door. “I figured I’d go hang out in Philly, and I fell in love with the city,” says Elmi, who was raised in Massachusetts.

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Back in the kitchen, Elmi gets started on the gnocchi, which cooks quite a bit faster than your standard pasta dinner. After boiling a pot of salted water, he pipes the gnocchi in directly, snipping the dough into half-inch segments using a small offset spatula (a pair of kitchen shears works as well). The gnocchi are done in just about two minutes, and Elmi scoops them out with a slotted spoon and puts them on a lightly-oiled baking sheet, which will keep them from sticking.

On a cold, quiet day, make a big batch of these easy gnocchi: some for now, and the rest for later. “The best part about these is you can cook them and throw them in the fridge and they’ll last for four or five days. You can just make a sauce and throw them in the sauce. You can freeze them too,” Elmi explains.

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After cutting the eggplant into cubes and mincing some garlic, Elmi sautees them with olive oil in a saucepan. Once the eggplant has softened, he removes it from the pan, and then adds water and butter. As the mixture heats up, it will emulsify, and it’ll thicken even more once the gnocchi is mixed in. “These [gnocchi] have enough starch in them that they act as their own sauce,” he explains. “Most of this stuff is so good that you don’t really want to mess with it [too much].” He throws the whole sungold tomatoes and sliced Swiss chard into the butter to cook lightly.

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Once the tomatoes have softened and burst, Elmi gently stirs in the gnocchi, followed by the cooked eggplant and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Because the dish is so rich and buttery, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of zest serves as a balancing final touch. Since we had them in the garden, Elmi adds raw okra flowers, which have a surprisingly shellfish-like flavor, and a few sprigs of bronze fennel. This riff on Elmi’s gnocchi dish is based on whatever’s around, though, so don’t fret if they’re not available for you.

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No matter what time of year it is and no matter what vegetables are in season, keep a batch of Elmi’s ricotta and chive gnocchi in the freezer. Cook them up in your favorite pasta sauce or even just butter, and they’ll make it to the table faster than any take-out order. Your future self will thank you.





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When you need to up your fruits AND veggies intake, kill two birds with one ston…

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When you need to up your fruits AND veggies intake, kill two birds with one stone and whip up a salad that has both! 🥬🍇🧀🍎🥜 photo cred: @lastingredient 👏🏼 #sweat #evolveyourhealth #salad #fruitsandveggies #towaco #evolveyourfitness #fitness #health #wellness #strength #healthandwellness #getfit #stayfit #lastingredient #bewell #fuelyourself #fuelyourhealth #tuesday #nutrition #goodeats #eatwell #food #s3r #tuesdaytip #sweatsculptstretchrepeat



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Why is cheap traveling more fun?

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Because it is exciting and cheap.

1. You meet many amazing people.
2. You are not so isolated in your hotel.
3. You connect easier with the local people.
4. You save so much money.
5. You have so many adventures.
6. You can develop faith in God in all of your struggles of traveling cheap… And that is so true!!!
7. You get the best information from experienced travelers.
8. You can easily connect with other amazing travelers.

Usually, people choose via the internet a hotel with specific features and they forget that they want also to meet new people.

The people like more to stay in their comfort zone and so they choose the same dishes they eat at home and stay with the same people in the hotel.

You can stay for free with couchsurfing.com.
When you use workaway.com, you will stay with the locals for free and you work 4-5 hours and get food and earn some money…

What is about women… Every man is raping them?
For instance, the beautiful French girl F (21) is hitchhiking and Couchsurfing (she stayed already at over 100 hosts) for free, needs only $50 per month, flies for $120 from Stockholm to Krabi with Norwegian Airways .. And she got never raped or sold her. She stayed with me for free, even I gave her the food for free… I took beautiful pictures when she was making yoga at the beach…

You can do volunteer work when you travel and you will meet great people …

When I was a student, I worked for a minimum wage in the USA and in Amsterdam; organized by IAESTE…

Then I worked also as a volunteer in a spiritual place for free in France…

Did I like that? Was it worth to do so? Did I improve my English? Was it better than TV and Facebook?

Then I saw people working for small firms for 4 to 5 hours a day including food and a small salary… in Panama (workaway)… You can do so!

European students like to work in Australia for some months to earn the money to travel in Asia…

My Video: Why is cheap traveling more fun?
My Audio on Podcast: RELAX WITH MEDITATION or see link in the end.
My Audio:

How to travel cheap?

Couchsurfing: www.couchsurfing.com

Workaway:

How to find cheap flights?

Book the flights on Tuesday till Thursday, because then the flights are cheaper.

Book 1 week to 4 weeks in advance, otherwise you don’t get the cheapest offers.

Flights to everywhere:

Norwegian airlines
Krabi /Bkk Stockholm 120Dollar

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What You Need to Know About Wild and Farmed Shrimp

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Farmed Shrimp Labels

Then there are the certifications meant to indicate better environmental practices. For farmed fish, the most common are the  ASC). Unlike the USDA organic certification, these are private companies without government oversight. On paper, the standards do ensure farms with the certification are using some improved practices, like avoiding prohibited antibiotics, but some industry experts question how reliable the certifications are.  “The thing that concerns me about farmed fish labels, in particular BAP and ASC, is that they’re pay-to-play,” said Cufone, “in a way that makes it hard not to provide the label once a company has paid for it.”

The companies are also run by individuals who have a monetary interest in making farmed seafood look more sustainable. GAA’s board includes executives from Red Lobster, Sam’s Club, and Thai Union, one of the shrimp companies found by the Associated Press to have slave labor in its supply chain. (The company claimed it was appalled by the revelation and that it made changes to its supply since then.)  In Consumer Reports’ testing, four of the antibiotic-contaminated samples had BAP certification. “Ultimately it ends up being industry labeling industry, which is not that meaningful,” Cufone said.

Wild Shrimp Labels

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the main certifier of sustainable wild fisheries, and 36 shrimp fisheries currently carry the blue fish label. “There’s an independent assessment team of scientific experts that are convened by the certifier to assess the fishery against the MSC fishery standards,” Averill said, explaining that the label’s credibility is in checks and balances built into the system, the fact that the standards are continuously updated, and transparency. Reports on fisheries that are being assessed are released for public review and public comment, and fisheries that end up certified have pages of documents posted in MSC’s “track a fishery” database.

Still, Cufone said that MSC often certifies fisheries that are subpar on some of the stated goals, like a recent menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico that was certified despite the lack of a catch limit. And environmental groups have spoken out recently about MSC certifying fisheries despite problems with bycatch, the main environmental issue with shrimp.

The trickiest aspect of MSC’s sustainability certification, though, is that it works on a point system you don’t see on the label. Fisheries that “pass” are scored between 60 and 100, 60 being the minimum requirements for certification and 100 being a perfectly sustainable operation. A score between 60 to 79 is considered a “conditional pass,” and MSC provides the fisheries with a list of improvements it must make. However, that fishery is allowed to use the “certified sustainable” label while it’s making (or possibly not making) those improvements, with a follow-up check in five years later.

Finally, there’s Whole Foods. Its standards rely heavily on MSC for wild shrimp, and it maintains its own farmed shrimp standards, which ban antibiotics and preservatives and  “prohibit conversion of sensitive ecosystems such as mangrove forests into shrimp farms, and we track the shrimp from pond to store to ensure the standards are met.” Many consider its standards to be the best in the industry, but, again, the company creates and maintains its own standards, so there is little outside oversight compared to a third-party verification system.

How to Buy (or not Buy) Shrimp

When it comes to buying shrimp, almost everyone in the industry says Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch ranking system is the most reliable tool available, and many people recommend MSC for wild shrimp, despite its limitations. Cufone, Bigelow, and Greenberg also all said they’d eat wild Gulf shrimp over anything imported.

At Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, a restaurant and fish market known for better seafood sourcing in Brooklyn, New York, chef Orion Russell almost exclusively buys wild Gulf shrimp. For him, another benefit over buying farmed shrimp from Asia is the taste. “The flavor is so amazing,” he said. “My mind was blown the first time I had a Gulf shrimp.” However, bycatch is still a major concern that can’t be ignored.

One definite path is to supporting sustainable recirculating shrimp farms as they emerge and struggle to compete. Eco Shrimp Garden, a farm based in Newburgh, NY that sells at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, is a great example. (It’s worth noting that the farmed shrimp company that recently got a shoutout in the New York Times has been plagued with development delays, and the trailblazing Maryland farm Marvesta is no longer in production.)

At the end of the day, “Most of the world’s production is still something we would recommend you not eat,” Bigelow said.

“It’s like we can’t get over the fact that we like it so much,” Greenberg added.

But maybe it’s time. Instead of shrimp, you could look at what kinds of sustainable seafood are available in your region. Buying directly from local fishermen based on what is most plentiful nearby is the best idea. So is buying locally farmed oysters and clams and mussels, which can have a positive impact on ocean ecosystems. “I would always turn to a sea scallop from Maine, Massachusetts, or Montauk. With East Coast clams and mussels, there’s not too much concern there,” Russell said. All of those kinds of shellfish also contain more omega-3 fatty acids — which are beneficial for heart and brain health — compared to shrimp.



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