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Honey Walnut Prawns

August doesn’t recall having had this dish in her life before Zach, but now it’s one of their shared favorite Chinese plates.  Not all restaurants have it – in fact it can be hard to find – so Zach figured out how to make it at home for any time the mood strikes us.  This should be eaten immediately because the batter is so light and crispy that it can get soggy from the honey glaze, so don’t anticipate any leftovers.

honey walnut prawns

honey walnut prawns

Makes 4

48 oz. of peanut oil for frying

1 1/2 lbs. of peeled and deveined shrimp

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for dredging

1 1/2 cups of soda water or carbonated water, ice cold

3/4 cup of corn starch

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/2 cup of walnuts

1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk

4 tbs. of local honey, divided in 2 and 2

1 tbs. of sesame seeds

4 tsp. of baking powder

2 tsp. of kosher salt

1/4 tsp. of powdered ginger

Orange slices for garnish (optional)

Thirty minutes before cooking the shrimp, make the sauce so that it can set up in the refrigerator.  Mix the mayonnaise, orange juice, condensed milk, 2 tbs. of honey, and ginger, thoroughly until well combined.  Chill for 30 minutes, which allows plenty of time to prepare the walnuts.

Toss the walnuts in 2 tbs. of honey, then sprinkle with sesame seeds to coat them.  Bake on a sheet pan lined with foil or a Silpat at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until lightly toasted.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees F in a deep fryer.  In a medium size mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt so that the ingredients are evenly dispersed.  Add the ice-cold soda water and mix thoroughly to make the batter.  Put the 1/2 cup of remaining flower in a separate bowl.  Toss the shrimp 10 at a time, first in the flour and then in the batter; tail on or off is up to you.  Removing the shrimp from the batter in one motion, gently lay in the hot oil one at a time, never more than 10 at once so as not to overcrowd the fryer.  Cook for no longer than 2 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove with a spider and drain on a towel or several paper towels before transferring to a large bowl

Take the sauce from the fridge and drizzle over the shrimp on the bowl.  Toss, making sure they’re all coated.  Plate with a small handful of walnuts and a few orange slices.

California Spring Mix Salad

Lamb is a delicious entree, but every meal should be balanced.  Keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak, this salad is in the same league as the flavors of pistachio crusted lamb.  Spring mix lettuce can seem a little extra pungent to some, so adding fruits and nuts helps to mellow out the greens.  August’s birthday dinner yesterday, and subsequent dessert, were very flavorful and therefore very memorable.  Some of her coworkers got to snag a few cupcakes today, but there were no leftovers of the lamb or this bright salad.

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Makes 2

4 cups of spring mix lettuce

8 thinly sliced strawberries

1/2 of one Granny Smith apple, sliced thin

1/4 cup of blue cheese crumbles

1/4 cup of chopped and toasted walnuts

3 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs. of fresh orange juice

1 1/2 tbs. of blackberry balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely minced shallots (optional)

To make the vinaigrette dressing, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Toss all ingredients in the dressing, and serve.

Homemade Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce, Truffled Walnuts, and Early Spring Salad

Gnocchi is our favorite pasta; it had been for each of us before we knew each other, so it was one of those “it was meant to be” things we gushed about when we met.  Zach grew up with it in his nonna’s kitchen with Sunday gravy, and he made thousands while working in Vegas, but tonight he finally made it from scratch for August.  So filling and so rich with the Gorgonzola cream sauce, we balanced it with a salad with bright, tart produce.

Makes 4

• For the gnocchi:

3 lbs. of russet baking potatoes

2 cups of all-purpose flour

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

potatoes, flour, egg yolk, parmesan, nutmeg

potatoes, flour, egg yolk, parmesan, nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet, then bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until slightly overcooked.

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Use rubber gloves to protect your hands, and peel away the skins to discard.

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Run the potatoes through a potato ricer, or grate them with the large holes of a hand grater; this should yield roughly 2 cups.

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Mound the potato, leaving a well in the top, to which add the egg yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Using your hands and a bench scraper on a lightly floured surface, mix well and then little by little fold and press in the flour – kneading will overwork it.  If the mixture is too dry, add a little water or an additional egg yolk.  The dough will feel firm but will give under slight pressure.  Form into a loaf so that portions are easier to cut.

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Divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll out into 1″-thick ropes.  Cut each rope into 1/2″-long pieces, lightly flouring as you cut them.

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After 1 hour of resting and being flipped over at the half-hour mark, these can now be cooked.  Heat water to a light bowl in a large pot of water with a pinch of salt.  Drop in the gnocchi; they will immediately sink, and once they rise back to the top, cook for about 90 seconds more.

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Remove from the water with a skimmer, let drain, and serve as desired.

• For the Gorgonzola cream sauce:

1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream

4 oz. of Gorgonzola cheese

1 roasted garlic bulb, peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

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In a medium saute pan, bring cream and garlic to a low simmer over medium-low heat.  Add the Gorgonzola cheese and mix until fully combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss the gnocchi.

• For the walnuts (a nice touch with the gnocchi texture and Gorgonzola flavor):

1/2 cup of walnuts halves

1 tbs. of truffle oil

2 tsp. of truffle salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roast walnuts for 12 minutes, then immediately upon removal from the oven, toss in the truffle oil and truffle salt.  Garnish the gnocchi.

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• For the salad’s vinaigrette:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1 tbs. of balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. of finely minced red onion

1 tsp. of Dijon mustard

1 tsp. of Marshall’s Farm thistle honey

Salt and pepper to taste

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In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the olive oil and mix until well blended.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while mixing until somewhat thickened and emulsified.  Serve with a salad of baby spinach, green romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, tango lettuce, green oak lettuce, lollo rossa lettuce, radicchio, red romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, red oak lettuce, red butter lettuce, red bok choy, arugula, and mizuna (essentially a spring mix with spinach added).  Other recommended toppings are blood orange supremes, dried cranberries, halved cherry tomatoes, and red onion slivers.

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