Winter Cooking Class Recipes: Gnocchi and Chicken

On February 1st, a group of us faced the cold Halifax rain by turning up the heat in the kitchen for our second installment of the Wintertime Harvest cooking class series!

The class was led by Jon Geneau, a professional chef from Halifax’s new restaurant, Elements. Specializing in local food, Jon had a mouthwatering menu planned out for the group.

To begin, the group prepared a parsnip and sage soup in a creamy soy based broth. The recipe was very quick and easy and the group was surprised by how much flavour could come out of only a handful of ingredients. Jon shared his tips for chopping onions.  If you place a wet cloth or paper towel on your cutting board or nearby surface, it will help stops your eyes from watering.

For an entrée, Jon had gluten free gnocchi planned out for us. Where there are a few people in our group with gluten sensitivities, gluten free cooking is a theme that has carried through the whole series. While our potatoes were roasting, we prepared a gluten free flour by hand, incorporating rice flour, corn starch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. Once the potatoes were roasted everyone got working at rolling out and cutting the gnocchi dough. The gnocchi was prepared in a delightful onion and free range bacon dressing with roasted kale, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, garlic and thyme.

As well as the gnocchi, we also enjoyed a roasted free-range chicken purchased from Windy View Farms at the Halifax Seaport Market.  At this point I poured my heart about my love for Windy View’s farmer, Vance Morse, who I believe is one of the most kind and compassionate people here in Nova Scotia. He is a farmer who cares for his customers just as much as he cares about his farm, which is evident in the quality of his product.  Jon showed us a technique for cutting chicken called “spatchcock”.  To spatchcock a chicken, you cut out the backbone, open up the chicken and lay it flat to cook.

While the chicken was roasting we prepared poached pears using Cosmen and Whidden honey.  These honey-poached pears were enjoyed with a delectable cranberry compote and Schoolhouse gluten-free granola.

Patricia Bishop, a CSA farmer at Taproot Farms was supposed to join us for dinner, but due to the icy roads she was unfortunately unable to attend. We were lucky enough, however, to watch some videos on her website about the value of CSA farming. We also had the opportunity to Skype with her during dinner, which was a great way to have her answer some of our questions.
After our meal, we carried our full bellies back into the cold… but only until next week when the heat in the kitchen is turned up again.

Stay tuned for stories from our final cooking class!

Yours in Food,


Parsnip and Sage Soup with Garlic Bread
serves 4

2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 White Onion, sliced
4 clove Garlic, sliced
1 oz Fresh Sage
1 lb Parsnips, pealed and sliced thin
1 L Water
1 c Soy Cream (you can also use regular cream, if you’re not avoiding dairy)

Garlic Bread
4 sliced Gluten Free Bread
2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 clove Garlic, cut in half

In a pot over medium heat pour in the oil.  Add the garlic, onions & sage; cook until very soft and translucent.

Add the parsnips and water and bring to a simmer, cook for 15 minutes or until parsnips are quite soft.

Remove from the heat and puree in a blender (don’t add to much at a time or it will explode and burn you), or puree with a stick blender (much safer and only one of the many uses of a stick blender).

Stir in the soy cream and season with salt and lemon.

For the garlic bread:

Preheat the over to broiler.

Brush the bread with oil and toast under the broiler.

Remove the bread and rub gently with garlic; scraping off a small amount of garlic on the surface of the bread.

Gluten Free Gnocchi
serves 4

1.5 lb Russet Potatoes
1 c Gluten Free Flour, recipe below
1 Egg, beaten
1 tbsp Salt
Extra Gluten Free Flour for Dusting

Preheat the oven to 350oF
Poke to potatoes a few times with a knife, place on a baking sheet and into the oven.

Wait for 30 – 45 minutes……..or until potatoes are cooked all the way through.

Let to potatoes cool a few minutes then cut in half.  Scoop out the inside and put through a ricer or screen.

Dust the potatoes with 1 c flour & salt and mix in with a pie cutter.  Add the egg and start to knead into dough.

Roll into snakes and cut in 1 in pieces.

Cook in boiling water until they float.

Gluten Free Flour

2 c Rice Flour
2/3 c Corn Starch
1/3 c Tapioca Flour
1 tsp Xanthan Gum

Mix all together and pass through a sieve a few times.

This will make about 3 c.

Store in the freezer for future use.

White Onion & Bacon Dressing
serves 4

½ c Bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 White Onion, small dice
1 tbsp Mustard
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 twists of a Pepper Grinder

In a frying pan over high heat cook the bacon until almost crispy.

Reduce the heat and finish cooking.

Stir in the mustard and vinegar.

Twist in the pepper!

Roasted Vegetables
serves 4

¼ lb Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
¼ lb Mushrooms
2 cloves Garlic, smashed with the palm of your hand
4 sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 tbsp Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 350oF

Separately, toss the brussels sprouts & mushrooms with oil, garlic and thyme.

Spread on two separate baking pans and place in the oven.

Check the mushrooms after 10 minutes and the brussels sprouts around 13 minutes.

Mix with the onion & bacon dressing and then with the gnocchi.

Honey Poached Pears
serves 4

2 c Water
1 c Honey
½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Clove
¼ tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Black Pepper
2 Bosc Pears (tall with brown skin), peeled and cored
1 c Ice
Small circle of Parchment Paper with a hole cut in the middle

Combine the water, honey and all the spices in a medium pot and bring to a simmer for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the ice to cool down.

Add the pears and cover with the paper.  (The paper acts as a lid, but also lets the steam out.) Cook over low temperature for 5-8 minutes (maybe longer depending on size).

When you can pierce them with a knife, turn off the heat and cool in honey water.

Cranberry Compote
serves 4

1 c Cranberries
¼ c Honey
2 tbsp Water
2 strips Lemon Peel

Combine all and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Serve with poached pears.

Roasted Chicken
serves 4

3-4 lb Chicken
2 tbsp Fresh Parsley & Sage
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
¼ c Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut the chicken into pieces and mix with remaining ingredients.

If you have time, store in the fridge overnight.

Spread onto a baking pan and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

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