A few weeks ago, I wrote a Cragies and Snackies featuring Chamard Vineyard Bistro in Connecticut (that spelling still throws me off).  I’d love to say they read it and decided to pay for myself and one lucky reader to fly out and enjoy an extravagant dining experience prior to going out and hitting the crag.  Alas, they did not.  But they did provide me with inspiration for this month’s Half-Baked idea.

I thought it would be a worthwhile challenge to try and recreate my recommendations from the Chamard Vineyard Bistro menu.  Just as a reminder, the recommendation was The Parisian Gnocchi1 (not sure what makes it Parisian?) which consists of handmade gnocchi, roasted zucchini and summer squash2, grape tomatoes, English peas, herbed ricotta cheese, and basil. On the side was a delightful Corn Succotash3.  I mentioned that I didn’t even know succotash was a real thing, I just thought it was a word used by Syllvester the Cat whenever his plans for catching that yellow bird were foiled. It turns out that succotash is a real thing and it is pretty simple to make.  It’s just fresh corn sauteed with fresh peppers, tomatoes, fava beans, garlic, and dill.  The Pommes Frites4 didn’t originally make the recommendation cut, but I had some leftover potatoes from the homemade gnocchi, and so why not!

Regarding the gnocchi, I was originally just going to buy some gnocchi, and add the vegetables, but this is supposed to be challenging, and buying gnocchi isn’t much of a challenge, so homemade it is.  After digging through a few recipes, I found one that was calling my name.  “Carota, Carota fare questa ricetta, Carota, per favore!

So polite was this gnocchi recipe that I couldn’t turn it down.  I didn’t grow up in an Italian familia, so I don’t have any core memories of working the dough and pressing the pasta con mi nonna.  But I did imagine what that life could’ve been like.  So, while I was bored out of my mind fifteen minutes into rolling, cutting, and forking each individual gnocchi, I developed a deeper appreciation for all the nonne who have been doing this from scratch since the beginning of time.  Halfway through production I was ready to say fork it, and be done!  Standing there rolling, cutting, and forking over and over and over can’t produce something that much better than store bought can it?  Spoiler alert: It can and it was!  After a while I got into a groove, and was able to get through enough gnocchi for a few servings.

With the gnocchi complete it was time to turn to roasting vegetables, for the pasta, sauteing vegetables for the succotash, and peeling potatoes for Pommes Frites or rather Patatine Fritte as we call it in Italy.

My goal was to have everything come out and ready to be served at the same time. I did all the prep at once, the vegetables were cleaned and cut while the oven preheated. Once the oven was ready, the veggies for the succotash went into a frying pan to saute, the veggies for the gnocchi went into the oven, and the Patatine Fritte went into the air fryer. While everything was cooking, I cleaned up the giant mess I made, readied a pot of water to boil for the gnocchi (that goes really quickly, maybe like 3-4 minutes in boiling water), and started to make the herbed ricotta. The ricotta was my favorite thing to make, I just mixed some Italian seasoning and basil into the ricotta and ecco! It was simple and delicious! I chopped some fresh basil to top the pasta, some fresh parmesan to top the roasted veggies, and some fresh dill to top the succotash. Then I waited. Beep, beep, beep! The oven, the air fryer, and the alarm for the succotash all went off at the same time.

It’s like I have been cooking 5-star gourmet dishes forever.  I pulled everything off the heat, and tossed the gnocchi into the boiling water.  Five minutes later I was in culinary heaven!

My biggest mistake was using fresh dill instead of dill and oregano on the succotash, but this turned out to be a happy accident, because I love dill and have no idea what oregano is.

My biggest surprise was how easy it is to make homemade fries.  They tasted delicious and they weren’t saturated in oil, which not only made them taste better but I also felt better .

My favorite dish was surprisingly a tie between the succotash and the gnocchi. I can’t choose which was better. They were both my favorite, and they were both much better than I thought they would be. Not because of the recipes, but because I had no confidence that I could actually pull this off. Getting all the ingredients, the mixing, the timing, and the cooking done, let alone done correctly was not something that I expected. But everything really did turn out perfectly, and I was proud that I was able to pull this off.

I’m not saying that I pulled off the level of expertise you’d expect to find at Chamard Vineyard Bistro, but if ever they need someone to fill in as chef, I’m available.  They would just have to pay for myself and one lucky reader to fly out and enjoy an extravagant dining experience prior to going out and hitting the crag.

I feel inspired to find some more recipes from 5-star restaurants and see if I have what it takes to pull off another food forgery.  It was fun and I’d recommend the challenge to anyone.

As for what’s next…we’ll see!


  1. Gnocchi Recipe
  2. Roasted Veggies Recipe
  3. Corn Succotash Recipe
  4. Pommes Frites Recipe

8 Replies to “Half-Baked”

  1. Amazing. Too much work for this ol gal. Now In one of my all time favorite songs (Groove is in the heart) succotash was used & did not know it was a real word. Thanks for that awareness. Now when I sing “My supper dish, my succotash wish sing it baby….” has new meaning. Fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When my kids were little, we read a story about gnocchi. One of the kids in the story said “gnocchi is yucky!” until they made it and ate it, when he said “gnocchi is yummy!” The story included a recipe so my kids and I made gnocchi together. The recipe required use of your thumb in lieu of a fork. It was pretty yummy. Congratulations and Thufferin’ Thuccotash! The succotash in your picture looks mighty tasty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to start reading more children’s books! I move that every book has a recipe included at the end! That is one great memory! Thanks for the inspiration on how to end my next book. By next, I mean first!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Cooking takes time but the payoff at least in this case was worth it. I’m not sure about gnocchi, but I think succotash could be made on an open fire! Perhaps a future ‘Dirtbag Diner’ episode!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s