Every now and then when we ask the kids what they want for tea they answer with something that strikes fear into me!
Gnocchi is one of them!
They love potato gnocchi and indeed so do I, however, making gnocchi for six hungry people, it’s one of the more… shall we say… time consuming dishes!
However sometimes you just have to and for all the time it takes and mess it causes the end result is always worth it.
Of course you can always cheat and get your gnocchi ready made from the supermarket!
I have to say that I’m not keen on gnocchi when it’s boiled and served in a sauce… it just doesn’t do it for me. However we do love it when it’s gently poached and then fried in butter so it’s nicely caramelised and slightly crispy. It makes an Epic! (Kids description!) side dish when served like this.
I had bought some nice Tuna steaks that had been on special offer and as we don’t have Tuna very often I thought they deserved something a bit special. It was decided that we have them with gnocchi and some chick peas tossed in a nice lemon, butter sauce flavoured with just a touch of cumin.
When I make gnocchi I have to say I normally just wing it! I add flour, egg and a touch of baking powder to some mash potato (usually leftovers!) and hope for the best!
However here is a recipe for those that don’t want to take the risk!
6 large potatoes peeled and cut into four
1 medium egg
3 handfuls plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
Place the potatoes in a pan and just cover with salted water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
Drain the potatoes well and put back in the pan, leave for a couple of minutes for the potatoes to dry out a little then mash or put through a potato ricer.
In a large bowl whisk the egg and add the seasoning and a splash of water. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix together until you have a soft dough. If it’s too wet add a little more flour, if it’s too dry add a splash more water.
Divide the dough into four. Take one piece of dough and on a floured board roll into a long sausage shape. Use a blunt knife to cut the dough making little pillow shapes. place the dough pieces on a floured tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Once all the dough has been used up, place the tray with the cut dough on it in the fridge for ten minutes or so to firm up.
To cook the gnocchi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi in and bring back to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes or until the gnocchi floats on the surface of the water.
Once cooked the gnocchi can be drained and either tossed in a sauce or coated in a little oil to either serve later (just drop into boiling water to warm up or heat in a sauce) or be fried. To fry the gnocchi melt some butter in a frying pan and when sizzling drop in the gnocchi, keep turning until the gnocchi are nicely coloured and golden.
We had our gnocchi this time with a nice seared tuna steak and a simple sauce consisting of a little onion and garlic sautéed in butter with chicken stock, a splash of white wine, zest and juice of a lemon, cooked chick peas, ground cumin and finished with yet more butter!
A simple salad of chunky tomato, cucumber and onion drizzled with a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar and seasoning is all that was needed for a superb tasting, Mediterranean style dish.
Soup… We absolutely love it in our house. Not the tinned variety of course. It has to be ‘Ome-made! And it’s so easy to make. You take your favourite ingredients sweat them off in some butter add some stock, cook for a bit and then blitz. Not leek and potato soup though, that can’t be blitzed. That’s completely breaking the rules, that has to be… ‘lumpy’.
If you make your own stock it’s even better. Even if it’s chucking the bones from the leftover roast chicken in a pot and boiling for an hour, you will be left with a nice base for a soup. Of course if your one of those non-meat eating types you can make a stock from those manky left over carrots at the back of the fridge any veg trimmings and some onion. If you roast the veg for 20 minutes or so you’ll get more flavour and a deeper colour to your stock too.
So heres a recipe for a soup I made the other day along with a recipe for some cumin, ginger and garlic croutons. If you don’t have the croutons with this soup I suggest putting the spices used to flavour them in the soup. Although this recipe has chillies and spices in it it is no way spicy. If you prefer it spicier just up the amount of red chili in the recipe.
Sweet Potato & Red Chili Soup
1 medium onion roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
200g (a large baker) potato cubed
700g sweet potatoes (4 small or 3 medium)cubed
1 large carrot diced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (or extra black if you haven’t)
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon mild curry massala (or curry powder)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 litre of stock
2 medium sized red chillies deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
Ground black pepper and salt to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.
Add both types of potato and carrot to the pan along with the white pepper, salt, curry massala, allspice and thyme. Gently sweat all the veg off for a further 10 minutes stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.
Add your stock which should just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately forty minutes or until all the veg is cooked through and soft. Take off the heat and carefully blitz with a hand blender, blender or food processor.
Put back on the heat and add the remaining ingredients. The soup will be ready after 20 minutes.
Cumin Ginger & Garlic Croutons
8 slices white bread
2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and black pepper
Cut the bread into cubes and put in a shallow roasting/baking tin.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the garlic, cumin and ginger. Give the croutons a good toss and then sprinkle a little more olive oil on them and toss them again.
Put in an oven preheated to 165°C on fan setting (185°C for conventional)the croutons will take 30 – 40 minutes but you need to regularly check on them and give them a shake or turn every 10 minutes or so.
Once the croutons are cooked they can be used straight away. Once the croutons are completely cool they can be put in a sealed container where they should be good for up to five days.
Happy soup making!
Most people I know seem to remember this from their schooldays… I don’t! What a deprived childhood I must have had!
It’s one of Kits favourites. I remember her telling me about it and I was just looking at her with a vacant “what are you on about?” look on my face.
Then Kit turns up with a slice from a little buttie shop up the road “see! Cornflake Tart!”.
OK, I have to admit, looks like I was missing out.
Kits’ workplace has a thing about colleagues bringing something in on their Birthday so when Kits came round I suggested a Cornflake Tart… (Hence the title of the Blog… not that I’m saying Kits old, or a tart… can someone pass me a shovel please!)
This really is the easiest thing in the world to make. If you have Kids they’ll love it! However I don’t see why kids should have all the fun! Everybody loves a bit of retro these days, and when it tastes this good!
225g plain flour
100g cold diced butter
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp icing sugar
Mix the dry ingredients and then rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 2 – 3 tbsp iced cold water to bring the mixture together. Leave to rest in a cool (not a fridge) place for 30 minutes.
Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thickness and use to line a greased flan/quiche tin or shallow baking dish. Prick (snigger!) the base all over with a fork.
Place some baking paper in the tin followed by some tin foil and then fill with some baking beans. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take out of the oven and remove the baking beans, foil and paper. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes or so until the pastry is cooked and beginning to colour then take out of the oven.
Warm 150g – 200g of jam (Strawberry is traditional but I used raspberry for that nice hint of tartness against the sweetness of the topping) once the jam has loosened up pour into the pastry case and carefully spread out to cover the bottom evenly.
120g golden syrup
30g caster sugar
Melt the butter, golden syrup and sugar together in a pan. Once melted and bubbling take off the heat and add the cornflakes. Gently but thoroughly mix so all the cornflakes are coated then spoon onto the jam filled tart case. Gently spread the topping out so it is even then pop back into the oven for 5 minutes or so to set and firm up. Remove from the oven.
The tart is best eaten warm with a good dollop of custard but is equally as nice cold on it’s own. Just don’t try and sneak some when nobody’s looking as you may find yourself in detention!