About a month ago a friend of mine posted this entry on facebook: “1st attempt at gnocchi making and it’s gone very badly wrong”. Underneath this statement was a photograph of a saucepan filled with the offending yellow paste and a wooden spoon which looked like it might never return. I invited her round for a gnocchi masterclass.
I say ‘masterclass’… I have made gnocchi before but that was ages ago and I cannot remember how it turned out. I think it went ok but I honestly have no memory of it either way. She seemed so disheartened that it hadn’t gone well that without thinking I invited her round to make gnocchi with me. I had been joking when I called it a masterclass, but I realise now that I haven’t actually known her for that long so she may have just assumed that I knew what I was talking about. (It’s probably better that I am concerned about this now and not on the day).
She arrived keen to get started and once the kitchen was free from coffee making housemates we got to work. I might not be a gnocchi expert but I know what it feels like when things go wrong in the kitchen. Usually this happens to me when I am being impatient or if I get distracted. It feels so much worse when it’s the mistakes you wouldn’t normally make; over-cooked veg, an undercooked casserole, burnt cake, in my case all of which are almost always followed by my flouncing off into another room dramatically exclaiming “I can’t cook” and “my career is a failure”. I hoped that if I helped my friend resolve her gnocchi nightmare I would simultaneously be sending a metaphysical drop kick to every failed flan, terrible terrine or that lumpy mashed potato I was sorry to serve to my boyfriend’s mother last year.
It was a really fun afternoon and I am pleased to say that we made some rather yummy gnocchi. It was a lot easier than either of us had expected/half remembered. We ate it in the garden until I noticed a hungry squirrel take a strong interest in the hazelnut butter so we ran in.
I really enjoy cooking with other people; sharing the labour of something which might normally be fiddly or complicated and swapping kitchen hints and tips.
If you want to make gnocchi too, here’s what we did:
- Take 750g of potatoes and boil them whole and unpeeled for 30 minutes
- Drain them, rinse with cold water and leave them to cool.
- Peel the potatoes and put them through a potato ricer.
- Gradually add 125g of plain flour stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Knead the mixture briefly and bring together into 3 lumps. Roll them into thin sausages and chop into small pieces (you’re aiming for boiled sweet size blobs)
- Press a fork into the sides to give small line indentations and drop a third of the gnocchi pieces into boiling water
- Once they rise to the top, give them about 10 seconds or so and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the batches.
Add pesto or your favorite cheese or toasted hazelnuts tossed in melted butter. As you may know I’m trying to change some of my eating habits at the moment so I made mine with butternut squash in place of potato and used wholemeal flour. The mixture needed more flour than the potato version and I stuck an egg in too (for luck!) The butternut squash version is great with the hazelnut butter, mint leaves and feta and I served the classic version with a simple salsa verde made with mint, parsley, basil, capers, lemon juice and oil.
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