My friend The Smiling Assassin (TSA) fellow foodie and all-round top chick) has recently been having a stab at making fresh gnocchi. Hearing her tout the ease at which such a dish is supposedly made inspired me to have a crack at it myself. For me it is one of those dishes that always sounded too hard, or too much work, especially now that I don’t have as much time in the kitchen as I’d like what with running around after a devilish toddler.
So one Sunday afternoon, with my husband toddler wrangling, and me armed with a Jamie Oliver recipe for gnocchi (from his ‘Cook with Jamie’ book) and a glass of wine in hand to steel my nerves, I was ready to tackle the gnocchi beast.
First step was to rub six medium potatoes with olive oil, price them with a fork, and send them off to a 220 degrees Celsius oven for 1 hour or so.
Once cooked and looking like an old woman’s bottom, I held the potatoes in my hand with a tea towel (as the potatoes need to still be hot/warm), sliced them in half and scooped out the seductively soft contents into my food mill.
The food mill was a long overdue purchase that I bought purely for this gnocchi making experiment as I’m too lazy to push it manually through a sieve. The food mill ensures that there are no lumps within the potato and that it is at the right consistency.
Next step add 1 egg yolk and a couple of handfuls of flour and knead says the recipe, however I found I needed a bit more flour to ensure that my gnocchi ‘dough’ was not a sticky mess.
Once at the right consistency I needed it, I cut it in to thirds, and rolled it out into a sausage-like log. Once rolled out, I cut the log in to 2.5cm-ish pieces. I didn’t bother rolling them around or pricking them with a fork to look fancy but I suppose you could.
In to the fridge they went for a couple of hours. The recipe says to chill for 10 to 20 minutes but they were fine after a couple of hours, however I left some in the fridge overnight and they turned in to a gooey mess.
Whilst making the gnocchi I had a simple pot of ragu on the go – basically it was just some gravy steak cut in to chunks with a bunch of pumpkin, carrot and onion with a couple of bay leaves and a bit of rosemary simmering for approximately two hours in a pot of crushed tinned tomatoes with some beef stock…….. this was to be the sauce for my gnocchi.
Taking the gnocchi from the fridge I placed them carefully into a pot of salted boiling water until they happily floated to the service (approximately 4 minutes), then in to a colander to drain.
I heated some butter in a frying pan and then tossed the gnocchi until they developed a nice golden crust on each side – then in to the ragu and serve – delicious!
Here’s the finished product…… visually I think next time I will place the gnocchi on top of the sauce as it looks like a hot mess below (tasted great though!)…
Now that wasn’t so hard was it?!
Actually, it really wasn’t, it was just a little time consuming but I think I’m going to add this to my repertoire. Ommidy nommidy nom.
But that’s not all………..
One of The Smiling Assassin’s signature dishes is her Sticky Date Pudding which I have had the pleasure of consuming, so thought it would be a most fitting follow-up to the gnocchi. Sticky Date Pudding is the ultimate comfort dessert but I’ve never made it (I know, I can hardly believe it myself!). So once again inspired I decided I would have a crack. The day was officially known as the TSA Masterclass Challenge!
The sticky date was also a fairly simple dish – the only fiddly bit is chopping up the dates (I used my KitchenAid food processor), soaking them in boiling water, adding some baking soda (ooh fizzy like a high school science experiment!) and then whizzing them again in the food processor. Then it’s simply a matter of creaming the butter and sugar (thank you KitchenAid mixer!), and adding the flour and sticky date mixture.
Pour in to a greased and lined tin and bake 40 minutes (recipe said 50 minutes but my oven tends to run hotter than most).
As a result of my misbehaving oven the outside got a little dark, but since you cut this dish up in to portions anyway you can just avoid those sections.
Once baked and cooled it is a matter of heating up cake portions in the microwave and making the toffee sauce which consists of cream, sugar and butter in a pot to boil. So bad yet so good!
This is a great dessert to take to a dinner party as it can be made prior and stored with only the toffee sauce needing to be made on site. I also strongly recommend serving with some vanilla ice cream. Hey in for a penny, in for a pound!
TSA Challenge completed successfully! Thanks to TSA for the recipes and tips!