Making Fresh Gnocchi and Sticky Date Pudding: the TSA Challenge!

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!


About The Spud

just a humble potato
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4 Responses to Making Fresh Gnocchi and Sticky Date Pudding: the TSA Challenge!

  1. I have a trick to make gnocchi even fluffier. Using the back of a fork, flatten the gnocchi piece, creating a striped-pattern on one side. Flip the piece over and then fold the edges together to form a round shape. Dust the formed gnocchi with flour. 🙂

  2. TSA says:

    Thanks for all the kudos Spud, hadn’t read this one till tonight! I do put extra flour in my gnocchi too and should have said I normally only cook my sticky date for 40 mins as well, but obviously being the cooking genius you are, you totally had it covered!

    And, I can totally vouch that the pudding sauce can be pre-prepared before going out for dinner too, it comes out of the microwave just fine. What could be easier and more delicious except perhaps your pav 🙂

  3. TSA says:

    Last one I promise, the gnocchi looks awesome!!! Hmmmm, next time I’ll have to try pan fried!!!

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