Probably the best thing about winter for me, is the ability to use the kitchen without feeling exhausted. Since leaving my boring old job in retail, for the bigger world, I have the weekends to myself.
This weekend I had a four day weekend – how cool right? I had Friday to Monday off. Despite living it up in my own little party scene on Friday and Saturday, on Sunday and Monday I had the house to myself. So I woke up, turned on my iPod, and the day seemed almost set. I had Tracey Chapman playing in the background – by the way I love her lyrical ability to put time, place, and emotions into perspective –and I felt literally at home. You know you’re at home when you have a home cooked meal.
I love cooking, and earlier this week I had cravings for gnocchi. For those of you who don’t know what “gnocchi” is, its Italian pasta made from potato. But just as Masterchef, comes ever closer to the exciting finale, I thought it was time to bring out my own ‘master chef.’
First, I cut 500 grams of sweet potato into 3cm pieces. I coated the pieces in brown sugar and cumin. I placed this in a preheated oven at 200 degrees. I let this cook for just over thirty minutes or so.
Meanwhile, I placed about 500 grams of Desiree potatoes in a pot of salted water. I cooked the potatoes on a medium high heat until the skins began to peel.
Once both potatoes were cooked I peeled the skin. It is a lot easier to do this while the potatoes are warm. I mashed all the potatoes together. I then added the yolks of three eggs, as well as one whole egg. To this I added 150 grams of frozen spinach (defrosted obviously), ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese, salt, and freshly cracked pepper.
This is the tricky bit.
I added about 300-350grams of sifted plain flour. Use a floured bench and knead, punch, slap, just don’t kick this dough until it forms such that it doesn’t stick to your fingers.
Once formed, make little sausages out of the pastry dough. This should be about one centimetre wide, and about 30 centimetres long. Cut the pastry in roughly two centimetre increments.
This isn’t going to be perfect so don’t get too fussed. It should look rustic right? A professional way of saying “Oops, I made a mistake. It still tastes good but.”
With a floured fork, press the top of the gnocchi, so it looks pretty to the eyes.
This is going to make plenty, like I mean upwards of 300 pieces so it might be a good tip to control the amount of potatoes used. But if you love your food like we do in my family, you can freeze the gnocchi for later days.
Also, ask a friend, or family member to come help you out, otherwise this process can be hella boring!! I was making this all by myself, so if you are too, don’t bother cooking this until it is ALL DONE.
Now for the sauce! I chopped one whole leek, two cloves of garlic, and about five slices of prosciutto. Fry this in about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, for about ten minutes. Then add about ½ a cup of fresh basil, thinly sliced or torn. Allow to fry for a couple of minutes. Add 100mls of chicken stock, and a dash of good dry white wine. To this, add 300ml of cream.
Bring to boil, before simmering for about 20 to 30 minutes on a very low heat.
Meanwhile bring a big pot of salted water to the boil, and preheat the oven again to 200 degrees. Place a baking dish in the oven with a bit of olive oil, as we will place the gnocchi to rest in the oven dish. Once boiled, add gnocchi in batches of about twenty at a time. Once the gnocchi rises to the surface, it is cooked. This will take 3-4 minutes. Once cooked add to the baking dish.
Once all the gnocchi is cooked, add the sauce on top of the gnocchi, and bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes.
Enjoy this meal, with your favourite people, and drinks… thankfully I have plenty of both of those.
If you’re keen for the recipe for the Ricotta and Garlic Hobz (a Maltese way for saying bread), please let me know, and I’ll be more than happy to share.
If you like, please share your own Masterchef inspired recipes.
Until next time take care,