Do you know what put a big smile in my heart and on my face......
A couple of weekends ago, Nick and his girlfriend Grace came down for the weekend and yes, that was great in itself, but it was these words from Nick that did it for me....
"Let's have a gnocchi tapas night, lets make gnocchi from scratch and each one of us make our own sauces"
This is the kid, that when we had our restaurant, used to say..."I hate the hospitality industry" and "I just want to eat NORMAL food"
Yep! Just what mums love to hear. Slowly by osmosis by watching us cook, talk about food (incessantly sometimes) and by my determination to broaden his horizons, the love of food rubbed off. This was also helped by working part time in hospitality (karma) for a short time while at uni, moving out and having to fend for himself. So important that boys know how to cook! With women having increasingly busy lives, work etc it's just the best having your bloke know how to cook.
I thought his idea of each of us creating an accompaniment to the gnocchi was a genius idea. It almost felt like Masterchef, where we had to choose ingredients from the fridge and pantry but without the running and being on a time limit. Which would have been a bit difficult with a glass of wine in hand.
- 600G DESIREE POTATOES SCRUBBED AND UNPEELED
- 2 EGGS
- 50G PARMESAN GRATED
- 200G PLAIN FLOUR
- 1 TBLS SALT
Place the unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan with and cover with cold water. Simmer until just tender (not falling apart).
Put them through a ricer or mash with a normal masher if you don't have one. Just remember not to overwork. Beat in the eggs, salt and the parmesan. Sift the flour and fold through and it will now form a soft dough that will come away from the sides of your bowl. If it's too wet add a bit more flour. Tip onto a floured surface and divide dough into three. Roll out into 2cm diameter sausages and then cut at 2cm sections. Use a gnocchi board or a fork to create those indents. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle simmer. Cook gnocchi in batches and you will see that they will pop up to the surface. I usually leave them for a further 20 seconds or so before scooping them out with a slotted spoon. Drain on a paper towel and keep warm.
Now the fun starts......
Gnocchi virgins.....it's sticky, it's messy and a whole lotta fun.
Imagine having a gnocchi or pasta making night with a bunch of friends, young kids or grandparents...
There's something incredibly special about communal cooking.
When the hands have been cleaned and the dough looks like nice neat dough, divide into three. Roll out into 2cm diameter sausages.
Cut using a paint scraper (for the life of me since the move I can't find my cutter) cut at 2cm sections. They look like little tiny cushions.
Use a gnocchi board or a fork to create those indents, those grooves will suck up all the yummy sauces.
It's all happening by the second glass of wine, music playing in the background and of course just a bit of competitiveness on whose dish will come out on top.
Yes, our household is very much like that....
Nick's dish is first up. He has gone for finely sliced prosciutto, sage, toasted pine nuts, shaved truffle and grated pecorino. Would you believe truffle was on special in little jars at Aldi.
Nice combo Nick.....have to wait for the final judging.
I went for something quick and easy (official photographer was busy) in little greased heatproof bowls...
Cooked gnocchi, a sugo of tomatoes, garlic infused oil, basil which was poured over the gnocchi, tore some bocconcini and placed on top. Cooked off in the oven for 10 minutes or so. Fresh basil to garnish.
Simple and that's the way it should be with Italian cooking.
Less is more!
Grace REALLY enjoying my dish!
Grace's dish was so decadent and deliziosa! Cream base with crumbled gorgonzola and a splash of white wine vinegar for sharpness, lastly fresh parsley scattered through.
Arth went for the classic gnocchi with sage and burnt butter. Can't go wrong with that one. Fragrant and again it's the simplicity that will get your dish over the line.
If you decide to have your own gnocchi night you might come up with a totally different menu....how much fun would that be!
And the winner was....
All 4 of us! Just being together and cooking we were all winners.
Thanks Nicko for the brilliant idea.