My audition adrenalin didn’t wear off until Tuesday (20 January), when I cooked baked gnocchi for lunch and dinner [yes, I loved it that much!]. I regret not taking photos of the progression or finished product – it was pretty darn special, like eating little clouds in a rich tomato sauce.
Recipe #1: Baked gnocchi. Serves 2.
For the gnocchi, you will need: 4 large-ish potatoes; 1/2 tsp salt; ~1 cup flour (plus extra for rolling/dusting).
Boil the potatoes whole (don’t peel them) for about 20mins – until soft enough for a knife to cut through the middle with ease. Drain then peel the potatoes when cool enough but still warm. Mash potatoes with salt. When thoroughly mashed, pour about 1/2 cup of the flour on top; lightly combine with a wooden spoon. Add more flour gradually, until big lumps form – then knead on the bench. Do not over-knead – combine just enough to make a ball of dough. It may be slightly sticky to touch, and that’s ok. Rest the dough for about 15 mins.
Flour the mixture and roll into a cylinder no more than an inch in diameter. Cut into 1.5cm pieces. Turn each piece onto its side, then press with a floured fork. Put the finished product in a single layer on a floured plate.
To cook, drop each piece individually into a pot of boiling water. Once gnocchi float to the top, wait a few seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon; place cooked gnocchi in a large oven dish, in a layer no more than 2 pieces high. Pour over the tomato sauce, then top with shaved pecorino and fresh herbs. Bake in a 180-degree oven for around 15 mins.
My tomato sauce comprised: 1 large tin of diced roma tomatoes; 1 jar of tomato puree; 2 cloves garlic; dash of good balsamic vinegar; flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (or you could add other fresh herbs, eg. oregano/basil); salt & pepper to taste. You’ll probably only use half of this sauce – it freezes well for later use.
I peeled and roughly chopped the garlic and placed it in a saucepan with a dribble of olive oil and some salt & pepper. I heated the saucepan and, once the garlic was soft, I added the tinned tomatoes. After reducing them for a few mins, I added the puree, vinegar and some more salt & pepper. I reduced the mixture until it was thick, then turned off the heat and stirred in ~2 tbsp chopped parsley.
Next time I make this, I will use fresh rather than canned tomatoes. I am sure this will yield a superior result.
A variation you may want to try: add an egg. It will improve the texture, but beware – your mixture will need more flour [= a more solid end result].
This recipe works ridiculously well with old potatoes: they are more floury than new potatoes. Also, if you have a potato ricer, it will save you a heap of time & effort.
It was my brother’s birthday on Wednesday – he turned 23. I rang to wish him many happy returns and invited him around for lunch on Sunday, then I cooked a sticky date pudding. I couldn’t find my tried-and-true recipe, so I used one I found on online.
Here’s how it turned out:
I made mine in a cake tin rather than in ramekins/water bath [someone, who shall remain unnamed, has been systematically breaking my ramekins…], and baked it for less time than recommended. It still turned out to be very moist. The flavour was somewhat disappointing – not as rich as I remembered – and the cheaty toffee sauce was also slightly remiss.
I added macadamias to my toffee sauce. It was a fun twist that improved the end result.
The pudding was yummy, however I will keep trying to locate that lost [and, dare I say it, more authentic] recipe…
Sunday came around quickly and I wanted to make it special for my brother, who insisted on no present, so I decided to cook a roast, with mudcake for dessert. I am thinking that this will become a regular thing for me and my family, as there is nothing like a Sunday roast to bring family together.
Recipe #3: Delicious roast chicken. This is such a simple recipe I am almost embarrassed.
You will need: a roast chicken (mine was 2kg), giblets removed; 1 lime; 1 heaped tsp Vegemite; olive oil; 1 large red onion; 3-4 cloves of garlic.
Yes, I use Vegemite on my chicken. This may seem sacreligious to some, however the final product is not at all reminiscent of the raw ingredients.
First, quarter the lime, then stuff it into the cavity of the chicken. Smear the Vegemite all over the chicken. Smash the garlic cloves and cut the onion into about 6 wedges. Arrange all of this in a layer in the bottom of a roasting pan. Balance the chicken on top, drizzle olive oil over the chicken, then put the pan in a 180-degree oven.
You will need to allow about 45 mins of roasting time per kilo of chicken [test it’s cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest parts of the meat – the juices should run clear], then approx. 15-20 mins resting time.
In terms of vegies, I roasted: (1) pumpkin and potato wedges with sage/salt/olive oil; and (2) baby beetroot with rosemary/salt/olive oil/lime juice. I guess I could have made some greens, but I thought there was enough there as it was. I also made a gravy in the pan from the chicken juices, leftover onion/garlic, some chicken stock, water & plain flour. Delicious.
I’ll start with a picture of the remnants:
This recipe is from an old recipe book of mine. It’s really very simple.
First, melt 155g (or more :p) dark chocolate with 250g of butter, 1 3/4 cups strong coffee and 60mL of your fave spirit [I used Kahlua]. Stir in 2 cups caster sugar and let it sit for a few mins. Into this mix, whisk 2 cups plain flour, 1 level tsp bicarb soda, a pinch of salt, 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla (essence or halved & scraped pod). Pour the mix into a greased & floured 20cm cake tin and bake in a 180-degree oven for 75-90 mins. The top will get slightly crusty, and that’s fine. Turn the cake onto a plate to cool.
For the icing, melt 200g dark chocolate with ~65g butter. Let the mixture cool until it is slightly stiff. Cool the cake almost completely before icing.
I’m going to call it a day now. I hope this post inspires you to try these recipes for yourself.