The joys of indecisiveness & Gnocchi

Today, I thought I’d take a little break from all of the reviews I’ve been doing lately. There have been a lot, I know! (I can’t help it though, Brighton has so many amazing places that I just want to rave about non-stop! It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there.. I’ve be broke, over-weight from eating so many wonderful things.. but very happy!)

The joys of summer :)
The joys of summer πŸ™‚

(Want to skip straight to the recipe? Click Here!)

I love the warm weather. When the flowers are blooming, and the sky is blue, with maybe a fluffy blue cloud floating on by.. It always seems to put everyone in such a lovely mood.
The trouble is, when I say I love warm weather.. I do mean just warm. Not hot. I’m not used to hot weather. Growing up in Wales, where a a light rain shower is considered a good summer, I never really had much experience of “hot” weather. Add to that the fact that my parents have a farm house with at least a foot-thick stones walls which keep the inside cold at all times, and you get used to a chill in the air!
Now that I live in Devon, I’m having to get used to that red fiery ball in the sky I’ve heard is known as the “Sun”. And when the sun comes out.. my oven stays off!
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There is a conversation I have with my partner at least once a week. Whilst he is at work, as the day is getting closer and closer to the time he’ll be leaving to come home, and dinner-inspiration has not yet struck… I will send him a little message saying something along the lines of :
“What do you think about dinner? πŸ™‚ “
To which he will nearly always reply
“I think it’s a good idea!”
And then a little brainstorm will ensue, of easy, quick, hassle-free dinners I can rustle up. This conversation will always happen when I’m not in the mood to cook anything elaborate. Anything that involves hours of cooking, hours of chopping, or long, complicated preparation, then it’s not an option!
On this particular day, I suggested jacket potato? (microwaved, and finished under the grill. No way my oven was going on!)
No, he said.. What about pasta?
But pasta didn’t appeal to me.
So I joked, and said hey, potatoes, pasta.. this would be a perfect time to combine them both and make Gnocchi!
He laughed. It was something I had been meaning to make for months, since neither of us had ever had it. But I had always read it would take hours to make. But for some reason, that evening, I thought.. Why not? Let’s try it!
And what do you know… it worked!

dough

I’ve read many recipes for gnocchi in the past, and most of them call for using the flesh of baked potatoes. This has always seemed like an extravagance.. You take a potato, you bake it for an hour, and then you take the baked potato (a perfectly good meal by itself) and smash it all to bits? There had to be a quicker way!

When I’m in a rush, and want a jacket (baked) potato, I microwave it for a few minutes to soften it, before crisping the skin under the grill. So I wondered, would this work for gnocchi?
Much to my pleasant surprise, it worked wonderfully.
I scooped the softened potato from it’s skin, mixed it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and flour, and gently mixed until it formed a soft dough. I had heard tales of gummy dumplings in the past, so I made sure not to over work the dough!

dou

Long, thin strips of dough were carefully rolled out..

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Before being cut into little pieces. Now, I’ve seen some people roll their gnocchi over a fork to get interesting shapes in their dumplings.. but frankly, for a quick weeknight meal, I didn’t see much point in it. And they looked perfectly nice without them!

boil

The gnocchi are then dropped into a pan of boiling water, a few at a time. Don’t be tempted to dump them all in, or they will stick together! You know when they’re done, as they will float to the top. Scoop them out carefully, and place on a baking tray (don’t let them touch each other! They like to stick!)

Congratulations! You have gnoocchi! I tried one at this point, and whilst the flavour was nice, I’m just not a fan of doughy, soft foods. So I experimented with pan-frying, and baking the gnocchi. Both work really well, but baked wins for me! Why not try cooking them both ways, and see which you prefer?

 

Baked VS Fried!
Baked VS Fried!

As you can see, the baked Gnocchi puff up a lot more than the fried ones, and they become crispier and a little chewier. Whereas the fried ones had a nice crispy top and bottom, and yet still kept a soft middle. My partner loved both!
The baked version would make great party nibbles. I could happily sit and munch a bowl full..

gnocchi

I served my gnocchi with an easy tomato sauce, some steamed broccoli and salad.
From start to finish, it took me under and hour. Which for a dish I had read would take hours, was a pleasant surprise! You could easily make the dough in advance. Or even once you have boiled the gnocchi, freeze them to have on hand for another day! (Be sure to freeze them flat on a tray, and once frozen, then you can transfer them to a bag or container. If you try to freeze them all together, they will end up one big lump!)

I love it when indecisiveness over what to make for dinner ends up in something new and lovely! I hope you’re not indecisive about trying these though.. they are definitely worth it!

I’m on a bit of a gnocchi kick at the moment… more fun experiments to come!

Gnocchi

By Pixie Produce Published: June 25, 2013

    Today, I thought I'd take a little break from all of the reviews I've been doing lately. There have been a lot, I know! (I can't help …

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Start with your potatoes. Take 3 to 4 large potatoes, and prick them all over with a fork. Now, you can bake these if you like, for about an hour, until they are soft. Or, like me, you can place these on a plate in the microwave, and cook for between 7-10 minutes, or until the are soft. Let them cool until you can handle them. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. You should have roughly 350g of potato.
    2. Mash the potato to remove some lumps, then carefully mix in the flour. Some recipes call for plain flour, but I like self-raising. I find it gives the baked gnocchi an extra lightness! Add a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper (if you like), and the garlic powder. It's not necessary, but I like it! Mix together with a fork until it comes together into a dough.
    3. Place your dough on a lightly floured board. It should hold together as a soft dough, but if it feels too wet, kneed it a little with some flour until the stickiness dissapears. Try not to over work it, or it will become tough.
    4. Bring a pan of slightly salted water to the boil. Break off a lump of dough, and roll it out into a long, thin sausage shape. About 2cm thick. Cut into equal sized pieces. You could try to make fancy shapes if you like! But I was hungry, and decided not to πŸ˜›
    5. Add the gnocchi, a few pieces at a time, to the water. They will sink to the bottom for about 10-20 seconds, and then float to the surface. Let them sit on the surface about 5 seconds, and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Place onto a baking tray, and continue to cook the other gnocchi. Once cooked, they are ready to eat like this! Or, you can bake or fry them.
    6. To fry, heat a non-stick frying pan with a small amount of oil. Add the gnocchi to the pan (if frying them all, you may need to do this in batches) Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Serve immediately!
    7. To bake, use the baking tray you placed the gnocchi on as they were cooking. Make sure there is not water on the tray, then drizzle a small amount of oil over the gnocchi. Roll them around a little so that they are all coated. I used less than a tablespoon for this, maybe 1 teaspoon? Bake in an oven, or under a hot grill, for 10 minutes. Check now and then, and turn them to make sure they cook evenly. They are done when they are puffed up, golden and crispy! Serve immediately, and enjoy!

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