Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hay Hay it's Donna Day #14 - Gnocchi

Gnocchi! This month’s Hay Hay it’s Donna Day theme is Gnocchi, set by Lynne at Cafe Lynnylu. Gnocchi has always seemed very complex to me. So complex in fact that I hadn’t even bothered to consider how to make it. So it was very tentatively that I went on a search for a recipe. I rarely buy food magazines as it takes me so long to cook anything I tear out, let alone a whole magazine! But I do have a copy of Delicious magazine dating back to 2005. S-bo bought it for me one day and it’s an Italian Special. So that’s where I found my Gnocchetti recipe. (Gosh Gnocchi is a funny word isn’t it.)

I found the recipe surprisingly easy. I cooked the potatoes and probably one of the hardest things was peeling the hot tatas. I always knew that song “hot potato” was silly. Who in their right mind would try and pick up a hot potato. Ouch. I didn’t have a potato ricer or food mill so I used my new food processor to grate. Potato cooled then I got set making the dough. This was all fine and dandy and I’m thinking “Gee this gnocchi stuff is easy”. I rolled and chopped and then proceeded to put my little gnocchi’s in a bowl. I looked at them and though “they might stick together” so I smothered each layer in more flour and then left them, covered for the afternoon (NOT in the recipe). Easy right?

I had some friends around to help me eat the Gnocchi. I began to cook the sauce (70 g butter and 70 ml oil…this stuff was going to be good) and alas, all my little gnocchis had stuck together. Now here is where I decide gnocchi is not so easy after all AND that I have great friends. We all picked up bits of dough, roughly rolled them up and cooked them. Before you can say “where’s the flour” we were sitting down to eat, disaster averted (well, corrected really).

The sauce was sensational, aided by the excellent ingredients I’d been able to pick up. I went off in search of pecorino dolce amongst numerous delis and I’m still not sure if it’s a soft cheese or hard. The picture in the magazine suggests soft but I came home with a chunky piece of hard cheese. I wasn’t sure about it until the lady gave me a little sample, then I was sold. I needed much less than the recipe stated though, so there is now some very expensive, very delicious pecorino in my fridge, waiting to be used. Also expensive was the basil. At $5 a bunch you’d expect it to be good and frankly, it was the highlight. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. Just think of the best basil you’ve ever had then think this was better! The basil at the markets was looking all a little sad so I purchased it from our 24 hour (!) fruit shop.

Back to the Gnocchi, how was it? It was pretty good. Not as heavy as I was expecting, and almost a little creamy. What with all the fuss of trying to turn my lump of dough back into gnocchi and feed 4 diners there wasn’t a lot of time for a beautifully composed Donna Hay photo. I hope what I managed will suffice.

Gnocchetti (baby gnocchi) with tomatoes and sweet pecorino
500 g brushed potatoes (such as coliban)
1 cup (150 g) plain flour
1 egg
200 g pecorino dolce (sweet pecorino) or ricotta salata tostata (baked salted ricotta), grated, plus extra to serve
1/3 cup basil leaves, to serve

70 g unsalted butter
70 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
400 g can diced tomatoes

Leaving skins on boil the potatoes until cooked through. When soft drain, peel and, while still warm put them through a mouli or potato ricer. Set aside to rest and cool, then mix with the flour and egg and season well with salt. Dust a bench or other work surface with a little flour, divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll each into long stick or snake shapes. Cut these into 1 cm cubes.

To make sauce, melt the butter and oil together in a saucepan over low heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until softened, without colouring-this will keep them nice and sweet. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until the oil separates from the sauce and sits on the top for about 10 – 15 minutes. When tasting the sauce, make sure it is sweet in flavour, this is the secret to the dish.

To cook gnocchetti, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, then place your gnocchetti into the water – cook in batches if necessary to prevent the water temp from dropping too quickly. They will be cooked when they rise to the top and float on the surface. Drain and add to the sauce with the grated pecorino. Serve with extra grated pecorino and fresh basil leaves.


Peter said...

You are one brave woman Ali K! Good to see you averted disaster with your gnocchi.
They look very plump in the picture.(Yum!) I bet they were divine with that pecorino cheese.

Ali-K said...

Thanks Peter. The cheese was amazing. It cost me an arm and a leg, about 3 times the price of the shrink-wrapped version other deli's tried to sell me but it was worth it. I just need to decide what to do with the rest. I'm thinking a risotto with pecorino instead of parmesan.

IronEaters said...

that looks wonderful! i always feel that gnocchi is not easy to make (thus i never attempt b4 =D)

Barbara said...

I'm glad they turned out well in the end. Thanks for joining HHDD.