Monday, March 9, 2009

Being Inspired

After spending a beautiful Saturday in Wollongong with a friend of mine I hadn’t seen for ages, I suddenly had the urge to make gnocchi from scratch. Sonia’s mother was known for her gnocchi and we thought it would be a nice idea to surprise her and cook it for her one day.

On the Sunday I had planned to see another friend and cook at her house. Even when I had woken up that morning I was clueless as to what to cook. All I could see in my fridge was about half a kilo of ricotta. It was a gloomy day, clouds rolling in, so my mind was swaying towards some comfort food.......gnocchi.

I knew gnocchi was normally made with potatoes but it takes a bit longer doing it that way, so after a bit of research I discovered that by combining ricotta, spinach, flour and eggs, you can form the little dumplings just as successfully, and in a lot less time.

I arrived ready to cook just after 11:30. We jumped straight to it boiling the spinach ready to make the dumpling mixture. We combined everything together very quickly and put it in the fridge to get a bit stiffer. While we waited we thought about sauces. One of the best combinations with ricotta and spinach is a burnt butter sauce but I felt that it needed one more ingredient to give it a third dimension. Burnt butter sauces can use sage, but since I already had so much spinach I decided to use pine nuts instead to give it a bit of crunch. We melted the butter with the pine nuts int he pan and cooked it over low heat until it became slightly golden and burnt.

The heavenly smells were wafting through her house. It was a beautiful combination as her house overlooks Coogee, and watching it rain, just made it so much nicer to be inside cooking.

Once the ricotta mixture had stiffened a bit, we attempted to make the gnocchi, but having been our first time, they ended up a very broad range of sizes, but all of them were larger than normal gnocchi.

The test to if the worked would be if they rose. We waited, and waited, and when we thought we had made a mistake in the mixture or by making them a lot larger, they started to float to the top. Smiles grew on our face as we watched the green speckled blobs bob around the top of the pot. After 30 seconds they were done and laid to rest on some paper towel to soak up some f the excess water. Once they were all cooked, the sauce hot and ready to go, we plated our creations and then sprinkled freshly grated parmesan on top. Our plated looked and smelt delectable.

We took a bite and the were so nice. Very cheesy yes, but not like a cheddar, a lot lighter and mixed with the spinach they were perfectly balanced, especially with the addition of the pine nuts. A lot of people may not think I would eat something with butter poured over the top, but to be honest I don’t think a tomato sauce or a cream sauce would have worked as well, and I will say that I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE bite, butter and all. I will admit though, I could only get through three gnocchi as they were so large and heavy, but leaving us wanting more, however I .......needed to save room for dessert as well.

View Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchie Recipe

Dessert was a bit or a ‘Read Steady Cook’ episode as we had a few ingredients to start with......70% Lindt and a bowl full of fruit. I suppose we were also on a time limit as Kelly had to get to work within an hour, so my vision of doing a Kahlua, raisin, chocolate tart would not work. I wanted to show her something that was ridiculously easy yet still looked impressive to others. For that I needed puff pastry as it always seems to do this job.

The aim was to do a selection of tarts using these different fillings. The first tart I though would use the classic combination of apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and a little honey. The shape of this tart would end up like a little pillow to compensate for the mount of apples in the centre. The second ‘tart’ was more like a pastry twist. I filled it with the chocolate and would have liked to make a smoother chocolate sauce, like a ganache, to line the twists but time and ingredients available did not allow that. Not to worry though as I would still indulge in a line of 70% Lindt wrapped with pastry. Pure decadence!

Once in the oven they don’t tale long at all, and even less time to devour in the couch watching dvd’s, especially while it was still pouring outside.

What a great way to spend a lazy Sunday with a friend cooking, and especially rewarding after trying a new dish which worked really well. Now I think Sonia will hold me to surprising her Mum with some beautiful gnocchi.


Ivy said...

I've never made gnocchi before but they sound great so do the other pastry sweets.

---trish--- said...

Thanks Ivy.

I would really love to try some other types like a plain potato gnocchi, pumpkin gnocchi and maybe a olive gnocchi.