IT’S BEEN A WHILE!

Hello, it really has been a while! I presumed that my distance was due to the Small People’s summer holidays and even though I adore them they suck every bit of creativity out of me for themselves!  Then I realised that it is just a few weeks short of half term (when did I start measuring time in terms?) so I must admit that I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder about Summer!  Now the nights are starting to draw in; the wood burner and candles have been lit; big pots of soup and stews are appearing from my kitchen, I feel encouraged to write again. Whoop whoop!

Don’t get me wrong we had an awesome summer with lots of travelling around the UK discovering new places; beach days and some great camping.  Lots of fun family time the sort that memories are made of (and are also knackering but I am told you forget that bit).  However, I drew a line under the summer three weeks ago when I ticked off a major point from my bucket list with a visit to River Cottage in Dorset.  I spent four heavenly days there attending a cookery course. I honestly can’t tell you how amazing it was and the setting was just perfect with a weekend of cooking and sunshine whilst it rained in Wales.  I loved loved loved it.  I will be sharing my new found knowledge with you of course (or at least my twist on it).   So to start I am going to tell you about gnocchi – I know the supermarkets pass off shrink wrapped oval shapes of wall paper paste as gnocchi and any time I have read about making them has scared me and quite frankly who has the time?  However if you would like a change to pasta, give these little guys a try.  They are like little clouds that dissolve in your mouth and won’t fail to make you smile and feel comforted.

So today after the school run I had a cooking fest in my kitchen; just me the dogs and Radio 4 (life doesn’t get much better) where I made a big pot of soup to keep hunger pangs away over the next few days; roasted a pile of tomatoes with garlic ; sea salt; olive oil and basil then passed them through my newly acquired mouli (I know get me!) to make a roasted tomato sauce and I made gnocchi – little pillows of deliciousness which I will toss with some of the roasted tomato sauce but they are equally good with pesto or any of your favourite pasta sauces.

I doubled the following recipe and laid them on baking trays lightly dusted with flour;(ensuring they don’t touch) open froze them for around three hours then popped them into a bag and left them in the freezer where I can cook how many I wish from frozen.  Bags of the roasted tomato sauce will be freed from the freezer joining the gnocchi so even on days where I am barely functioning I can present the family with a meal which dupes them into thinking I am in fact a Domestic Goddess!

Gnocchi – serves four.

500g potatoes (desiree are good)

100g cheese (you can use a soft goats cheese crumbled or any hard cheese grated)

200g plain flour

1 large egg lightly beaten

sea salt and black pepper

Bake the potatoes until the skin is crispy and the flesh soft (this helps dry them so the gnocchi isn’t gloopy);  As soon as you can bear to handle them – scoop the potato from the skins onto your worktop and mash quickly and lightly with a fork. (I quite like to sprinkle the skins with some sea salt and a tad of olive oil and pop them back into the oven for a few minutes to devour as a cook’s perk!).   Add the flour; cheese; seasoning and egg and with both hands bring together to a firm dough (do feel free to mix in a bowl with a wooden spoon if you prefer).  Knead gently for a short time then roll the dough into sausages about 1.5cm in diameter.  From these sausages at an angle cut your gnocchi into 3cm lengths.

Please note:  you can roll them over a fork to have that classic oval shaped ridged look (this is a step to far for me so I leave mine quill shaped).

Now you can either open freeze as above or when you are ready bring a large pan of water to a gentle simmer and cook the gnocchi in batches for a minute or two.  Basically they float to the top when they are ready.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a warm lightly oiled or buttered dish until you have cooked them all.

Toss into whatever sauce you want (or just olive oil and black pepper); scatter with a few herbs and a grating of parmesan.

Happy Autumn  xx