Friday, August 17, 2007
Hay Hay, It's Donna Day #14 - gnocchi
Donna Hay has been a cooking inspiration to me for many years, since I first started reading her in marie claire magazine. I bought all her cookbooks, collected her recipes in The Age's Epicure section and the Sunday Herald Sun magazine, and eagerly awaited the first copy of her magazine when it was launched in January 2002. So quickly did I subscribe to her magazine that I received an Alessi cheese grater for being one of the first 100 people to subscribe. Since then I've never missed an issue and I love Donna's simple, stylish approach to cooking.
So when I discovered the Hay Hay, It's Donna Day blog event, I knew I would have to take part. It's taken me a while to organise myself but here, finally, is my first entry. Thanks to Lynn at Cafe Lynnlu for hosting this event, and to Barbara at winosandfoodies for creating the event.
Lynn was the winner of HHDD#13 and her challenge for this event was gnocchi. Her rules were that it should be homemade; could be a main, salad, side or dessert; and the recipe could use any ingredient, such as cheese, potato or any other vegetable or fruit.
I love gnocchi but it's a dish I tend to eat out rather than at home. The few times I've bought supermarket gnocchi, I've been disappointed - it's been rubbery or chewy or tasteless. I've long planned to try my hand at my own gnocchi, so this event was a great way to turn the plan into reality. I found this recipe for green olive gnocchi in my bulging recipe files. I don't know where I got it from (probably a chef's recipe published in Epicure) but I've had it marked 'to try' for ages.
I don't own a potato ricer or food mill, which the recipe says is the best way to spread the potato evenly over the flour, so I mashed the potatoes and spread them over as evenly as I could with a spoon. It seemed to work OK, as the gnocchi cooked into plump, silky little pillows that soaked up the creamy, olive sauce.
The recipe might look long but it's quite easy. In fact, I found making gnocchi to be an easy and fun process. It just took quite a bit of time but the end result is well worth it. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more gnocchi recipes in the future and look forward to getting inspiration from the other entries in HHDD#14.
GREEN OLIVE GNOCCHI WITH GREEN OLIVE SAUCE
1 large onion, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
175ml reduced chicken stock
100g green olives
2 tablespoons parsley
200g unbleached plain flour
100g green olives
500g waxy potatoes
sea salt and black pepper
To make the sauce, finely chop the onion and garlic and sweat in the olive oil till softened. Add the cream and the stock and cook gently until reduced to your preferred thickness. Set aside. Slice the flesh away from each olive in four pieces; discard the stones. Set aside.
To make the gnocchi, preheat the oven to 100 degrees and butter a serving dish. Spread flour into a rectangle on bench. Slice the flesh away from each olive in four pieces; discard the stones. (Note: I sliced the olive pieces in half, as they seemed too big for the gnocchi). Peel the potatoes and steam until cooked through. While still hot, pass through a potato ricer or food mill so that the potato falls evenly over the flour. (Note: I mashed the potatoes and spread in a layer over the flour with a spoon). Sprinkle sea salt and the sliced olives over the potato.
Melt 50g butter and drizzle evenly over the potato. Work flour into potato little by little, using a pastry scraper, until you have a firm dough. Knead dough gently for five minutes. Divide into quarters and roll each piece to make a long, thin sausage, about 1cm in diameter. Cut each sausage into 2.5cm lengths.
Put the serving dish in the oven to warm through. Gently warm the sauce and add the olives. Bring water to boil in a large saucepan and add salt. Slip in the gnocchi and cook for one minute after they've risen to the surface. Skim out, put into the warm serving dish and season. Stir the parsley into the sauce, toss with the gnocchi, grind over pepper and serve immediately.