valentine’s day lunch–and an adventure!

For Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I elected to head down to the Karangahake Gorge and go for a big walk. I know, I know, it’s untraditional and whatnot, but we are poor students and we love to adventure. I figured we’d take a picnic, too, and we enjoyed it on the grassy verge by the river in between walks. So, here is a selection of pictures of our food. Yum! O, and some of the walks.

We also had the delicious lemon yoghurt cake that I posted about the other day, tomato relish that I’ll post about soon, and one of our extremely delicious potato flatbreads. The gnocchi was served with fried bacon, roast kumara (a kind of sweet potato native to New Zealand) and neapolitan sauce.

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Making cream cheese, herbed with fresh rosemary and sage.

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christmas haul.

Tomorrow’s post has no pictures. Not cool. So, this one will have ALL the pictures. Or at least, quite a few.

These are the pretties that my boyfriend and I received for Christmas, or went and bought in the boxing day sales. I love cooking gear. Sue me.

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From my uncle and his lady friend, an oil can! I love this! Isn’t it freaking adorable? Being a poor student, I have filled the can which is clearly marked olio d’oliva with canola oil. I am sure they won’t mind, though. They also gave us some boutique olive oil, presumably to go in it. I shall be using that for dressings!

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12cm ramekins. I’ve been after these for ages. Got 4 for $13 at Farmers – they’re on sale for half price. I wanted them primarily to use for making pot pies, but at the moment they’re in the fridge full of homebrew hummus (which you’ll get to see soon!).

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Unsure what the official title of this gadget is. To me, it is a gnocchi skimmer. Cost $8.49 or something equally ridiculous.

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A new mini-muffin pan. It drives me crazy when making tiny tarts that I can only do 24 at a time. Now I can do 48! Also, this is a Baccarat pan – they are AMAZING. And they come with lovely silicon grippy handles.

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A frilly pie dish! I now have no fewer than three pie dishes. Isn’t it just gorgeous? And it matches my lasagne roaster and my 9cm ramekins. Success.

balsamic vinaigrette with pesto.

So you made gnocchi, now what do you do with it?

… pretty much anything, to be honest. Treat it like pasta and toss it with veges and meat and a delicious sauce.

 

Here is a super easy student sauce. You don’t have to reduce it or stew it or roast anything or even add salt. It’s just a yummy sauce, and it’s what I’ve been using to make my gnocchi delicious for the past few nights. I also add some bacon, fried until crisp, finely diced capsicum, and cauliflower. Feel free to add whatever veges and meat you have in the fridge! The great thing about gnocchi is that it works with just about anything. It’s the classic carbohydrate. I wouldn’t even feel bad about serving it with a roast meal under a pile of gravy – it’s made out of potato (note, however, that this would probably be punishable by law in Italy)!

 

Mix together:

about 1T balsamic vinegar

about 1tsp oil (olive oil is what you should use, probably, but I use canola – sue me, I’m a poor student)

a good dollop of fresh pesto. Maybe 1T – not more, anyway. Bonus points if you made it yourself!

About 1/2tsp minced garlic (or half a clove, mashed up, if you’ve got them roasted, hanging out in the fridge)

 

Give all that a good stir, and then taste. I’ve never measured my ingredients for it, and so it’s different every time, but it is awesomely delicious. The amount I make feeds two people really well over gnocchi.

If you like pesto more, or vinegar more, then add more. The great thing about this sauce is that it can be adjusted towards either end of the continuum pretty safely and still taste amazing.

Also, here’s a fun fact for your next dinner party: vinaigrette just means an emulsion of oil and vinegar.

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homemade potato gnocchi.

So the boyfriend recently made me some amazing ricotta gnocchi that weren’t for dinner one night when I got home from work. We didn’t have any ricotta, see, so he used cottage cheese and grated regular cheese. The recipe he used seemed a bit weird, though, and we wound up with, essentially, little boiled omelettes. LOTS of egg.

Gnocchi as I know them are fairly dense and doughy, and so we started looking up how to make that kind. I heard all kinds of horror stories about how labour intensive and difficult they are, but they’re really easy and kinda fun to make.

I have a suspicion that any Italian looking at this will tell me my dough is too firm. But that’s OK, it’s how I like them (don’t hurt me! I don’t know any better, having never visited Italy!). Also, these are not Gold Standard gnocchi (i.e. egg-free) but the potatoes I used were nice and sticky, so there’s some potential for the next batch to be eggless.

Ingredients

800g (ish) potatoes

270g (ish) plain flour

1 egg

a pinch of salt

 

Boil the potatoes. I did them in their skins, this makes them frightfully easy to peel. When you can push a skewer into them, but they’re still firm, take them off the heat and remove them one by one from the pan, peeling and then grating as you go.

You will wind up with a mound of grated potato. Add the whisked egg (which I added the pinch of salt to) to it, followed by the flour. You’re supposed to add the flour bit by bit, but I sort of dumped mine in and mashed it around until I had a dough. I didn’t use all the flour – there was a lot left in the bowl, and I wound up using it a bit for kneading.

Knead the dough like you would bread dough, until you have a nice, even consistency.

Divide the dough into four, and roll out into long thin strands on a well floured surface. Then cut the strands up. You want them to be about 1cm thick, and then you cut them in 1cm long chunks (see below). They ought to look like little pillows.

Use a fork to indent the little guys. You have to sort of press the gnoccho onto the fork and then roll it off so that it turns into a little roundish thing … it can be a mission. But don’t worry too much about it, because the ridges you’re putting on are only there to collect sauce. You’re not going to offend the gnocchi gods or anything.

Then, chuck them into a pan of water, simmering. You want the water salted. I used my leftover water from boiling the potatoes which is why it looks a bit murky. Feel free to use fresh water, though – mine was a matter of convenience as it was already hot.

Give them a quick stir when you drop them in so as to stop them sticking to the bottom, and then take them out about a minute after they rise to the surface (this is serious guesswork. It’s hard to know which gnoccho rose first. I gave up). You can cool them in cold water and then drain them in a sieve, though both these steps are optional.

Serve with a delicious sauce, and enjoy!

Also note that this recipe serves about 8 people (or, in my case, 2 people 4 times). Sweet! (Especially as it probably cost us less than $2 to make them.)

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On the left we have: 828g of potatoes. We were after 800g, I figured that was close enough. Also, cider. Always cook with cider.

On the right, gnocchi dough!

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On the left, long thin strands about to become individual gnocchi.

On the right, gnocchi! Each individual is called a gnoccho. There’s your fact for the day.

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On the left: gnocchi being boiled. You can see how a few of them have come to the top as they’re just about ready to come out.

On the right: the finished product! Yum.

 

This recipe is very loosely adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia.

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