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Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage and Walnuts: Isolationist Cooking

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It’s Sunday 22 March, the fourth Sunday in Lent, traditionally a time when children spend time with their mothers. This seems very apt, as many families now have to spend a lot of time together, as we go through these isolationist times.

So here’s another recipe in the series “Isolationist Cooking in the Covid 19 Era”. Last week I made pumpkin gnocchi – they were so easy – and quick to make, perfect for cooking as a family, and great to do with the kids! You can knock them up in under an hour, from preparing the pumpkin through to actually making the gnocchi dish.

Uncooked, they keep for a day or so in the fridge and freeze really well.

All the ingredients are fridge or pantry staples, except the pumpkin, and once you’ve bought some, it keeps very well in the crisper of the fridge for a couple of weeks. The aim of isolationist cooking is cooking from what’s at home, rather then running to the shops and markets for a whole list of ingredients.

Anyway, give gnocchi making a go. And once they’re made, they pair well with lots of sauces – tomato based, cream based or the one I made, brown butter sage and walnut.

Ingredients

Gnocchi

125g mashed pumpkin (about 300g uncooked)
100g ricotta
185g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
30g parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated
1 free-range egg
Salt
Black pepper

Brown Butter Sage and Walnuts

2 tablespoons butter
A handful of sage leaves – at least 10, more if you like sage!
A half handful of walnuts, at least 10, some pieces left whole, some roughly chopped

More parmesan or pecorino, for scattering over the gnocchi

Method

Chop the pumpkin into manageable pieces, skin on, and place in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Remove from the microwave, allow to cool until easy to handle, then peel. Mash with a fork until smooth.

The pumpkin has quite a lot of water, so you will need to drain it. Put the pumpkin into a strainer or colander lined with absorbent kitchen towels. After 5 minutes remove the pumpkin in the paper towels and squeeze out any excess water.

Put the pumpkin and all the rest of the gnocchi ingredients in a bowl. Mix well with a spoon to a firm paste.

Dust a large wooden board or the bench top with flour. Put the pumpkin dough on the board or bench top and gently pat the dough into a roll shape, using a little more flour if necessary. Be careful not to add too much flour – this will toughen the gnocchi.

Cut the roll into 6 pieces, and then shape each piece into smaller rolls. Cut each roll into slices using a sharp knife. Press down on the one of the cut sides of the gnocchi with the flat side of a fork.



At this point, you can freeze if desired, or store in the fridge. I recommend putting the gnocchi you want to eat in the fridge for 20 minutes just to firm up a bit, to make sure they stay intact in the pot when you cook them.

Put a large saucepan of water onto the stove top and bring to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi into the water once it’s boiled, one at a time, working quickly. Cook for 1 minute or so, or until the gnocchi rise to the surface. Have a strainer or colander handy, and put the gnocchi into the strainer or colander once cooked. (Have the straining utensil over the saucepan so you are not dripping water everywhere!)

Leave the gnocchi  in the straining utensil, while you make the sauce. Melt 1.5 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan until it is foaming. Add the gnocchi and fry until they are turning brown. Add the rest of the butter, throw in the walnuts and sage leaves and cook until the leaves are just crispy. The butter will have turned brown by now, but make sure not to burn it.

Serve the gnocchi, sage leaves (saving a few for decoration) and walnuts, in a big bowl, making sure to pour the lovely buttery sauce over the gnocchi. Scatter some finely grated parmesan or pecorino over the gnocchi and scatter the reserved sage leaves over the dish at the end. A sprig of fresh sage is nice too!

White Chocolate and Cranberry Blondies

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This ultra rich blondies recipe (heaps of butter and white chocolate!)  I discovered while viewing Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course on Foxtel… this recipe is adapted from something I sourced on the internet, but seems to be an American version – sticks of butter are mentioned which of course is a  US measurement. I have changed the quantities to metric.

Ingredients

1 cup dried cranberries
2  x 100gms white chocolate bars
225g plainflour
226 gms butter
1 pinch of salt
300 gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs

Method

Line a 23cm x 23cm tin with baking paper.

Melt butter, add sugar to mixing bowl. Add salt to sugar.
Add melted butter to sugar and whisk well. Add vanilla and eggs, whisk well.
Add baking powder and bi-carbonate of soda, mix well.
Whisk in half the flour. Once incorporated (no lumps), add the rest of the flour and mix well until there are no lumps.
Add the dried cranberries, changing from a whisk to a spoon.
Slice the bars of white chocolate into  thick matchsticks and mix in gently, trying not to break up the chocolate.
Spoon into baking tin (previously lined with baking paper (butter or non stick spray the tin to hold paper in place).
Spread mixture into the tin, using a spatula to make sure the mixture is even.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 35 -40 minutes.
Leave to cool, then remove from tin.
Cut into squares. Blondies will keep for a week and also freeze well.

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Home-Made Crumpets

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A lazy Sunday brunch, perfect for home-made crumpets

This recipe makes fabulous crumpets! They are incredibly moorish and definitely beat the bought version! The recipe comes from the website of ABC Radio 702:

http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2010/11/09/3061303.htm

Ingredients

300 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon caster sugar
7g sachet dried yeast
175ml milk, room temperature
175ml soda water, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray
Butter, honey or jam to serve.

Method

Sift the flour, caster sugar and yeast into a large bowl.
Stir in the milk, then add the soda water and whisk until smooth.

 Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
Beat in the bicarb and salt.
Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan or the griddle plate on your barbecue until medium-hot.
Oil or spray the inside of the crumpet rings, as well as the pan or barbecue plate.
Place the rings on the cooking surface, making sure they’re evenly flat.

 Spoon 3-3 1/2 teaspoons of batter into each ring and gently cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the batter is set and covered with little holes.

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Turn the crumpets over and cook for another 2 minutes.
The bottom should be golden brown and the top only slightly coloured.

 Remove the rings and serve the crumpets straight away with lashings of butter, honey or your favourite jam (mine is homemade strawberry!)

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