By the Book (a little catch up)

3/20/2016 09:03:00 am

This is a couple of weeks old now, but when I originally wrote it  I was stuck in Armidale due to a QantasLink Dash8-300 with a faulty door seal and the terrible functionality of Blogger on iPad. Why is it so bad google? WHY??

And now, even though I've been to Armidale and Tamworth infrequently in the past couple of years, I spent this weekend up in the tablelands too, as we pack up and start to dump stuff at our parents' houses. Consequently there wasn't much time for cooking, but luckily I had this one from week 4 tucked up my sleeve.

I was in Armidale for a day longer than anticipated but my mother shares my cookbook-hoarding tendencies and owns duplicate copies of many of the pristine books that grace my shelf. Also, the sunsets were quite amazing while I was there, so it wasn't exactly a trial.

From Apex Lookout, on North Hill

And Gentles Road, Kelly's Plains. We drove out of town special, because of this sky. 

The Women's Weekly Retro Cookbook (I'm sensing a theme here.... does my subconscious direct me toward WW Cookbooks?) was actually a gift from said mother, and she must have liked it so much that she bought one for herself, too.

I love looking at the pictures because the book is so beautifully styled, and it's escapism at its 1950's best. Really, who hasn't dreamed about making a salmon-shaped mousse whilst wearing a nipped-at-the-waist? And what even is melba toast?

I've never made gnocchi before, and aside from the tedium of trying to mash potato and sweet potato through a 20-year old plastic serve the size of a teacup (Jenny, get some better kitchen accessories), I was surprised by how easy it was.

The WW Retro recipe calls for you to separate the dough into four balls, shape those balls into logs and then divide each into 24 pieces. Then, each of the pieces is supposed to be rolled into a 'gnocchi shape', ie. Dimpled on one side and grooved with a fork on the other. All 92 of them. Hah, no. Mine were block shaped, with slightly rounded corners.
To make such fancy tomatoes, put a bunch in a roasting pan, drizzled with olive oil, then cook for a little while at 180.

By the Book - Week Four

Kumara Gnocchi with Rocket & Basil Pesto

Ingredients2 medium kumara ~800g, unpeeled (that's sweet potato)
4 potatoes ~480g, unpeeled (the recipe calls for desiree, but I used some other creamy white variety)
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 egg yolk

For the pesto
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs finely grated parmesan (or pecorino, because it is delicious)
1 clove garlic, quartered
50g baby rocket leaves
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves

Boil, steam or microwave kumara and potatoes until tender. When cool enough pull of the skin, chop, and moosh through a sieve.
Stir flour and egg yolk into potato mixture and knead gently to form a soft dough.
Roll out on a floured surface and divide into four portions. Roll each portion into a 40cm log, and cut each log into 24 pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball; roll balls, one at a time, along the inside of a floured fork, pressing gently on top side with index finger to form a 'gnocchi shape'. Question your life choices.
Place gnocchi in a single layer on a floured tray and refrigerate for an hour.

To cook gnocchi: cook in batches, uncovered, in a large saucepan of boiling water until they float to the surface like tiny little dead bodies. Remove with a slotted spoon.

For the pesto: blend everything together. We were unable to find much basil, so had to improvise with a bit of mint, a lot of rocket, and some cashews.  Also, there was no blender, so I had to use a mortar and pestle. But she had a slotted spoon. I wonder sometimes.

I am obsessed with the pre-chopped bacon in the deli section. It is so fatty and terrible, so it renders down something wonderful. To make green beans with bacon: fry 50g fatty chopped bacon until the fat is cooked down and the bits are all brown, sautee half a red onion in the bacon fat, lower the heat then throw the chopped beans on top and let it all cook down for a while. Mmmmn. 

Toss gnocchi in pesto and eat with roasted tomatoes, green beans, and some left-over rocket. Delicious.

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