Gnocchi

Some snaps from Rome & the addict’s recipe …

Rome was exactly what I had expected. Full of life and sunshine, it is a city of hustle and bustle, of espresso shots and scooters and of incredible ancient ruins scattered across the entire city. Rome is a city for exploration, of religious devotion and most importantly for food.

When backpacking  across Europe I was savvy with my money and often I bought food at shops and markets or binged on complimentary continental breakfasts supplied by the many hostels I visited – For Italy however my frugalness left me and I ate out all day everyday during my stay at this vibrant and gastronomic country!

Italian food is my absolute favorite. Where taste and comfort is at the heart of it, Italian food does away with any fuss or pretension and when made with love and fresh ingredients packed with flavour – Italian food is eccezionale!

Below are a few snaps from my trip to Rome and below that is this week’s scrap on an Italian favorite – Gnocchi. It’s surprisingly easy to make and the recipe below is fool proof, perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon whatever the weather. Admittedly I tried my first ever Gnocchi in Rome and let me tell ‘ya – I wasn’t disappointed!

I ate at a small restaurant that was a short walk away from my hostel. Tempio di Mecenate is a cosy spot where they serve good wholesome homey food. It’s good value too and is close to the enchanting Porta Magica – a magic portal in a garden which is a quiet and special find rarely surrounded by tourists.  Before traveling to another dimension, I recommend having lunch at the restaurant and although it will cost you extra, sit outside in the sun – it will be worth it.

Old school Roman dining beside a garden of magic – bellissima! (…yes I’m unashamedly throwing Italian words into my post)

House of Augustus
House of Augustus

House of Augustus Tower

Virgin Pillar

Pantheon, Rome.
Pantheon

Pantheon, Pillars

Pantheon,Pillars

Pantheon, Entrance

Gnocchi

Although in Rome, I had Gnocchi with a rich ragu sauce. The recipe below is perfect for beginners and although it does take some time, it is incredibly simple and can be made into larger batches and stored in the freezer for future use.

This recipe ensures the Gnocchi is the centre of attention. The sauce is very light which I think compliments this starchy and substantial pasta

Ingredients (Serves two) 

2 large potatoes

2 cups of flour

2 eggs

parmesan

garlic

onion

basil

pine nuts

butter

Lemon juice

salt and pepper

olive oil

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them in a pot for about 20mins (or until tender). Do not overcook them. You want the potatoes to be tender and fluffy – not too soft and mushy.
  2. Drain the potatoes well. You want to get rid of all excess water and have the potatoes dry before mashing.
  3. Give your potatoes a good mashing (or push them through a potato ricer – if you’re more fortunate than I & have one)
  4. Place mashed potato on a clear work surface and top with the flour.
  5. Grate a generous amount of the cheese and add it to the potato and flour mixture.
  6. Sprinkle some salt on the mound and roughly give it a mix with your hands.
  7. Create a well in the centre of the mound and add the beaten eggs.
  8. Mix the flour, potato, cheese and egg together until it forms a dough.
  9. Knead it only until it becomes well formed. It should be a little sticky but not too much. NOTE: If a little flour is needed add some but be careful – too much flour will make the pasta hard.
  10. Shape the dough into one large rectangular shape making sure it is even in height, about 2cm thick.
  11. Cut dough into rectangular strips about 10cm long.
  12. Roll each strip into a sausage shape making sure it is even.
  13. Cut the sausage shape into 2cm pieces and use a fork to indent the gnocchi pieces with ridges.
  14. FOR THE SAUCE: As the fresh gnocchi takes only 4mins to cook. Leave the pasta aside and dice an onion and some garlic.
  15. In a hot pan saute the onion and garlic with some butter and in a separate pan toast the pine nuts until golden.
  16. In a pot of boiling salted water add the gnocchi and cook for 4mins ( you will know when the pasta is done as the gnocchi will float to the top)
  17. Drain the gnocchi and toss it into the pan. Mix the gnocchi in the buttery sauce gently and tear some basil leaves adding the herb & a little more butter to the pan. Add the toasted pine nuts to the pan with the squeezed juice of about half a lemon also. Stir gently. Season with salt if needed (bare in mind the cheese & butter is salty) & a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  18. Serve in warm bowls with grated Parmesan on top, a sprig of basil & a final sprinkling of nuts. A drizzle of olive oil wouldn’t go amiss either!

Dig in!

NOTE: Gnocchi can be kept in the freezer for future use. Just pack the pieces in a zip bag with a little dusting of flour (to prevent them sticking) and defrost them the night before you need them

This is comfort food in a bowl and although it uses simple ingredients -it doesn’t skimp on flavour. It may take some time and attention but gnocchi isn’t as daunting  as you’d think – give it ago.

 

Expect more posts on my Italian adventures. I have tonnes of photos, tips and recipes I want to share. This was only a little taste of Rome, there’s plenty more to come – so look out for more on the scrapbook

Cooking tip

& a quick salad dressing

Here’s a recipe for a quick and tasty salad dressing. It can be stirred up in no time and is great with steak. Three simple ingredients simply mixed together – this dressing has a nice kick to it. Give it a go.

Extra virgin olive oil

light soy sauce

Dijon mustard

It’s really that simple. Depending on how much salad is needed, add a teaspoon of the mustard to about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and soy sauce. mix and blend the dressing together and dress the leaves immediately before serving.

Simple yet deliciously effective.

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Another tip which I use all the time to elevate home made sauces is red pepper relish. I add a heaped tablespoon of this stuff into tomato pasta sauces or into chicken casseroles baked in the oven. The red pepper relish I usually use comes from Lidl – it’s great value and has a nice smokey flavour  perfect for pasta sauces with ham or bacon. It’s also great simply spread on crusty bread with cheese.

It’s a great kitchen cheat – that will give your sauces the needed depth & tang. As the best sauces are left to cook and boil down for hours – a tablespoon of relish stirred through a can of chopped tomatoes and some basil, substitutes for time and acts as a flavourful  thickener too.

Although tomato puree brings out a deeper flavour, the relish does its job and more – giving dishes a little spice.

It’s worth a try!

 

On my trip to Galway city, in the Latin quarter, over weekends there is a food and stall market along the many street encircling a small church close to the quays. There I bought for 10 euro a Provencail garlic grater. It comes with a rubber tube (see photo below) which makes peeling garlic husks in a matter of seconds possible. The garlic clove sits inside whilst you roll the tube quickly between your hands.

The actual grater then is the painted plate with many groves on it. Holding the garlic between your thumb and index finger – you simply rub the garlic in circular movements along the plate. In a matter of minutes you have minced garlic pulp which you can toss into your dishes or pan. The small handled brush is used to collect any pulp still clinging to the plate & the plate itself is dishwasher proof – though a blitz under the tap will do too.

I’m really impressed by this kitchen gadget – so I thought I’d share it here in the scrapbook. The grater can be used to grate almost anything, from carrot, nuteg, most nuts, chocolate, lemons, apple and pears – it’s a nice find.

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Egg fried rice

A healthy takeaway favourite

This is a quick recipe for a tasty meal packed with flavour. Unlike a Chinese takeway this home cooked scrap will have your tummy thanking you. Quick and easy – like all my recipes, this is a great warming dish perfect for cold autumn nights. Add as much spice as desired and you’re good to go.

The recipe below uses few ingredients but feel free to pack in more of your favourite veggies and of course use quorn or tofu as an alternative to chicken.

Vegetarian tip: Use rice wine vinegar too instead of Oyster sauce.

Seriously this meal is whipped up in minutes, just prep first and have all your veg chopped and ready to go.

Ingredients:

cooked chicken breast

cooked brown rice

spring onion

garlic

ginger

chili flakes

mangetout

1 egg

peanut or coconut oil

oyster sauce 

soy sauce

5 spice

toasted sesame oil (optional)

 

  1. Chop the chicken/tofu into bite sized pieces
  2. Dice the garlic, ginger & chop the veg.
  3. In a bowl, scramble an egg and leave aside for later.
  4. Heat a pan or wok with some peanut oil or coconut oil.
  5. Add the diced ginger, garlic and some chili flakes. Stir
  6. Add the spring onion and mangetout (and other desired veg). Stir.
  7. Add the rice and stir the wok, making sure to keep everything moving on high heat.
  8. Add the osyster sauce, spices and soy sauce.
  9. Add the egg and quickly mix/stir the rice and vegetables together making sure the egg coats as much of the rice as possible.
  10. Serve immediately in warm bowls with a final drizzle of sesame oil

 

The toasted sesame oil is optional but if you have it at hand use it as it adds a brilliant nutty flavour to the dish. The recipe is extremely simple and versatile but packed with flavour. It’s one of my favourites

Chicken Biryani

The Addict’s recipe

This scrap is a tasty meal that is perfect for cold and windy autumn nights. The recipe is surprisingly simple and although it takes about 40-45mins in the oven – it’s worth the wait!

Biryani is a warming rice dish which is full of spices and flavour. The dish first appeared hundreds of years ago in Northern India and since then there are many variations of the dish, so depending on whether you’re vegetarian or fancy lamb or fish – the dish is extremely versatile.

The recipe below uses chicken but is just as good without meat, packed with your favourite veggies. Originally, the marinated meat and rice would sit in a pot in the oven covered with a flat dough. The flour and water mixture locks in the steam but is not meant to be eaten. Once prepared and out of the oven, the pot is served on the table and the bread is broken to reveal the juicy spiced rice inside. This recipe does not follow tradition, instead I used tinfoil to cover the dish but a lidded oven pot is great too.

This is a great dish to impress friends with and is a perfect meal for large dinner groups, served with naan and dips.

Ingredients

chicken breast

stock (chicken or vegetable)

Basmati rice

large onion

green chili or chili paste

ginger

garlic

cumin

curry powder

garam masala

turmeric 

natural yogurt 

coriander

ground coriander

almond butter

coconut oil

spinach  

can of tomatoes

 

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  1. Cut the meat or vegetables into bite sized pieces, all equally the same size.
  2. In a bowl marinate the meat or vegetables. Coat the meat in yogurt, a tablespoon of garam masala, cumin, turmeric and ground coriander.
  3. Partially cook the basmati rice. (It will cook fully whilst in the oven)
  4. Dice the onion and mince the ginger and garlic.
  5. In a hot pan with coconut oil, fry the ginger, garlic and curry paste. Stir for about 1 min.
  6. Add to the pan the diced onion and saute.
  7. Pour in the can of tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer.
  8. Tear the spinach and add it to the stock mixture.
  9. Dice the stalks of the coriander and add to the pan. Leave leaves aside.
  10. In a deep oven proof dish, pour 1/4 of the sauce/stock mixture.
  11. Then spoon 1/4 of the marinated meat mixture.
  12. On top of that – spoon 1/4 of the partially cooked rice so that it is covered.
  13. Add a few dollops of almond butter on top of the rice.
  14. Repeat, so that the oven proof dish is filled in layers.
  15. Once all the mixture has filled the oven dish. Add a few caramelised onions on top & cover either with its lid or use tinfoil as I did.
  16. Place into a hot oven (250 degrees) and let Biryani cook for 40-45mins.
  17. Serve immediately and garnish with roughly chopped coriander leaves.

 

It strays a bit from the original but this dish is so good!

TIP: if you have the budget for it  – Saffron would work really well here. Mixed with the rice to give it a beautiful colour & flavour. The variations are endless. It really is a versatile dish!

  The recipe above is healthy and tastes amazing but for real decadence add butter to the stock/sauce mixture and mix through the rice coconut milk  – it makes for a rich and buttery flavour!

Ramen

Irish lad cooks ramen

I was inspired to make this after watching a film based around the Japanese stable. It’s quick, easy to make and very healthy too like most dishes from Japan. Although my recipe cannot compete with the authentic original – I’m proud of my first attempt anyhow and the scrap recipe below is perfect  for evenings after work as it can be whipped up in no time. Unlike the original, there’s no need to slave over a broth for hours & as I made this dish at a whim, my recipe lacks Shiitake mushrooms – which I would definitely put in if I had them.

Warm & homey cooking, perfect for cold and rainy nights. You’ll be slurping noodles in no time!

Ingredients

egg noddles

a boiled egg

spinach

spring onion

mushrooms (Shittake preferably) 

chicken stock

red chili

ginger

garlic

carrot

coriander

chives

Teriyaki sauce 

peanut oil

 

  1. Mince the garlic, ginger and slice the chili into pieces. Add to pot with a little oil and stir.
  2. Add the chicken stock. Stir
  3. Boil an egg. Place the egg into a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 10mins = cooked egg with runny yolk.
  4. In a separate pan, add the egg noodles to boiling water. Leave to simmer.
  5. Chop the spring onion and mushrooms. Try to slice at an angle (purely for aesthetics) & add to the pot. Stir.
  6. Mince a carrot & add to the pot.
  7. Bring stock to the boil and let it simmer for 5 mins to thicken a little
  8. Strain the noodles and place them into deep soup bowls.
  9. Chop the spinach and chives roughly and add them to the bowl/s.
  10. Add a splash of soy and teriyaki sauce to the stock and stir.
  11. Ladle stock on top of noodles, spinach and chives.
  12. Cut the boiled egg in half and place carefully into bowl.
  13. Chop some coriander and garnish dish. dig in!

 

Make sure you don’t over cook the noodles! You want them to have some bite left. This recipe is very versatile, so experiment with  different ingredients. Chicken pieces coated and fried with teriyaki or soy bean paste would work really well & pak choy too. To make the dish vegetarian, opt for vegetable stock instead. Tofo, substituting the egg,  is also a great alternative for vegans.

If you have your own recipes, please share them in the comments! Especially those which are authentic Ramen dishes- as i’d love to try them

J.

Pancetta & Kidney beans

The Addict’s recipe

This is a short scrap of a recipe for a tasty side dish. It is quick and easy to cook up and goes really well with a baked sweet potato and a dollop of sour cream. It’s nice too served with piri piri chicken and a buttery corn on the cob. I sometimes eat this on its own for a quick lunch but the side does need either some guacamole or sour cream paired with it as the dish alone is quite dry.

It’s my Mexican concoction and it’s simple to make.

Ingredients 

Pancetta ham

can of kidney beans

spring onion

garlic

coriander

cumin

ground coriander 

Cajun pepper

paprika 

lime

peanut oil

 

  1. Chop the pancetta into bite sized pieces and add to hot pan without oil. Fry the ham for a few minutes until the meat is crispy on the outside.
  2. While the ham is frying. Chop or mince some garlic and chop the spring onion into bite sized pieces. Add to the pan with the pancetta and stir.
  3. Strain a can of kidney beans but keep 1/2 of the can’s water and add the kidney beans with its water to the hot pan. Stir
  4. Add a tablespoon of the cumin, Cajun, paprika & ground coriander. Stir
  5. Chop some fresh coriander or tear the leaves with your hands and add to the pan. Stir
  6. Squeeze the juice of a lime into the pan and a drizzle of peanut oil. Stir.
  7. Serve the side with sour cream & extra coriander to garnish – dig in!

Besides the pancetta this dish is quite healthy and needs no oil as the ingredients will fry in the ham’s fat. The peanut oil is optional but I think it adds a great nutty flavour to the dish.

until next time,

J.

Spaghetti alla sanguinaccio

This is my own creation and thanks to google translate I know what blood sausage in Italian is! It was a fluke really but this dish turned out so well I thought I’d post it here. I was trying to use up some leftovers in the fridge one evening and the idea of using black and white pudding (or blood sausage) in a pasta dish seemed like a good idea – and it was.

the scrap is a nice short one and like usual it’s a quick meal. The recipe is very similar to spaghetti puttanesca which is one of my all time Italian favourites as it uses no fresh ingredients – even the parsley I used as a garnish is dried. All the ingredients can be found in the pantry and as far as I’m know – the infamous pasta dish got its name for that very reason. Apparently, Spaghetti puttanesca  is so-called  as it was a dish ‘ladies of night’ could cook & eat between clients. As it used a series of condiments and items found in a pantry it also meant no sleep was sacrificed in getting up early in the morning after a hard night’s work to gather fresh ingredients  – if i’m mistaken let me know but it’s a great explanation nonetheless.

So whether or not you have gentlemen or ladies calling during the night – this scrap has a nice kick to it!

Ingredients:

Spaghetti

Can of chopped tomatoes

dried garlic

white & black pudding (or blood sausage)

dried parsley 

salt & black pepper

spring onion

jar of red pepper relish 

red chili flakes

oregano

olive oil

 

  1. Place the pasta in a pot of salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. chop the spring onion and the pudding/sausage into bite sized pieces
  3. In a pan heat some olive oil and add the pudding.
  4. Stir the pan and let the pudding brown on all sides, so that it has a crunchy coating and bite to it.
  5. Add the onion and saute, stirring the pan.
  6. add the can of tomatoes and add a tablespoon of the red pepper relish and stir.
  7. Add the dried herbs and the chili flakes. Stir.
  8. When the pasta is al-dente, strain it and add it to the pan. Stir the pasta and sauce together.
  9. Serve in a warm bowl with one final garnish of dried parsley accompanied with buttery slices of thick crusty bread.

 

The recipe couldn’t be easier and of course feel free to add black olives, if I had them at the time I would’ve surely used them. Similarly to the Spaghetti puttanesca, the dish’s inspiration – capers would work brilliantly as well but the scrap above is tasty too without!