Gnocchi di patate


I made this as I had about 500g of mashed potato, half a tub of ricotta and some double cream (fast approaching its sell-by-date). Not a very colourful dish, but great comfort food! Serves 2.

  • 500g mashed potato
  • 130g strong (sifted) white flour (plus extra for rolling out the gnocchi)
  • 125g ricotta
  • 100g gorgonzola (grated)
  • 100ml double cream
  • Black pepper

Mix together the mashed potato, flour and ricotta. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and thoroughly mixed together. Cut into 3 pieces and roll each into a ‘sausage’ (about 2.5cm in diameter). Cut each sausage into 1cm thick slices (these will flatten out as you cut them as the potato, flour and ricotta dough is very soft), place on a floured tray, and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cook by boiling about 5 litres of water in a large pan. Tip the gnocchi into the boiling water (the gnocchi are likely to be a bit sticky, so you may have to ease them off the tray with a knife/spatula). Remove the gnocchi on to 2 plates as they rise to the surface of the boiling water (using a slotted spoon) and keep them warm in a low oven.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the gorgonzola and the cream, mixing all the time, until it just begins to boil. Pour over the gnocchi and grind over black pepper to taste.

No-churn ice cream

IceCreamTileThis is quick and easy to make. It goes very well with fresh fruit, and I think it would taste good in an affogato (a scoop of ice cream with a measure of espresso coffee), but I haven’t tried this yet. Above it’s served with a chocolate beetroot muffin. The ingredients below are based on what I had available at the time. I have also made it without the double cream. However, I think that it is improved by the addition of the cream.

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 375g mascarpone (1 1/2 250g tubs)
  • Vanilla (essence or seeds from a pod, use as instructed)

Using an electric whisk, whip the cream until it is thick. Add the mascarpone, the condensed milk and the vanilla flavouring until it is thick and creamy. Spoon into a plastic container (with lid) and freeze for at least six hours. Use as any other ice cream.

Carrot Cake

This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. I reduced the size by 60% and it still provides enough for a reasonable (but not greedy) eight portions. I also cut down the butter and sugar by 20%, used wholemeal instead of white flour, and added some raisins:CarrotCakeTile

  • 80g butter (softened)
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 70g plain wholemeal flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g coarsely grated  carrots
  • A small handful of raisins
  • Mascarpone icing (half this quantity with lime juice and zest)

Preheat the oven to (180C or gas mark 4).

Line a small loaf tin (mine was 20×10 cms) with silicone paper. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, the baking powder and the mixed spice.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, using the electric whisk.

Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, with a little flour and add the orange zest and juice. Then mix in the remaining flour, ground almonds, walnuts, grated carrot and the raisins, making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Then gently fold the egg whites into the cake mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, longer if necessary.

When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes, and turn out (so the cake is upside-down) onto a cooling rack. When thoroughly cool, ice the ‘top’ of the cake. ENJOY!




Thai style lentil soup


I made this soup out of  the normal ‘base’ vegetables and what I had available. Hence no fresh coriander, which I would have added at the end, if I had had some. This quantity will feed 2-3 people:

  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced)
  • 1 celery stick (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced/roughly chopped)
  • 1 large chilli (green or red: cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 2 pieces of dried lemongrass (chopped)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (crumbled)
  • 2 generous teaspoons of Thai curry paste (green or red)
  • 50g creamed coconut (the hard block sort, crumbled)
  • 200g good quality tinned of chopped tomatoes (ie 1/2 a tin)
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or stock cube equivalent)
  • 120g red split lentils (washed under the cold tap in a sieve)
  • 1 bundle of fine rice noodles (c. 60g)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Add the curry paste, creamed coconut (crumble in), chopped tomatoes, water, stock powder and the lentils. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for about thirty minutes.

Blend the soup – in a liquidiser, food processor, or use a hand blender (my preference because it is so much easier to clean than a liquidiser or food processor) in the saucepan.

Break up the noodles and stir into the soup. Heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and grated zest. At this point the soup is very thick. You can add some cold water which will reduce the overall temperature so that it can be eaten immediately (if you are freezing it, the thick soup saves space).

Torta di spinaci e riso


One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?

Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:

  • 200g spinach
  • 125g risotto rice
  • small onion (finely chopped)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 40g parmesan (grated)
  • black pepper to taste
  • oil (to brush the cake tin)
  • 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs

Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.

Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.

Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.

Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).

Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.


Lemon polenta cake


This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. As Nigella says, this is an Anglo-Italian crossover recipe. It’s basically an iced lemon drizzle cake made with polenta and ground almonds instead of wheat flour. I made it for my Art Class yesterday, and it seemed to be pretty popular. It’s also gluten-free provided you use gluten-free baking powder. This made 12 quite generous portions:

The cake:

  • olive oil for greasing the cake tin lining
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 large eggs
  • finely grated zest from 2 unwaxed lemons (reserve the juice (see below))

The syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (see above)
  • 125g icing sugar

The icing:

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 70g reduced fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia or similar)
  • 90g icing sugar
  • zest from another unwaxed lemon
  • lemon juice to taste
  • a few lemon segments (for decoration)

Line the bottom and sides of a cake tin with baking parchment (I used a rectangular tin about 18cm x 27cm), which I also brushed with olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Beat the butter, and when creamed, add the caster sugar (I used a hand held electric whisk).

Sift together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. Beat some of this into the butter/sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating with every addition.

Beat in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture (which should be quite stiff) into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned and cooked through (test with a fine skewer, if it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked). Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, leaving the cake in its tin.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a large needle, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Make the icing by whisking together the mascarpone, the cream cheese and the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice (to taste).

Turn out the cake. Spread the icing on top, and use a fork to make a close, lined pattern. Grate a little lemon zest over the icing, and cut the cake into squares.Decorate each square with a small piece of a lemon segment (use two or three segments in total).

I put each square in a muffin case, which I had ‘reshaped’ by folding around a suitably sized square plastic box (you could use a child’s wooden brick (clean it first!)).



Rhubarb and apple compote


There’s been a lot of publicity about Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. I bought 400g in Waitrose and made a compote together with three Braeburn apples which were looking past their best.

I sliced the rhubarb into 3cm lengths and peeled, cored and sliced the apples.

Microwave on high for about 7 minutes. Stir and cook for a further minute or so.

I then added sugar and honey to taste.

Could be served warm with Birds Custard; but I cooled mine, stored it in the fridge, and served it for breakfast with Greek yogurt, granola and mixed seeds.