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.
This 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.
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:
- 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!
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.
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.
More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.
- 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 35g butter
- Black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
- 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
- 125g mozzarella ball
- A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
- 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs
Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.
Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.
Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
If you’re after comfort food in this cold weather, here’s a quick recipe for topping a casserole or even a couple of tins of baked beans. My casserole was made from onions, garlic, chilli, celery, carrots, butternut squash and tinned tomatoes. But this would also suit a beef stew. I think chicken might be better without the cheese – in that case, I’d leave out the cheese and substitute double cream for the milk (to maintain the fat content), or use soft cheese instead of grated cheddar (and initially add less milk, so that the mixture is not too wet). Enough for 3 people:
- 250g mashed potato made with 30g of butter
- 120g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 60g finely grated cheddar
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 90ml milk
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the grated cheese and parsley. Mix in the mashed potato using a fork until it is well integrated.
Heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Your casserole or beans etc needs to be hot so heat on the hob or in the microwave if cold.
Mix the milk into the dumpling mixture, and using your hands, place golf ball sized pieces of dough on top of the casserole.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the dumplings are risen and starting to brown.
Serve as it is – nothing more is required!