Gnocchi di patate

gnocchidipatate_side

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.

Potato and cheese dumpling topping

Potato_Dumplings.

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!

Meatball and pasta bake

Pasta-meatballs_Tile

I used half of the meatballs (see Pork meatballs) to make this hearty, comforting dish. Serves 2-3 people.

  • 3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked);
  • 12 meatballs;
  • 1 quantity of tomato sauce;
  • 30g grated cheddar.

Place the cooked pasta in an oven proof dish. Place the meat balls within the pasta. Pour over the tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Cook in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) until piping hot and cheese is browned.

Lentil and bulgur pilaf

This is based on an Ottolenghi recipe, which he suggests is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My version contains far less oil and butter, but still seems fairly comforting to me. Enough for 2 people as a main meal.

  • 5 tbsp olive oil;Lentil&bulgar_Pilaf
  • 1 aubergine (cut into 2cm dice);
  • 60g bulgur;
  • 70g green lentils (rinsed);
  • Bay leaf;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 medium onion (chopped);
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed);
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric;
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 170ml water;
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds;
  • 1 tbsp raisins;
  • Zest of half a lemon (grated);
  • 15g butter;
  • Black pepper;
  • Lemon juice to taste;
  • Fresh coriander;
  • Greek yogurt (to serve on the side).

Mix 3 tbsp of oil with the diced aubergine. Spread the aubergine on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C (Gas mark 4), until browned and nearly cooked though.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils with the bay leaf on plenty of water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes and drain (they should be al dente).

At the same time, heat the remaining oil in a large oven proof, lidded casserole, and cook the cumin seeds for about 1 minute. Turn down the heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the bulgur and the water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the aubergines, lentils, almonds, raisins, lemon zest and butter, and season with black pepper. Place in the oven at 160C (Gas Mark 3), and bake for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just becoming soft.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, and serve sprinkled with coriander and a portion of Greek yogurt.

 

Mash with kale and cheese

Kale&Brie_Mash_Tile

This is the ultimate in comfort food. The recipe is based on one from Waitrose Kitchen magazine for March 2015. This is a very simple dish, which can be eaten on its own. But it would also go well with poached eggs or sausages. Enough for 2 people:

  • 100ml milk
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 500g potatoes (peeled and cut into 2cm chunks)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 20g butter
  • black pepper
  • 100g shredded kale (with tough stalks removed)
  • 4 spring onions (cut into 2cm lengths, and split in half lengthways)
  • 50g brie (thinly sliced)
  • 20g cheddar (grated)

Heat the milk, to boiling, with the thyme. Cover, and leave to infuse.

In a saucepan, cover the potatoes, bay leaves and garlic with cold water. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Drain, remove the bay leaves, and return to the pan. Leave, uncovered, over a very low heat, for about 5 minutes, to dry the potatoes.

Mash together the potatoes, garlic, 10g of butter and the milk (having removed the thyme), and season with black pepper. Keep warm.

Heat the remaining butter in a large pan. Add the kale and spring onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, until the kale is just about cooked. Stir in the mashed potato and the cheeses.

Serve.

 

Pork and lentils

This is adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe (from Real Food). Great to eat on a cold day. Enough for 2 people:

  • 3 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon (cut into short, thin strips)NS_Pork&Sausage
  • 250g pork belly (cut into 2 cm cubes)
  • 3 spicy pork sausages
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 300ml chicken stock (made with a 1/2 stock cube)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g green lentils
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Chopped parsley

Gently cook the bacon in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole. When the fat begins to run, increase the heat and add the pork, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Remove the meat, leaving any fat behind (you may need to cook the pork in batches).

Add the sausages to the pan, brown them lightly and remove.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook very gently for about 10 or more minutes, until they are soft and golden.

Add the sausages, bacon and pork to the pan, together with the stock, the (whole) sprigs of thyme and the bayleaf. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the lentils and simmer for a further 40 minutes, or until both the lentils and pork are cooked.

Season with black pepper and lemon juice and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Ultimate comfort food: haggis, neeps & tatties

Haggis

With Autumn beginning to make its presence felt, it’s the time of year when you need some good comfort food.

So it was a Macsween Haggis (microwaved as instructed on the packaging) with mashed swede (peeled, cubed and boiled for 30 minutes, then mashed with a little butter and black pepper) and potatoes  (peeled, cubed and boiled for 20 minutes, then mashed with a little butter and black pepper).  I added some wilted spinach – somehow this makes the meal seem healthier!

I don’t usually add salt to vegetables, and in this case there seems to be a lot of salt in the haggis, so it seems completely unnecessary.