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!

Baked eggs with spring greens and mashed potato

Eggs_Greens1-horz

This recipe was a result using up left-overs the evening before a long Easter weekend away. Serves 2:

  • 1 tbsp oil (and extra for greasing the cooking dish)
  • 1 medium sized onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • Mashed potato (I had about 250ml by volume)
  • 100g spring greens (washed, the stems removed, and then finely shredded and boiled in a small amount of water for 2 minutes)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 80g cheddar (coarsely grated)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Hot chilli sauce (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook for further 2 minutes. ‘Crumble’ in the mashed potato and then stir in the greens. Heat for 5 minutes (stirring occasionally).

Tip the contents of the pan into a large oven proof dish (large enough to contain the mixture so that there are four ‘nests’ into which the eggs can be broken). Break an egg into each nest, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top (of the mixture and eggs) and season with black pepper.

Cook in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 12 minutes (I did not pre-heat the oven), or until the egg whites are firm, but the yolks still runny.

I served mine with some sliced mushrooms (which happened to be in the fridge), which I cooked in 20g of butter for about 4 minutes, and then seasoned with black pepper.

Smoked haddock fishcakes

Fishcakes

I had some leftover mashed potato and some frozen smoked haddock so I made these fish cakes – enough for two:

  • 300ml mashed potato
  • 100g smoked haddock
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (a good squeeze)
  • Plain flour
  • Oil (for frying)

Cook the fish according to the instructions – I allowed mine to defrost and then microwaved it on high for a minute. Allow the fish to cool and remove the skin, before kneading it together the mashed potato, pepper and lemon juice. Divide the mixture into 4 equal pieces, and on a floured board, form into 4 cakes (I used a medium plain cookie cutter as a mould). Coat each cake with a thin layer of flour.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, and place each cake in the pan, over a gentle heat. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the cakes have browned and are thoroughly heated through. Add more oil as necessary.

I served mine with mayonnaise flavoured with a combination of sweet chilli sauce and hot chilli sauce, and some rocket.

 

Ham and pea soup

Ham-tile

If you’re after some good, hearty comfort food.  One of my favourites is ham and pea soup.

I often think that supermarket bacon joints are extremely overpriced.  But Sainburys’ Basics range comes to the rescue here.  They do 670gm packs of ‘Cooking Bacon’ for £1.10.  You need to be selective about the pack you buy as some of them consist of a number of small pieces of bacon and sometimes even slices.

Soak about 150gms of split peas in water overnight.  These are usually yellow split peas, you can find green ones in health food stores, but both colours seem to taste the same.

Put the bacon in a large saucepan/stockpot with about two litres of water, an onion (quartered), a leek, a stick of celery (all roughly sliced); add some parsley, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaf.  I usually add a sliced carrot, but on this occasion I didn’t have any. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer (until the bacon is really well cooked – so that it falls apart – I cooked mine for about 4 hours (barely simmering)).

When ready, remove the bacon and pull apart into small pieces using two forks.

Strain the stock (throwing away the cooked vegetables).  Drain the peas.  Chop another onion, and gently fry until soft in a clean pan along with a carrot, a leek and a celery stick (all sliced).  Add the peas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked (probably about 1.5 hours).  If it looks too thick just add some more boiling water.  Blend and return to the pan along with some of the pulled bacon.  Serve piping hot:

Ham and pea soup

What to do with rest of the ham?

CelereiacCeleriac remoulade – grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise (with added whole grain mustard, low fat yogurt and lemon juice to taste); scatter with pulled ham – a good starter:

 

 

 

 

Ham and kale colcannon – mashed potato, sliced leeks cooked in butter, kale (shredded and briefly boiled) and pulled bacon:

Colcannon

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.