Potato Gnocchi and Marathon Training

More on these later...

I appear to have taken an inadvertent Christmas break from blogging, mainly because I’ve been working over the holidays and subsequently not cooking, which certainly is a tragedy. But I intend to remedy that; now I’m back at uni and back to my own kitchen, I have free reign to buy/cook/eat whatever I want sans interruption.

Many things have occurred since I’ve been away from the blog ! These are them…

1. My recent announcement that I am to attempt the Brighton marathon this April was met with surprise and a fair amount of scorn from my friends. I applied on a spur of the moment fitness frenzy after reading a beginner’s training programme and thinking, I could so do that ! Notwithstanding those peers who have been very supportive (thanks !), it wasn’t until I revealed my plans to everyone that the looks of horror and derisive comments began to spark a panic that I’d signed up for something dreadful. But I am a runner and I started training last week so fuck you all, I can do this. (I do realise that just maybe no one was being sarcastic or doubtful in the slightest and it’s just me not thinking I’m capable that’s causing me to project my own fears onto my friends to make myself feel better about being nervous, but then I decided that pushing myself out of my comfort zone can only ever be a good thing. So it’s settled. I’m running it, bitches.)

2. Two words: Punch. Fork. If you’re not that into porn but really, really, REALLY love wasting your time looking at artful pictures of food, well THIS is what the internet has to offer YOU, my friend !

3. I’ve been listening to Beyoncé. She makes me feel so EMPOWERED… on the inside. On the outside I’m just hopelessly white with no ass and really bad at dancing. I know this because after being particularly seized by Beyoncé’s personal brand of diva-attitude I was compelled to, er… booty-shake my way across the kitchen, all the time watched by my incredulous housemate. Tom’s face said it all really.

4. I’m growing an avocado tree ! See how you can too here.

5. I made potato gnocchi. As with many of my edible concoctions, it was because I had a load of new potatoes that I got sick of (turns out my taste buds’ collective attention span isn’t capable of getting through an entire bag in a week) but couldn’t bear to throw away, and I’m pretty sure you’re not really supposed to use new potatoes for gnocchi but hey, I’m not picky. And all you need for these little Italian potato dumpling-y wonders is potatoes and flour! Some recipes call for olive oil and egg, which would probably make them tastier but hey, I just love them for their doughy, squishy, comfort-giving properties. And they are fantastic in pomodoro sauce. Actually I did put a bit of olive oil in the dough because it’s good for your heart and stuff. (Hey, I’m training for a marathon, don’t you know…*)

I KNOW they're lumpy... I am impatient

* expect an increasing tirade of righteous comments like this from now until April, where I’ll likely be reduced to something along the lines of “HELP, I’M RUNNING A MARATHON SOON, KILL ME NOW.” Or just mere expletives.

So anyway, gnocchi ! I have, until recently, remained fairly gnocchi-unaware. I can still count the number of times I’ve eaten them on one hand, the first time being in the shared kitchen of a delightfully kitsch youth hostel with brightly coloured walls in Naples, 2009 (how long ago that seems now). They were in a cheesy tomato sauce and I think that is the way I will always enjoy gnocchi. Once they’re made you can poach them in a saucepan of boiling water – they sink to the bottom and after about 1 minute rise to the top, that’s when they’re done and you can douse them in sauce. Or you can bake them with some fried onions and garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Some other gnocchi pairing ideas include: cheese sauce of your choice plus vegetable (spinach and ricotta; blue cheese, artichoke and walnut), pesto, or simply toss poached gnocchi in olive oil, salt and parmesan. I’m practically drooling right now.

How I made gnocchi (the implication that this is not how you are supposed to make gnocchi is entirely intentional, I must assure you; nevertheless gnocchi did indeed occur at the end of this recipe):
Boil about 10 new potatoes for 15-20 minutes
Drain potatoes and leave to cool before peeling.
Mash them like a mother-bitch. (Seriously, I left lumps and it wasn’t cool. The gnocchi are still nice but… just mash those ‘taters…)
Add some all purpose/wholemeal flour and knead until dough happens… maybe about 300g ? I honestly can’t remember. (Wow, this is turning out to be a useless recipe post…)
Add a dash of olive oil during kneading
Roll out dough into slim worms and cut into 1cm pieces on a lightly floured surface
Roll into gnocchi dumplings ! (See here for a cool video on how to do this, I promise it’s not as hard or as weird as it looks… I did not use this recipe to the letter, though it served nicely for inspiration.)
Poach, bake, or freeze until you are ready for glorious gnocchi-comfort and wonder. Can you handle it ?!

You can also make them in the same way with sweet potato, apparently. Delicious !

6. I’m running the Brighton marathon. Sorry, did I already mention that ? I did ? Okay… just making sure…

Best wishes for 2012, make it a good one. Eat more good stuff, eat less filth, go for more walks, stop wearing fairisle print, change the things that bug you and learn to accept the things you can’t change.

Amy x

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About AmySquirrell

Musician Food-lover Student

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