Gnocchi in the making
KJ: What made you choose Tuscany for your destination? Audrey: I’ve always loved Italy. It’s the home of great artists like Michelangelo and Mussolini, as well as some of the world’s finest cooks. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Giacomo Brunetti? I spent several months under him when I was an apprentice chef. What that man can do with a fava bean is simply extraordinary.
KJ: Did you have fun cooking and writing the book? Audrey: I actually never cook and write simultaneously, ever since spilling beef ragout onto my laptop computer’s keyboard. But it was a joy working on new recipes. Every one of them has been fully tested of course, mostly on nursing home residents (so it’s hard to get clear feed-back) and I look forward to my readers trying them out themselves.
KJ: What are your favourite sweet and savoury dishes from the book? Audrey: My favourite sweet dish actually came from my grandmother. It’s a cherry-chocolate cake and I re-printed the recipe from one of her cooking diaries that she kept during the war. Obviously I had to replace the powdered egg and get rid of a few of the more stridently anti-Germanic sentiments scrawled in the margin, but it’s otherwise completely authentic. As for my favourite savoury dish, I think it would my Super-Super-Super Slow Roasted Pork. It’s worth every one of the 73 days it takes to cook.
KJ: Your book has a real fun slant to it, what made you choose to do that? Audrey: I think we sometimes take food and cooking a little too seriously. Has the perfect tomato and basil salad ever changed the course of history? Quite possibly yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it too.
Thanks to Hardie Grant Books for my review copy and also for an extra copy to give away to one of my readers. To enter leave a comment on this post by Tuesday 12th April 2011 11.59p.m. Name out of the hat, winner to be announced with my next post.
GNOCCHI DI RICOTTA CON POMODORO / RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOMATO SAUCE
From Audrey Gordon's Tuscan Summer, Printed here with permission by Hardie Grant Books - thank you.
Some people say that they ﬁnd gnocchi a little ‘stodgy’. They have obviously never eaten the homemade variety and should, therefore, refrain from commenting on things they quite clearly know nothing about. These gnocchi are as soft and pillowy as a freshly made bed.
250 g ricotta
250 g pecorino romano, freshly grated
pinch of nutmeg
salt 1 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting
extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 × 400 g cans Italian tomatoes, juices retained
1 bunch basil, leaves picked
pinch of sugar
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, to serve
1. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, pecorino, egg, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and half the ﬂour. Mix to create a dough then add the rest ofthe ﬂour.
2. Roll out the mixture onto a lightly ﬂoured surface and shape into six tubes. Cut each tube into about 20 pieces, then press the tines of your fork into each piece to create the ‘ribbing’ effect typical of gnocchi.
3. To make the tomato sauce, heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until lightly cooked.
6. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the gnocchi in batches. Remove each one as it rises to the surface, usually after about 2 minutes.