Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Impressively, infinitely, irrrrresistably Italian!

Recipe: Baked Gnocchi with Blue Cheese

Time taken: 1 hour

Ingredients: a splash of oil,  half a 250g pack of chestnut mushrooms,  a clove of garlic,  half a 280g jar of artichoke antipasto,  half a 500g bag of gnocchi,  100ml soured cream,  a handful of parsley leaves,  half a 100g block of blue cheese,  and a slice of bread.

 Today's hard sought ingredients...

Evening ChefBeHere readers,

I’m wishing upon a star that it’s been a wonderful Wednesday for you all! Except I can’t really see any stars because it’s been raining all day here and it’s raining right now, and there’s so much cloud I can’t imagine it will ever stop raining. Look out of the window everyone and if all you can see is cloud, here’s a star for you to wish on instead.

 Until the sky gets its act together...

So today I haven’t been busy at all! I’ve had a very leisurely day working from our student flat and watching it rain. The highlights of my day have been festive coffee, living room yoga and the new Wretch 32 song ‘6 Words’. It’s been quite lovely.

With all that mooching, I stored up some serious chefing energy and so I decided to attempt a proper recipe for my tea today! Out came the Morrisons Christmas magazine, my bud, and I decided to maaaaaake… this!

It’s ‘Baked Gnocchi with Blue Cheese’

The shot above is straight out of the magazine, but this recipe went really well for me and I think my photo at the end of the post (don't skip to the end... patience) even looks quite like the magazine one. To me. So, this recipe took a bit more effort than my previous posts, I admit, but it tasted SO GOOD you all should go the mile and have a go at it!

Now I’ve eaten gnocchi (pronounced ‘nocky’) in restaurants before, but I've never tried to cook it. Gnocchi are basically little baby balls of pasta, and when you eat them they taste like pasta, but somehow they also taste a bit like dumplings and like tiny potatoes at the same time! I think this is because those are what gnocchi look like and are shaped like, so your eyes tell your tummy that’s what to expect. But really it’s pasta!

So I haven’t heard many people say they’ve tried gnocchi and I wouldn’t expect to see it on every restaurant menu, but I found it easily enough in Asda and I think a 2 Serving pack only cost me about £1. Gnocchi comes all ready-made so you just heat it up, and that’s all you have to do. It turns out this isn't the complicated, high-skill ingredient that I imagined it to be! It's a babe really.

The tricky ingredient I found, was ‘artichoke antipasto’. I was like… What? Huh?  Is this a vegetable? Does it involve pesto? What language is that? My flatmates starting telling me this was fish and the recipe couldn't be vegetarian. So, I googled. I turns out artichoke IS a vegetable (knew it) and in this case it’s in some kind of antipasto oil, together in a jar?? Sounds weird, looks weird. But, with no fish harmed, the man in Asda found it on the Italian cooking aisle, right by my gnocchi. It wasn’t cheap, I think it was £2-3 maybe, so this is a special occasion recipe if, like me, you’re on a student budget. But persevere.

Here’s how you throw together your gnocchi in ten easy steps…

1.       Preheat your oven to 180˚C.

2.       Prep your ingredients! Using a sharp knife, chop your mushrooms in quarters and have a chop at your parsley leaves, so that they’re in small shreds rather than full leaves. Use a cheese grater to try to grate your slice of bread until about half of it is in breadcrumbs, then chuck the other half away which will probably have turned to stodge in your hand. Or put it out in your garden/cement patch for the birds, like me. Use your hands to crumble the cheese into chunks. Use a garlic crusher to smush your garlic into an ooze. Tip half your jar of freaky artichoke onto some kitchen roll and pat it down so that it’s less oily, then chop it into bite-sized pieces. Now you’re prepared.

3.       Cautiously heat your oil in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes. They’ll start to turn a golden brown colour and they should make your kitchen smell sensational. Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water.
4.       Place the gnocchi into a saucepan along with a pinch of salt. Add the boiling water and boil your gnocchi for 2 minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Put a lid on your pan! Then the water stays hot and your gnocchi will cook quickly, so you need to use the hob for a shorter time and you save energy and SAVE THE WORLD!
5.       Add your artichoke and garlic to the frying pan and sizzle them for a couple of minutes with your mushrooms, stirring it all up.
6.       Take your gnocchi off the heat and drain them using a colander or sieve.
7.       Chuck your sour cream, most of your parsley, all of your gnocchi and then your mushroom mix, all together in a little baking dish. Give them a good stir.
8.       Decoratively arrange your cheesy chunks on top and then artistically sprinkle the dish with your breadcrumbs and your remaining parsley.

 My baby, all oven-ready.
9.       Bake in the oven for ten minutes until your cheese is melted and your breadcrumbs have become golden and toasted.
10.   Safely transport your tea from the oven to the table, and enjoy a taste of Italy!

After all that hard work, here’s how mine looked!
And, in my opinion it tasted delicious. Tonight’s tea was a very flavoursome, indulgent dish that made me feel like I was eating in a restaurant. I rated it! Overall, I think my gnocchi was definitely worth the hunt for ingredients and the extra time spent in the kitchen tonight. And the portion was just right for one person. Plus, I have enough of all the ingredients left that I can make it again this week, and I’m looking forward to eating this again. Win win!
If anyone has it in them to take on the gnocchi… DO IT! Go on, surprise yourself and whip up something fancy and masterful for a change. You deserve this in your belly. And if you’re cooking for someone else too, this is going to earn you major brownie points. What do you have to lose?
Share your experiences, people. Hit me with them. How did you get on cooking the gnocchi? Did you find the ingredients ok in the shop? Did you like how it tasted? Do you think the recipe needs altering at all, maybe?
And did it feel festive?? Because it is in the Morrisons Christmas Magazine! So you should at least be able to hear faint sleigh bells while eating. I think the Xmas link comes from CHESTNUT mushrooms. I can’t get enough of Christmas hype right now, so even the slightest link is enough for me.

This baked gnocchi is a Merry Masterpiece!
Bake safely kids,


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