I love to cook and I love to eat good food.  Alas, the fact that I work 9-5 means that I can't do either as much as I would like, and like many I am often stuck at my desk during my lunch "hour".  My solution is to try to bring my lunch to work as much as I can.  This is my collection of recipes, all made quickly the night before (either as lunch or as dinner with leftovers that can be taken in).  Happy eating.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Potato and thyme gnocchi with garlic mushrooms

I actually managed to find this week's BSI in time to think about making something. Better yet, this week's ingredient -- potato -- coincided nicely with a veritable explosion of said veg in my cupboard. An overly-zealous potato packer in the veg box, combined with several weeks of cooking less than normal, equals enough spuds to stave off a potato famine. Fate intervenes courtesy of Chez What?: I have an excuse to use some potatoes.

At first, I said to myself, "Self: what is better than pure, unadulterated potato? Make your favorite roast potatoes and call it a night." But then, I also thought that the whole point of the Blogger Secret Ingredient was to make it a bit of a challenge, a la Iron Chef, but with fewer pyrotechnics (one hopes -- but one does not always anticipate what happens in kitchens).

At last, coming home on Friday evening and feeling like a bit of a challenge after a challenging week, I decided that I would make one of my favorite potato-based foods: gnocchi. Fluffy little pillows of potato, they are the perfect vehicle for any sauce. Or no sauce. Yep: I just love gnocchi in any form.

Making gnocchi is not difficult, but it requires a little finesse. The most important step is getting the cooked potatoes mashed smoothly, which -- without a ricer -- is much more difficult to achieve. Once smooth, there is a balance between combining them with the egg and flour but not over-mixing: the fluffy little pillows will turn into concrete weights.

One mixed, you have to roll out the dough -- without too much flour -- and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

There is also a rather complex method of shaping them involving rolling them down the back of the tines of a fork, but I confess this is where I give up and leave them rustic. I think they look pretty nice:

Into a pot of boiling water and they are transformed into dinner. If only everything was so easy.

Potato and thyme gnocchi with garlic mushrooms

750g/1.5 lbs. potatoes, cooked (I microwave mine)
1 egg
1/2 C. plain flour plus extra for dusting
1/4 C. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt

1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 C. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes
12 brown mushrooms, such as crimini, sliced
A few sprigs of thyme

When cool enough to handle but still warm, peel the potatoes and either pass them through a ricer or mash them until smooth by hand in a large bowl.

Mix the egg into the potato and then about ½ cup of plain flour. Add the thyme. Fold the mixture together, gradually adding more flour if the mixture is too wet. Do not add too much flour as this will toughen the gnocchi.

Cut the gnocchi mixture in quarters and on a lightly floured surface roll each piece into a sausage shape about 1" in diameter, then cut those into 1" pieces.

Heat a pot of water to a full boil, then add the gnocchi. When the rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and let drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and saute the garlic, fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms (which should be drained and dried first). When cooked, add the cooked gnocchi, toss through, then stir through the remaining fresh thyme leaves.

Serves 4


doggybloggy said...

since I am a gnocchi- aholic this is right up my way...

Astra Libris said...

Ooooh, I adore gnocchi!! I was soooo excited when I fixed my first batch of gnocchi! :-) Yours are absolutely gorgeous - gnocchi perfection! I love how you added mushrooms!

Angie's Recipes said...

I never made gnocchi myself.
What kind of potato did you use? Will those French fries-type potatoes work?
Angie's Recipes

Reeni♥ said...

These look delicious with the garlic mushrooms! They turned out great!

Grace said...

i have such a fascination with gnocchi, and this looks like a spectacular version of the little suckers! i'm a big fan of thyme too, so i think your work here is magnificent!

Karine said...

MmM homemade gnocchi are sssooo good! And you are right: the ricer to make gnocchi easily!

Anonymous said...

haha, this is funny! I tried making potato gnocchi for last week's BSI, too...but it ended a total FAILURE! Yours look so good though! It's tough, but KUDOS to you for perfecting it!

Fearless Kitchen said...

This looks really delicious - the garlic mushrooms really draw me in!

Chef Fresco said...

I'm very impressed you made your own gnocchi! Those mushrooms look delicious!

The Duo Dishes said...

Oh what a great meal. The gnocchi sounds really tasty.

The Food Hunter said...

I love gnocchi. These sound delicious.

Sarah, The New Girl said...

I love gnocchi!! But I always did think the recipe sounded kinda complicated... I don't know. I'll have to put this in my recipe bank for a day I'm feeling adventurous... :) But seriously, looks great!

Anonymous said...

Wow! This looks great!

stephchows said...

Love gnocchi!! It's so much fun to make too :) PS you totally made my day admitting to reading xanth too! I was beginning to think I was the only one hahaha

Zoe said...

I. Love. Gnocchi. Thank you.

Cucinista said...

Angie: I used the potatoes from my vegetable box, but I hear that baking/floury potatoes are recommended

Doggy Bloggy: thanks for hosting BSI!
Astra Libris: thanks for the compliments
Reeni and Fearless Kitchen: the mushrooms were yummy
Grace: the thyme was so good in the potatoes...
Karine: ricer = fabulous
B&S: you have no idea how many kitchen failures I have had!
Steph: we shall keep our little Xanth love a secret, eh? ;)
Sarah: please make my recipe!

Everyone else... thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

EMC said...

Sounds so comforting!

The Food Hunter said...

This looks amazing!

Sachi's Kitchen said...

Bravo on the gnocchi! I have always wanted to make homemade gnocchi, but have been too intimidated to try myself. However, after reading your post, I think my next big project will be homemade gnocchi! :)

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