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)
1/2 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.