After a year of not cooking much and not blogging at all due to illness, I’m ready to start again.
We celebrated the return of two of my sisters from overseas and the end of my treatment for cancer with a family dinner. As usual we all brought a part of the meal.
This time I made a dish I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages – the Toulouse Lautrec Gratin of Pumpkin from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. It is a delicious dish of pumpkin, layered with an onion and tomato sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. It is actually a recipe from Henri Toulouse Lautrec that was part of a collection of recipes published by his friend.
It normally forms part of our family Christmas lunch and I’m not sure why I hardly ever make it at other times, other than that it is a bit lengthy to make. I’ve simplified the original recipe a bit, it calls for the pumpkin to be floured and fried. I’ve changed this to roasting the pumpkin instead. I also cut the pumpkin a little thicker and use more tomato for a slightly wetter dish.
Gnocchi aren’t really difficult to make once you know the rules. Until then they can be mysterious and tricky, sometimes tough, sometimes falling to pieces in the water as they cook and sometimes turning out perfectly. I had a number of failures until I spoke to my Italian neighbour 15 years ago.
The good news is that there are only three rules that apply to any gnocchi, whether you are making them with potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.
use a floury vegetable (potatoes really are the best as they require the least flour)
use the minimum amount of flour you can get away with
don’t knead them any more than is needed to just incorporate the flour.
For potatoes this means using a steamed floury variety and for pumpkin and sweet potato roasting them to keep them fairly dry. Minimal handling is necessary because otherwise kneading and overworking the dough will activate the gluten which will make the gnocchi tough.
Sadly, the bad news is that it is very difficult to convey in words just how to know when you have added enough flour. The only way is by feel and experience. I was told by my neighbour that the dough should feel like an earlobe.
Along the way you’ll possibly have some failures, but once you get it right, it is easy to whip up a batch on autopilot in very little time.
In my garden, the pumpkins are starting to be in season and the tomatoes are coming to an end so I decided to make some pumpkin gnocchi for dinner. I served them with a tomato, garlic and chilli sauce with a little grated Vegusto Piquant cheese.
Week 136 of my love affair with chick pea flour. Is there anything that can’t be done with this fabulous stuff? It binds like egg, you can make omelettes and quiches with it, it is delicious and it is high in protein so your mother and your non-vegan friends can stop worrying if you are getting enough protein. 🙂
Today I made some curried pumpkin fritters, a variation on the “what the hell do I do with all these zucchini” fritters (that moment will come in the summertime!).
They are delicious too, but pumpkin and curry spices have a great affinity so these are a winner. They are fast and simple to make, and delicious. They are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Sometimes I serve them with a spoonful of coconut yoghurt, but I’d run out, so today I just scattered them with some fresh coriander leaves from the garden. This recipe would work with carrot and parsnip too.