Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Basil gnocchi with tomato sauce.

It seems no time since I wrote about making gnocchi with a child and the tactile pleasure they get from making food and throwing flour around the room. The child was Canisha; and now William is old enough to help with rudimentary cooking tasks, such as plugging the holes in lego blocks with cake dough. But today we made gnocchi.

First I set four medium peeled and chopped potatoes to boil, well back on the stove, until just soft. While they were boiling, William and I went into the garden to fetch a bunch of basil, which is still growing madly. (I noticed an abundance of eggplants, the longer Lebanese ones, as well. What to do with those?)

Then we came back inside and I chopped the basil finely, mashed the potatoes thoroughly, made a volcano top with them on a large breadboard, poured an egg, three-quarters of a cup of flour and some of the chopped basil into the crater and made a dough with them.

I rolled out the dough on the floured board to make sausages a centimetre in diameter and sliced these into one-inch sections. William transferred the sections to a lightly-buttered and floured plate. Some of the sections arrived on the plate intact and others changed shape along the way. A few didn't make it all and ended up on the floor. We definitely need to get a dog again. They come in handy cleaning up food spills and these days there are plenty of food spills.

Now the water's on to boil in a large pot and William is well out of the way. Drop the gnocchi, disfigured ones and all, into the simmering water and wait until they rise to the surface. Count to five - why? I don't know. A friend once told me her Italian mother did that - and scoop them out as they rise using a slotted spoon so you can transfer them direct to plates. Top with sauce and serve with grated parmesan.

The sauce: a finely chopped onion melted in oil, with a can of tomatoes added to the pan along with the rest of the basil, two chopped garlic cloves, a dash of white wine, half a cup of water, half a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkling of pepper.

William preferred them without the sauce, but with the cheese. Thomas just squashed them between his fingers and dropped them on the floor, but then he does that with everything just now.

A britanny spaniel or a retired greyhound? Hmmm.


Jo said...

Not only do doggies clean up the floor, but they lick fingers and messy faces as well!
I am torn as I grew up with Spaniels in the house, Brittan and Water, but I also adore how sweet and gentle greyhounds are.

Julie said...

Wonderful that you're starting the children early with cooking; I intend to do that myself. After all, the only reason to have a child is for the potential of having a galley slave. (Oh, excuse me - sous chef.)

To this day, I'm convinced that what pastry skills I have were developed early with my play-doh.

Dr. Alice said...

With regards to the eggplant, I think a good way to use it is to slice or chunk equal parts onion, eggplant and zucchini (courgettes?) and roast in the oven with olive oil and some herbs. Yummy.

kitchen hand said...

Jo, one day I favour spaniel, the next, greyhound. Occasionally golden retriever or even spoodle appeal.

Julie, exactly. I learned how to cook with rocks in old saucepan over the gully trap stacked with timber offcuts for the 'fire'.

Dr. Alice, that sounds great. The zucchinis are still coming in down here.