Gnocchi

Making homemade gnocchi from scratch is a lot easier than I’d imagined. In Italy there has apparently been a longstanding debate as to whether the dough should include egg or not. I have tried both, my recipe doesn’t include egg as I found the dough easier to handle without, and you are left with soft pillowy parcels!

You can also freeze the dough, either pre-cooked or cooked so batch cooking is definitely possible, just defrost overnight in the fridge when you want to use it.

My two favourite sauces include a mushroom cream sauce and a salmon and caper butter gnocchi, recipes below.

I’ve also created a video below of a step-by step guide to making the dough.

How to make gnocchi

Prep time: 2 hours
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
1kg potatoes, all roughly the same size
Salt and pepper
250g plain flour
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Salmon & caper butter sauce:
2 salmon fillets
1 tablespoon capers
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
100g butter
Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Mushroom cream sauce:
10 mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
100ml white wine
200ml double cream
1 onion, finely sliced
Salt and pepper

Method:

Gnocchi:

Watch the video above for a quick overview of how to make gnocchi.

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5 and wash the potatoes. Dry them well and prick all over with a fork. Bake for about an hour until completely cooked through: this will depend on the size of the potatoes, so check them regularly.
  2. Remove from the oven and as soon as they’re cool enough to touch (be brave!), peel.
  3. Push the potatoes through a potato ricer and add the flour, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together with your hands, add more flour if necessary, but stop as soon as it comes together as a soft dough.
  4. Roll into a ball about 1.5cm thick. Divide this into four and then roll each small ball into sausage shapes.
  5. Lay each sausage out and cut them into 1cm wide segments. Roll each gnocchi piece over the tines of a fork.
  6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then tip in the gnocchi (you may want to do this in small batches depending on the size of your pan). Wait for these to rise to the surface (this should only take a few minutes) and count slowly to 10 and then remove with a slotted spoon and tip into whatever sauce you are using.

Salmon & caper butter sauce:

  1. Pan fry the onion in the olive oil on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the salmon fillets (seasoned with salt and pepper) for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Add the garlic and capers to the pan and reduce heat to low and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the wine and leave to reduce for another 1 minute, then stir in the butter, lemon juice and chopped parsley and leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Mushroom cream sauce:

  1. Pan fry the onion in the olive oil on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour in the wine and reduce heat to low and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and parsley and leave to simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Peanut Butter Brownies

These peanut butter brownies are an adaptation of my ‘world’s best brownies’ recipe. I’ve added peanut butter, crushed peanuts and hazelnut oil to add a crunchy texture to the traditional brownie. I also love the combo of a bit of salt and dark chocolate.

I was also gifted a set of cooking oils from Il Gusto and was asked to experiment with these in my cooking. I whacked some hazelnut oil into these which accentuated the nutty flavours of the brownies (and also made my kitchen smell great). I have to admit that I had never really used flavoured oils in my cooking before, but I have found them a great way to incorporate subtler flavours into dishes.

What I particularly like about Il Gusto is that they offer a refill service for any empty bottles in their stores to reduce waste.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Makes 30-40 small/medium sized brownies

Ingredients:

50g dark chocolate
175g margarine
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
3 eggs
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
50g cocoa
1tsp hazelnut oil
3 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
50g crushed salted peanuts

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4
  • Get a 22 x 30 x 2.5 cm (9 x 12 x 1 in) oblong tin and line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.  Grease the paper with margarine using a paper towel.
  • Put the margarine into a pan and melt over a low heat.  Pour it into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat in well
  • Sift the flour into the bowl and add the baking powder, the cocoa and the hazelnut oil.  Stir everything together so that it is mixed well.
  • Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and use a sharp knife to cut into small shards.  Add them to the mixture and stir it well again.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
  • Spoon the peanut butter on top of the brownie mixture and swirl with a spoon to create a marbled effect and scatter your crushed peanuts on top.
  • Bake for 40 minutes
  • The brownies are ready when they have risen and a crust has formed on top.  They should still be soft in the middle.
  • Leave the brownies in the tin for 5 minutes, then cut them into squares.  Leave them on a wire rack to cool.

Cheesy tear-n-share Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is easily the best type of bread, and this recipe creates an amazing tear and share loaf that tastes as good as the ones you get in a fancy Italian restaurant! There’s actually not much proving time required compared to other loafs I have made, you only really need to let it rise for an hour or so.

Prep Time: 1.5 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 120ml warm water
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 14g butter (softened)
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 360g strong white bread flour

For the topping:

  • 56g melted butter
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Mix the warm water, yeast and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your flour mixture in a separate bowl. Mix the butter, milk, salt and 180g of bread flour in a bowl. Stir in your yeast mixture and then gradually add the remaining flour until a dough is formed. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface.
  3. Combine the butter, parsley, oregano, garlic and salt in a saucepan on a low heat until the butter is melted.
  4. Cut your dough into 1 inch pieces and roll into balls (each ball should roughly weigh 35-40g each).
  5. Place the balls on a lined baking tray and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.
  6. Once your dough has risen, chop up your mozzarella into small chunks and slot in the creases of the dough balls. Pour the remaining butter mixture over your dough.
  7. Bake at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Indian Fish Pie

Indian fish pie

This fish pie is a fusion take on the traditional fish pie, cooked with Indian spices and herbs. The creamy coconut pie filling is packed with seafood and topped with some spicy potatoes.  It tastes great served alongside some chutney or some papadums!

Overall time required: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the pie filling:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (or to taste), finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 200g cod, cut into chunks
  • 200g smoked haddock, cut into chunks
  • 180g king prawns
  • handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 5 curry leaves
  • salt and pepper

For the mashed potato:

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Make the mash by boiling the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender. Then drain.
  2. Whilst the potatoes are boiling, heat the butter in a pan and throw in all the remaining mash ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes. Once your potatoes are boiled, mash them and stir in the spiced butter.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger and chilli for 1 minute.

  4. Add your onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add your flour and cook for 3 more minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until a smooth sauce forms. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Stir the cod, haddock, prawns, coriander, cherry tomatoes and lime juice into the sauce and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Tip the sauce into a baking dish and spoon your mashed potato over the pie.
  8. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and bake for 30 minutes or until crispy on top.

Chocolate Babka

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Babka is a rich brioche dough filled with cinnamon and dark chocolate.  I first had this decadent treat in an Israeli cafe in London and swiftly fell in love. It’s not quite a bread nor a cake, and the rich chocolate filling with hints of cardamom taste amazing straight out the oven.

It took me a while to put together this recipe, as most of the recipes I found online recommended using an electric mixer with a dough hook. My recipe can be made completely by hand. I also found that cardamom wasn’t a common ingredient, but I feel it makes a massive difference to the finished product, hence why I added a homemade cardamom syrup to the babka after baking.

Prep time: 4-5 hours
Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 100 ml milk
  • 350g strong white bread flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the filling:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the glaze and syrup:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 50ml water
  • 40g sugar
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly bashed

Method:

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s just warm. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, yeast, cardamom and a pinch of salt. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook you can mix it in there.
  • Make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and add the milk, egg and butter in the middle. Mix together to create a dough using a spoon to swirl the flour mixture into the well. After a while you might need to start using your hands. Shape into a ball and then knead by hand on a well floured surface for 15 minutes until you have a soft dough that springs back when pressed.
  • Oil the bowl by patting a small amount on a paper towel and wiping it inside the bowl, then return the dough to the bowl and cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours (I normally turn my oven on for 2 minutes – make sure you turn it off again – so it’s slightly warm and then place the bowl in it to prove). The dough should be doubled in size after proving.
  • While the dough is proving, make the filling by melting the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.
  • Once the dough has proved, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle approximately 50 x 30cm. Spread the filling over the dough, covering it completely, but leave a small border. Roll the dough up tightly from one of the longer sides into a sausage shape (for a demo on how to roll and plait the babka, this video is really helpful from 4:45).
  • Cut the dough in half lengthways so you have two long pieces with the inside exposed (I cut mine into 4 and made 2 babka loafs as I didn’t have a loaf tray which worked fine too). If you are finding it difficult to work with the dough at this stage, chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  • Twist the dough into a braid and push the ends together. You can either put this in a loaf tray, if you don’t have one like me, you can lay these on a baking tray covered in baking parchment. Loosely cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.

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Plaited babka

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4. Brush your dough with the beaten egg. Bake for 40 minutes until deep golden, loosely covering with foil towards the end of cooking time if it is getting too dark. If you have done one large braid rather than two seperate braids like I did, it may need an additional 10 minutes of baking.
  • Whilst the babka is cooking, make the cardamom syrup. In a small pan, add the water and cardamom pods on a low heat. Once the water is lightly bubbling, stir in the sugar until it dissolves and then reduce to a low heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to infuse for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven, brush with the sugar syrup and leave to cool.

Chocolate Orange Cookies

Out of all the cookies I’ve ever made, these cookies are probably my favourite. They are rich and gooey and melt in your mouth, whilst still being crispy on the outside. The decadent chocolate orange flavour is one of the best combinations, in my opinion, well done Joe! (Joseph Terry, who founded the chocolate orange in York in the 19th century – fun fact)

Prep time: 10 mins

Makes 20 small/medium sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 whole Terry’s chocolate orange, chopped into chunks

Method:

  1. Line your baking tray with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F
  2. Using an electric mixer (if you have one, otherwise by hand will do!) mix your butter and sugars together until combined
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence
  4. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and orange essence and mix until you have a cookie dough.
  5. Fold in the chocolate orange pieces
  6. Roll into balls and place on a baking tray. For small/medium sized cookies I use a heaped teaspoon sized ball. You can make these any size you like, just make sure they are all the same size so they bake uniformly.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Paella

I’d always thought of paella to be something that I’d only eat in restaurants as it seemed super complex (and expensive!) to make at home. I couldn’t have been more wrong and now it’s become one of my favourite home cooked meals.

Traditionally, some of the ingredients used to make paella are expensive, however using frozen seafood can make a huge difference. Either defrost in the fridge overnight or in the microwave on the defrost setting. You can also add mussels too to the recipe below!

Serves 2

Ready in 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 prawns
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into chunks
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 50ml white wine
  • Large pinch of saffron strands
  • 75g cooking chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 scallops
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 50g peas
  • 100g risotto rice
  • 250ml chicken stock

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken, chorizo and onion and fry for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and white wine and then add the risotto rice. Add the garlic and saffron continue to stir for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, peas, prawns, scallops and squid and reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Leave to cook for 10-15 minutes and continue to stir every few minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice, parsley and some salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Salmon Sumac Salad

This salad is my go to dish for a summer picnic or for a packed lunch. I discovered sumac at a Lebanese restaurant a few months back and have been obsessed ever since, it adds a lot of flavour to lemoney dishes but isn’t overly spicy. The quinoa means it’s a salad that is actually filling, unlike most! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days so it’s also a great option for meal prepping.

Overall time required: 20 minutes

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 50g quinoa
  • Half a cucumber, chopped into chunks
  • Handful of rocket leaves
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 5 tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil for cooking and 1 teaspoon for dressing the salad

Method:

    Prepare your quinoa according to the packet. I like to cook it in vegetable stock rather than boiling water for added flavour
    Whilst your quinoa is cooking, pan fry your salmon fillet in olive oil and salt and pepper until cooked through. This shouldn’t take too long, around 4-5 minutes.
    Toss all your vegetables and leaves into a bowl and add the cooked salmon , chopped into chunks. Add in your quinoa once ready.
    Drizzle the olive oil, sumac and lemon juice through the salad and toss so all the ingredients are coated.

Apple and Oat Pancakes with Sambazon Acai Compote

IMG_4611

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes 6 medium sized pancakes

I was gifted a packet of Sambazon’s acai compote and asked to prepare some delicious pancakes with it.  Sambazon have found that traditional syrup is full of a lot of sugar, so they’ve added some superfood punch to a fruity compote to use as a pancake topping.  The acai bowl has recently become insta-famous worldwide, and their packets can be used to recreate them yourselves at home too. If you’re wondering where their interesting name comes from, Sambazon takes its name from its core goal: Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon. It aims for and represents a positive future of global food consumption that makes a positive impact on local communities and protects the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest.

The pancakes are oat and apple pancakes, full of the same warming flavours of an apple pie. I found these went well with the fruity flavours of the compote.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Sambazon Original Superfruit Pack
  • handful of fresh blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 45g oats
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 egg

Method:

  1. To make your pancakes, put the cinnamon, coconut oil, oats, sliced apple, honey and egg into a food processor and blitz for around 1 minute, until a sort of paste forms.
  2. Spoon on to a frying pan on a medium heat in round circles and cook for about 1-2 minutes and flip and repeat.
  3. To make your berry mixture, in a sauce pan, add blueberries/blackberries and Sambazon Original Superfruit and cook down on medium heat, stirring often until you have a thick syrup.
  4. Spoon on to the pancakes and enjoy!

Tahini & Turmeric Granola Bars

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The Groovy Food Company have developed a new coconut oil, infused with turmeric, which seems to currently be the nation’s favourite spice! This combination makes their coconut oil perfect for adding to curries, stir fries or even granola bars, as I tried myself.  I was sent a jar of their coconut oil and asked to try out a recipe their team have developed for these tahini and turmeric granola bars.  Tahini and turmeric are both ingredients that have traditionally been used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, but is gradually becoming more and more popular in the UK.  I must admit, that when I initially read the recipe, I was slightly apprehensive, as these are not ingredients that I’ve commonly used to prepare granola bars! However, the end product was great, you are left with a granola bar full of warming spices, that is not overly sweet.

The Groovy Food Company also have a whole collection of other great recipes on their website using their products.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes approximately 30 granola bars

Ingredients:

  • 400g rolled oats
  • 100ml agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons The Groovy Food Company Organic Virgin Coconut Oil infused with turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 100g pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread oats evenly on a large baking sheet and place in the oven for 8 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine agave nectar, tahini and turmeric infused coconut oil in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, coriander, salt and black pepper and mix well. Add dates and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine toasted oats, pistachios and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add agave and tahini mixture and mix well to ensure the oats are well coated.
  4. Grease the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish and line well with parchment paper. Transfer oat mixture to the lined dish and flatten using your hands (compressing the mixture helps the bars hold together better).
  5. Bake for 25 mins and leave to cool for 15 before transferring out to a wire rack. Allow a further 10 minutes before cutting.