Baking/Cooking| Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…”
Oscar Wilde

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHaving kids completely changes the meaning of the word Mondays, and the meaning of manic as well. Before ‘they came along, I never had an issue with Monday, e v e r,  since the airline industry where I worked with worked the year around on rotating rosters. The cliche “I Hate Mondays” and “TGIF” made little sense to my existence. Not so now. I meant to post this yesterday for Meatless Mondays, but drama is part of our lives. All night Sunday the daughter threw up incessantly … which meant LAUNDRY {that was my first thought!},  and mopping and cleaning till kingdom came. It also meant a 6am dash to emergency to get her a couple of shots to stop the ‘volley‘  {Just as well, there’s nothing almost nothing that an injection can’t fix!!} Yesterday was B A D, but all is well now!

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceRecently read that quote above @ Barbara Bakes and it fit right in when I saw Sara’s post on beautiful One Tribe Gourmet. I forgot about my last VERY disastrous experience with gnocchi, the elusive little pillows of heaven, which had floated away in oblivion. I forgot that my last attempt, as part of a Daring Cooks challenge, left me crying copious tears of grief, while the sympathetic family slowly slurped the salvaged clouds from deep platters. Remind me never to try gnocchi again I ordered Mr PAB!Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHe walked into the kitchen, saw me elbow deep in flour, and gave me a quizzed horrified look. Yes, he has the memory of an elephant. “What’re you making today? Haven’t you made this before?”, he said trying to keep it ‘mild’.  I suspect he saw my pale face and did the disappearing act, past memories quite obviously reflected in his expressions. Why O why, I kicked myself, did I have to get tempted again? A 2 year gap must have honed my culinary skills in some good way I pleaded with my inner self, yet dashed off to beam the One Tribe Gourmet girl in from twitter! I needed H E L P & a boost of twitter self-confidence!Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceLuckily she was there, and halfway through my tediously sieved boiled potatoes {I still can’t believe I sieved 3 pounds of boiled potatoes, while Man Friday stared at me bemused!} Bet he never thought anyone would ever push boiled potatoes through a sieve. Well, neither did I, but here I was. Man Friday knows better than to question me when I am elbow deep in dough, so he returned to humming his irritating songs and returned to do the dusting! Tweet-time ….’Sara, help! Am I right or am I wrong? Consistency of the dough? Help help help!’ YIKES, I had done it again! There was no backing off as by now I had the potatoes done & the peppers roasted.Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceGnocchi is fiddly, but not as fiddly as macrons. Keep in mind that you must not boil them aggressively on a full rolling boil. A mild simmering boil is good for these pillowy whimsical creatures. You must read Sara’s advice for the perfect gnocchi, and if you still are unsure, catch her on twitter. She is most helpful and one of the sweetest girls around. If you say you know Shahrukh Khan, she might even fly down and make gnocchi for you in your kitchen … she’s his biggest fan!! Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceSurprisingly enough gnocchi keep well. We had them for lunch and I boiled some and kept them flat out on a tray for the kids for dinner as they were in school. I thought I’d reheat them, but had second thoughts and decided to make them a little luxurious. So I simmered some unsalted butter with Tuscan spices that my younger sis had brought for me recently, and gently simmered the ready gnocchi in the flavoured butter. The daughter was over my shoulder with a fork, and dug in every 2 minutes to have another! The kids really enjoyed them too, and the sauce with a dash of Worcestershire sauce! It was worth all the hard work, and a great meatless meal. Of course I served it with a char grilled broccoli salad, my favourite winter side from Ottolenghi!

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHomemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce
Adapted minimally from Sarah’s post @ One Tribe Gourmet
Recipe Adapted from Ron & Colleen Suhanosky’s book Pasta Sfoglia
Potato Gnocchi
3 pounds Idaho Russet Potatoes { I used our local variety}
3 cloves of garlic, minced
50gms grated cheddar
1 1/4 cup all purpose Flour {extra for dusting} {Original recipe has 1 cup APF}
2 tsp salt
1 egg
Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce -makingMethod
Boil or pressure cook the potatoes until tender. {Use a knife to determine if the potatoes are tender}
Drain, peel the potatoes and pass them through a ricer, food mill or a sieve. {I sieved them, a first for me, and though it was hard work, the result was unbelievable smooth}.
Spread all purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface and place the potatoes on the flour. Add the salt, egg, minced garlic & cheddar.
Knead the dough gently into a 10 by 8 inch log. let it rest for 2 minutes.
Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Cut the log into 4 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a 1 inch thick rope .
Cut the rope into 1/2 inch wide gnocchi.
Mark the gnocchi with rolling it over back of a fork. {These marks help the sauce cling to the gnocchi}
Boil the gnocchi on medium high heat. Drop few gnocchi pieces at a time. Let the gnocchi come up to the top and drain.{I fished them out with a tea strainer}
Add to the sauce.
Roasted Pepper Cream SauceRoasted Red Peppers & Cream Sauce
4 red bell peppers, roasted
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce {optional/to taste}
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup low fat cream
Fresh Basil, few springs, chiffonaded
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the peppers on a baking sheet, coat them with a little oil.
Bake until skins are blistered. Take out of the oven and let them cool covered in a glass/steel bowl covered with a kitchen towel/napkin.
Peel & seed the peppers. Add the pulp into a blender and process until smooth.{I used an immersion blender}
Sauté onions & garlic in the olive oil.
Add the pepper mixture and Worcestershire sauce. Mix.
Add salt & pepper, and then add the cream and basil leaves.
Saute for 2 more minutes over low heat.
Drop the gnocchi into the sauce and mix gently to coat.
Serve with a garnish of fresh basil.
Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

This recipe is off to Val’s event Best Thing I Ever Ate (recently) challenge at More Than Burnt Toast.

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Baking| QUARK-TATA … Daring Bakers Crostata with Quark & Apples {& petit fours too}!

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Oprah Winfrey

Quark & Apple Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Quark & Apple Crostata

A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more “rough” look, rather than a uniform, circular shape. The jams that are traditionally used as a filling are cherries, peaches, apricots, berries. The crostata can also be filled with pieces of fresh fruit and pastry cream (crema pasticcera), but then it is called torta di frutta. A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta.

Quark & Apple Crostata I got to baking my crostata pretty early this month, and only because of the pressure of my home made quark which was nearing expiry. I didn’t think it would last another day, so I hit fast track and decided it was time for pie! I followed the pastry recipe that Simona provided, meandering from it characteristically as I was in a hurry, and used granular vanilla sugar instead of powdered sugar. Also added a scraped vanilla bean as I am wary of eggy flavours in pastry. I have a good stash of vanilla beans on hand, and love to use them where possible.

Quark & Apple CrostataFor the filling we had the option to go creative…pastry creme, baked fruit, fresh fruit, jam…whatever caught our fancy! My fancy? You guessed it … my crostrata would have quark! I had some quark that I had made yet again for a cake I wanted to try, but then along came this challenge. I decided to try my luck here. I also had on hand some apple mix left over from some Apple Walnut Cinnamon Parcels I had made a couple of days ago. The crostata was already a quark-tata, and would be a ‘fall tart’ I think I made a crostrata de quarka!

Quark & Apple Crostata The filling was to be sweet, full of fall flavour, topping the experimental quark filling. I considered adding cream to the quark, but once beaten it looked quick thick and delicious, so I skipped the cream. Added some eggs and a spoon of flour to help set it, and thought if it wouldn’t set, we would just scoop it into our mouths! By the time it was baked, and beautifully puffy, I gave it a tiny poke on top to see if it was jiggly, and I was thrilled to see it was set. I think I love experiments, especially ones that work out well…LOL!

Quark & Apple Crostata This is what I love about being a Daring Baker …the creative part. They give you a recipe, a basic which you need to follow, and then open it out for you to stamp it your own little way! This one was fun fun fun! I used a loose bottomed tart pan that my sis had got from the US, and a pastry cutter that she recently sent. I was dying to do the lattice, but figured that lattice on a hot pie might not work. I didn’t take into account the apple layer which was cold, but stuck the edges in a hurry. Next time, will try to weave a proper lattice. For this time, I was quite happy!

Petit Fours...cookies with whipped lemon curd cream I used the left over pastry to make sugar cookies as suggested by Simona, and have hung on to them for too many days. The weather being cold, they have been sitting happily in an air tight box. I found them 2 days ago, and almost gave them to the kids to chomp. Then in a burst of creativity, decided to top them with some whipped home made lemon curd cream, left over from my Mum’s birthday cake, a Lavendar Chiffon with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream, yet to be posted!

Lavender Chiffon CakeHere’s what I made last night…

Petit Fours...cookies with whipped lemon curd creamPetit fours … biscuits topped with home made lemon curd whipped cream, topped with strawberry cream, topped with fruit and biscuit bits. Ooooh this was good too, and definitely delicious!

Thank you Simona for the exciting challenge, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Quark & Apple Crostata Quark and Apple Crostata
Pasta Frolla {pastry/tart shell}
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl with 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped

Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
Empty food processor’s bowl onto your work surface.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. {I needed a tbsp of chilled water to bind my dough}. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
Lightly butter/grease the tart pan.
Roll out the pastry and line the pan. {I used about 2/3 pastry only}. Chill in freezer, while the oven is preheating at 190C
Bake blind for 20-25 minutes using pie weights, or as I did, a heavy metal plate {or metal bowl placed over baking paper}
Cool base in pan once done.
Pie Filling
200g quark, well drained {homemade recipe here}
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tbsp flour
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and beat till smooth, 1-2 minutes. Turn into baked and cooled pie shell, and bake at 180C for 15 minutes.
While it’s baking, prepare the topping.
Quark & Apple Crostata MakingTopping:
2 apples, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1tsp flour
Apple filling:
Toss together all ingredients till apples are well coated. Take pie out after 15 minutes, and add topping, and lattice on top. Brush the lattice with egg white, and sprinkle over with vanilla sugar. Bake for another 45 minutes till nice and puffy. {Cover loosely with foil if the pastry is getting too brown.}. If you touch it gently, you will see that the filling is set and not jiggly. Allow to stand for at least an hour before slicing. Serve with unsweetened low fat cream!
Quark & Apple Crostata

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{Food Event} European Art of Taste – EAT … The taste of Europe on Indian Grounds

“The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love, for those you are cooking for.”
Sophia Loren
The other day I was excited to receive an invite for a Press Conference and cooking demo, followed by lunch at Smoke House Deli, from Caroline Rowe, on behalf of the hosts of EAT. EAT stands for  ‘EUROPEAN ART of TASTE‘, a program supported by the European Union and the Italian Government that aims to present the best of Food and Wine from Europe. EAT promotes the following four product categories across India – Pasta, Olive Oil, Provolone Cheese & Wine.
As EAT says, with the saturation of European products in the Indian market, it can get confusing to judge what is best in terms of authenticity of taste. By lending it’s support to EAT, the European Union guarantees the quality, authenticity and safety of the products. The programme showcases pasta made of 100% durum wheat, olive oil of certified origin, provolone cheese and wines. {The event is promoted by RRO Connect, EAT’s official representatives in India.}
EAT has organized a Mission EAT week @ Delhi, which includes In-store demonstrations, Press Conference, Gala Dinner et. al. Chef Andrea Golina {specially flown from Italy} will demonstrate how to cook Authentic Italian food and how to combine it with the Finest Italian Wine. {Andrea hosted another live demo at the Olice Bar & Kitchen the next night, which I was unable to attend, though I would have loved to!}
The meet was an interactive one and began with representatives of food product companies for Barilla Pasta and Monini Olive Oil giving us a little introduction to the company’s product range. The highlights were the similarities between Indian and Italian food and cultures, whereby both are nations of food loving people. Both Italians and Indians are known to gather around tables laden with food, with families and friends and enjoy a hearty meal. Food is a binding factor across our cultures and the Italian government decided to take the initiative to formally introduce Italian cuisine to India.
Chef Andrea Golina flew in from Italy and kept us captivated with his culinary banter, engaging the crowd, keeping us in splits with his infectious sense of humour. In temperatures which were soaring as we sat in a covered outdoor area, he held our attention, introducing us to the basics of Italian. cuisine It was surprising to hear that the Italian al dente vs the Indian al dente were separated by double cooking times. In the sense, if the instructions said ‘boil pasta for 8 minutes till al dente,’ Indians here always tend to boil for 16 as we are seldom sure that it’s been cooked through!  I am also an al dente sinner in a small way as I do go the extra 5 minutes! Live and learn it is, and I did!! Andrea threw in small tips like tear the basil with your hands to save essential oils from getting lost, add the provolone after the dish had been tossed & taken off the fire, discard the seeds of the tomato, reserve the liquid pasta has been cooked in to add to the sauce if necessary etc! He demonstrated how to cook two easy, everyday pasta dishes, with a generous helping of EVOO {extra virgin olive oil} – a penne with chicken & bell peppers, and a spaghetti al norma with aubergines. Both very simple, everyday Italian dishes, full of flavour and healthy fresh ingredients!
Was a wonderful demonstration, full of fun and laughter, made even better by the ever talented Andrea. Thereafter, we shifted in to have lunch at the Smoke House Deli. I opted for the vegetarian main of Feta and Grilled Vegetables on Capellini, and I have to say it was the best vegetarian Italian main I have ever had. Outstanding in every bite! Actually all the main courses seemed excellent. Caroline had the lasagna which was very good too. For dessert sampling, we were offered an assortment on a platter – cheesecake, flour-less mocha chocolate torte {I think}, and a walnut date cake. The cheesecake and date cake were very good, and so was the mocha torte, though it was a bit on the sweeter side.
Halfway through the meal, Andrea joined us at our table, and had us entertained for the rest of the afternoon. He sang praises of his favourite Indian dish, ‘Butter Chicken‘ {of course}, which he could not stop eating while in India. Told us how Rome is like a mother who holds you close to her heart and will never let you go. We exchanged notes on making tiramisu, flavouring EVOO with garlic and herbs. Interestingly he mentioned that most foods on the continent originated in France, from bechamel, to mayonnaise, pastry cream etc. Chef Andrea Golino was born in Rome, graduated in literature and cinema history, but did not forget his passion “Cooking”. He created the first personal chef service in Rome specializing in finger food. With different ways to interpret and perform food, to transgress the kitchen rules, he earned the nickname ‘Chef Guevera’!
EAT was a wonderful experience and we trooped home happily, laden with goodie bags with pasta, pasta sauces and olive oil! Thank you EAT for asking me to ‘Come to EAT with us’!!  Used the pasta, the pasta sauce and EVOO to cook dinner tonight from a recipe on the Barilla website, and it was excellent!}

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