Sunday, 6 January 2008

ducky's culinary school: post 1

So, in the kitchen, sometimes there is my flatmate. We'll call him Spanky. Spanky can brew beer with the best of 'em, and one day, I will know his dark beery secrets. In exchange, I'm helping him learn to cook. This is Ducky's Culinary School. I, as you may have guessed, am Ducky. Culinary school started a while ago, but we didn't have a blog a while ago. So you'll have to jump in here.

Here's Gnocchi with A Sauce Loosely Based on Something Resembling Arrabiata. And wine, which was good, but a poor choice for this particular dinner, as it was firmly beaten down into submission and throttled by the chillies. Sorry wine. Better luck tomorrow. Spanky says it makes a good post dinner treat now that the sauce isn't bitch slapping it. Yes, we use that sort of strong language here. We find it helps. I like gnocchi because it's comforting and can seem very fancy "ooooh! homemade gnocchi!", but it's ridiculously easy to make and if you make lots, you can freeze the extra gnocchi and have it later in borscht, only then you call it potato dumplings.

The vague directions for making gnocchi:
Bake some spuds. We baked 6, and we cheated by using the microwave. The important thing is that the spuds not be waterlogged. If you boil them, leave them in the fridge overnight. We didn't have that kind of time. We wanted dinner tonight. And we have a whack of spuds to get through. It's Scotland, it's winter, and we have a CSA box. Then, mash the spuds and add salt. At any rate, more than you think you would for plain old mashed spuds, but not enough to make you gag. Then, sprinkle in a good cup of plain white flour. Not self-raising. Not whole wheat. White. Dammit. Mix with your hands, and keep mixing and adding flour until you have a dough. Now make little tiny dumplings. I just rolled them one at a time between my palms while barking orders at Spanky, who was making The Sauce. If you don't have a fabulous roommate who makes sauce while you roll dumplings, or just want to just eat the gnocchi plain with a bit of olive oil, then add some chopped fresh rosemary (about 2 tbs) and nutritional yeast (2-4tbs) to the dough and it will be yummy beyond words.

Spanky, meanwhile, was busy combining his recent skills in onion-frying and tomato sauce making. He did this: 1 Onion, fried. Then lots of garlic (5 cloves). Deglazed with a can of tomatoes and 4 chopped tomatoes and about a cup of leftover red wine. Then a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of chopped capers, two chopped thai bird chilies and a teaspoon each of basil and oregano. And we threw in 5 or so chopped up sun dried tomatoes because we were feeling fancy. That all simmered, and then at the last minute, we added lots of spinach. But no matter you add, you always end up with two tablespoons of the stuff. I swear, if you started with 10 pounds of spinach, you'd just just get a really dense 2 tablespoons.

When that was ready, we boiled the gnocchi until it floated, and then rescued it and dumped unceremoniously into the sauce. It was yummy. We had broccoli and the worlds most giant parsnip, simmered in veg broth, thyme, lemon and a tiny bit of maple syrup, on the side. In the photo, you can see Spanky's notebook. Spanky takes this cooking thing very seriously, as should we all.


Michael said...

You should see Spanky at the museum; he reads EVERYTHING.

I think it would be cute to have Spanky pose nude with the would make him extremely uncomfortable, and this would show, hence making the food look amazing.

Food for thought. Hardi har har.

sinead said...

good idea. actually, spanky was naked under his clothes. he usually is.