Not Quite Summer Food!

Gnocchi with Beef Ragu

I did not care that it was hot yesterday, I wanted this for dinner.

A few months ago at one of our winery trips I ordered this for lunch and I just couldn’t wait to eat. It was cold outside and I love this dish. The view from the window was awesome, the wine was just lovely and the company was what it always is with these girls – loud, funny and wonderful…and the food…well…the food was the worst thing I have ever had in my life!

It was basically very chunky bits of meat with carrots (both undercooked) swimming around in a dirty dishwater like gravy and I’m not sure if it was gnocchi it was floating on…I couldn’t understand how this could happen in such a pretty looking place…and then I saw the “chef!” – I think she was about 13 yrs old – hopefully this means that she still has time to go to cooking school and learn a few things or do something different with her life – poor girl – the food was awful but somehow I figured that this was not what she did for a living!

So very disamappointed…yes, that’s right…disamappointed…!!!

What?!?!

I can get the word wrong if I want to! I mean they got this dish wrong and still charged me almost $30 for it so I can get any word wrong and it won’t cost you a thing!

I have been obsessed with this ever since that day and I finally got around to making it. Yes, it was a very warm 31C outside and a bbq would’ve been better but the bbq went to the ex after our split late last year (it’s ok, I got the car and the 50 inch Plasma TV!) so I was more than happy to part with the bbq!

Anyhoo – it was delish!

nom nom…mmmm

nom nom…mmmm

Ingredients

  • 1kg chuck steak or gravy beef, diced and dusted in plain flour
  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • parsley
  • 2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
  • 250ml (1 cup) red wine
  • 500ml beef stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Sauté the beef in batches, add onions, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, spices,  and salt & pepper. Add the wine & stock and cover.
  • Place in the oven or stove top and cook for at least 1 -2 hrs or until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thick but not sticking to the pan.
  • Boil water in a deep saucepan for the gnocchi – I buy ready made gnocchi in a vac sealed pac from my favorite deli but you can use whichever gnocchi you like – or – you could make your own (I don’t have the time).
  • Once the water has come to the boil add the gnocchi. Once all the gnocchi has risen to the top of the boiling water it is ready. Drain the gnocchi.
  • I usually add a tablespoon of butter to the saucepan and slightly burn the butter – until the butter is nutty and not black, then add the gnocchi and toss in the butter.
  • Add the ragu to the gnocchi and toss until well combined.
  • Top with Parmesan Cheese and serve with garlic bread (if you like).

That Looks Yucky…!!!

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (with broccoli, pesto and stilton cheese)

When I posted this on my fb food page last night, some woman I don’t even know commented that the soup “looked yucky!” – So, I would like to thank her for assisting me in naming this post but I would also like for her to categorically go and drop on her head somewhere – Oh! I’m being unusually polite! – she should just piss off – get off my food page and although I understand that you can’t fix stupid, surely she could do something about her severe case of butt ugly!!!

Anyhoo…some things don’t photograph well (like this woman) -I mean,  like this soup – but taste amazing (unlike this woman) – I mean, like this soup. This soup was greenish in colour due to the broccoli and pesto and tasted amazing – very creamy and rich and certainly not for those wishing to lose any weight in a hurry. It was incredibly filling and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I have been making a few different types of soup lately and had it stuck in my head that I wanted a soup with gnocchi in it. I googled a few and wasn’t quite happy with any one particular recipe so I combined a few and made the rest up as I went along. Certainly different and my family lapped it up – loved it!

So here’s my yucky looking soup – actually the photo makes the soup look greener than it actually was but anyhow I don’t care – really impressed with myself here – so faaaaarrrrrkkkkk you ugly lady…

Not all pretty things are wonderful...

Not all pretty things are wonderful…

 

Ingredients

  •  skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup plain  flour
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 cups thickened cream
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock granules, like vegeta.
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 packet gnocchi (or you could make your own but I didn’t)
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 2 teaspoons pesto (home made is better but you could use a good quality bought one)
  • as much or as little Stilton Cheese as you like

Method

  • In a saucepan, brown chicken in 2 tablespoons butter. Remove and keep warm. In the same pan, saute the onion,  and garlic in remaining butter until tender.
  • Whisk in flour until blended; gradually stir in the milk, cream, stock granules and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese.
  • Meanwhile cook gnocchi in another pot and add to the creamy soup. Cut broccolini into small pieces and steam (the stem and shred the head, if that makes sense – I wanted flecks of broccolini not chunks); and then add to the soup along with the pesto. Add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through (do not boil). 
  • Maybe it was the buttered bread I kept dunking into this that made me so full…OMG – It was good!!!

Eat well = Live Well

Mid Week Madness.

My daughter is in her final year of high school, which translates to “I am in my last year of high school.”  Whatever pain and stress she feels, I feel it too.

I’m a high school teacher so our house is full of books and the conversation rarely strays from what a particular author really meant when he/she wrote blah, blah, blah! Metaphors, symbolism, structuring paragraphs and embedding quotes is the usual after dinner conversation as I don’t allow these conversations to take place at the dinner table.

We all need to have a bit of a laugh and I love it when this happens whilst we eat. No matter how tired I am, dinner is always a priority. This never means spending hours in the kitchen slaving away. It is more than possible to eat good hearty meals without it having to kill you.

I’ve spent a lot of time stocking my pantry and freezer in order to have all the herbs, spices, sauces, meat and packet stuff handy to make cooking after a hard day effortless. Shopping for everything is what takes the biggest effort and as I love shopping for the pantry and freezer, it really isn’t much effort at all.

We love steak and fries in our house and one of the best things I saw Nigella Lawson do was shallow fry gnocchi. Instead of peeling potatoes to go with our steak and salad, frying up gnocchi takes 5 mins and there’s no peeling or cutting potatoes or deep frying involved. Simply open a packet of gnocchi and shallow fry. They are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Perfect for any night of the week.

It took 10 mins to make this meal for 3 people. It’s a favourite in our house.

There’s no recipe just make your steak and salad as you like it and shallow fry the gnocchi. I add a bit of mayonnaise and mustard and topped it all off with coriander.

*A side note…my friend at work made these and said they popped all over her kitchen like popcorn and she spent the rest of the night cleaning up splattered oil and looking for lost gnocchi. She wasn’t happy with me at all!

We worked out that she used too much oil in a saucepan and used fresh gnocchi straight from the fridge. I used the vacuum sealed packs of gnocchi that can be stored in the pantry and enough oil to coat the bottom of a wide heavy based frying pan. If you are using fresh fridge stored gnocchi make sure they have dried out a little as the moisture in them apparently makes them go nuts when frying!