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Archive for January, 2012

a confession

So I was all set to put up a recipe of a cauliflower risotto recipe, I made mental notes about my method, I even took pictures, but whilst eating it I suddenly realised…

I just don’t GET risotto.

There, I’ve said it. I just feel like I’ve missed something, all these chefs (Jamie Oliver and Simon Hopkinson to name two) and just general people go on about how great it is and I just don’t agree. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some ok risottos made by house-mates and restaurants, but that’s just it, they were only ever ok, never the “wow” food everyone makes them out to be, never pot-lickingly good.

I’ve persisted and still I find risotto just too much of the same flavour, too rich and…not bland exactly, but somewhere close to that. The best risotto I’ve ever had was in the Zizzi’s chain of restaurants (Risotto Verde) because the fresh pea, mint and lemon in it lifted the flavour just enough to make it go from meh to mmm. But it was still only borderline ok/good, still not “wow!”

Maybe it just bothers me so much because I’m the least fussy eater I know and  it feels dangerously like a step in the direction of becoming a (dun dun daaaaaah) fussy eater!! It’s not even as if it’s an obscure and exotic food either (don’t talk to me about bitter gourd, blergh!) its a relatively common dish. The other thing I don’t understand is I like all the ingredients on their own, rice- amazing, cheese- fabulous, onion and garlic- extra helpings please, olive oil and butter- what’s not to like? So why does risotto leave me felling so non-plussed??

Maybe I should just admit defeat, admit I’m not all that bothered by it, and that you won’t find any recipes for it on this blog. Or maybe I’ll keep eating, cooking and ordering it to see if there is that special recipe or ingredient that finally makes it click. Either way- don’t judge me too harshly, I promise not to let this become a slow descent into fussy-eaterdom, and that I’ll post a real recipe at the next possible opportunity.

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veggie…

…bacon-ie

Happy New Year everyone, hope you all had a lovely season of festivities, I certainly did. I would like to say the lack of blogging is due to me being immensely busy during the season of goodwill, but that would only be true, if  you consider watching telly and eating chocolate to be a hectic schedule…

One of the many exciting cooking related gifts that I received in the final week of December (which for me is a double whammy Christmas-birthday gift bonanza) was “the flavour thesaurus“- a great read for anyone interested in cooking and creating recipes. So this recipe (having started on the basis of “oh look, we seem to have a lot of leftover stilton”) was nearly everything that the book says goes with blue cheese thrown in a pan- and it works REALLY well! Another gift utilised in this recipe was my Dad’s potato ricer, though I have made gnocchi without one before it did  make everything a whole lot easier.

I realise this recipe has lots of components, so if you weren’t feeling confident about doing all the time juggling, then I’d suggest using the shop bought gnocchi in vacuum packs, or making the gnocchi (or even just the mash) a day in advance.

Note: butternut squash takes an hour to roast so put it in the oven before starting the gnocchi.

home made quinoa and bulgar wheat gnocchi

serves 6-8

The quinoa and bulgar wheat add extra protein if you are making this dish veggie, but can just as easily be left out if you don’t have any available. I boiled my potatoes (quartered, skins on) for about 15mins, but I think if I do this again I will microwave them for less mess/water wastage/pans that need washing. I also made enough for about 6-8 and froze the gnocchi on a tray before bagging up,as they are quite time consuming to make, but a good quick meal once all the potato rice-ing and kneading has been done.

  • 650g Potatoes
  • 250g flour
  • 75g bulgar wheat and quinoa mix
  • Salt and Pepper

Wash and prick the potatoes, wrap them each in a paper towel and cook on full power for 5minutes, turn over and cook for a further 5mins. Leave to stand for 2minutes and check to see if they are soft, if not, blast for another 5mins. Allow to cool and then peel off the skins. Mash very finely or use a potato ricer. Whilst the potatoes are cooking/cooling rinse the quinoa and bulgar wheat and then boil in a pan of water for 12 minutes, drain.  Put the flour, mashed potato and bulgar wheat and quinoa into a bowl and season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Bring together into a dough and then knead on a floured surface for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into quarters and make each quarter into a sausage. Slice into 2.5cm pieces and squash with a fork before placing on a tray.

**If you want to freeze them do so now, and cook from frozen in the same way as fresh**

Now, gnocchi really doesn’t take long to cook so at this point I would stash the tray somewhere level/not at risk of being knocked on the floor and get on with the sauce.

To cook, boil water in a large pan, drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and fish out with a slotted spoon once they float, serve immediately. I cook about 8 gnocchi per person.

butternut squash, blue cheese and sage sauce

serves 4


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 1 tub (300g) creme fraiche
  • 1/2-1 pint milk
  • 75-100g chopped walnuts
  • 25-50g blue cheese
  • A sprig of sage
  • 200g lardons (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Peel and cut the butternut squash taking care to scrape out the seeds into a sieve. Place 2.5cm chunks in the oven with about 1 tbsp olive oil brushed/sprayed over them. Cook for 1hr. Rinse the seeds of orange gloop and spread out in a baking tin spraying with very little oil and a generous serving of salt. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15mins until golden brown. Leave to cool and reserve for garnishing at the end.

Once the gnocchi has been made and laid on a tray ready to cook, soften the onions in 2 tbsp olive oil, adding the walnuts and sage and cooking for another 5 mins. Add the squash once cooked and mush up. Add the crème fraiche and enough milk to make the sauce more, well, saucy. Add the blue cheese to taste and any seasoning (bearing in mind the bacon and butternut squash seeds are quite salty). Simmer gently for 5mins and in another pan dry fry the lardons until golden if you’re serving them. Now cook the gnocchi (see above).

Serve the sauce over the gnocchi with the butternut squash seeds and/or the bacon sprinkled over the top.

Try not to get too excited about just how well the flavours go together and annoy everyone else eating.

I also got this super-cool apron for Christmas!

Thank you once again to my sister for the fab photos.

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