Meat Free Monday: Gnocchi with Mixed Greens and Cave-Ripened Cheese – Adriatico – Paola Bacchia

Adriatico_cover

 

From Adriatico: Stories and recipes from Italy’s Adriatic Coast by Paola Bacchia

(Smith Street Books, September 2018 – AU$ 55, NZ$ 65)

Photography (c)  Paola Bacchia

 

Gnocchi with mixed greens and cave-ripened cheese

Gnocchi con erbe e formaggio di fossa

 

Gnocchi with mixed greens and cave-ripened cheese

SERVES 4

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) mixed greens (such as silverbeet/Swiss chard, spinach and witlof/chicory)

iced water, to refresh

200 g (7 oz) fresh ricotta, drained

100 g (3½  oz) parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

100 g (3½ oz) formaggio di fossa or a crumbly pecorino, grated

2 eggs, lightly beaten

100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) dried breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon chopped dill

finely grated zest of ½ lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100 g (3½ oz) unsalted butter

 

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Wash and trim the greens, then plunge them into the boiling water. Once it comes to boil again, let the greens cook for a few minutes. Drain and refresh in iced water (to help retain their colour), then roughly chop and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place the ricotta, grated cheeses and egg in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Add the cooled greens, breadcrumbs, dill, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste and combine well – the mixture will be quite thick. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Ideally the gnocchi should be cooked as soon as you make them – don’t let them rest too long.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Before you add the gnocchi to the water, melt the butter in a large deep frying pan over low heat. (You may need to do this in two pans or batches if you don’t have a very large pan.) Once the water is at a rolling boil, carefully drop in the gnocchi in batches, using a slotted spoon. Once they rise to the surface, lift them out with the slotted spoon and carefully drop them into the melted butter. Allow the gnocchi to cook for a few minutes on each side until nicely golden. Spoon onto warmed serving places and drizzle over some of the deep-golden butter.

 

Scatter with extra grated parmesan and serve immediately.

 

Authors note:

In Solignano al Rubicone in Emilia-Romagna, just north of Le Marche, they make cheese that is buried in the ground while it ages. It is called ‘formaggio di fossa’, literally, ‘cheese of the pit’. The cheese is made with sheep or cow’s milk (or a combination of both). It is wrapped in muslin and buried in a straw-lined rocky pit – typically of volcanic ash – three to four metres (about three yards) deep, and matured for a period of up to three months. During this time the cheese develops a distinctive woody flavour.

 

The cheese vendor at the weekly market in Cervia encouraged me to have a taste; it was crumbly, pungent and intense – what I would have called a ‘smelly cheese’ as a child. These days this sort of cheese is right up my alley; a worthy companion to softer milder cheeses on a platter, and a sharp-tasting addition to gnocchi or risotto.

 

These gnocchi are a bit like gnudi; ‘naked’ filling for ravioli without their pasta coat. Adding the ‘pit cheese’ makes them more flavoursome, and works well if you add some bitter greens to the mix and coat them in melted butter at the end. I am lucky that my local specialised deli in Melbourne sells imported formaggio di fossa, but if you can’t find it, use a crumbly strong-tasting sheep’s milk cheese that has been aged no more than 12 months, such as pecorino sardo.

Mini Mediterranean Frittatas: Fodmap Friendly – Georgia McDermott

FODMAP Friendly Cover

FODMAP Friendly by Georgia McDermott, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99

 

“I have to admit I’ve become a bit complacent about how lucky I am to eat a cooked breakfast every morning, as
one does when they work from home. I don’t have to choose between extra sleep and hot food because my boss
(me) is a bit too laissez faire for early starts. That said, the memory of making smoothies the night before my daily
work commute (I love food, but I love sleep more) is all too vivid, hence these little frittatas. They are as close as
you can get to a full breakfast when you have about five minutes before you need to run out the door.” p. 135

 

Mini Mediterranean frittatas

Mini Mediterranean frittatas

Makes 8 or 9 mini frittatas
6 eggs
125 ml (½ cup) milk of
your choice
50 g parmesan, finely grated
a pinch of dried oregano or ground nutmeg, or both
salt and pepper
85 g (½ cup) Sicilian olives, pitted
½ cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
a handful of basil leaves, finely chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease 9 holes of an 80 ml
(1/3 cup) capacity 12-hole silicone muffin tray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, parmesan, herbs, spices and a good pinch of salt and pepper together until
well combined.
3. Add the olives, half of the sundried tomatoes and the basil leaves to the mixture, and stir well.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between 8 or 9 of the mun holes.
Scatter the rest of the sundried tomatoes over the top of the frittatas and gently push them down. Place in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes, or until the frittatas are golden on top and set.
5. Allow to cool completely and then keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2–3 days.

 

 

Avocado Pesto Pasta: The Smart Baby Cookbook – Lauren Cheney

SmartBabyCookbook_cover_SML

Smart Baby Cookbook by Lauren Cheney (Murdoch Books RRP $24.99)

 

AVOCADO PESTO PASTA

A deceptively light and summery pasta, combining a dizzying array of flavours and textures, this dish will be a firm family favourite in no time.” p112

Making time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

180 g (6¼ oz/2 cups) pasta, such as spirals or bowties
1 tablespoon olive oil
150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) grape tomatoes, quartered
Basil leaves, to serve
65 g (2½ oz/½ cup) crumbled feta cheese

Avocado, Spinach & Basil Pesto
25 g (1 oz/½ cup) baby spinach leaves
2 avocados, halved
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
50 g (1¾ oz/1 cup) basil leaves
50 g (1¾ oz/¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
25 g (1 oz/¼ cup) grated parmesan cheese

 

Cook the pasta according to the packet directions. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Wilt the spinach leaves by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and stirring well. Drain and squeeze dry.

Scoop the avocado flesh into a food processor and add the spinach, lemon juice, garlic, basil and pine nuts. Process until smooth, drizzling the oil in slowly. Finally, add the grated parmesan.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and toss quickly, then add the pasta, pesto to taste and enough of the reserved cooking water to make a sauce-like consistency. Gently toss until just combined.

Remove baby’s portion before scattering with basil leaves and crumbled feta.

FOR BABY:
Purée to the desired consistency or cut into bite-size pieces to serve as finger food.

ALL GROWN UP:
Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. If you like a bit of heat then add some finely chopped chilli.

SMART TIP
Avocado is nutrient dense with more than 20 minerals and vitamins.

A CookBook To Suit Everyone’s Needs

Recently I came across a cookbook that asserts that: “Whether you’re an occasional meat-eater, a vegetarian who needs to cook for meat-eaters, or even a dedicated veggie, you’ll find this very flexible book filled with delicious and practical recipes for every lifestyle. The Flexible Vegetarian’s beautiful and tasty dishes offer two solutions: they can be served as completely vegetarian meals, or with the addition of a simple meat, chicken or fish recipe, making them suitable for meat-free days and meat-eaters alike. Recipes cover international flavours, from spiced poke to peashoot and asparagus gnudi, and they are all simple, quick, packed with protein and well-balanced. As well as easy meat and fish additions and hacks for each vegetarian recipe, The Flexible Vegetarian shows you how to ace a handful of classic recipes, from the perfect roast chicken, to the perfectly cooked fillet. Chapters include: Brunch, Broths, Small Plates, Large Plates, and Dips & Bits.”  https://www.murdochbooks.com.au/browse/books/tv-celebrity-chefs/The-Flexible-Vegetarian-Jo-Pratt-9780711239043

The Flexible Vegetarian

 

I have a dilemma  – do I give this to my vegetarian daughter so she can cook the occasional meal for her non vegetarian friends and family ? Or do I keep this one to source recipes for when my daughter visits?  (I am always looking for new and tasty meals I can prepare that we can all share when she visits.) What would you do?

 

**As a bonus this book contains many recipes that include cheese, and one I will  definitely be making in summer, Grilled Peaches, Burrata and Mint Pesto – YUM.   The section “Dips and Bits” deserves a special mention – there are so many of my favourite foods presented here: labneh, hummus, tahini dressing, pesto…and section, “Small Plates”… well I just have to try smashed bean, kale and tomato toast – what a great breakfast idea!  So many good ideas here. I dont think I could choose just one favourite.

 

 

 

Fried Yoghurt Flatbreads Filled with Cavalo Nero and Fontina: The Great Australian Bake Off Companion – BBC Worldwide

great-australian-bake-off-the

Extracted from The Great Australian Bake Off Companion (Hachette Australia November 2016)

Fried Yoghurt Flatbreads Filled with Cavalo Nero and Fontina

p207-fried-yogurt flat breads

For the dough

350g self-raising flour

pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

350g natural Greek yoghurt

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

 

For the filling

100g pine nuts

1 leek

2 garlic cloves

olive oil for frying

50g salted butter

1 bunch cavalo nero, finely chopped (if not available use kale)

200g fontina cheese, grated

100g Greek sheep’s milk fetta

pinch of sea salt

cracked pepper

olive oil and balsamic vinegar (to serve)

 

  1. For the dough, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together. Bring together using your hands. Tip out the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead to bring together. Place in a floured bowl and cover.
  2. For the filling, place the pine nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven until golden. Finely slice the leeks and garlic and sauté in a frying pan over medium–high heat with a splash of olive oil and the butter. Once the leeks have caramelised, add the chopped cavalo nero and roasted pine nuts to the pan. Leave the mixture to cool slightly. Finely grate in the fontina and crumble in the fetta. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Flour your hands so the dough doesn’t stick. Take a tennis ball-sized piece of dough, approx. 100g each, and make a hole in the centre. Using your thumbs, stretch the hole and stuff 2–3 tablespoons filling inside. Pinch the dough to enclose the filling, then gently roll on a floured surface until flat.
  4. Using a non-stick frying pan, over medium–high heat, fry the flatbreads in a good splash of olive oil for approx. 90 seconds on each side or until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Slice into wedges and serve with leftover filling in a small bowl and a mix of balsamic vinegar and oil in another (to taste).

 

 

 

Fennel and Thyme Cheese Biscuits: The Great Australian Bake Off Companion – BBC Worldwide

great-australian-bake-off-the

Extracted from The Great Australian Bake Off Companion (Hachette Australia November 2016)

 

p204-fennel-cheese biscuitsFennel and Thyme Cheese Biscuits

For the biscuit dough

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

350g plain flour

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

3 teaspoons dry thyme leaves

280g unsalted butter, chopped

100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra 40g for sprinkling

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, for sprinkling

 

For the egg wash

2 egg yolks, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

 

  1. For the dough, place two cookie sheets in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. In a small frying pan over a medium heat, dry toast the fennel seeds until fragrant. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds to a food processor. Add two-thirds of the flour and the salt, sugar, chilli and thyme to the food processor. Pulse the mixture in the food processor until just combined.
  2. Add the butter, spreading it evenly around the food processor. Pulse the butter and flour mix together until everything comes together and forms a rough dough. Spread the dough evenly around the bottom of the food processor. Sprinkle the remaining flour evenly over the dough in the food processor. Pulse until it forms a crumb-like mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the dough mixture and fold the water into the dough using a spatula.
  3. Repeat this step, folding 5 more tablespoons water into the dough. The dough will be quite wet. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and gently knead to combine. Divide the dough in half. Pat the dough into flat circles and wrap in cling film. Place in the refrigerator to firm up (approx. 30–45 minutes).
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line the two chilled cookie sheets with baking paper. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking paper to a large rectangle. Sprinkle about half the Parmesan cheese onto the rolled dough. Fold up the dough to cover the cheese, like an envelope. Roll out the dough again to a large rectangle. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese. Fold up the dough again. Roll out the dough again until 3–4mm thick. Using a 6cm round cookie cutter, cut out 36 round biscuits and transfer onto a lined cold cookie sheet.
  5. Rest the cut biscuits in the refrigerator for 15–30 minutes. Brush egg wash over the biscuits. Scatter the extra Parmesan and fresh thyme leaves over the biscuits. Bake the biscuits for 18–20 minutes or until golden. Transfer the cooked biscuits to a cooling rack to cool.