I can’t believe this is the first post of 2012! After baking everyday for the last ten days of 2011, I promised myself not to bake for a long time. And so I did what I promised. What’s more, I took a bold decision last month, and cut my processed sugar intake. This was probably the best decision I’ve made in a long time.; because processed sugar is like drugs, the more you consume, the more you want to consume. I was constantly thinking about the chocolate box in the office, and I just couldn’t stop when I ate them.
I didn’t really have a problem with maintaining my weight, but my body fat was a little high for my weight. And I realized that it was not because I was consuming too much fat, but because I was consuming too much sugar. So, I decided to cut the unhealthy carbs out.Quitting an addiction is never easy. I knew I couldn’t quit sugar cold turkey, so I started off by going processed sugar-free for one week. Sharing it on Instagram increased my commitment too (After all, I promised somehow in front of the world). Doing these one-week cycles decreased not only my appetite for sugar, but also my body fat, which was replaced by muscle (Oh yeahhh!!).
As you may guess, going sugar-free means less baking. I can (and do) consume honey and other natural sweeteners, but I didn’t have much appetite for them. Therefore, I couldn’t post any recipes during the first months of 2012. Then, I decided to post some savory recipes. Besides, KI is a food blog, not a dessert blog, although I post sweet recipes most of the time.
And so I started.. First, I tried to grow my own wild yeast, but spoiled it two times. Then, I made some bagels, but couldn’t perfect the recipe yet. Finally, I made gnocchi and (surprisingly) got it perfect in my first trial.
Actually, I have been meaning to try gnocchi for a while, especially after the one I ate in Italy in this little cute restaurant in Reggio Emilia. It was my first time trying gnocchi, and I was blown away by the delicious taste of my gnocchi with smoked ricotta. So, when I returned back, I started to search for recipes, and eventually used Jamie Oliver‘s recipe. Although I changed some of the amounts, I followed the instructions, which are very well-detailed and useful, to a tee.
Now at this point, I want to stop and brag about my success, because that does not happen too often. I somehow managed to make a perfect gnocchi. In the gnocchi universe, “perfect” means “light”; because apparently, you don’t want to eat heavy lumps of potatoes. There are some things to keep in mind if you are looking for the perfect gnocchi:
- You should bake your potatoes instead of boiling, since the potatoes need to be dry to make the lightest gnocchi.
- You shouldn’t use pureed potatoes. They need to be airy to make a light gnocchi. So, you can try a ricer, and if you’re like me and don’t have a ricer, then you can try the instructions I came up with.
- You should knead the dough when the potatoes are still hot.
Since my appetite is not good lately, I opted for a simple tomato sauce this time. I used the summer tomatoes we bottled last summer, and cooked them with some olive oil. Simple, yet flavorful (Oh, how I missed summer tomatoes!). But the good thing is, I put some of the gnocchi to the freezer, so that I can try out different sauces later!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Finally, I opened my food blog in Turkish. You can access at yemekfalan.com]
Gnocchi with Simple Tomato Sauce
adapted from “Cook with Jamie”
- 6 regular or 10 small potatoes
- 1 egg
- about 1/2 cup flour*
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
for the sauce:
- 2 cups pureed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic
- olive oil
- handful of basil leaves
- grated parmesan cheese
* The amount of flour to use can vary among different types of potatoes. It is important to use an amount of flour just to bind the potatoes together.
Prick the potatoes with fork, rub them with olive oil and bake for about 40 minutes (or until cooked) in an oven, heated at 220 degrees C (430 degrees F). When the potatoes are still hot, peel the potatoes. Then, if you have a ricer, grate your potatoes using it; otherwise, mash the potatoes using a fork. In order to have “airy” potatoes and not to turn them into a puree, whisk the potatoes occasionally.
Put the mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Then, add the egg and 1/4 cup flour and mix quickly before the egg is cooked. Keep kneading while adding small amounts of flour. Stop when the dough is bound together.
When the dough is in the desired consistency, divide it into four. Roll out each piece into sticks, and cut out 2 cm (1-inch) pieces. Lay the pieces on a floured pan and cool them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. At this point, you can directly freeze the gnocchi to use later.
Put a pot with water to a boil and put some gnocchi (make sure you don’t put too many pieces that they stick together). They will first sink, and then float. As soon as they float, take them out.
To prepare the sauce, heat some olive oil in a pan and add a clove of garlic. When the garlic is cooked, take it out. Add the tomato puree and paste. Cook in low heat for 30 minutes.
When the gnocchi is cooked, put it into the sauce pan. Add a couple of basil leaves and stir for a minute or two.
Serve with grated parmesan.