Potato Gnocchi With Prawns or Scampi

Never throw out your left over mashed potato. Unless of course you lavish your mash with butter and cream, that simply wont work. But if you make fairly straight up mash its the ideal base for making gnocchi. Having said that who wants to make gnocchi….apart from me…..not many people. So buy a pre made one but please buy a decent one. Read the ingredients, get a brand that doesn’t have packs of preservatives and is made from real potato not reconstituted potato.

So this recipe combines two of my favourite things, prawns (preferably scampi, go get the frozen ones from the fish market) and cream. Mmmmmm cream. So many people I know think that seafood and cream are exclusive. Chowder, that is all. I will save the New England chowder recipe for another day. So lets make a lavish dish, this is not for the health concious but since when did healthy taste good.

Recipe: Potato Gnocchi With Prawns or Scampi

Ingredients

  • Gnocchi for 4 people
  • Olive Oil
  • 400g of prawn or scampi meat chopped into bite size chunks
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley chopped roughly
  • One cup of white wine
  • 100Ml of cream
  • 200g of cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the prawns and place the heads and shells into a small saucepan with one cup of white wine
  2. Simmer the shells for about 10 minutes and crush them in the wine with a large spoon
  3. Strain the wine liquid thru a very fine seive, or a piece of kitchen paper in a strainer, you want semi clear liquid
  4. In a pot of boiling water cook the gnocchi in batches, as the gnocchi rises to the top of the pot remove it with a slotted spoon and keep warm
  5. In a large fry pan heat some olive oil and then toss in the prawn meat and flat leaf parsley and toss it to quickly sear the prawn meat
  6. Add  4 tablespoons of the wine mixture to the prawns in the pan and reduce the liquid to 1/4 of its original volume over high heat stirring
  7. Add the tomatoes and shake to combine
  8. Add the cream and stir then simmer for a minute or so
  9. Place the gnocchi on to warm plates and then spoon over the prawn sauce mix
  10. Top with cracked pepper and some grated parmesan and serve immediately

Quick Notes

Scampi is a much better option for this dish however they can be hard to get. If you get prawns try to get them as fresh as possible. Watch out for black marks on the body and legs this means they have been frozen and defrosted more than once.

Cooking time (duration): 10

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian

My rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart with Prosciutto

Can I just start by talking about short crust pastry. Maggie Beer is famous for her sour cream short crust which I have made a few times but to be really frank when you have a lot going on there is nothing wrong with using a decent quality frozen short crust from the supermarket. I find that the frozen stuff is much better for smaller tarts like these. So honestly if you cant be bothered making shortcrust then don’t.

This recipe is for a fantastic tart I love to use as a starter. You can actually make it as one big tart but I bought these incredible little tart cases that are non-stick and perfect in size. Plus they have a push through removable base and they were only a few dollars each. One of the best things I have bought.

Recipe: Fig and Blue Cheese Tarts with Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 1 package-about 10 oz Prepared puff pastry, thawed
  • 150 grams of decent blue cheese, I use stilton, at room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp of cream
  • 1/2 Tbsp of milk, full cream
  • 1/2 Tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 figs stemmed and cut in quarters lengthwise. If you are making one big tart you will need a few more.
  • 1/2 Tsp fresh thyme leaves finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto, julienned into strips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Trace around the tart tins on your pastry and carefully fit them into the tine. Don’t cut the excess off with a knife, use a rolling pin you will get a better result.
  3. Chill the pastry cases for 10 minutes in the freezer
  4. Place baking paper in each case adn then cover the inside with rice or baking weights
  5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove the weights then bake another 5 minutes to dry the bases out
  6. Combine cheese, milk, cream and pepper in a bowl, mash with a fork.
  7. Spread the cheese mix evenly in pastry cases.
  8. Arrange figs over cheese, alternating cut side up and cut side down, or get creative.
  9. Sprinkle with thyme and olive oil.
  10. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is lightly golden and figs are shiny and a little puffed up.
  11. Let them stand for about 15 minutes to settle then serve with proscuitto on top.

Quick Notes

A crisp chardonay works great with this.

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

My rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Base Tomato Sauce for Pasta

I have had quite a few people asking me lately about tomato sauces for pasta. Generally everyone wants to know if there is a basic and failsafe recipe for a pasta sauce and the answer is absolutely. So this post I want to run through the basics the way I was taught and to be frank the rules are pretty simple and quite easy to remember. First of all lets start with some basic rules and facts.

  1. If you can not get fresh tomatoes then tinned tomatoes are fantastic. Look for the type that are tinned very quickly after they have been picked and remember that a single 400g tin is perfect for two people.
  2. If you are buying tinned then choose the style carefully. Crushed are great for fast sauces. Whole cherry or peeled are great if you want the sauce to retain some of the tomato pulp.
  3. When you use fresh preferable use Roma and when you do this six (6) roma tomatoes are the perfect amount for two people.
  4. The simplest proportions for a basic two person sauce are, 6 roma tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves crushed and a small red onion diced. Thats it.

Okay then now we have the basic rules in place lets work through putting it together. This couldn’t be easier. This sauce can be enhanced with fresh herbs, always at the end, meats like bacon or the filling from italian sausage, even a chilli or some olives. The variation is entirely up to you. But remember the basis of a tomato sauce is to carry the pasta, the pasta should always be the star so choose your pasta carefully as well.

Recipe: Base Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Ingredients

  • 6 roma tomatoes with the stem core removed and then diced
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat in a fry pan soften the onion and garlic, you dont want it to colour
  2. Turn up the heat and toss in the chopped tomatoes and stir frequently
  3. As the tomato starts to break down lower the heat and simmer for 5 or 10 minutes and a sauce will form
  4. Add some of the pasta water before serving to loosen the sauce

Quick Notes

This is simple and quick and you can add your own ingredients for variations.

Variations

Add some chopped bacon while frying the onions and garlic Add fresh herbs like basil at the end just before serving Add a chilli for some spice

Cooking time (duration): 10

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet (other): Low calorie

Number of servings (yield): 2

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian

My rating: 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)