Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Does infidelity pay?

I have a confession. I have been unfaithful. Last Friday, the Husband went out to the pub and I snuck to bed early for a cosy threesome with two new men. Even when the Husband and I were planning our romantic weekend in Venice, I was contemplating the possibility. At the same time as I was ordering my Rough Guide, I was tempted and fell... And of course, it led to no good.

So there I was, tucked up with Simon Rimmer (The Accidental Vegetarian)
and Plenty (Yottam Ottolenghi)

The Ottolenghi book is beautiful – I will read it and read it, but it was The Accidental Vegetarian that really got me going, in particular a recipe for gnocchi with a ragu and garlic mushrooms. I’d been eyeing up the Veg Everyday recipe, but was seduced by the throw away comment by Simon that the gnocchi could be frozen. With half an eye on the fact that in a couple of weeks I will be hosting ravenous hordes (well, my French exchange and her family and my parents) and a tonne of floury potatoes languishing in my veg drawer, I couldn’t resist. Double quantities…

After a busy morning in town doing jobs with the kids, I got home ready to set down to work to find that the reliable teenager I’d organised to entertain the kids for the afternoon had got her days mixed up so I spent a stressful few hours working while the kids ‘entertained themselves’ (read – watched TV till their eyes turned square and started to bleed), and then we regrouped in the kitchen to get on with it.

”It’ll be a breeze! It’ll be fun!” Famous last words.

I’d already boiled the potatoes (whole and unpeeled) and peeled them. Next to mash, mix egg into the mash then add flour and seasoning.

check out the ridges
Blue broke the second egg all over himself, and retreated to his Asterix books. Pink lasted a little longer. I realised that I didn’t really have a big enough bowl to mix the double quantities (we’re talking mash from over a kilo of potatoes and 900g of flour) but soldiered on. Kneading. Hooray. The instructions said knead until dry to the touch. In the end I chucked in a bit more flour and pretended I’d got that far. You can imagine, though that it was taking far longer than I’d imagined, just because of the bulk of dough I was dealing with. The rolling out and cutting up, then the boiling, refreshing, draining and patting dry. Very labour intensive. In other circumstances, I would have probably enjoyed it, but it was getting late, there was flour everywhere, the  kids were getting fractious, and at the back of my mind was the fact that at 7.30 the Husband was hosting the scout leaders and various hangers on to start planning this summer’s camp. Pink was helping by finishing off the gnocchi with the back of a fork to put the ridges in it. Slowly. I was desperately trying to be encouraging, but I was really feeling up against it and as if I had just bitten off more than I can chew – I was definitely feeling like the thrill of the new was not worth it…

In the end of course, it all came together. The gnocchi cooked, the ragu was easy and delicious (I had made it at lunchtime), the garlic mushrooms to finish it off were delicious (no mystery – sliced large filed mushrooms, olive oil and garlic). The thrill of a new meal to feed the family.  And I have enough in the freezer to feed a small army. Will I stray again? Almost certainly: Hugh – you have competition.


  1. Gnocchi - I've made it - I'll buy it from now on! Although it was yummy - it took ages!!!
    And, you've got Plenty!!! Yippee! I can't wait to hear how you go with it....the other one is brilliant - Ottolenghi...can't decide which is my favourite actually.
    And Hugh, oh, he'll always be on my shelf :)

    1. Doesn't it just take ages (although admittedly I was making far too much) - I thought it was going to be something quick I could knock up and put on the table... the kids did really enjoy it though.

  2. Fantastic! I must have fluked this?? Loving your culinary threesome RJ - that Ottam has special powers, I'm convinced of this! :)

    1. he does indeed. Actually, now that there's some distance, I can tell you that it did freeze well (the gnocchi) and it's a good standby to have in the freezer because you can cook it from frozen - just chuck it in boiling water (if that doesn't sound too dangerous!!??)


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