The nuggets make nuggets

We have settled into the school holidays now, but for a while there I was going a tiny bit bananas trying to come up with *things to do*. Possibly because there was a rainy week or so, which is always a killer, but beyond plodding from park to picnic to garden London isn't heaving with FUN! for me + two smallies and a wallet on the thinner side. So to the kitchen... we made gnocchi! It was extremely messy but simple, fun, and great for kids to get involved in. Even Indiana got stuck in. Literally.

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Sweet Potato Spelt Gnocchi

600g sweet potatoes
200g white spelt flour + more for dusting
1 egg
 

Chop the potatoes in half and then boil in their skins for 20 mins. Drain and leave to cool, then peel the skins off and mash. This was Pablo's mashing outfit...  

he insisted on slippers, in the middle of summer... but god forbid he wear trousers

he insisted on slippers, in the middle of summer... but god forbid he wear trousers

Mix the mashed potato with the egg and flour. Ours was incredibly sticky, and we just kept adding a little more flour until it became doughy. Make sure your work surface is very floury, split the dough into three and roll out into sausage shapes.  Cut into pieces approximately 3cm long and roll them in your hand to make a little gnocchi nugget. Pablo was in charge of all this so ours were....varied in shape and size a bit. He especially enjoyed squishing them with a fork, which is supposed to make them look even more gnocchi-esque, but in our case made them look completely bonkers.

Drop the gnocchi into boiling, salted water in batches and boil until they float to the surface - a few minutes. Drain and then dust flour (we went for a flour/semolina mix for that bit). We then pan fried the gnocchi in a little oil until it was golden, and served it with some pan fried cabbage, cream, lemon and a bit of white wine. It was scrumdiddliumptious. Worth having to clean up gnocchi-dough monster hands for an afternoon....

pink fluffy clouds

I was making a LOVE cake for my lovely friend Lisa's Love-themed birthday party and decided I wanted to put some pink marshmallow hearts on top. You can probably buy these somewhere but it turns out that marshmallows are very easy (and sticky) to make, and quite fun to make with kids. We made pink vanilla hearts but you could go for any flavour or colour or shape, they are super simple. Check out the awesome Marshmallowists for some flavour inspiration... 

the love affair with all things sugary continues...

the love affair with all things sugary continues...

Marshmallows

125g icing sugar (or corn flour) for dusting
400g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup (you can use corn syrup in the US if you wish)
300ml water
2 tablespoons unflavoured, powdered gelatine (we used Dr Oeteker)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Dust a dish with icing sugar or corn flour. We used two 8in round tins, because we were making thinner marshmallows, but a 9in square tin would be best. Really dust with loads of icing sugar/corn flour - you may want to line it with parchment first as well, as these things are insanely sticky.  

Heat the caster sugar, golden syrup and 175ml of the water in a saucepan. Ideally use a jam/confectioners thermometer to check the temperature - you want the syrup at 120-130 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer you can test whether it's ready by whether a small drop of syrup forms a hard ball when dropped into cold water. 

The heating takes 5-10 minutes, so in the meantime prep the gelatine. Place the remaining 125ml water into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle with the gelatine. Heat the bowl over simmering water until the gelatine has completely dissolved. When the syrup is ready, remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatine mixture. Set aside.  

This next bit is super sticky, so try and have some peace to get on with it. I got interrupted by Indy somehow climbing the kitchen stepladder and half falling off again, and little globules of marshmallow flew across my kitchen like ghosts. Fun to clean up...  Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks in a large bowl, then pour in the syrup mixture in a steady, slow stream whilst continuing to whisk, until the whites become stiff. Stir in vanilla (or any other flavours or colours of your choosing). Spread into your prepared tin and refrigerate for about 8 hours. 

Have a bowl of cornflour ready for dusting your hands and the marshmallows as you remove them from the tin. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut them. We then dipped some of ours in melted dark chocolate and sprinkles for extra yum, and a few got brushed with glitter and made it onto the LOVE cake. My husband is still working his way through the tin of offcuts. They are really delicious and if it wasn't finally summer I wouldn't hesitate to drown some in hot chocolate.  

 

The finished LOVE cake and the exhausted sleeping suntanned Pablo...

We made doughnuts...

Sickeningly easy, and luckily we had a BBQ to attend so a good excuse to gift them to someone else before we ate them all... 

If you're hunting for a good recipe for raised doughnuts I highly recommend Lara Ferroni's. Or you can make yummy English jam doughnuts via this post on my blog... 

christmastime: mama's wishlist part 2

More beautiful treasures from my prezzie dreamscape....

  1. Stocking stuffer of dreams - Anthropologie have this rad little spice jar with a heap of different coloured lids (obvs I'd like them all, please, except maybe not green...). I could decant all my ugly baking powder etc into these dreamy little jars! They are only Β£8! Come on, Santa...
  2. Oh the bakes I could make! I have one pretty little blue and white enamel pie dish but I clearly need more. SO so lovely, especially in the red. And the grey. And the blue. From Falcon Enamelware. 
  3. These are all depressingly kitcheny, but whatever. I have wanted this *apparently sold out - HORROR* cloud cookie cutter for about 5 years and counting. It feels like 5 million years. Whoever buys it for me gets cloud-shaped biscuits, doughnuts, marshmallows and pies for all eternity... from Herriott Grace

pizza del pablo

Pablo's dad is the king of homemade pizza - I can easily mow through about three or four whole pizzas when he makes them, they are...so delicious. We thought we'd test how much we really need him (ha) by bravely going it alone this evening, and proved to ourselves once again that we are pretty awesome. But that we still need Konch, if just to make us perfect pizzas! Ok, ok.. he has a few more uses than that. Our fairly failsafe recipe, below, is Jamie Oliver's - I know it's not cool but I am crazy about him. Recipe below is enough dough for 6 to 8 pizzas.

I won't lie - he compared the dough to my tummy. He is now for sale.

I won't lie - he compared the dough to my tummy. He is now for sale.

Pizza Dough

1kg strong white bread flour, or 'Tipo 00' flour
(or 800g strong white bread flour + 200g finely ground semolina flour)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
650ml lukewarm water

Jamie's instructions (see link above) are to make the dough on a work surface, which is lovely and rustic, but for practicality (and, ok, laziness) we tend to use the trusty Kitchenaid, so these notes are slightly altered from Jamie's original recipe

Sift flour and salt into mixer bowl and make a well in the middle. In a separate bowl, mix the warm water, sugar, yeast and oil and let stand a few minutes. Add liquid to the flour mix and knead via dough hook mixer attachment until the dough is smooth and springy (not sticky), about 6 mins on a medium setting. Plonk it into a flour dusted bowl, dust with yet more flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave somewhere warm to rise - about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Our dough was BANANAS. It became fairly giant and if we took our eyes off it for ten minutes it pretty much doubled again. I'm not sure why it was so keen!  

For tomato sauce fry 4 cloves of garlic in 4 glugs of extra virgin olive oil until browning, then add 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes (we actually used 1 x plum and 1 x chopped tomatoes, because I had forgotten to stock up on plum, and it was fine). Also add a fat handful of torn basil leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then immediately strain through a sieve. Use a spoon to really squish out all the juice, then simmer this strained sauce until it thickens a bit - 5-10 mins. 

Transient

Once your dough has risen, tip it onto a floured board/surface and beat the air out of it. Pablo is very into the Avengers at the moment - especially Hulk - and this was a highlight for him. Get the oven heated up to 250C, and pop in your pizza stone or baking trays to preheat. Divide the dough into portions (6 to 8 for this recipe). Roll out a portion on a floured surface to about 5mm thick. This is where we realised we needed Konch - our dough was SO springy it seemed unlikely we'd ever get it thin enough, and our pizzas came out a bit fat and bread (but totally cooked, and totally yummy). It's possible we are just weaklings, however, as Konch came home later and promptly used up the rest of the dough to make some totally perfect thin pizzas*. (Don't tell Pablo I said he might be a weakling...)

Once rolled out, you should really pop it straight on a hot tray/stone and speedily decorate/top it there before popping it in the oven. This isn't very child friendly, though, so we decorated at the table and then I slid the ready-topped pizza onto the hot stone afterwards, which was a tiny bit awkward but worked. Obviously key is fat, milky balls of mozzarella - buffalo if you're feeling flush, though the cheaper cow-stuff works just fine. Cover the base with a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, spread it out with the back of a spoon and then scatter with torn mozzarella. The rest of the toppings are up to you - I am partial to a bit of pepperoni and a load of fresh basil. YUM!

Bake in the top of the oven for 8-10 minutes. DEVOUR.

really REALLY good

really REALLY good

* One of the pizzas Konch later made he topped with leftover fish and chips from the night before. With tomato, and mozzarella. Seriously, I married this person**. 
** Yes, he is Scottish...