Thursday, 6 September 2018

Cookery Calendar Challenge: July


Yes, that's right, July's Cookery Calendar Challenge, which I did in August and am bringing you in September, on a chilly Thursday night which has more than a hint of autumn in the air.

I chose the book POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman, which isn't the sort of thing I would normally buy so I think it may have been one that John bought or was given. Visually it's gorgeous with a striking cover and as many photos of Venice as of the food. It doesn't have that essential, a bookmark, but does have a clever spine which is missing it's central cardboard panel so that the book, when opened, stays completely flat and never needs propping open, very useful when you're cooking from it. It could be really pretentious, this book, but is actually very down to earth and seasonal without being too aspirational or calling for too many expensive ingredients, although I do get annoyed when British authors insists on chucking Italian (or any other language for that matter) words into a recipe title because, unless I use google translate or read down a long list of ingredients, I don't have any idea what I'm actually cooking. 

First was Risi e Bisi which means, simply Rice and Peas, or pea risotto. You need for this fresh peas, still in their pods, which I've never bothered with before, but was easily able to get in Waitrose. I wasn't really sure what the difference would be until I ate them and then I realised why you need them; they are sweeter, firmer in texture, fuller in flavour and the pods form the basis of your stock. 




The recipe suggested adding pancetta, which we did for the flavour, but I think it would be lovely with simply the peas too. 


I don't tend to add fresh herbs to my risottos usually, but this used parsley and mint and was so good, with a light summery flavour. Top marks all round for this one.

Next, also from the vegetables chapter, was Cavolo Nero, Gnocchi and Pecorino Romano; gnocchi in a kind of pesto sauce made from cavolo nero.


The sauce is easy; cook the greens briefly then blitz with olive oil, garlic and pecorino although I used parmesan because that's what was in the fridge. 

The gnocchi, however...you'll notice that this is when the photos stop. I was trying to do this late one night before John got in from work (no chance my kids were eating this!) and the dog was underfoot and it was all a bit stressful. You have to boil the potatoes and then, when they're cool, grate them into a bowl and add egg and flour, which you then knead into a dough. I've never made gnocchi before so wasn't really sure how wet the dough should be so just used my instincts and made it up. Then you roll the dough into strips, chop into chunks and boil. My chunks were messy and missapen but they did cook, rising to the top of the water in a minute or two, before being tossed with the sauce. What a palava.

Luckily they were delicious and totally different to the shop bought gnocci, less gluey and sticky and much lighter. John found the sauce overpoweringly garlicky and didn't like it as much as I did. I think it was a gnocchi/sauce mismatch for him, and he would've preferred those potato dumplings in a different sauce, perhaps a simple tomato marinara sauce. However, the leftover pesto we ate with shredded chicken breast, more cavolo nero, and pasta and it was actually much better that way. I'll definitely make gnocchi again but not with this sauce.

I also baked the Flourless Orange and Almond Cake but totally forgot photos. It's not a pretty cake at all, almost more of a dessert, but so SO good and one of my favourite things to make. It's lovely served warm with a runny orange syrup and a dollop or marscapone or creme fraiche. This recipe is almost identical, just without the syrup, if you fancy making it. 

I'll leave you with a picture of Millionaire's Shortbread, something I don't often make because it's quite time consuming but Angus, in a cafe one day on holiday while eating a slice, said wistfully "Mum, I really wish you knew how to make Millionaire's Shortbread." to which I replied "Err, I do" and he basically looked at me like I'd told him Christmas was coming early. Honestly, if I'd known that was all it would take to earn his respect and adoration, I'd have made it sooner. I like it although I find it a little too sweet, but it's a crowd pleaser and I took some into work to try to win over my new colleagues. Bella says's it's better than the one in Costa...such an accolade.


The new role is going well so far although I am tired. Being based in the classroom is so very different to being in the office, in more ways than one, and I'm missing those two hours alone in the house before I go to work. People who work all day Monday to Friday - when do you do your housework/washing/shopping etc? I need your tips! A little every day or all on a Saturday morning?

Last of all, my blog has been nominated again for an Amara Interior Blog Award in the Craft Category. Thank you, whoever that was - you have no idea how much that means to me. If you would like to vote for me the link is here.

17 comments:

Debbie said...

I think people probably do a little every day - although when I worked full time, I think I went for doing it all at once on the weekend, and leaving anything I could until the half and end-of-term holidays then having a massive catch-up. Little and often is probably much more efficient!

CJ said...

I spotted you on the Amara website the other day and voted, well done, it is very well deserved, and good luck. Millionaire's shortbread is indeed devilish sweet isn't it. Everyone here says that, in almost a complaining way, then it's eaten in no time at all. Yours looks amazing, very professional indeed, I can well imagine it is better than the one in Costa. I made gnocchi once, but it's one of those time-consuming fiddly things. Lovely, but only for when there's plenty of time. On the subject of getting stuff done, I shall pop back and look for tips. I constantly feel overwhelmed, it's a horrible feeling, but I just don't know what the secret is. I do tend to do as much as I can each day, especially washing, otherwise we would disappear under dirty clothes. Glad the new job is going well though. CJ xx

Lynn said...

The organised mum method may help you she is on Instagram and has a blog. She has a routine of half hour Mon to Fri and then enjoy a housework free weekend. When I worked full time, my kids about the age of yours, we all did 1 hour on Sat morning and it was done and out of the way. Good luck 😊

wherethejourneytakesme said...

Will try the rice and peas (without the panchetta though as were veggies). I am not a gnocchi fan at all - I find it too doughy for me and I struggled in Italy with the pasta as it was all ordinary flour - if I have to eat it I choose the wholewheat ones at home as it is not as glupy for me.
As for the housework - I think a bit each day. I always shopped after work as the supermarket is always quieter at 6pm but it meant a late but quick tea was needed that evening. I don't like shopping a peaqk times or weekends.
Good luck with the award I will certainly give you my vote. Loved your article in Mollie Makes - I did buy the right one - you must be so proud.

Emma - a simple living journey said...

Congratulations on the nomination!

I love the idea of a cookery challenge, I will be rifling through my shelves and starting one myself next week I think. I'm quite bored with all I am cooking at the moment, except curries. I am learning to make a few really good curries which is lovely. Its easy to fall into repetitive habits in the kitchen! It all looks and sounds delicious.

xx

rue said...

Your gnocchi story made me smile, I will try cooking most things. The day I made gnocchi sticks clearly in my mind, never has so much mess been made for so long with so little reward.
On the cleaning front I recommend a google of team TOMM, it is a cleaning method/group which is based on little and often on a rota system.

rue said...

I see Lynn got there before me, organised mum is is team TOMM !

Agatha said...

Very happy to vote for you. Your blog is a delight and so lovely to look at too.

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KirstenLN said...

Just sent you a vote.
I've never made gnocchi - it sounds worth a try. Housework and work... I try to squeeze in some housework on week days as I really love to have time for funnier stuff on Saturdays. I also involve my kids in the housework: my husband works a lot and become a grumpy mum when left alone with all of the chores. the kids don't love it but when I make a list with jobs they can choose from it works ok :-)

KirstenLN said...

I become a grumpy mum - missed the "I"...

mrsrobinson said...

Congratulations on the nomination! Full time jobs do get in the way of housework... when I last worked full time I tried to do a bit daily, but that was before Patch was born so when I finished work, time was my own... and I hadn't discovered the joys of crochet

Jane said...

Risi e Bisi has been a firm favourite in our house since the girls were little - simple, tasty food is always a winner here. I really like the sound of the cavolo nero pesto, delicious. Congratulations on your nomination Gillian, excellent news. Have a lovely weekend. Jane x

Debdor said...

Your lovely photos are making me hungry! I work every day in term time, so I try to do some housework every day, and keep on top of washing up and clothes washing or else it becomes too much of a chore. I leave deep cleaning for school holidays...

Jo said...

You let your house standards slip basically and you are little bit more bitter about the role of women trying to work in our society - I think that is my input there!! I do all my work on a Monday because I work 4 days a week paid and Monday is my voluntary day - that being a full weeks washing, going to Aldi, cleaning the house from top to bottom, cooking as many meals as I can and freezing them. Online shopping for food sometimes helps but I love choosing food so I do it when I know I won't fit in a visit to the shops. It is hard Gillian, hats off to you. Jo xxx

Lizzie BM said...

yeah don't know if its the same one but the organised life project blog I've found v helpful

Hooks and Needles said...

I seem to make millionaires shortbread a lot. Patricularly when meeting for film night in our friends house. I remember making gnocchi once many years ago, it seemed a lot of hassle and I've not made it since. Housework wise - if you don't want to do housework at the weekends, then do something each day. I've tried many systems and routines eg flylady. I think I now have a bit of all sorts which helps me. First I use my A5 diary and plan a few jobs each day (laundry of some sort each day - washing, folding away, ironing) then hoovering or whatever. The boys do help too putting bins out, emptying the drainer, hoover a room etc. Then basic routines to make the next day easier (from flylady) - clean sink. Put work bag together on a chair, put out my clothes for the next day, swish n swipe in the bathroom (flylady). Clean the shower whilst you're in it lol. All the best, Cathy x