Saturday 6 February 2016

dinner party delight

on my recent trip to sydney, i got the opportunity to cook a meal for the host and the hostest with the mostest.
as i have been living lean since my move to melbourne, having the opportunity to cook something more exciting than a dish of dahl was great for me as i got to do something i truly love - cooking. And the dinner guests got to do something they truly love - eating and eating my food, which they often got to enjoy when we all lived in the same city.

as i was cooking the meal, it occurred to me that this meal, which consisted of gnocchi done two ways, 2 salads, a broccoli dish and some bread was a really varied meal, which actually came in pretty cheap and could be perfect for someone wanting to throw a small dinner party that was easy and economical.  so here's what we had.

gnocchi gorgonzola
gnocchi with olive oil and chilli
rocket, baby beetroot and fetta salad
caprese salad
fried broccoli
bread stick

so yep there were 2 types of gnocchi and this was to provide a dryer option to complement the very creamy and cheesy gorgonzola dish and in case any guests were put off by the stinky cheese.
and now i am going to share all this goodness, so you can make any or all of it for yourself or to entertain. Here is what you will need for this amazing meal.

for the gorgonzola gnocchi
some good quality gnocchi (i used a pack and a half for both dishes and we still had leftovers)
small carton of pure cream
gorgonzola dolce - to taste
small amount of butter
sage leaves - as many as you fancy
grated orange skin

for the gnocchi chilli
olive oil
fresh chilli
salt and pepper

rocket salad
tin of baby beetroots - drained
fetta cheese (optional)

caprese salad
fresh tomato
buffalo mozzarella
basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

fried broccoli
olive oil
chilli (optional)

Bread and parmesan cheese also required.

Let's get cracking then.  any, and all of these work together or can complement other dishes you may decide to cook.

and maybe you are going - what the fuck, what the fuck - too much..... but the beauty here is that you pre-prepare most of it and it can just sit and wait until the magic happens in the last minute.  don't be afraid, cause here is the order of cooking.
1. heating the water
2. the broccoli
3. the salads
3.5 the bread
4. the pasta sauces
5. the pasta.

first up. heat a big saucepan of water - keep topping it up if need be, but have it ready to go.

the broccoli - cut up some broccoli and give it a quick cook in the boiling water. add some olive oil to a saucepan, heat with the optional chilli and then add the not too cooked broccoli.  give it a shit load of salt - i use Himalayan or sea salt.  put the lid on and fry the fuck out of it on a low heat.  stir occasionally and then put it aside till dinner time.  it should be soft and salty.  thanks to my new york sister for this beauty.
next up....the salads.
starting with the rocket and beetroot.
wash your rocket, open the beetroots and add both to a serving dish.  sprinkle on some fetta if you wish.  i left this a dry salad, as there was a lot of other moisture to wet this down.  set aside till dinner is served.

time for the caprese.
my hosts had fresh basil and i picked off some leaves. (damn them - i can't even grow a weed and they get this)
slice your buffalo mozzarella and put on a serving plate.
slice your tomato and add to the plate. there are no rules with this.  as you can style it any way you like.  layer it, stack, separate it. whatever! tear up some basil leaves and put on the plate.  drizzle, the oil, balsamic, salt and pepper just before serving.
the bread - you don't need instructions for this.

now to the gnocchi. so the water has been bubbling away patiently and we are nearly ready to go.

gorgonzola gnocchi and chilli gnocchi - these can be done at the same time.

in a frypan, add the carton of cream, a knob of butter, some sage leaves. some grated orange skin, and gorgonzola to taste.  i used nearly half a block (it was igor gorgonzola from coles).
for the oil and chilli - add some olive oil and some chilli to a pan. i have added a diced chilli and a half chilli for fun and i chopped the parsley in readiness.
so - it's nearly time.  put these items on to heat.  the cheese will melt slowly and the chilli maybe a bit quicker.  (start the cheese first or just turn the chilli down if the cheese isn't done) neither should be bubbling erratically.
when both the sauces are nearly heated through, put the gnocchi in the boiling water. when it rises to the top it is ready.  simply use a slotted spoon and split between both sauces.
add the parsley and some salt and pepper to the oil dish and stir both gently so the sauce finds its way into the gnocchi.

you are done. two great gnocchi dishes to add to your other prepared stuff - you can even serve them straight from the frypan for that "i don't want too much washing up" feel.

serve it up, go put on some lippy, so you look as hot and as effortless as the meal you have just prepared, and enjoy. buon appetito.
if you do try this or any of this, i'd love to know how it went, because i feel confident that it will work a treat.

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