My final superior examination next week at Le Cordon Bleu. I've been experimenting at home with some of the ingredients, like petit pois, attempting to create original recipes. I'm sure my husband's getting tired of eating the same things over and over although I haven't heard any complaints. I'm waiting for the: Peas and pigeon again? Isn't there anything else at the supermarket? Can't I whisk you away to a three star dinner tonight? (wishful thinking I suppose)
We are given a list of ingredients and two weeks to prepare our own recipes. Our menu must include two composed side dishes and one simple. The meat, which is Pigeon (oh, joy) can be cooked in any method we desire, as long as it's perfectly rosé. We also need to create a sauce. All this must be completed in four hours – not before or after.
One of the ingredients we will be given is 400g of petit pois. I've overheard many students talking about making a purée or a flan, but I want to do something different so I'm making petit pois gnocchi with fresh basil. There are many ways to make gnocchi using ricotta, potato, or choux pastry. I've chosen the potato method but I'm substituting most of the potatoes for peas. It's taken awhile to figure out the measurements and play around with the dough, but it creates the most beautiful tasty bright green dumplings. (Recipe to follow)
Gnocchi doesn't have to be presented in the normal dumpling or small cylinder shape. It can also be served as an amuse bouche with a little shaved parmesan or tomato confit on top. I got the idea of this little tube from Bea at Tartine Gourmand – clever! It's easy to cook this way because you roll the gnocchi dough up in cling film and press out all the air. Then tie off the ends tight and simmer in water for 7-10 minutes. Cool in an ice water bath, cut to desired length, refrigerate, and reheat before serving with a little olive oil. Or top and bake quickly before serving. Cool, huh? Who knew gnocchi could be so versatile and easy?
One garnish down, two to go...oh yeah, and that little bird too...I don't want to give away all my secrets just yet, so I'll fill in the details soon.
Ms. Glaze's Sweet Pea Gnocchi Recipe on following page
Ms. Glaze's Sweet Pea Gnocchi
400g Sweet peas (petit pois), shucked should weigh about 160g
210g Potatoes (about two medium size potatoes)
Splash of olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Peel potatoes and quarter. Put in cold salted water (so they don't turn brown) and simmer on medium heat until fork tender. About 7-10 minutes. Once cooked, drain well, and place on a parchment papered baking sheet. Dry out further in a slow oven (80˚C, 150˚F) for another 5 minutes to get rid of any excess moisture. Be careful not to brown in oven.
2. Blanch peas in simmering salted water until done, about 4-5 minutes. Refresh under cold water to stop cooking. Drain and purée in a blender. Save a few whole peas for decoration if desired.
3. Put potatoes in a ricer and rice, or mash with a fork. Add pea purée and mix well.
4. Add salt to taste, egg, and flour little by little. Mix well. Add a splash of olive oil. Dough should be a little sticky.
5. Heat a skillet with three inches of water to a slow simmer. Form canelles of gnocchi using two spoons to shape them and gently let them come off the spoon in the water. Or roll dough out on a floured surface into a snake and cut tubes to desired length (this can be difficult). Once dumplings float to the surface remove gently remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice water bath. Before removing them from simmering water, it's a wise idea to try one and see if it's done in the middle. Gnocchi can remain in the ice bath for a few minutes without coming apart.
6. Remove gnocchi from ice bath and place on a tray and refrigerate. They will form a slight skin which protects them when reheated.
7. Reheat in a nonstick pan on medium heat with a little olive oil and butter.
8. Garnish with sweet peas and shaved parmesan
Note: Resist the temptation to add more flour. This takes away from the flavor of the gnocchi and makes them tough. If you're having trouble shaping the gnocchi with spoons, try dipping them in warm water first so the dough doesn't stick while forming. Also, you can fill a pastry bag with the dough and slice them into simmering water as you squeeze the dough through the tip.