Vanilla cake with hazelnuts and fresh figs

24 Feb

It’s my favourite time of the year: fig season. No joke, I eat so many when they’re in season, it’s like my body knows I only get a small window of opportunity before “poof!” they’re gone…

So I decided on Saturday morning as I strolled through a local fruit and veg shop, which was selling packs of six for $3.99, that I would make something special to celebrate the glorious fig. And as I like them best the way nature intended  – straight from the tree and into my mouth – I used fresh figs.

I can recall countless occasions where my friends have stood by embarrassed watching me steal figs from the most obscure places…well technically they are always hanging over the fence, so fair game really. Like the time I dodged local traffic to get to a roadside fig tree in Mykonos, or the time I got a boost from my boyfriend to grab an out-of-reach beauty from an abundant tree in Margaret River – figs make me go a little crazy.

It’s all my Mum’s fault you see, she used to share figs with me when I was little girl – and like Mother, like daughter – I was hooked. I didn’t stand a chance. Still to this day, figs are both our favourites. In fact, she’s probably going to read this post and be pissed I didn’t save any cake for her. Sorry Mum – promise I’ll make it up to you.

Serves 8

Vanilla cake with hazelnut praline and fresh figs

Vanilla cake with hazelnuts and fresh figs

The list

For the cake:
250gm butter
250gm caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
290gm plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
185ml buttermilk

For the mascarpone cream:
115gm mascarpone
1/4 cup icing sugar
125ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

For the hazelnut praline:
50g shelled, toasted hazelnuts
200g caster sugar

To serve:
6 fresh figs, quartered


The method

  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg. Add vanilla, then mix in flour and baking powder. Then add the buttermilk and stir until well combined, the batter will be quite thick.
  3. Bake in a lined cake tin for 45 minutes, using a spatula to spread mixture evenly around the tin. Remove and allow to cool on a wire cake rack.
  4. To make the praline, place the hazelnuts on a non-stick baking tray, while you make the caramel. Place the sugar in a non stick saucepan, over a medium-high heat, and allow to melt, swirling the pan so it dissolves easily. Pour over the hazelnuts, and allow to cool and harden. Once set, break into smaller shards, and bash with a pestle and mortar until you have a mixture of small pieces and crumbs.
  5. To make the mascarpone cream, place the mascarpone, double cream, vanilla seeds and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until thickened and smooth.
  6. To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally. Using a piping bag, pipe half of your mascarpone cream onto the bottom layer of your cake and sprinkle with hazelnut praline, then carefully place the top half on. Arrange the cut figs on top of the cake and sprinkle with remaining praline – using some the longer shards in between the figs.


Perfect for a birthday celebration, afternoon tea or any other special occassion

Perfect for a birthday celebration, afternoon tea or any other special occasion

Layers of mascarpone cream and fig goodness

Layers of mascarpone cream and fig goodness

The perfect way to celebrate the fig season

The perfect way to celebrate fig season

*Recipe sourced from A Gorgeous Life.

Dirt dessert

3 Feb

I saw a recipe for Vietnamese coffee ice cream (and if you’ve ever been to Vietnam then you’ll understand how totally awesome the coffee is, served over condensed milk and ice *drool*) and actually couldn’t resist making it. Originally the recipe was for ice creams on sticks but since I didn’t have any popsicle sticks I simply made the ice cream in my gelato machine at home. It worked just as well, although a little soft – this ice cream melts quickly, which I suppose means you just have to eat it a little quicker….fine by me. Think soft serve rather than solid ice cream.

Served on a bed of chocolate ‘dirt’ and adorned with a thick and gooey coffee syrup, this ice cream does wonders for your taste buds – just don’t think too hard about what it’s doing to your thighs.

This was my first time making dirt and it turned out okay – not amazing and not horrible. The taste was there in a big way (because I chose to use a 70% cacao chocolate from the team at Bahen & Co). The only issue was the size of the dirt – there were a few chunky clumps which I rectified with a quick blitz of my stick-mixer once the dirt had been left to sit in the fridge (and harden). The dark chocolate used for the dirt helped to counteract the sweetness of the ice cream and syrup, adding a wonderful hit of bitterness.

While this dessert won’t be winning any beauty pageants (partly because of my lacklustre scooping/quenelling ability), I can assure you the taste will make up for its deliciously ugly appearance.

Serves 8

Dirt dessert with Vietnamese coffee ice cream, syrup and chocolate dirt

Dirt dessert with Vietnamese coffee ice cream, syrup and chocolate dirt

The list

Ice cream:

250ml (1 cup) espresso, cooled

395gm can (1¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk

180ml (¾ cup) thickened cream


Coffee syrup:

60ml (¼ cup) espresso

55gm (¼ cup) caster sugar

175gm (½ cup) liquid glucose


Chocolate dirt:

100gm caster sugar

75gm dark chocolate roughly chopped


The method:

  1. Combine espresso, condensed milk and cream in a large jug and stir until combined.
  2. Prepare your gelato machine as per machine’s instructions. Pour mixture in and churn until thick consistency (mine took 45 minutes). If you don’t have a gelato machine, you should be able just to freeze in a bowl – I would guess roughly 3 – 4 hours to freeze.
  3. To make coffee syrup, place espresso, sugar and glucose in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 15 minutes or until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and cool completely (mixture will thicken considerably).
  4. To make your chocolate dirt. Into a small to medium saucepan add the caster sugar and gently pour in 2 tablespoons of cold water (be gentle so as to avoid splashing sugar crystals on the side of the pan). Turn on your heat to high and leave it to sit without stirring, the sugar will dissolve and bubble and boil until you see golden brown edges.
  5. Immediately remove saucepan from the heat and all at once whisk in the chocolate ensuring to whisk around the edges. Whisk until all the chocolate is coated (this doesn’t take long, maybe a couple of minutes). As the chocolate cools it will start to turn into dirt. If like me you have a few chunkier pieces, cool in the fridge and chop up later.
  6. To serve, arrange a spoonful of dirt onto a plate, top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with coffee syrup.


My dirt dessert is ugly but totally delicious

My dirt dessert is ugly but totally delicious

Ice cream recipe sourced from SBS Food.

Chocolate dirt recipe sourced from The Lone Baker.

Le Creuset no-knead bread

2 Feb

Bread. One of the most simple and delicious pleasures there is in life. Hot from the oven and slathered in butter….it doesn’t get much better. Baking your own bread can be a bit of a skill. I have been lead down the garden path on multiple occasions by “easy”, “fool-proof” recipes – and ended up looking the fool as I took a flat, hard, inedible rock from my oven. That is until now.

A colleague, who is as in love with her Le Creuset pot as I am mine, recommended this technique to me. I was assured clean hands and a stress-free perfect loaf full of air pockets. This recipe delivered.

Rustic in shape, with a crunchy outer and a light and airy inner, this bread is perfect for a busy family and the perfect accompaniment for your next evening with friends. Made the night before and left to prove overnight, this bread is effortless and requires only five minutes to throw the ingredients together and a further 45 minutes to bake the next day. Allowing the yeast a good 12 hours to work its magic is what sets this dough apart from others.

Given that this recipe originated from Le Creuset, you will need a Le Creuset dish or a similar enamelled cast iron pot with a lid. The size doesn’t matter, but it needs to be deep and have a lid.

Serves 6

No-knead bread

No-knead bread

The list:

3 cups plain white flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon yeast

1 ½ cups water


The method:

  1. Into your largest mixing bowl, combine your flour, salt and yeast. Pour in your water, little by little, stirring until your mixture is combined.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave somewhere warm for around 12 hours, I found it easiest to make it in the evening and leave it over night. By morning you should have a bubbly mixture, about twice the size.
  3. Heat the oven to 230ºC and put your pot in to preheat for 30-45 minutes. While your oven is coming to temperature, scrape your dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball, there is no need to knead, it should easily form into a ball. Set aside to rest until your pot is heated.
  4. Once your oven and the pot is hot, get your pot out and carefully place your dough inside. Using your mitts, place the lid back on top and place it back into the oven. You do not need to oil, grease or butter the pot. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and bake for a further 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and place onto a wire rack to cool, being careful not to burn yourself on the hot pot.

Slather with butter and enjoy!

Your bread mixture should have plenty of bubbles after sitting overnight

Your bread mixture should have plenty of bubbles after sitting overnight

Your bread mixture should easily form into a soft ball

Your bread mixture should easily form into a soft ball

Easy to make and even easier to make, mine lasted less than a day

Easy to make and even easier to devour, mine lasted less than a day

Recipe sourced from The Londoner.

Crab, fennel and chilli linguine

5 Jan

Crabbing is a common pastime is Australia during the hot Summer months, and thank goodness because on Saturday Ollie and his friends returned to the house with eight glorious blue swimmer crabs for dinner. They graciously allowed me to select the menu and I opted for a classic, no fuss pasta dish of crab, fennel and chilli.

I did consider making fresh pasta for this dish (and probably should have), but when its 39°C outside you really lose the ability to give a stuff. Well I did anyway…so packet pasta to the rescue.

The fresh crab meat was absolutely delicious. Sweet, tender, fresh crab is a real luxury and I would say I only eat crab a couple times per year. So to be trusted with eight beautiful, freshly caught crabs was a real treat. I note that this combination of flavours is a classic and has been done a hundred times before. I saw no reason to complicate what I knew would work well.

There’s something about seafood which always transports me home, back to the salty air of the afternoon sea breeze, the white sandy beaches and the long hot Summer days. Seafood is an obligatory Australian Summer dish – and I love it!

Serves 4

Crab, fennel and chilli linguine

Crab, fennel and chilli linguine

Blue swimmer crabs, freshly caught and ready to cook

Blue swimmer crabs, freshly caught and ready to cook

The list:

320gm dried linguine

450gm crab meat (we had 8 crabs, and used all for this recipe, but you don’t have to use that many)

1 bulb fennel, finely sliced (and green fennel tops reserved)

2 lemons

2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced

8 Tbs extra virgin olive oil


The method:

  1. If cooking whole crabs, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and place crabs in upside down, cooking for 7 minutes. Cook crabs in batches if necessary.
  2. Remove crab meat from the shell and place in a bowl with chilli, the rind one lemon and fennel tops.
  3. Juice both lemons and mix together with olive oil.
  4. Lightly saute the finely sliced fennel bulb  with a small knob of butter. Remove to a small bowl.
  5. Cook pasta as per packet instructions, once cooked drain liquid and return to the same pot, reserving a small amount of the cooking liquid.
  6. Add the reserved pasta water, lemon and olive oil, fennel and crab mix, stirring gently to combine. The heat of the freshly cooked pasta will warm the crab. Garnish with fennel tops and extra chilli (if desired).


We served alongside homemade garlic bread and a glass of white….heaven.

Crab meat mixture ready to add to the warm pasta

Crab meat mixture ready to add to the warm pasta

Simple and fresh pasta dish, perfect for Summer

Simple and fresh pasta dish, perfect for Summer

Sponge cake with strawberry jam icing

15 Dec

A couple weeks ago I made five jars of strawberry jam…awesome huh? Well, it would have been, had I managed to make proper jam, but alas, somehow mine became runny…very runny. I’ll blame it on overly juicy fruit, totally unrelated to my technical prowess – because I rock at making jam (well usually – see here).

So runny is my homemade jam that its realistically just liquid strawberry with a few chunks of fruit – think Macca’s strawberry topping for sundaes. But rather than being deterred by my liquid strawberry concoction, I began to think of other ways which I could use my unspreadable jam.

So I made a sponge cake – old fashioned, simple sponge. Delicious. Then I made a butter cream icing – easy, done in two minutes. To the icing, I added the liquid jam. Really, it was a bit of an experiment to see if I could put my failed jam to use – I hate wasting food unnecessarily. It worked! I actually think you could use normal everyday jam for this recipe too, just heat it up in the microwave a little to make more pliable, more like my failure.

So, the moral of the story? Don’t automatically assume a failure is a failure – think a little outside the box and you may just surprise yourself.

Serves 10

Sponge cake with strawberry jam icing

Sponge cake with strawberry jam icing


The list:

225gm self-raising flour

225gm raw caster sugar

225gm butter, at room temperature

4 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

75gm butter, softened (for icing)

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 Tbs milk

3 Tbs liquid jam (or normal jam if you managed to make yours the right way)

4 strawberries, finely sliced


The method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients using a electric whisk.
  4. Pour the mixture into a non-stick 22cm tin.
  5. Place in the oven until golden brown, 15-25 minutes.
  6. Cool on a wire rack before icing.
  7. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining butter and icing sugar in a bowl until pale. Add milk, beating constantly until combined. Then slowly add the jam until pink and combined.
  8. Ice cake and arrange fresh strawberries on top.


Simple and easy cake to make

Simple and easy cake to make

Finding inspiration after a recipe went wrong

Finding inspiration after a recipe went wrong

Dark chocolate and coconut cookies

8 Dec

Somewhere between work and life, I lost the time to cook in the past month. Sure, there’s been the standard stir-fry or steak and chips for dinner, but it’s not the same as cooking for pleasure. That time when you have no commitments, no concerns….just a clean kitchen and a desire to create. I miss having this time to myself when I am busy.

So I made time for it over the weekend. I didn’t make anything particularly exciting or difficult. In fact, I stuck with a classic, dark chocolate and coconut cookies. Simple, delicious and quick.

I love to cook for family at Christmas time and can’t wait to get started. I’m currently devising a gift box for my family full of jams, chorizos, lemon curd, just add milk cookie dough jars and biscotti, but for this week, it was enough just to have an hour to bake.

A quiet and care-free hour. Since when did that become such a valuable asset? If anything, it made me realise how important it is to schedule in time for yourself. Whether it’s an hour of yoga, a spot of gardening or some extra time in the kitchen, it’s imperative to switch-off from the world (and your phone) and just be.

If truth be told, I probably zoned out too much, because instead of letting the cookies go for that one extra minute after the oven alarm went off signalling my designated cookie cooking time, I let them go for a little too long – distracted by my phone (surprise surprise). So while a little on the crispy side, they still went well with a glass of milk.

Makes 18

Dark chocolate and coconut cookies


The list:

125g butter, chopped

1 cup raw castor sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup plain flour

1 cup self-raising flour

½ cup shaved coconut

100g dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped

The post-holiday guilt (and some healthy pancakes)

3 Nov

While I may feel guilty about all the deep fried, over-portioned and deliciously naughty foods I ate while holidaying in the USA, I will never regret it. Never ever. I’ve given you a summary of all the amazing things I got to eat in my last post, but since then I’ve been working hard – both physically and mentally to burn off the extra “me” that appeared post-holiday.

I’ve been trying to teach myself more about clean eating. But fear not, I’m not about to starve myself or drink a green smoothie every morning….I’m interested in how to still enjoy food (particularly sweets) in a way which compliments my exercise regime and doesn’t leave me feeling guilty when I want a piece of cake. Because let’s face it, life would be pretty mundane without cake, milkshakes or any other thing you classify as a treat.

So I did some digging. A majority of “clean-eating” websites and phone apps left me uninspired, looked like they lacked any substance or flavour and generally made me think I should eat celery 24/7. Until I found the Food Fix Up (do yourself a favour and buy the app). Well at least that’s my opinion….the food is real, the portion sizing left me satisfied and most of all – it has all been easy to make. Taking into account I have only just begun using this app, I can only speak for those recipes which I have recreated, but thus far I’ve enjoyed the challenge.

Adapting the way I think about food  has been difficult, I consider it part of a broader education campaign to help me create a healthier, more-balanced me….

So on the weekend I wanted pancakes. Guilt began to flood my mind as I mentally checked off every single ingredient, knowing all too well that sugar, flour and the other necessaries were safely tucked away in my pantry. So I decided then (especially considering I went for a run that morning) to try something new. Now I’m not saying that the everyday standard (amazing) pancake recipe no longer holds a special place in my heart, I am just saying that it’s okay to be adventurous and it’s okay to want to be health-conscious.

So below is my attempt at the Food Fix Up’s Banana Pancakes with Berries & Chocolate Sauce. They were a hit, an addition to a growing repertoire of recipes I store in my mental bookshelf. I consider it an alternative to my more normal pancake recipes, not a replacement. I left off the yoghurt they suggested as a topping, but that was a personal choice, I just didn’t feel like it.

So if you’re keen, give paleo, vegan or vegetarian recipes a chance – it’s fun to challenge the way you think about food, but at the end of the day, cook what you love, eat that which makes you happy and never apologise for a maple bacon sandwich binge on a seedy Sunday morning.

Serves 2

Thanks tot he Food Fix Up app, I am making more informed and healthier options

Thanks to the Food Fix Up app, I am making more informed and healthier meal choices

The list:

For the pancakes:

4 eggs

3 ripe bananas

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp coconut oil

For the chocolate sauce:

2 Tbsp coconut oil

2 Tbs maple syrup

1 Tbs cacao powder


1 cup berries

Flaked almonds

Small handful of mint leaves


The method:

  1. Mix all the chocolate sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Mash the bananas in a bowl (doesn’t need to be very smooth, lumps are okay) and add the eggs, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Mix well.
  3. Heat the oil for the pancakes in a non-stick fry-pan. Adding 1/3 cup of mixture at a time (I fit two pancakes per cooking batch). Cook over a low to medium heat for a minute or two, until the underside is golden brown.
  4. Flip and cook the other side. Take caution when flipping, the mixture may run a bit – just push the pancake back into shape with your spatula. It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle.
  5. Once pancakes are cooked, arrange on a plate, top with chocolate sauce, berries, mint leaves and nuts.



Healthy option for an easy weekend breakfast

Healthy option for an easy weekend breakfast

A little tricky to actually cook, but the end result was tasty and rewarding

A little tricky to actually cook, but the end result was tasty and rewarding

America knows best: My USA food diary

20 Oct

After a little over a month of exploring the United States with my best friend and main man, I’ve come to the realisation that Americans know their food, they know their service and they know nothing about healthy portion sizes…

I was so overwhelmed at the beginning of our trip, my breakfast omelet was larger than a practical sized dinner plate and it came with an entourage of sides – for $15, including unlimited coffee. I felt like I was being presented with some sort of food challenge every morning. Luckily, we soon caught on as to how to order, how to ask for dressing on the side and how amazing proper drip coffee could be. You have to understand that in Australia everything is largely set in stone, there’s no adding this or removing that from a meal – you get what you’re given and you leave breakfast with no change from a fifty. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve eaten on both sides of the tracks.

But seriously, we had some of the most fantastic food in the US, below is a little sample of some of our highlights..and forget fine dining (it’s overrated), we food-coma’d out on some of the most authentic, most humble of dishes there are, and it was worth every extra calorie. So here’s to America, thanks for believing that a 12-egg omelet has a place in this world.

So below I have detailed some of my foodie highlights from the US of A. Enjoy…

  • Franklin Barbeque, Austin, Texas

Oh-my-meatiness. This place was a serious find and I am so glad that we waited in line for three hours (yes, you heard correct, three long and hungry hours) for this melt in your mouth BBQ. They say Texans know how to BBQ and Franklin’s sure didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t just about the meat either, even the experience in the line waiting anxiously to get our hands on the carefully prepared meat-fest going on inside, we got to hang out with some great people, tell stories and learn more about American culture. All up it was an absolute highlight of our trip.

Franklin Barbeque

  • Katz’s Delicatessen, New York

We were both dying to get to Katz’s while in New York and on our first day in town we ventured on the Subway to the infamous Jewish deli. We entered, were handed pink tickets and watched in earnest as we tried to determine what to order, how to order and how not to order one of everything – it all sounded so good but we stayed true to our mission and ended up with Reuben sandwiches, Matzo ball soup and of course, pickles – because no American meal is complete without one.

Katz's Deli

Oh my Reuben

  • Pizza by the slice, Sacco Pizza, New York

It’s one of those New York foods that can either be done well or easily be done sub-par, but at Sacco’s we were treated to delicious pepperoni pizza. I didn’t think I would be a fan, but it only took a sprinkle of Parmesan, dried herbs and a few dried chili flakes to turn me into an absolute fan. Needless to say we went back for seconds…and thirds on the way home from the pub.

Sacco Pizza

  • Bagels, Ess-a-Bagel, New York

Bagels are everywhere in New York – and so they should be – packed full of whatever goodness you want, these morning starters cater to your every desire. He opted for ‘erb cream cheese (apparently “herb” doesn’t translate so well with an Aussie accent), smoked salmon, tomato and lettuce on an everything bagel…and I got cream cheese, smoked ham and tomato on a toasted onion bagel. They were simple, awesome and so super filling.


  • Muffaletta, Napoleon House, New Orleans

A humble sandwich packed with meaty goodness and homemade olive spread. We got ours alongside a serve of seafood gumbo. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, plan a visit to Napoleon House, you won’t regret it.

  • Beignets, Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans

The beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with icing sugar. Ollie has not been able to stop obsessing over them since we started planning our trip in April 2014, so for him it was a real highlight to return to the place which made him fall in love with these messy delights when he was a young boy visiting family in New Orleans. I am now too a fan, won over with their soft texture and delicious sugar-hit which kept me buzzing throughout the morning (but perhaps that was the coffee?).

photo 4

  • Seafood chowder, Pier 39, San Francisco

Sourdough bread bowl, creamy seafood packed chowder, a side of Tabasco covered oysters and beers. Does it get much better on a hot Summer’s day? San Francisco know their seafood, and you can’t miss the chowder – it’s cheap, tasty and fills you up.


Ready to escape.

4 Sep

So the counting down has finally stopped, there’s only one more sleep to sleep…

I just wanted to send a shout out to my loyal (and totally awesome/wonderful) followers. Mostly because you’re amazing and keep me inspired to cook food and share my experiences, but also to apologise for the radio silence – I’m off to explore the States for an entire month with my favourite boy tomorrow. But don’t stress – there will be plenty of Instagram action (follow me at datewithaplate_) and a wrap-up of food stories when I get back – I solemnly swear to live out all your American food dreams as we road trip across California, get lost in New Orleans, get our BBQ on in Texas and finish up our trip living it up in New York City.

From tacos to in-n-out burger, beignets to bagels – this is going to be one hell of a holiday. Au Revoir.


Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

20 Aug

Just a short post today, it has been a rough couple of weeks battling the ever complicated onslaught of flu, work, personal life and trip planning – my upcoming trip to the United States is possibly the only thing keeping me sane at the moment. Counting down the days until we jet off for a month long adventure keeps me working hard through everything that’s been thrown at me lately.

Sick at home, bored out of my mind (yes, there’s only so much day-time TV one can watch) and desperate for something to do…

Gnocchi with braised beef sauce seemed like a good idea for dinner, and I am so glad I tried out this Jamie Oliver braised beef sauce recipe because it is amazingly tasty (I made a couple modifications to suit but kept pretty well to his recipe)! Pulling apart the larger pieces of braised beef into smaller pieces made the sauce rich, thick and deliciously moreish – my serving size for dinner was more appropriate for two people, but I just couldn’t stop eating it! The addition of the pearl barley was also fantastic – it helped give the sauce another level of texture and added extra complexity to what is a very humble beef sauce.

I seem to have become rather obsessed with gnocchi lately (also made this batch up a few weeks ago)….and it’s easy to understand why. Gnocchi is perhaps one of the easiest things to make, yet it also seems so utterly impressive when its served. I am always pleasantly surprised when it works for me and I am able to perfect the little parcels of fluffy goodness.

Serves 6 – 8


Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

The list:

Beef sauce
850gm casserole beef
Olive oil
1 handful each fresh rosemary and fresh thyme, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 cup Chianti (or similar variety of wine)
1 can of tomatoes
400gm pasata
2 Tbs pearl barley
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

500g floury potatoes, peeled and cooked in salted boiling water until soft
200g plain flour, plus a little extra to dust
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of salt

The method:


  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then cut into 3cm chunks
  2. In a hot casserole-type pot, fry your meat in a little olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Add your herbs, onions, garlic, carrot, and celery. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened
  3. Add your red wine and continue to simmer until the liquid has almost cooked away
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, pasata, pearl barley, and just enough water to cover the meat by 1/2 inch. Make yourself a cartouche of baking paper (a piece of baking paper that fits on top on the sauce). Wet it with a little water, rub it with a little olive oil, and place it over the pan. Put a lid on the pan as well, as this will retain as much moisture as possible while cooking. Cook over really low heat for about 2 hours. It’s ready when you can literally pull the meat apart in tender strands, do so using a pair of tongs (breaking apart the meat chunks into smaller pieces of meat).
  5. Season the sauce carefully with salt and pepper to taste and allow to sit while you make your gnocchi


  1.  Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil
  2. Using a potato ricer, squeeze your potatoes into a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over flour and gently combining
  3. Pour potato mixture out onto a clean, dry bench that has been lightly floured. Gently start to knead the dough, then pour over the egg and work the dough into a smooth ball of potato mixture. It won’t take much effort to get to this stage, and your bench shouldn’t have much excess dough stuck to it – use a little more flour if necessary
  4. Divide dough into quarters, rolling each ball out into a long sausage shape (re-flour bench slightly if necessary), then cut rough 2cm pieces and pinch gently in the middle to form your gnocchi – place onto a clean dry tea towel while you continue to make the remaining gnocchi
  5. Cook gnocchi in your pot of boiling water in small batches for roughly 2 minutes – or until the gnocchi rises to the surface. Scoop out with a large slotted spoon (gently shaking off excess liquid) and place in serving bowl, covering with a generous spoonful of sauce and top with grated Parmesan to serve


I made ample gnocchi, and I am so glad I did

I made ample gnocchi, and I am so glad I did

The gnocchi and sauce also freeze really well together if you want to save some for later as we have

The gnocchi and sauce also freeze really well together if you want to save some for later as we have


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