Gnocchi with leek and sausages in a creamy cheese sauce

DSCN0692At this time of year, all I want to eat are hearty, warming, comforting foods, like cottage pie, stews, pasta bakes and chilli. (This “phase” usually lasts from October until around Easter). This particular dish combines three of my favourite things: leek, potatoes (in the form of gnocchi) and cheese. It was actually supposed to be a recipe for gnocchi with vegetables in a creamy cheese sauce, but somewhere between doing the shopping and starting to cook, I managed to lose my courgette! It’s on the receipt, but it’s not in my kitchen. How on earth does one lose a courgette?! So I had a rummage in my fridge and improvised with a packet of Wiener-type sausages instead. Sorry vegetarians – my original recipe would have been for you!

Gnocchi with leek and sausages in a creamy cheese sauce

Ingredients (serves 2)
Butter (for frying)
400 g gnocchi
1 garlic clove
1 leek
4 Wiener (or Frankfurter, if that’s what you want to call them) sausages OR one large courgette/zucchini
1 pot of cream
Cheddar or other strong cheese (I used Swiss mountain cheese this time, because that’s what I had)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

Method

1. Heat some butter in a frying pan. While it’s heating, chop your garlic into smallish pieces then fry it in the butter.

garlic

2. Put some water on to boil in a pan. Chop the leek – I usually cut off fairly thick slices then quarter the slices – then place the it in the frying pan with the garlic. (If using courgette/zucchini, you should also dice that it this point and put it in the pan at the same time as the leek).

leek

3. Chop the sausages into bite-sized pieces.

4. Once the water has boiled, pour in the gnocchi and boil it for as long as the instructions for your brand say to (usually until bits start to float)

5. Drain the gnocchi then add it to the frying pan along with the sausages. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

food

6. Pour the cream into the frying pan, stir it in and heat for a bit until it and the sausages are warmed though. Grate the cheese over the mixture, pausing every once in a while to stir it in. Keep adding cheese until the cream/cheese mixture forms a thick sauce/you think there’s enough (personally, I like a lot of cheese!). Stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper. Also add more salt/black pepper if you think it needs it.

7. Enjoy carbs covered in melty, cheesy goodness (see photo of the final product at the top).

Chicken and gnocchi bake

This isn’t exactly an earth-shattering recipe. Anybody could have made it up (in fact, lots of people probably already have.. I didn’t check, but I bet there are similar recipes all over the Internet!). It was very tasty though, and pretty quick to make. So I give you chicken and gnocchi bake. The amount below serves two.

FoodIngredients:
400g chicken breast, chopped (I bough the pre-chopped variety, because I’m lazy)
400g gnocchi
1 courgette, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, etc. I used dried mixed herbs
Grated cheese
Oil for frying

Method:
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While the oil is heating, put on the water for the gnocchi.

2. Fry the chicken until it’s almost cooked through then add the courgette to the frying pan. Put the gnocchi in the water once it’s boiling then, when it’s ready, drain it and add it to the frying pan.

Chicken, courgette, gnocchi
Chicken, courgette, gnocchi

3. Add some herbs then stir in the tin of tomatoes.

4. Place the contents of the frying pan in an oven-proof dish then grate cheese all over it – as much or as little as you want.

5. Bake on 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes until the cheese has melted, then serve.

Look at all that cheesy goodness!
Look at all that cheesy goodness!

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! This is also a recipe that could easily be modified, for example by using spinach instead of courgette or leaving out the chicken and using other vegetables to make a vegetarian version. It’s great comfort food! (Although not really recommend as a summer dish… it was 36°C the day Jan and I had it and we were boiling by the time we’d finished eating!)

A taste of home: Corned beef hash

corned beef hashI got the idea to post a recipe for corned beef hash when Charlotte mentioned she’d had some in New York that, despite being tasty, resembled no corned beef hash she’d ever seen before. She then went on to say that the baked beans were missing, leading to my response that I make corned beef hash with baked beans, too! And thus the idea was born that I would post a recipe for corned beef hash on my blog so we could compare versions. Of course, that meant first waiting until I actually decided to make corned beef hash again, which doesn’t happen all that often because corned beef is just sooo expensive in this country! But last night I needed to use up some potatoes, which presented the perfect corned beef making opportunity… Of course, I could have posted the recipe without making it first (I know this one by heart… it’s ridiculously easy!) but then there would have been no photo. And who wants a recipe post without a photo?

Corned beef – along with sausage rolls and toad in the hole – is one of the English meals I make that Jan likes so much he occasionally requests that I make it. In fact, I think corned beef hash may even be the only English meal that he’s made himself when cooking for the two of us (usually his fall backs are either some kind of spaghetti or chilli con carne), so it must be good.. right? 😉

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes,peeled and  diced
1 tin corned beef, roughly cubed
1 tin baked beans
freshly ground black pepper
cayenne pepper (optional)
tabasco sauce (optional)
oil or butter, for frying

Method

1. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water until they are just starting to go soft (they should be slightly less soft than if you were planning to make mashed potatoes – they’ll soften up further during the rest of the cooking process)

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil or butter in a frying pan and then fry the onions until they start to go brown

3. Add the potatoes to the frying pan with the onions and cook for about a minute, then add the cubes of corned beef and use a potato masher or fork to slightly mash the corned beef and potatoes together then stir until they’re nicely mixed through

4. Cook the onion/corned beef/potato mixture for about 3 minutes, stirring once in a while

5. Stir in the baked beans then add some black pepper to taste. You can also add some cayenne pepper and/or tabasco sauce at this stage if you like your hash a bit spicy (I used cayenne pepper only as I currently have no tobasco)

6. Spread the micture out evenly in the frying pan and leave it to cook for 3-4 minutes, so it forms a crust on the bottom. Stir in the crusty bits then repeat the process so it forms a new crust. You can do this a third time, if you want (Jan likes the crust best, so we usually do want)

7. Taste the corned beef hash to see if it needs any more spices or seasoning. You can also add some salt if you think it needs it – I tend not to as I find corned beef salty enough as it is!

And that’s it… easy peasy! Instead of the allowing it to form a crust in the pan part, you can also spoon it into a heatproof dish after stage 5 and stick it under the gril until it goes crusty on top. There are no grills in Germany, so this isn’t an option for me but I believe it’s how it’s traditionally done! You can also leave out the baked beans if you’re not into them or substitute them for a tin of spaghetti hoops. Once, when we had no baked beans, Jan suggested putting carrots in the mixture and that was quite nice, too. Basically, you can adapt it as you wish!