Here’s the most common misconceptions about Italian food; that they’re expensive to make and only people who have won the Masterchef can make them.
In fact, it is actually quite the opposite. Most Italian food are made using simple ingredients, and the recipes are pretty basic and easy to follow (my biggest pet peeve is going to restaurants in Malaysia and getting charged the equivalent of 3 gold nuggets for a plate of basic pasta). Now, enter the gnocchi, which is basically just humble potato dumplings. They are soft pillows of dumplings in a simple sauce (sometimes butter/oil based, sometimes tomato-based), and they make for a great simple weekend lunch while you chill with a tall glass of cold drink and enjoy the balmy weather.
This one is is coated in a simple, herby lemony butter sauce, and made more perfect with a combination of some crispy fried sage leaves.
This recipe makes 2 pasta servings.
What You Need:
1 large Russet potato, peeled
1 1/2 cups of fine flour
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
What You Do:
1. Cut the potato into small pieces and boil until soft. Drain. Mash the potato.
2. Prep a working surface. Make sure it’s dry, and dust it with a good amount of flour.
3. Pile the mashed potato on it. Make a well in the middle.
4. Crack an egg. Whisk it slightly, pour it in that well. Add 1/5 tsp salt.
5. Now remember the flour? The trick is to add the flour bit by bit into the mixture, until you get the consistency you want.
6. Slowly work the dough into the egg well, and as you mix them, add more flour. We’re not trying to make bread here, so there’s no fancy technique, just use your hands and make a dough that doesn’t fall apart (add more flour if it does). Relax.
7. Roll them into long sections about 1.5 inch diameter, and then cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. They don’t have to look symmetrical. Again, relax.
8. Now the sauce - in a pan, put 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon zest, and salt. Turn a very low heat on, let everything melt and infuse.
9. When the oil starts bubbling, put in the sage leaves (make sure they are dry! Otherwise the oil will spatter). You want them to crisp up.
10. Meanwhile, boil some salted water and add the gnocchi to cook. This will take 2-3 minutes only. The dumplings are ready when they float.
11. Add the gnocchi straight into the butter sauce pan. Some people prefer to let the dumplings brown a little on the outside.
12. Remove to a plate, place the sage leaves on top, drizzle some lemon juice, add some freshly cracked black pepper, grate some parmesan if you’d like (optional).
13. There you go. You’re not Italian, but close enough.
Note: the gnocchi is great frozen to. Just make sure each piece doesn't touch each other, and keep them in a lined container. Keeps in the freezer for up to a month.
In case I haven’t said it 20 times already, my favourite mealtime is Sunday brunch! Nothing beats a lazy Sunday morning making good food while eating them in utter blissful peace with no place to rush to and no blaring sounds of traffic, herds of strangers or babies crying (although if I do hear this, I should probably be scared).
My current favourite is this corn pancake recipe. It’s basically a savoury, high nutrient high fibre version of the usual sugary regular pancake option. I very much prefer using fresh corn for this as it gives a burst of freshness, but canned corn would do as well. Paired with a zingy, peppery yoghurt, it’s a pretty good definition of a happy, easy brunch at home with all the good trimmings.
This recipe makes 4 corn pancakes.
What You Need:
1 ½ cups corn
2/3 cups flour
1 tspn. baking powder
1 large egg
Dash of milk
3 tbspn. Plain yoghurt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Cracked black pepper
1 small clove garlic
What You Do:
Tip: Some might even say that it’s even more enjoyable with a little Thai Chili Sauce.
Gotta love a spicy, savoury breakfast! Huevos Rancheros (‘ranch style eggs’) is a common Mexican breakfast, which is basically cooked spicy salsa, topped with refried canned beans and a runny egg. In other words, a pack full of vegetable goodness and good proteins to start your day! It takes about 15 minutes to make, and it is one my favourites for brunch on a holiday.
The original recipe uses jalapenos or some other rustic Mexican peppers, so here's a version that is more Malaysia-friendly.
This recipe serves 2.
Here’s what you need:
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
2 handful chopped tomatoes
1 handful chopped coriander (optional)
1 level teaspoon cumin
½ tablespoon chili flakes/paprika/chili powder/cayenne (or whatever spicy chili paste you can find)
2 handful canned beans (Black beans, Berlotti, or any type that will mash easily)
Here’s what you do:
*If you don’t have any mild chili paste, what you can do is chop some red chili or green chili to substitute.