There are few people around me who understand the passion I have for food, or as my husband says, the obsession with food.
I have recently read the book ‘Creating a meal you’ll love’ which groups a collection of memorable dining experiences of various food writers and chefs. This book inspired my post of today.
Some cook purely to satisfy hunger, so maybe any kind of food will do for them. Others cook since it is their duty to do so and end up repeating boring dishes from week to week. I cook and have fun. I get excited when I see appetizing recipes. My shopping therapy is for food items rather than clothes. My heart throbs when I need to prepare a special meal for a particular occasion or person. I get euphoric when I sense good food in a restaurant. I am in love with food as much as I am in love with my husband, family and friends. That’s why when I cook for these precious beings I want to prepare delectable food. Because through food I feel I can express my love, appreciation and respect!
It was Lauren’s turn to sit down at the glass dining table of my new home. My friendship with Lauren is hard to describe. We do not meet frequently, we do not communicate regularly, we do not update each other with our lives all the time. We just exchange emails occasionally and meet for a lengthy dinner 4 or 5 times a year. And then we say it all in between courses and flowing glasses of wine.
As soon as I found the right time for some ladies quality talk, that is when the husband is away, I invited Lauren over. I thought of the menu some weeks before, bought the necessary ingredients and transformed them into:
- Toasted baguette slices with grilled aubergines dressed with pinzimonio (extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, crushed sea-salt and spices)
- A selection of cheeses from Chianti
- Spinach and ricotta gnocchi served with sage butter
- Turkey drumsticks with chicken liver pate
- Chocolate & prune tarts
The pace of the dinner was a languid one, we paused between one bite and the next, we chatted about our lives, our interests, our worries. Yeah we gossiped as well! We sipped on a decanted Saint-Emilion Grand Cru of 2004 which Lauren proudly brought for the occasion. I have very limited awareness of French wines but we were both impressed with the ameliorated tastes of the wine as it sat undisturbed in the decanter.
We only looked at our watches when we heard my husband’s key unlocking the door. As we concluded our pleasant evening with a caffè and a home-made limoncello I could sense that our dinner was, not only a flavorsome experience, but a comforting moment which can only be conceived when two honest friends open their hearts and minds to each other.
Recipe: Gnocchi ricotta and spinach
- 500g fresh spinach
- 500g ricotta
- 80g flour
- 80g grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- sage leaves
- 40g butter
Clean well the fresh spinach leaves and cook them in a casserole with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. No need to add water since spinach looses a lot of moisture when cooked. Put the spinach under running water to cool, drain well and finely chop.
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach and 50g parmesan, the eggs, a pinch of nutmeg and salt, and 50g flour. Work the mixture with your hands to obtain a soft homogeneous dough. Form gnocchi the size of a walnut.
Roll the gnocchi in the remaining flour and throw them in salted boiling water. In the meantime, soften the butter in a pan add the sage and cook until the butter turns golden.
As soon as the gnocchi start to come to the surface pick them up with a slotted spoon and serve them with the sage butter and the rest of the grated parmesan cheese.
TIP: You can also serve these gnocchi with a plain tomato & garlic sauce.