Admittedly, anything I’ve seen that’s been produced by the channel hasn’t blown me away, but two hosts from the BBC have left me delighted: Lorraine Pascale (currently of Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food and Rachel Khoo (Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London and Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo). Unlike certain cooking hosts out there, both Rachel and Lorraine primarily cook food from scratch without being overly fussy or precious about it, and the recipes they present are actually interesting. My one complaint is that not every recipe is readily available online (Lorraine’s are a little easier to track down) so if something intrigues me I’ll sit with my notebook and furiously write down the ingredients and instructions, but it’s also refreshing to be engaged with a cooking show again so I’m not really complaining.
Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food has only been airing for a few weeks now but already I’ve made three things that derive direct inspiration from her show, like a harissa-spiked hummus, or bucatini with chorizo in a tomato-red wine sauce, or most recently her mascarpone gnocchi. With Michael out of town last week for a few days for work it was the perfect time to give this recipe a try, and I’m really glad I did. The pan-seared dumplings kind of resemble poofy Cheez-Its when they are finished, and tossed either with pesto (as prescribed) or even just some butter and herbs (the route I took just to not have another thing to clean) and some arugula it’s a really satisfying dinner for one.
One thing to note, though, is that the recipe yields a lot of gnocchi—the original mentions that you get 90, and even when I reduced some of the ingredients by 30% or so I was able to easily freeze half. These are rich little dumplings too—I was only able to finish about half of the gnocchi pictured here, but that might have also been because I threw in some leftover mozzarella di bufula that I had in the fridge so as to not waste it so there was quite a bit of food in my bowl.
In any case, I’m looking forward to catching new episodes of this show and getting even more inspiration over the next few weeks. Check your local listings for Cooking Channel for when to catch it—new episodes tend to air on Saturdays and reruns air throughout the week, but the time never seems to be that consistent.
Adapted from Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh & Easy
Makes 4 servings of dumplings, whereas the original recipe yields about 90 gnocchi
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 214g flour, plus extra for dusting
- 71g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp dried orgeano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ stick butter
- Olive oil
To serve with it: additional butter, minced garlic, mixed herbs, and arugula
Make the dough: combine everything except for the butter and olive oil into a bowl (seasoning with salt and pepper to taste) and mix until a soft dough is formed. Remove the dough from the bowl and on a well-floured board knead it until you can get it into a smooth ball. Depending on the weather you may need to add a little water to help bring the dough together, but do so sparingly.
Divide the mixture into 2-3 pieces and start rolling out the dough into logs about 23 inches long. I actually ended up dividing the dough into quarters because I didn’t have that much rolling space to use, but your mileage will definitely vary. Once the dough is rolled out, use a bench cutter to cut out little one-inch dumplings and place on a floured plate. This is also when you can freeze them on a plate and then store them in a resealable bag.
Put a large skillet on to medium to high heat with the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted and starting to foam, add about half the gnocchi and bring the heat down to low. Sear on each side for about a minute, and then cook for another 4-5 minutes, turning every once in a while to brown them evenly. Just before taking them out, add garlic and herbs to the pan and toss well to coat, and then serve in a bowl with arugula and serve immediately.