Among my co-authors I am the only one who did not have a holiday to celebrate, but that does not mean it is an excuse not to feast. Well I did not exactly feast since the two recipes I am including have been made on different days. The common thing between them is that they are both first timers for me.
The first is baby octopi, the second is gnocchi. I have tried both before in restaurants or at friends, but I never made them myself.
The experience with gnocchi varied from the Italian perfection at Piazza Navona in Rome, with two streets dancers performing a tango on a dolent melody, to the extreme flop in a supposedly good local restaurant, where it seemed reprehensive to laugh.
The octopi experience has always been pleasant to me so I had no bad memories to compensate, so I was able to experiment.
Dish # 1
I did look online first for some ideas though, but decided to go with my own. I had some freshly picked rosemary, so it was a must to use since I know it is a good add to seafood.
You are not bound to believe me though; I am not a chef and never pretended to be one. I am just an amateur cook, I needed to clear that since lately I have read a lot of things about how bloggers should not be considered as relevant sources for recipes. Although, the warring militants of the cuisine brigade should remember that the first foods ever created were created by experiments rather than by knowledge. After all can we say that it is not still the case? Moreover, Taste-Buds is about our experience, our culture and sharing food, even virtually, with friends.
Back to my own business, the octopi in question, I decided to go for a marinade, then bake the next day in the oven.
I had them frozen, so I defrosted in the microwave then immersed them in bag with all the ingredients, sealed and put them in the fridge till the next day.
On due time, they were baked in the oven, and this is how they turned out with a nice burgundy color.
Here is the recipe:
Baby Octopi with Wine and Rosemary
– 6 baby octopi
– 1 ½ cup red wine
– 1 big garlic clove crushed
– 2 small sprigs of green rosemary
– 1 pinch nutmeg
– 1 Tsp flour (for thickening the sauce)
Marinate the baby octopi in all the above ingredients in a sealed container or bag for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
Bake in the oven till octopi are tender and absorbed the sauce (about 45 min)
Sieve the sauce into a pot and add the flour and whisk till sauce thickens and boils.
Serve octopi with lemons (optional).
Dish # 2
On the next day I had the sudden urge to make gnocchi at 5:00 p.m. after looking up some recipes online. The ingredients were all available at home and I had willing eaters (usually it motivates me more than being the only one ready to eat).
I set the washed potatoes in the steamer as stipulated in the recipe and prepared the ingredients to make the accompanying simple tomato sauce.
I cored and peeled the tomatoes and added them to the browned onions and garlic. I seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg (again) and dried basil.
While the sauce was simmering, the potatoes were ready to mash and knead with the flour. Although, next time I make them, I will have the potatoes cook more than mentioned in the recipe. I can say though, that I have no real difficulties there, except exercising my biceps while kneading. The dough was a little sticky as it should be.
I made snakes on a floured cutting board then sliced them in ¾ inch pieces (maybe some bigger and some smaller, because I was really tired at this point, I counted the second hour of running around already) and pressed them with a fork for them to be able to hold the sauce. I did not feel like rolling them on the grater and have them round as they should be, for the aforementioned reason (tiredness).
It was time to boil the gnocchi and to my joy, I saw them float as they cooked. I had to taste one for I was impatient to know the result…
I was worried I might have the chewy dough that I ate at that restaurant, but to my elation they were fluffy and light.
I drained them and added them to the sauce and served. My sister made me promise to leave her some to taste, for she is visiting today. My willing eaters were pleased, let us hope the remaining ones (aka my sister and her hubby) will be.