As I write this, I have my back turned on my office and kitchen, both of which have been completely devastated by my tornado-like working methods, which go something like this: ‘start one thing then another then another then another then forget what you were doing, make a snack, then decide to write a blog post and if you don’t look behind you then the mess doesn’t exist, right?’. I might not be the most efficient person in the world, but I don’t think that was ever a question.
And sometimes life is both normal and exciting:
1. From the couch in my living room where I write, looking out the window, the flower stalks of my big white sage plant can be seen shooting up towards the sky, waving in the wind. Every morning I run outside to see how many new flowers have appeared. It is often the highlight of my morning until something else appears in the garden. I am easily amused, it seems.
2. My plant collection is growing. With each new arrival, I place them on the dining room table, and arrange a meeting, during which I shout ‘Welcome, Friends!’ and introduce them to each other. Then I show them around and show them where they will be living and ask if these accommodations work for them. I think this is an unnecessary step but it is now a part of the routine and so it stays.
3. Things are happening. I’m teaching two classes coming up: one with my friend Emily on May 5th (that’s next weekend, folks!) and one on May 25th at the Roots of Healing Herb Fest in Topanga Canyon. The first is on elderflowers and it will be spectacular; the second is on five local herbs that I use a lot, and I am trying not to panic at the thought of speaking in front of people. I figure 31 is as good as any age to rid myself of the residue of trauma caused by having to do an impromptu speech in Mrs. Leisk’s primary six classroom, and the humiliation of standing there for the full three minutes almost completely silent while people sniggered.*
4. Its been hot. Surprisingly hot. Ridiculously hot. Sit on the floor in your underwear eating ice cubes hot. Finally around 5:45 this evening the air cooled down enough for me to open the windows and throw the curtains back. A couple of hours of light and air streaming into the house, while the fires burn around LA, while the earth shakes (earthquakes and fires… is this the end of the world?), while the scent of smoke fills the air, and while Jam’s first day of directing (A real movie! His own movie!) is blessed with the flipside of the air-quality coin: perfect hazy light. While us Angelenos (yes I have finally called myself an Angeleno) sniff and scratch our irritated eyes and wonder about the fragility of this delicate balance that is life (at least I am). In our dry, parched state, gasping for water, gasping for air, with emotions on edge and the metallic clang of air conditioner units and screechy voices shouting at each other in the Friday afternoon traffic. That’s what today felt like to me: metallic, clangy, irritated. *coughs*
5. It was with great relief this evening that I slammed the front door and shut out the rest of the world. With greater relief that I threw open the windows to let some cool air in. Even smoky evening air, as it is. And even more so to make a strong cup of tea and open up the container of my new favourite cookies. The white sage seeds were sent to me by my friend Ginia who lives in Northern California and is a plant whisperer if ever I’ve met one. I’ve been holding onto them trying to decide what to do. In something sweet their flavour is delightfully delicate. I made one batch with those alone and another with one white sage leaf to enhance the taste a little. I recommend the latter and that is the version I am sharing below. If you don’t have white sage plants, then you can use any type of aromatic plant. I think these would be delicious with any form of sage, or bee balm, or even lavender. But for this evening the sage was perfect: grounding and calming, and soothing to my dried out and cranky self.
*why do British teachers feel the need to torture children so, and does this still happen nowadays?
Acorn shortbread with a white sage icing.
1 cup acorn flour
3/4 cup sweet white rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
2/3 cup sugar minus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon salt
8oz (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tb white sage seeds
1 white sage leaf
Preheat the oven to 325.
In a pan on the stove, place the water, sage seeds and sage leaf. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer until the water is reduced by half.
Mix all the flours together. In a bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, then reduce the speed. Add the flours in two batches until well incorporated.
Grease the bottom of a 9 x 9 square pan, and dust with rice flour, then press the shortbread mixture into the bottom of the pan. It should be about 3/4″ thick all the way around. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and keep the oven on. Carefully cut the baked shortbread into slices, about 4″ long. Like shortbread fingers. Then wait for it to cool. Once cool, you can very carefully lift them out (apologies in advance– the first two might crumble into nothingness until you have that space for leverage… I haven’t been able to pry them out without causing shortbread damage) and place them on a baking sheet. Bake again, for another 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
In the meantime, in a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and pour in 2 tablespoons of the sage water, seeds included. Mix it all together- it should be a paste and if you take a spoonful of it and drop it, it’ll pour off the spoon like thick paint. If its too thick, add a teaspoon of the sage water at a time. If too thin, add a little more sugar. When you remove the shortbread from the oven, drizzle the icing over the top. Allow to cool before eating.
(in which I dole out an anatomy lesson, provide pictures of my recent adventures, and reward you with a recipe for the best cookie in the entire world)
I’ve been thinking about time lately. Of course there’s city time, or world-clock time, or employer time. I think they’re one and the same. The kind of time that means you have to be at X by X time. The kind of time that has you clutching your coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other, and hurtling towards a target somewhere in the distance along a straight and narrow line.
But there are other times. There’s sea time, for example. Sea time operates according to its own clock. In fact there’s a saying to ‘never sail on a schedule’, because if you sail on a schedule then you end up in less than ideal conditions, and less than ideal conditions out on the ocean are a matter of life and death.
There’s self-employment time. Self-employment time can mean a number of things to a number of people. To some it means up at dawn and work till midnight. For others it means wake when you like and work till midnight (there’s a theme here). It used to, for me, be something much closer to city time. But lately, that’s been changing.
There’s earth time, that slow, moist, circular time, that moves in cycles and doesn’t give a whit about what you, me or Greenwich think. Earth time and body time in my mind are one and the same. That is, our bodies aren’t built for city time but for the slow, for the cyclic, for the reverent. Our bodies are built to eat when hungry, sleep when tired, to move around a lot, and contrary to popular belief, to heal themselves.
For the most part, we’re all raised on city time. Children are taught to read their watches at an early age and we learn to step to a rhythm that someone else has decided. That’s fine. As far as employment, meetings, existing in the ‘real world’ (I hate that term), its necessary. But when home alone, when walking along a scarcely trodden path in the mountains, when cooking, when reading, when hanging out with friends and with family, its nice to be able to switch back to earth time, or body time, which, as I’ve mentioned, are one and the same.
I discovered my body time purely by accident. It was the result of doing a psoas workshop from my new biomechanics guru*. The psoas muscle. You know, that giant band of muscle that runs from the back of your body, at the bottom of your ribs, through to the front of your body, at the top of your thighs… I know, I know, you came here for plant matter and food and are getting sucker punched with an anatomy lesson. But there is a point; hear me out.
Our bodies register stress before our minds do. Because as much as we think our minds are the cleverest things in the world, they aren’t cleverer than gut feelings. They aren’t cleverer than hair standing on end for no reason, for refusal to walk a certain way home even though you always go that way, or for just not liking somebody even though they smile and seem nice on the surface. Bodies know things that minds can’t comprehend. And bodies know stress before minds do. For me, and I think for most of us, that stress manifests in one place first: in the psoas. And for most of us, it manifests there so early in life that we don’t notice its there. I think it has something to do with being pointed on that linear time path with our chins jutting fiercely into the future, to where we’re supposed to be instead of where we are. The second our focus gets out ahead of us like that, our ribs jut out ahead of us too, and then we’re done for**.
I’ve been noticing it for the past couple of weeks. Wind up the body like you wind up an alarm clock and it hurtles forward in space and time towards its goal. Relax the body, and time flows in a different way. Easily. Flowily. The flow doesn’t just happen all around me but inside too. The second that relaxation happens, blood, lymph, nervous system and energy all band together and start moving around in the middle of my trunk. Its circular and its movement and it feels as good as lying down on a comfy bed after twelve hours on my feet. Tense up and it goes away. Relax and it returns. Its a feedback mechanism that lets me know the second I’m starting to get stressed out.
In order to keep my psoas relaxed and that flowy sensation moving, I have to do things slower. Dramatically slower. Annoyingly slower. But to be annoyed is to tense up, and so, taking walking as an example, to walk at a pace that keeps me relaxed is to settle my mind down somewhere into the pit of my belly and go at the speed my body enjoys. I have come to refer to this speed as ‘Rebecca pace’. I’m sure you will have your own pace too if you don’t already (do you? If so, how could you not tell me about this? If not, please relax your own psoas and get back to me.). Rebecca pace and earth time work together well, as evidenced by the relaxed smile and lack of wrinkles on my forehead. Yes, its true. Earth time is a beauty treatment.
In honor of doing things slowly, I’ve been making these cookies lately. Yes, they’re labour-intensive. Yes, they’re probably the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever made (if you count the sheer amount of sugar in them). Yes, they use acorn flour which is hard to find unless you have oak trees around you or a Korean market nearby. But I promise you, if you can find acorn flour and plum jam and forget about how much sugar you’re about to ear, you’ll be the happiest squid in the world when you sink your teeth into one.
Plum and acorn custard sandwich cookies
Note: these cookies are a variation on my favourite two British cookies: Jammy Dodgers and Custard Creams. If you’re familiar with either then you’ll see the resemblance. Also, the acorn custard cream filling is even better than the original and you might want to eat it all on a spoon.
1 portion buckwheat shortbread dough
1 portion acorn custard (see below)
About 1/2 cup plum jam (storebought works fine too. You might be tempted to use another flavour but we did do a taste test of every jam in the cupboard and it was decided that my original brilliant vision was best in the end.)
Preheat the oven to 350, and roll out the shortbread dough. Cut it into an even number of cookie shapes, and then, using a small round thing (I used an apple corer; have never been so happy to find an apple corer in my drawer, and also, for the record, I have no idea where it came from) cut holes in the centre of half the cookies. Sprinkle those holey (holy?) cookies with granulated sugar and bake the whole lot at 350 for 18-20 minutes. They should be golden brown and not remotely burned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before putting this magical little parcel together.
Take a solid cookie, and upon it place about a teaspoon of the acorn custard. Spread this out, then on top of that, a dollop (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) of plum jam. Put a holy cookie on top and press it down to make a sandwich. Repeat for all of them. Pour self a cup of tea or big glass of milk and try to only eat one. Really…
FOR THE ACORN CUSTARD:
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup acorn flour
8 tbsps corn starch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the butter in a bowl until slightly fluffy, then add the vanilla and then the dry ingredients one at a time. Keep mixing until its all incorporated. It should be thick but not powdery, tacky but not liquid. Enough that you can take off a lump between your fingers and press it onto a cookie base and not fight to have it stay where you put it (ie. no buttery mess left on your hands). But soft enough that its not like biting into chalk. I know, my descriptions are exact beyond belief. Apologies there…
*there’s a reason her blog is called ‘Katy Says’ and its because I say ‘Katy says…’ about five times a day. Also, did I mention that I become obsessed with things and then get very annoying about them?
**this is called rib thrust. Look for it in yourself– feel under your ribcage and if they’re not flush with your rippled abdomen then there’s a rib thrust. And now look for it in everyone around you and you, too, can be as annoying as I am and say ‘RIB THRUST’ really loudly every time you see it.
“And as he drove on, the rain clouds dragged down the sky after him for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him and to water him.”
-So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
There’s a funny thing about rain and perspective. Expose yourself to the stuff every day by, oh, say, growing up in Glasgow, and you start to resent it. Bitterly. Its constant drone permeates your skin and your dreams and pretty soon any glimpse of the sun is an excuse to put on a bikini and celebrate. In California, it’s a bit different. The sun gets taken for granted in a way that never happens on the British Isles. We take the sun for granted so much that we have a very small gradient of acceptable temperature ranges. You know, sixty degrees farenheit is too cold; ninety degrees farenheit is too hot. We talk about the weather like people who actually experience weather patterns, although our variations are minor.
Until the rain comes.
It did, the other day, when Emily and I were up in the mountains gathering fir. The heavens opened no sooner than we’d left the car, and, like southern Californian rain-deprived people (in our summer hiking gear with no waterproofs and nothing remotely warm) we grinned at each other and headed off up a trail. Thunder clamoured overhead. Lightning struck across the sky. The rain came down in big gobs of juicy wetness and we kept grinning, and kept walking.
And that’s how the day went. Surrounded by water, up high in the mountains, with a cool breeze and the dehydrated world around us sighing in relief. We gathered fir. We gathered Jeffrey pine. We even gathered some goldenrod. We trapsed through bushes and overturned mushrooms and (well Em did) took pictures of every single patch of moss along the way. It was a good day. A relief of a day. Punctuation in the dusty heat wave that drives on despite the change in seasons.
A note on this recipe:
Even if you don’t have acorn flour to try the pancakes, please try and make the syrup with whatever conifers you can find. Christmas trees planted in front yards work. Spruces, firs, pines and redwoods all work. If you’re unsure about whether you can use it, email me; I’m happy to help. You can also post a picture on the Cauldrons and Crockpots Facebook page and then other people can have a say too- we’ve got a good discussion going on what conifers grow where, and if you don’t know what grows around you, just ask. There is such a wonderful pleasure to be found in eating flavours that come from your area. I also used apricot jam that I had lying around (I made a bunch of it this spring), but use what you have. Plum would be really nice too, as would blackberry.
Rustic acorn pancakes with white fir and apricot syrup.
Note: here’s the best article ever on gathering and processing acorns
For the pancakes:
2/3 cup flour (I used gluten free)
2/3 cup acorn flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
4tb melted butter
Combine the wet ingredients, and combine the dry ingredients. Give them a good whisk each, then slowly add the wet to the dry, whisking to get out any lumps.
Conversely you can just put the whole lot in a blender and blend away. I do this method- less clean up.
Cook as you would any pancake- on a skillet or pan or griddle, oil it up nicely (I used coconut oil; you can use whatever you like but keep in mind that coconut oil is a. very safe to cook with and b. gives things a lovely crisp edge), then pour a good 7 inch round pancake onto the pan. Let it bubble, as pancakes do, until the whole thing is covered in bubbles. Then flip it. Cook until golden, transfer to a plate kept warm in the oven with the pilot on or on its lowest setting. Repeat for all pancakes. Serve with butter and syrup.
For the white fir and apricot syrup:
1 cup white fir, loosely packed ends of branches, chopped. If you don’t have white fir, please see aforementioned paragraph about getting in touch- I can almost guarantee you’ll have something tasty nearby.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tb apricot jam
Bring the water and sugar to a boil, add the conifer bits, and then remove from heat. Allow to sit for an hour, then strain and bring back to boil. Reduce by 1/4, then stir in the apricot jam. Taste- if its too bitter (conifers can do that) add more jam.
(A recipe for acorn scones to welcome, nay, hurry the turn of the seasons)
A few days ago, I was sitting watching the light change when it struck me that the seasons are turning. The weather doesn’t agree: it’s still in the 80′s, I’m still sleeping with the covers cast off to the side, and my shoulders haven’t seen a sweater in weeks. But the air, you guys, the air is saying something different. I imagine sometimes that the air is filled with tiny little light particles, and that they all dance in a certain direction. In spring, they start to wiggle, moving up, slowly at first, as if they are taking a while to wake up, and then quicker and quicker, as summer approaches. By summer, everything is in full fervent swing. The bugs mirror the pace: frantic, ecstatic. The leaves reach skyward with such power and speed (as they were born to reach these great heights and they know what’s coming). For a second they hover in the air, suspended, weightless, and then, one by one, the particles start to fall. Slowly. Like feathers, in space. Slowly, like slipping into a dream.
I live for this time of year. Without a doubt. The light looks different during the summer. I await those 30 seconds of perfect hued morning light as the sun comes up and hits the tree in the front garden. But its coming, you guys, it’s coming. Soon the air will grow thin. Soon the acorns will be ripe. Soon the leaves will fall. Soon everything will be suspended halfway between waking and dreaming.
Of course, its still hot. Weather hasn’t caught the memo. Nature is bureaucratic, it seems, and these changes take a while to implement.
But looking at the light changing. Looking at the dust falling. Feeling that downward pull beginning, I can tell you that it’s not long off. Savour the summer while you can; though I couldn’t be more delighted.
These are really easy and quick to make. No fancy equipment needed. If you don’t have access to acorn flour (I bought mine at the Korean market because my supplies are done until Autumn), then try chestnut, almond, hazelnut, or just use regular flour.
2 1/2 cups gluten free flour (or regular if you don’t need gluten free, just halve the amount of baking powder and remove the xanthan gum)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup acorn flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar (scant)
1/2-1 cup buttermilk (start with 1/2 and keep adding till its the right consistency)
Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks, and mix in with your hands, pinching it together, as you would with pastry, until the whole lot has a kinda course sandy consistency. Slowly add the buttermilk, a quarter cup at a time, mixing it all together with your hands until it forms a smooth dough.
Press the dough into an inch-high disk, and cut out scone shapes (I used a small mason jar, you can use whatever you like). Brush the top with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
They’re best eaten warm out the oven but will last a few days until they just don’t have a good consistency anymore.
Cut in half, spread with butter, then a dollop of clotted cream (which is really hard to find in the US- I use creme fraiche or whipped cream) and jam.
Apologies for my absence, friends, but I have been looking at things after getting LASIK, and not much else, simultaneously awe-struck and wonder-filled.
The LASIK procedure was uncomfortable, spent in a blind panic trying to control my breathing and therefore my reaction because there was a laser pointing at my eye. The aftermath was painful, as the numbing drops wore off and I wore dark goggles and tried to sleep. The rest of the day was spent watching a blurry television and drinking tea and complaining about the taste of antibiotic eye drops because, as it turns out, they drip into your sinuses through your tear ducts. And then I went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and looked out the window and could see every single leaf on the nearest tree with such clarity and intensity that it felt as though I had never actually SEEN it before.
And I started crying. Big sobs of relief and reverence. The rest of the day, I spent looking at things. Colours! Leaves! Birds in the sky! The pores on peoples’ faces! Individual hairs! Green grass! Purple flowers! The night sky! It felt as though not only my eyes had been opened but all of my senses in turn. Food had never tasted so good, smells had never been that smelly before, and at this middle of all this sensory overload was me, just walking, staring, smelling, feeling.
During this week, with my new (better than 20/20!) eyes, I discovered, at the back of a dark cupboard, a little jar of roasted acorn flour. I remember putting it there- much like one stashes a spare $20 under a pair of underwear just in case, and then forgets about it, so that, upon finding it six months later it’s become free money. Well this was free acorn flour. At a time of year that I’m usually bereft of acorn flour. Joy, my friends, doesn’t even describe the emotional response to finding such things.
I’ve been so in love with the mountains lately- that smell of pine tree and sweetness. High desert, where mesquite turns to oak, and then to pine belt. I’ve been spending as much time as possible up there lately, to gather mountain roses, and to enjoy the crisp air, the smells, the staggering beauty. I pulled out the last of my mesquite pods from last year, and the jeffrey pine honey I made a few weeks ago, thinking to combine them all to make something that spoke of Southwestern mountains. The combination of acorn and mesquite flour is both sweet and wild-tasting. Different enough that you think ‘what IS that?’ but not so different that you want to stop eating it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So I made cheesecake, using the flours as a crust, and the honey to sweeten the cheese mixture. Using a combination of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Baking, From My Home To Yours, and Kiva’s recipe from the Wild Things acorn roundup last year, and a few modifications of my own.
A note on ingredients: Come autumn, it should be pretty easy to get hold of acorns. I’ll remind you; there will be talk of them for weeks. If not, then try a Korean market- you can usually get acorn flour there, and if not, try it with chestnut flour, which you can definitely get there. Mesquite flour can be found at health food stores, though, if you’re in the Southwest, I really recommend harvesting your own. If you don’t have access to Jeffrey pines (or ponderosa) then try a local pine species, or fir, or even Douglas fir…
Acorn, pine and mesquite cheesecake.
3/4 c acorn flour
1/2 cup mesquite flour
1 cup oat flour
11tb butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
grate of nutmeg
2 packs cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pine infused honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tb spiced rum
First, make the crust- combine the flours, salt and nutmeg in a bowl, and stir in the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a pan (I used a cast iron pan, but you can use a springform pan- the crust holds together really well), and bake for 15 minutes at 325.
While that’s in the oven, beat the cream cheese and sour cream until really light and smooth- about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat until combined, then the honey, and the rum.
When smooth, pour into the crust, and bake, still at 325 for 45 minutes to an hour. Start checking it after 45- it should still be slightly jiggly in the centre, and nicely bronzed on top.
I spent the first few years of my life in a garden full of oak trees. I mean, there was a house there, but the part I remember the most is the garden and the trees. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting under those big beautiful boughs, staring up at the sky through the leaves. Needless to say, the oak is my favourite tree. Followed closely by the rowan tree, and then the lemon tree. If you needed to know.
In Southern California, there are quite a few different types of oak (quercus spp), but only one that has sweet acorns– quercus lobata: California valley oak. The rest of the acorns around here are unbearably bitter, and need to be leached before eating*. A post by Feral Kevin convinced me to give up looking this year, but last week when I was out hiking, I stumbled upon a valley oak that had branches low enough for me to see that there were acorns. There weren’t many, mind you, but these ones are immediately edible so they’re worth the extra time in gathering.
The hardest part about cooking with acorns is in the preparation (think fava beans on steroids). That said, they’re free, they’re delicious, they’ll stay good all year, and I never really had any problems with getting a bucket, putting on some good music, and getting down to business shelling things for an hour or two. Next year, if there’s a massive harvest, I think I’ll maybe bribe some friends with wine and get them to come and help. Peeling the acorns is a pain in the ass– you have to cut a slit, and then pull the inside bit out, and it takes forever and you get stuff under your nails. About halfway through the bucket I realised that if I cut off the bottom I could pull the whole thing open really easily, and it went a lot faster from there.
Once peeled, depending on what type of acorn you have, you might need to leach them. Butter, of Hunger and Thirst, chopped her acorns up into small pieces to leach them faster (which I will most definitely do next time I use a batch of bitter acorns). The quickest and easiest way to leach acorns is through boiling– cover them with water, bring to the boil, boil for fifteen minutes and then change the water, and repeat until they no longer taste bitter. This usually takes 8 or so changes. If you live in the Southwest and have sweet acorns, then don’t bother with leaching, just proceed to the roasting part:
Preheat the oven to 250. Roast acorns for around 2 hours, until dark and crispy and sweet smelling.
Then grind them into flour. I use a coffee grinder, though if you have a grain mill I’m sure it’s more efficient.
Now you have acorn flour. It’ll keep for ages. Congratulations.
The gnocchi were inspired by some delightful little gnocchis that I had last week at my favourite restaurant. I’ve had them on my mind ever since. I called my mum for some preliminary information on gnocchi-making (mum being the ultimate cooking resource), and she said “oh it’s easy. One potato, one cup of flour, one egg”. So I played around with that a bit.
Let me preface this by saying a couple of things: the key to keeping your gnocchi light and fluffy is twofold:
1. Mix your ingredients to a bare minimum
2. Use a light hand when rolling them out
You can also make the gnocchi in advance and re-heat with the sauce later, if you’re serving for a party.
Oh, and by the way, just in case you were despairing about acorn flour, I made some with regular flour too, and they were almost as good. Almost. You can see them here, mixed in with the acorn ones:
Acorn Gnocchi with sage butter sauce
2 large russet potatoes
2 large eggs
1 cup acorn flour
1/2 cup regular flour
1 tsp salt
oil, for sauteeing
4 cloves garlic
2 tb butter
2 tb olive oil
8 leaves sage
1/4 cup cream
2 cups arugula
Peel the potatoes, and chop into quarters. Bring a pot of water to the boil, salt, and add the potatoes. Cook until soft (like you would for mashed potatoes), around 20 minutes.
Arrange a potato ricer over a bowl, and, when the potatoes are finished cooking and strained, mash them all through a ricer (you can let them cool a little ). Add the flours and salt, and, using a fork, fluff the whole lot together using a kinda whipping motion. Whisk the eggs together in a separate container, then pour into the potato mixture. Now comes the key part. You might laugh at me but I swear it helps to keep thinking “FLUFF! FLUFF!” over and over again. Fluff it all together, using that same whipping motion, with a fork, in the bowl. Think light. As soon as all the ingredients are incorporated (it won’t come together in a cohesive lump yet), check the texture. Is it too sticky? If so, add a bit more flour. You want it to be the consistency of a good dough– not sticky, but slightly tacky. It needs to hold together, but not so much that it leaves a trail everywhere it touches.
Now, dump the whole lot out on a work surface, and take a lump of it into your hands. Squish it together lightly, and start rolling it out in front of you, using both hands and a very light touch. Think “giving a yoga adjustment to a very very frail person” or how I get around babies and you’ve got the right idea. Using both hands, roll it into a long tube in front of you. It should be about the width of your thumb. Then, take a fork and cut it into 1/2 inch long pieces. With each piece, roll it gently along the back of the fork (on the cut side), to create fork marks on one side. Then lay it aside. Do this with the entire ball of dough.
Heat up a pan on the stove, and add some olive oil for sauteeing. Add the gnocchi to the pan in batches, frying them on each side until they’re a golden brown colour. Remove from the pan, and add more batches until they’re all cooked. Dump out the oil in the pan, return it to the heat, and add the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and chopped sage, over medium heat, and cook for a minute or so, then add the gnocchi, tossing them in the herbs. Add the cream to the pan, cook for another ten seconds or so, and remove from the heat and toss in the arugula. Sprinkle with parmesan before serving.
Gnocchi not enough incentive to prepare your own acorns?
Here’s a few more interesting recipes:
*I’ve done this, and they still turn out great, it’s just slightly more labour intensive. For great information about leaching acorns, and also some more recipes, check out my friend Butter’s website.
This post is shared at the Hearth and Soul blog hop.