For this recipe I must put my hand up for being incredibly tardy. I received the Silver Spoon for Children book last year from Phaidon before Christmas and it has taken me a long time to get to the stage of cooking from it. Of course the main obstacle was that I had no kids of my own and harassing pint sized strangers is often frowned upon. Months passed and I forgot about the book and it was only when Teena returned it to me that I remembered that I had meant to cook something from it.
Being a Silver Spoon cookbook it has a decidedly Italian flavour to it and the recipes are simple as befitting a kid's recipe book (wouldn't you just love to see a Pierre Herme kid's cooking book?). The recipe that I honed in on was the polenta gnocchi. I had a big bag of it left over from some lemon polenta cakes I made over Christmas and I am one of those people that just cannot abide expired items in their fridge or pantry.
Liss's kids were the perfect kids to make the polenta gnocchi with and they made an enthusiastic bunch of chefs. Each girl has her own cutter (and the ultimate choice of cutter, as you can imagine, was very important). There was a star, square and a diamond. They made fast work of this and whilst this isn't exactly the hand rolled pasta dough gnocchi, they seemed to enjoy making it and more importantly eating it.
For adults I'd recommend serving this with a rich tomato based sauce or a nice blue cheese sauce. We did some browned butter and sage leaves (of which the girls didn't want any part of). The end result is similar to polenta chips and it was easy to eat and we could imagine a great accompaniment to a lovely roast or a stew for adults.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite cookbook and why?
Olivia marvelling at her heart cutter!
Adapted from The Silver Spoon for Children
350g polenta (coarse or fine)
40g parmesan cheese
a little oil for brushing the tray
2 teaspoons salt
Brush the tray with oil
Step 1 - You will need a baking tray that is about 20cms x 30cms big. Brush a little oil over your baking tray.
Read the recipe
Step 2 - Check the instructions on your packet of polenta. Most polenta flours are similar, but it is always worth checking. You will need to measure out the water as directed on the packet, pour it into a big saucepan and bring it to the boil.
Step 3 - Very carefully, pour the polenta flour into the water stirring with a large whisk constantly to ensure that it doesn't go lumpy.
Stirring the polenta
Step 4 - Lower the heat and cook gently and keep stirring all the time until the polenta is thick and smooth. This will take about 3 minutes or the length of time suggested on the packet.
Spreading out the polenta on a tray
Step 5 - Carefully spoon the poleta mixture onto the baking tray. You might like to use a ladle to do this. Spread out the polenta to make an even rectangle and leave to cool and set (you can put this in the fridge once it starts to cool off).
Little chef's treat: licking the spatula
When firm, press out shapes
Make sure to wet the cutters in between stamping
Step 6 - When the polenta is cold, stamp out the shapes using a cutter-dip the cutter into cold water to stop the polenta from sticking to it. Start cutting the shapoe along one edge of the polenta. You can also try reshaping the polenta once you have cut out some shapes.
Bake in oven
Step 7 - Turn the oven on to 180c/350F. Brush a little oil ovre a wide baking sheet. Carefully grate cheese over the polenta shapes and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
Ta-da! Heart girl Olivia's gnocchi
Star girl Laura's gnocchi
Diamond girl Eliose's gnocchi-all gone!