I am watching the Big Lebowski (name check!!), so apologies if this recipe is a little sprawling. People who know me know that I am always a woman who sticks to my word. If I say I’ll be somewhere, I’ll be there fuh sho. Faw shaw.
Actually I am terrible at keeping my appointments I’m not sure why I said that. However I am now a changed woman! For here, as promised, is another walnut and squash recipe. Hallelujah!
I started out my pierogi (Polish gnocchi) odyssey with a basic recipe made with potatoes (naturally) and flour. There are many combinations out there – every culture has there own variation on what are essentially dumplings. I first made them with my mum and since then have had some trouble replicating the recipe as they always come out either like hard bullets of dough or disintegrate during the cooking process. I think the key may be dry floury potatoes, however I think I have a recipe that should work with any old potatoes; I should mention at this point that my mother is a potato connoisseur and would probably recommend Majestics for their superior flavour (I’ll double check on that, p.s. sorry for never calling!). Anyway I did a bit of research and now I think I understand what the different ingredients do and how to get the right product at the end.
As you know I like to adjust recipes as I go, because I often don’t have the right ingredients; this recipe will work well with anything to flavour the starch, providing that it is pureed. So I got some red potatoes at the market, I don’t know what variety they are. Pumpkins are quite watery so the potatoes should bulk out the starch element, as does the added flour, and the egg is for binding it all together. I made a sort white sauce with onions and mushroom stock too...for Poles it is more common to go for onion and bacon bits, probably with a big dob of soured cream. This was a very rich dish and I was only able to eat a tiny amount before feeling sick, so maybe I think a chicken stock cube sauce instead of mushroom, or even just the pierogi on their own with soured cream, would be better and would stop the mushroom overpowering everything. And you can fry up leftovers in a hot griddle pan the following day. Mmmm!
500 g potatoes
500 g squash
1 egg, separated
5 walnuts, crushed to powder preferably
150 g flour
salt n pepper
a few sage leaves
chicken or mushroom stock cube
400 ml milk
knob of marge or butter
Heat the oven to 200 °C. Chop up the squash into cubes or stripes and put them on a baking tray. Pour a little oil onto your hands and rub over the squash, then sprinkle them with a teaspoon of salt which should help to dry them out. Put them in the oven for about half an hour.
Peel and chop the potatoes (well, you could leave the skins on. That’s what I do but I am lazy). Microwave them in a dish with a lid with about a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile chop the onions into rings and put them into a dry pan with a heavy base. They should sweat for about half an hour to bring out their sweetness.
Mash up the squash, which should be just a little caramelised on top, along with the potatoes, preferably using a ricer. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool. Add a splash of oil to the onions and turn up the heat until they start to brown. Then turn the heat down and add a few sage leaves, a couple of spoons of flour and the stock cube. Then once that has soaked up the juices add about 400 ml of milk, glug by glug until its incorporated into the sauce. Add about 10 peppercorns, squashed under the flat side of a heavy knife, and leave on a low heat to reduce, stirring occassionally.
Meanwhile, back to the dough: beat in the egg yolk and the crushed walnut (this recipe works best if they are freshly pulverised) and then the flour spoon by spoon until the mixture is more doughy but still a bit sticky – you don’t want to make them taste too floury. You don’t have to add all of the flour. If the mixture is too dry add a bit of the egg white.
Sprinkle flour on an A4 sized portion of baking paper and also flour up your hands. You have to work quickly here to stop the gnocchi from sticking to your hands and the baking paper. Take a handful of mixture and squish it into a sausage of about an inch wide. Lay the sausage on the baking paper and chop it up into inch squares. Once you have done all the mixture press a floured fork over each square to indent them. Hopefully you have a pot full of water on the boil by now. Kind of sprang that one on you, didn’t I? Well hopefully you read the recipe through before you embarked on your culinary adventure. Put a teaspoon of salt in the water. Plop the pierogi gently one by one into the water and sit over them (not literally) with a slotted spoon and a sieve or colander to hand. After a couple of minutes when the pierogi rise to the surface, immediately take them out and put them into the sieve. You will have to do the lot in maybe three or four batches, depending of course on the size of your pot.
After they have drained put them into another dish with a lump of butter or marge, then you can eat them at will with the mushroomey sauce. Spellcheck is telling me ‘mushroomed’... mushroomey is the word I'm looking for, thank you text editor!
'Mushroomey' is not a word. Nor is 'cupboardy', but did you know there is currently a people's campaign for 'cupboardy'? It's strange that words whose meanings are so obvious should not become words from that simple fact... it seems that they require something more than widespread colloquial use to become part of the Oxford English Dictionary elite. But I digress!