Sage and Bacon Gnocchi

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Last week, after nearly four years at the one job, Andy said goodbye to a pile of workmates. Only just back from Spain, there was no way I was going to be the life of any party (or surrender up the toddler to babysitters – or maybe that should be “be surrendered”?!) so I stayed in.

I had a pretty lazy day and only once shops were closing and the toddler was in bed did I discover that the cupboards were pretty bare. Normally I would have spaghetti, chilli, oil and garlic but there wasn’t enough plain pasta for dinner so I had to put my thinking cap back on.

Fortunately the freezer was home to a small bag of gnocchi (of indeterminate age, naturally), the fridge had some bacon and we have a big pot of sage in the back garden.

Now, I could have done something healthy because we always have tinned tomatoes to hand but … I wanted super quick. Taking inspiration from the countless variations on sage and butter that you find in Italian cooking I whipped up a tasty, but also not very healthy or very balanced supper!

Absolutely perfect for a night in for one. But a word of advice – you absolutely HAVE to use fresh sage. Dried simply will not work at all.

Sage and Bacon Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • butter
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • fresh sage leaves, to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • gnocchi, for one

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter in a frying pan that is big enough to fit the gnocchi in.
  2. Chop the bacon and add to the butter.
  3. Start cooking the gnocchi in boiling water.
  4. When the bacon starts to brown and crisp, add the garlic and the sage leaves.
  5. When the gnocchi is cooked (it all floats), drain and add to the frying pan with the bacon, sage and garlic.
  6. Give this a quick fry and then serve in a warm bowl, topped with grated parmesan and plenty of black pepper.
https://eatingadelaide.com/sage-bacon-gnocchi/

Cafe Brunelli

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date of visit: Thursday 12 September 2013

The thing I learnt yesterday was to not meet Andy directly after work without having a definite action plan. As we stood in the office foyer trying to decide where to go to dinner he became grumpier and less helpful by the minute. I’d suggest somewhere and he’d say no. No alternative would be offered, just ‘no’.

So after some faff, and an attempt to eat in a hotel restaurant that didn’t start serving until 6 (too late with the toddler in tow), we ended up at Café Brunelli on Rundle Street. It’s the massive café next to the carpark at the Pulteney Street end. You can’t miss it.

Andy was still looking grumpy. “They’d better be able to serve quickly”, he muttered. Despite it being very early (before 5:30pm) I’d hazard a guess and say that Brunelli’s was about 10-20% full. The tables are reasonably tightly packed in and it’s all very casual. You wander in, grab a table, grab a high chair (should you need one), grab some menus and when you’re ready, you wander up to the kitchen to order.

The front of the café is dominated by a HUGE cabinet of cakes, biscuits and chocolates. I have no idea what they’re like but they look tempting enough to make you want to skip a ‘real’ meal and just do cake and coffee.

The menu is a pretty standard Italian café menu. The toddler became hugely animated at the prospect of meatballs, so polpette in umedo was duly chosen for him. For speed, I chose the gnocchi Roma: gnocchi with a tomato, bocconcini and basil sauce (a simple, but boy, do you have nowhere to hide dish), and Andy the salsicce pizza. With drinks (a humour rescuing Boags for Andy and a glass of Annie’s Lane Riesling for me), and after Entertainment Card discount, the meal cost $55*.

After ordering and paying at the kitchen, I collected our drinks from the bar. I was a little concerned when I saw how little Riesling was left in the bottle and I was right. The bottle had obviously been open for a day or two longer than it should which is disappointing. While I commend Café Brunelli for a very impressive list of wines by the glass (almost everything, it seemed!) if the turnover is not such that the wines can be kept fresh, don’t do it!

The food arrived super quickly. The toddler’s entrée size meatballs consisted of two huge meatballs in a tomato sauce. He was extremely pleased with this, even more so when he learnt that it wasn’t one for him and one for daddy but that they were both for him. Both meatball and tomato sauce appeared to hit the spot but he was unimpressed by the rocket and the fact that it was served with thick chunks of toast (they had to be removed very quickly). It was a ridiculously large portion: had I ordered it there would have been no way I could ever have eaten anything else.

Andy’s pizza looked really good: the base was thin and crispy (I could tell that from the other side of the table) and he said he quite liked the toppings. His complaint was that the tomato sauce had been used a little too heavy handedly. This meant that the pizza sat firmly in the middle of the pizza awesomeness spectrum.

My gnocchi was very ho-hum indeed. The gnocchi themselves were small and light but the sauce was pointless. It was a mix of overly sweet tomato and tomato that had not been cooked out enough. The basil had been cooked too much and turned a little bitter. Had some freshly torn basil been added just before serving that could have made all the difference. As it was, the basil looked scary and didn’t taste good at all. I really liked the addition of torn chunks of bocconcini to the sauce but as a dish it was utterly underwhelming.

If you are in town and looking for a quick meal then Café Brunelli can fulfil that need. Depending on how you choose, you can eat for a reasonable price – but just set your expectations accordingly.

Café Brunelli
187 Rundle Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 8223 2221

* Without Entertainment Card, it was just over $70.

Cafe Brunelli on Urbanspoon

Perfect Pizza Dough Recipe

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So back in November last year, I attended the Food SA awards and promised to put some focus on South Australian producers.

I’ve not done the world’s best job of that, have I? Still, the other week at the Cellar Door Festival Pangkarra, based in Clare, had a stand so punters were able to try their pasta and purchase a wide range of their foods.

Pangkarra started life as a legume and cereal producer but these days, this fifth generation family owned business produces fine foods, such as flours and pastas, too. And while I have no doubt that this kind of value adding takes a lot of effort that many primary producers can’t afford, it is a brilliant way of ensuring that more money flows back to the people who produce the food, rather than middle men.

I’ve seen Pangkarra pasta in my parents’ local Foodland (unfortunately not in my own) but never had the presence of mind to purchase it. And the Cellar Door Festival wasn’t really the place to buy pasta – it being fragile and all. But I was easily tempted by a 1kg bag of the stone ground, wholegrain durum flour. It was offered at the special price of $3 (I think it’s normally around $7, so this is quite a discount) and I could have bought 6kg at an even greater knock down price. I also knew I had no hope of carting 6kg of flour around for an afternoon!

Now, Pangkarra does actually have a pizza dough recipe on the website, but I’ve been using an Antonio Carluccio “recipe” (you can find it in Complete Italian Food) for years and there are some things I find need no fiddling at all.

For one pizza, mix 1 generous tsp of dried yeast, with a generous ½ tsp of sugar and 125 mL of warm water (think tepid). Leave to allow the yeast to activate (the mixture will start to froth a little) and add in 200 g of flour. I was warned that the Pangkarra flour would be more thirsty than run of the mill (ahem!) flour – and it certainly was, so have some additional water to hand to bring the dough together.

This is usually quite a stiff dough and was especially so in this case because I didn’t want to end up with dough that was too wet. I always let my KitchenAid do the first lot of kneading for me, then I just form the dough into a ball, cover it with a slick of oil and leave it to rise.

Making the pizza is easy! Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go (250°C fan in our case), lightly oil a pizza pan, and roll out the dough. Put the dough in the pizza pan, add a generous slick of tomato paste, some dried oregano and chilli flakes and then lots of slices of mozzarella cheese. Finish off with toppings of your choice (in our case, onion, ham, spicy salami, some green capsicum, artichokes, and black olives) and bake until done. In our oven, this is just 10 minutes.

Slice and eat immediately!

The Pangkarra flour made a good dough and good base. I usually add salt to my pizza dough but in this instance I forgot (thanks to my pint sized kitchen ‘helper’) and while I did notice (don’t you always, if you know!) Andy said he didn’t think it needed it – a sign that the flour itself has plenty of taste.

It’s obviously very strong flour so I really am going to have to have a go making my own pasta with it …

NOTE:  This post has not been sponsored in any way.  I paid for the flour and, had it been awful, I would have told you so!