Friday 10 June 2011

Goldilocks & the 5 bears

Melbourne has had some of it's coldest weather in a LONG time this week.

Beautiful crisp blue skies and crisp frosty grass underfoot.

And BITINGLY cold.

Days like this beg comfort.

The comfort of getting dressed in front of the fire as a bear for instance........

I felt a bit like Goldilocks surrounded by 5 of the cuddliest bears of all time.

However in this re-invention of a fairytale Goldilocks was not eating porridge, she was eating Gnocchi.

I have a bit of a Gnocchi phobia.  It is something I have always failed at.  It either falls apart or is gluey & gluggy. 

It's one of those things I order at restaurants because I love it but don't cook at home...

A friend had told me of how she had made Ricotta gnocchi  recently & I thought it would make the perfect comfort food accompaniment to the Bourguignon braise I had been cooking all day.

I asked my big two lads if they wanted to have a go at cooking it.  They were very keen and worked together beautifully to create the most pillowy soft Gnocchi I have EVER eaten (at a restaurant or not!)

Here's the recipe for both.....


  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 5 cloves of garlic (use less if u don't love it as I do!)
  •  2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of good red wine
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2cup chopped Italian (broad leaf) parsley
  • 2 cups of sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 rashers free range bacon chopped 
  • 1kg beef shin, cut in to bite size pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tblspoons cognac (optional)
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • S&P

Dice carrot, onion & celery into uniform cubes (this forms what is called a Mirepoix- the basis for lots of really good slow cooked stews. It imparts a rich complex flavour). 

In a heavy pan add about a tablespoon EVOO on a medium heat.  Add the Mirepoix and cook till onions are translucent.
Turn up the heat a little and add the bacon, thyme & bay.

Now add the garlic and cook through for a minute or so.

While the mirepoix is cooking I brown the meat in a separate pan.  I use a good non stick pan to achieve the lovely caramel brown on the meat.

Once I have browned the meat I transfer the meat to mirepoix.

 Next, caramelise the mushrooms in the nonstick pan before adding also them to the main mix.

Then I deglaze the pan by adding the cognac and setting it alight.  You can omit this step and just add the red wine if you like.

Pour all this goodness into your mirepoix.

Now add the tomato paste and cook through for about 2-3 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, add seasoning & stir through.

Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook in the oven at about 150C for 2-3 hours by which time the flavours are rich & the beef is unctuous.

Serve with Ricotta gnocchi or creamy mash & green beans.


Once you have made this you will never be afraid to make gnocchi again & it tastes oh sooooo good!
It was the perfect accompaniment to the Bourguignon sauce but would be equally good with a burnt butter & sage sauce, or a simple tomato sauce.

What you will need:
  • 500g ricotta (drained)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of grated Grana Padano cheese (Parmesan is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt

In a bowl gently mix all ingredients. Be gentle and don't overwork the mixture.

Turn out onto a well floured bench and gently roll mixture into a large ball.  Grab a small handful at a time and roll into a 2-3 cm diameter sausage.

Use a knife to cut into 2cm pieces.

You can make an indent with a fork if desired but they are fine as they are.  The mix is very soft and it is very easy to just flatten them if you use the fork.

My kids wanted to give it a go & they did a great job.

Place a large pan filled with salted water on to boil.

Once at a rolling boil add the gnocchi.

It is ready when it floats up to the surface- probably only about 2 minutes.

Here's the final plate with the Bourguignon suace....mmmmmm winter comfort on a plate.

This is my eldest 2 boys listening pleasure at the moment. This song is on high rotation.  I'm sharing with you a live version.  They share my passion for music and when they cook they get to choose the tunes. That's fair enough isn't it! Luckily they have great taste!


  1. Hmm the gnocchi look good. The idea with the fork is to have it held upright, and press and roll the gnocchi ball down the tines - this turns the little sausage into a blood cell shaped gnocchi - a ball with a dent, with the fork marks on the outside. Takes a couple of practices, but is easy once you get it. press it on with your pointing finger, and kind of roll/flick it down - voila!!
    Oh, and the boys look cute in the bear suits, or are they the dog suits from Wilfred??
    Cheers, Greg

  2. Yum, I can't wait to try this one. The boys look adorable!!!

  3. I can't begin to tell you how much I'm loving the boys in their bear suits! Gnocchi has always been my downfall too so can't wait to give this a try. xx

  4. I just love those bear outfits, would love to see you whip to the shops with them on!

  5. Despite the fact that your cooking looks AH-mazing, that top photo of your 5 babies just almost made me cry - it's SO DAMN CUTE!!! Probably the cutest thing I've ever seen. I love that you have 5 boy babies. They must positively ADORE YOU! x

  6. Am loving Gorillaz in the car at the moment....good cruising tunes. Am wanting to make the World Famous, Pine St, Chicken Pie with Green Peppercorns in it for a Pot Luck dinner on the weekend - Pot luck being a dish of yumminess that you take to a friends house rather than a dish of yumminess with pot in it! Can you flick me a recipe darl? xxxxxxx

  7. This was awesome Ruth, thank you, thank you, thank you! I rarely cook anything other than the ten or so regular things I have on rotation and generally am really wary of new things but this did not disappoint. I'm going to have to trawl your recipe page now for other little gems... x

  8. I am putting your gnocchi on the meal plan this week. God, I can't wait!

  9. Oh. My. Goodness. So so so yummy! Thank you for a great recipe. I made a double batch of the gnocchi and have frozen half,so will see how that goes too!


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