Walking the talk # 5 (or something)

It’s one thing to be a self proclaimed critic and have my say about everyone else’s kitchens and restaurants, so it’s only fair to hit the selfie button and talk about my own escapades in the kitchen. Fair’s fair.

Having had all Saturday to myself to do literally anything – lie in the sun with a beer, take a walk along the Blouberg beachfront, get dragged behind my never-to-be disciplined Boston Terrier, catch up on Halo – I mean anything, I decided I’d try making a pumpkin gnocchi from my favorite recipe book. So while Annie went upstairs to catch up on some z’s I turned my hand to Liam Tomlin’s instructions from my favorite recipe book. If I was still a kid this book would be my Treasure Island. So I baked potatoes, I baked butternut, I peeled, i mashed, I sieved, I mixed, but no matter how lame my right elbow became from all that mixing, my science project didn’t turn out the way It said it was going to in the book. After hours of roasting and blending and squeezing potatoes and butternut through a sieve, I was supposed to have a dough that I could knead on a floured worktop. What I had in my hands was a gloopy, sticky mess. So back to the recipe – it said I should add a little more flour if the mixture was still wet. So I did. I added a little more flour. I mixed. Still wet gloop. I added a bit more flour. Wet stodgy gloop. More flour. Even gloopier stodge. Yet I pressed on, determined. Annie awoke refreshed from her slumber to find me still at it, and she joined in the struggle just in time to help pipe gloop and squeeze goo into boiling water. I was actually afraid of the end result.

I did have a stroke of genius at some point looking at the potato skins I was about to discard and decided to deep fry them and turn them into crispy potato skins. They were delicious as was the beurre noisette. Since it was my first time making all of these, at least these two came out alright.

It all looked good on the plate in the end, but in reality I spent the day making leftovers that will probably constipate the dogs for weeks to come.

There will be a redemption cook some time in the future, when the trauma has had time to recede and then pain has migrated from my elbow to my ego. Also I need time to clean up the kitchen because I think I used every single pan and utensil and my wife just went on strike.

If I were to serve me this dish at a restaurant, I’d have come away a little over-oiled. The final dish was quite rich because of the sage and pumpkin seed buerre noisette, the raclette melted over the top of the gnocchi, the deep fried potato skins, and the hake pan fried in butter. Chefs out there, comments for the redemption cook are welcome.

So given that the day’s effort was largely a fail and I produced a helluva rich dish, the one useful thing that came out of this, apart from learning how to make a beurre noisette and how not to make gnocchi, was the wine pairing.

The Vergelegen Semillon 2019 helped temper the richness initially, and the Allee Bleue L’Amor Tojours 2017 provided some off-the-plate respite, adding a bit of tartness and variety to the hell I was putting my cholesterol counter through.

It’s days like this in the kitchen that make me appreciate all the restaurants I post about here more and more, the good and the bad, but not the ugly.

Respect for those who make it to any round of Masterchef. It’s one thing creating a kitchen tornado without the pressure of a clock and being sent home. This way, at least I was already home when I would have been sent.

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