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Gnocchi - There are a few types, this is the famous Italian potato gnocchi, little dumplings.

Now .... after years of struggling to make these by hand by rolling on a fork, I finally discovered the gnocchi rolling board .... a very simple piece of wooden equipment which makes the whole shaping process MUCH easier! So your first step is to buy one of these .....

As you can see, there's not much to it, just a simple grooved board. Of course you can make the gnocchi without the grooves but I think of that as a half job .... don't do a half job!

The recipe....

2kg Large even-sized dry potatoes - such as Russet or Maris Piper

300-400g type 00 flour

fresh grated nutmeg - a pinch

2 medium eggs

salt and pepper to taste

First you need to bake the potatoes so give them a wash, dry and place on a tray. Bake in the oven at 180C until they are soft - about an hour.

Allow them to cool enough to handle BUT not cold - you want to process them whilst they are still hot.

Cut them in half ... now, if you have a drum sieve you can simply place each half face down on it and push through using a bread scraper - the skin will stay behind on the sieve. Alternatively scoop the flesh out and push through a potato ricer.

Once mashed put the potato into a large bowl and add 300g of flour, nutmeg and seasoning, mix together briefly and then add the egg. I like to put food handling gloves on and mix by hand but you can use a wooden spoon till it all comes together then kneed by hand. Be careful not to overwork it

At this stage you need to use a bit of judgement, you want the dough to all come together nicely - not too wet, so if needed add a bit more flour.

When you are happy with the consistency it's a good idea to do a quick test - so boil some water, reduce to simmer and test a small piece of the dough - if it keeps its shape without breaking up and floats after a minute then it will work.

To shape the gnocchi...

Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll into long sausages, cut each sausage into small gnocchi sized pieces.

This is where some people leave it and just cook these little pillows ..... but we'll take it to the final stage .... Roll each piece by hand into a ball then using the rolling board start the final shaping. I like to PUSH SQUEEZE AND ROLL!

Using your thumb PUSH into the board, SQUEEZE the edges, then ROLL off the board to create the grooves. Once you get the hang of it and into a rhythm it's really quick and easy .... PUSH, SQUEEZE, ROLL!

(I was using purple potatoes in the pictures above)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook till the gnocchi float on top - I usually skim them off with a slotted spoon and if using immediately straight into your sauce of choice, OR skim off and plunge into iced water for later use. If you are keeping for later you want to remove from the iced water as soon as they are cold and toss lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for later use.

You have two options to reheat - either plunge into boiling water quickly till warmed or toss in a frying pan till lightly coloured and then toss in your choice of sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

They are much softer than the store bought version so handle carefully to preserve the shape.

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