I was sent a copy of Top Ten Home Cooks to review by Soul Sisters PR & Events. This recipe book is a collection of recipes from people who subscribe to Leisure Books and was compiled by Christelle Erasmus and Alana van den Bergh. Top Ten Home Cooks is aimed in my opinion at the average home cook and includes recipes with ingredients such as margarine, brown onion soup powder and caramel fudge sauce. These are all ingredients I would never have in my pantry and therefore it is not a recipe book I would buy for myself. For a novice cook, this is perfect to learn a few well known recipes. The contributors for Top Ten Home Cooks come from all over the country and each of them has 10 recipes in the book. There is a theme across the recipes, with many of them being similar. Included in some of them are cooks notes from the editor. The typesetting is not perfect and the photographs are not fantastic, and not every recipe is photographed. For what Top Ten Home Cooks is, I think the price tag of R245 to club members and R295 to the public is quite steep. However, the true merit of a recipe book is whether or not the recipes included actually work. I decided to test what I consider to be the most difficult of the included recipes. The recipe I chose was Nicky Brecher’s Potato gnocchi with chicken-liver-and-tomato sauce on page 163 and 164 of the book. Nicky hails from Pongola and the only short cut she uses in her kitchen is to bake bread with instant yeast. The only difficult part of following this recipe was that the ingredients for the sauce were not on the same page as the method for making it.
- 1kg farinose potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 egg yolk
- 190mls cake flour
- 3mls salt
- 30mls avocado oil
- 500g chicken livers, cleaned and halved
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 5mls chilli flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5 anchovy fillets
- 2 cans whole tomatoes, pulped
- 10mls Italian herbs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
- Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius
- Use a fork to prick the potatoes and bake them for 1 hour until cooked and soft
- Spoon the cooked potato from the skin and mash
- Rub through a sieve
- Make a well in the middle of the mashed potatoes and place the egg yolk, salt and 125mls flour in it
- Mix with the fingertips
- Place on a lightly floured board and knead gently
- Knead in the rest of the flour
- Add more flour if the dough feels sticky
- It has to be soft and pliable
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces
- Roll each into a thin roll and cut into 2cm pieces
- Roll a fork over each piece to form little grooves
- Place on a floured tray until needed
- Heat the oil in a pan
- When it is hot, brown a few chicken livers at a time, making sure they stay pink inside
- Spoon out and keep aside
- Brown the onion, chilli flakes and garlic in the same pan until the onion is soft
- Add the anchovies and stir until they disintegrate
- Add the tomato pulp and season with herbs, salt and pepper
- Cook until thick and flavoursome
- Cook the gnocchi in salt water in a large saucepan until it floats on the surface of the water
- Spoon out and cover in sauce
- Place the chicken livers in top
- Serve with basil pesto and parmesan cheese
Recipes that call for 3mls salt irk me as I don’t know how to measure it. I used 2.5mls.
I substituted the avocado oil with apricot kernel oil as that is what I had in my pantry.
As I was only making half the gnocchi for our supper and using 350g of chicken livers, I used only 1 tin of tomatoes which I pulped using a fork.
I don’t keep herb blends in my pantry and so I used a combination of dried marjoram and dried rosemary – 5ms each.
Not wanting to waste the potato skins, I drizzled them with some olive oil, sprinkled on some flaked salt and baked them for a further 5 minutes to crisp up. These were served with dips.
My gnocchi did not hold up very well even though the dough did not feel sticky. My friend Joanne has blogged a good tip here which I think is worth following.
I cooked the onions without browning them and started with this process.
I left the sauce to cook for 20 minutes to thicken before I started getting my water hot.
Only when I started cooking the gnocchi did I cook the chicken livers.
I seasoned the chicken livers after browning them.
The recipe did not state at what temperature to cook the gnocchi so I followed the recipe instructions I used for The Jolly Cookathon
Click on the links for conversions and notes.
First published by Metz Press in 2012
Hardcover – 221 pages
EDIT: Lorraine has a good point in her comment below – I didn’t tell you all how delicious this meal was. Despite the gnocchi falling apart, the sauce was really tasty.
Disclosure: I was given this recipe book to review, I have not been compensated for this post and neither was I asked to write a positive review. This post is in line with my blogging policy.
What I blogged:
- one year ago – Panettone