Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce

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I’m a very seasonal person. Despite the mainly chilly weather at the moment I can’t face putting tights or warm jackets on. Because it is summer. Instead I layer up on my upper body but keep my legs bare (if I’m wearing a skirt or dress for work). I’m used to this approach but people in the office think I’m a little strange. Fair enough, I think.

But when it comes to food it’s harder. Sure, I incorporate as much asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and new potatoes into my diet as I possibly can, but instead of craving salads I still want warm filling food. So while this autumnal recipe of gnocchi with a lovely creamy butternut squash sauce with both cream and parmesan may suit the post-bikini season better it’s what I fancy eating right now. Until summer arrives. Then bring on the salads!

Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce, serves 2 

1/2 butternut squash

olive oil

salt & pepper

approx 300 g gnocchi, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

50-100 ml single cream

finely grated parmesan

a few sprigs of thyme (sage works too!)

Peel the squash and remove the strings and seeds. Cut into even-sized pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Stir to coat all the pieces with oil. Place in the oven and roast until the pumpkin is soft, approx 35 mins in 200C. 

Cook the gnocchi and keep it warm.  

Purée the roasted squash with a stick blender. Add (cold) cream until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan. Heat up the sauce in a non-stick saucepan while stirring, if needed. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and some thyme leaves. 

Slow cooked lamb shank with herb polenta

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This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!

The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.

The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.

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Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2

1 lamb shank

a knob of butter

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges

1 carrot, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

salt, pepper

1/2 bottle red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.

Creamy herb polenta, serves 3

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)

700 ml vegetable stock

50 g butter

300 ml polenta

a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)

150 ml finely grated parmesan 

Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.