This week in cooking club, both Les Petits Chefs and my Cooking Basics boys made Jamie Oliver’s Easy Rustic Gnocchi. Two words I like to see in recipes when cooking with kids – “easy” and “rustic”. Of course, my boys know that Jamie’s easy and quick isn’t necessarily easy and quick in a science lab with 14 boys but generally speaking, if Jamie says it’s do-able in under and hour, we can get the job done. As long as our hotplates and electrical outlets cooperate.
Oh yes… if you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know we’re used to this. You might remember the Food Revolution Day where *nearly all* the hotplates gave up the ghost mid-cooking chicken tikka masala. When there were 60 people waiting to sit down to their dinner. So our situation was not quite that bad this week but when you start out with 8 hotplates working and by the end of the session you are down to 2 hotplates working (but you still have 8 dishes of food to cook) well, you do the math… As usual, though, the only person who seemed to be flustered about this was me. Unless you count the boy who stood surveying the situation and pronounced “This is a hot mess!” We looked around and laughed. Because it really was!
The majority of the session really was calm and productive. The boys chopped potatoes…
And mashed them…
Aren’t they great? Most of the boys did a good job with these – a few of them discovered that not squeezing these enough resulted in them dissolving in the boiling water but for the most part, we had gnocchi success!
(I’m deep in edits in my cookbook right now and Jamie’s book is giving me pause. His instructions say “make 24 gnocchi”. I didn’t show the boys how to do this. They just made them. I’m looking at the instructions for my own recipes and wondering if I’ve given TOO much detail. Do people really need that much detail? Both this book of Jamie’s and the Simplissime series of books are, well, simple in their instructions yet people are making the recipes successfully and enjoying them. This whole cookbook-writing process is an exercise in second guessing all my decisions. Not to be recommended if you are anxious and plagued by self-doubt…! In any case, I digress…)
In the end, our gnocchi were a little crowded in our pans as we cooked them with the asparagus because our hotplates kept on switching off (circuit was overloaded) so our efforts (top photo and below) didn’t quite look like Jamie’s. And the lab was, well, a hot mess (it was in fact over 30˚C that day with 80% humidity so it was pretty uncomfortable cooking in that too!).
I made the same recipe with my younger cooking club on Wednesday and it went much smoother. I cooked the potatoes ahead of time which helped not overload the electricals and I was working with half the amount of boys, which made a hug difference! They produced this:
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Disclosure: I am a sometime contributor to JamieOliver.Com, and a Food Revolution “Super Ambassador” for Canada, though I was supporting Jamie’s cause well before I was doing any of those things. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know how much of a Jamie fan I am and how strongly I believe in his message. I was not asked to write about this book, I purchased it myself.