Potato Gnocchi and Pesto


23 February 2010

May your dreams be starchy and garlic-thumbed.


2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 t salt
1 egg
2+ c. flour

Chop potatoes into 1-in chunks and boil until tender. Drain water and mash potatoes with a fork. Let potatoes cool til they won't cook a raw egg. Whisk egg and salt and add to warm potatoes. Knead in flour, about 5-10 minutes. Roll out into ropes and cut into little gnocchi sized pieces (1/2 inch-ish?). Poach in salted water 3-5 minutes. Drain and serve with sauce.

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/3 c. pine nuts (if your loving family sent you some)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (i have no idea where you would acquire this in Cameroon)
salt and pepper to taste

Chop basil, garlic and pine nuts very finely. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper. (There is no Parmesan cheese here).

During Peace Corps training, we made gnocchi for one Thursday night dinner, with 3 sauces - pesto, spicy tomato, and creamy-cheesy. Every time I make gnocchi on my own, I overestimate what 2 pounds of potatoes looks like and end up adding so much more flour and cooking for hours and destroying my kitchen.

The first time I had gnocchi was at a chic little Italian restaurant in Eureka, CA of all places, when my family all came to visit me at college. That gnocchi had a butter sauce and smoked salmons and capers...

Banana Bread


3-4 ripe bananas
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour

1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t lemon juice (or vinegar)
1/3 c. oil

Mash bananas. Add sugar and mix. Add egg and mix. Add flour, salt and baking soda, mix. Add lemon juice (or vinegar) and oil, mix well. Grease a round cake pan and dust with flour. Pour batter into cake pan. Cook in a marmite oven over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. (Or, if you're equipped, bake in a loaf pan for 1 hour at 350˚F).
This is my revision of the Banana Bread recipe from the Cameroon PCV cookbook Chop Fayner. I baked it a few times when the Engineers Without Borders were visiting. Even the Cameroonians helping them liked it!

One-Egg Cake & Cameroon Chocolate Sauce


1 ¼ c. sugar
1/3 c. butter/margarine
1 c. milk
1 ¾ c. flour

2 ½ t baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1 t vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add half of milk and vanilla, mix well. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mix gradually. Mix egg and second half of milk. Add to batter. Mix well. Pour into greased pan (9x9, or what have you). Bake at 375˚ for 25 min, or in a marmite oven over medium flame until a knife/toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make chocolate sauce.

Cameroon Chocolate Sauce
Matinal (or other cocoa mix)

Melt margarine over low heat, add Matinal or other cocoa mix to desired consistency. If you live outside of Cameroon, you probably can find a better recipe with better ingredients. However, this one is delicious. Serve cake with chocolate sauce. Yum.

At home in Alaska, my sister would cook up One-Egg Cake with chocolate sauce as a spur of the moment dessert. It was a staple dessert for winter nights, the perfect addition to an evening of reading or playing games with the fam.

Easy Lentils (+ Lentil Burgers)


2 Tbsp veg oil
1-2 onions, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp peeled/minced ginger
1-2 Tbsp hot pepper, minced (or cayenne)

2-3 Tbsp ground cumin
1-2 Tbsp ground coriander
16 oz lentils (≈2 c) (i prefer brown lentils)
½ t salt
5 c. water

Heat oil over medium heat & add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, cumin and coriander. Cook 2-3 min. Add water, lentils, salt, pepper. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce to low. Cook for 40 min, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed (unless you want it soupy). Serve over couscous (yum!) or rice, or plain, or on bread-like something.

Leftovers? (Yes, this makes a lot) Take 1.5-2 c leftovers, add 1 egg and enough flour to make into burger consistency (still pretty messy). Make into 3 or 4 patties and fry in a little oil. Lentil burgers, yum!

My senior year of college, I would cook up Easy Lentils and some plain couscous on the weekend. I ate lentils and couscous almost every-day for lunch, and a lot of times for dinner, too.

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