Here we are: new year, new house, new city. After a good number of weeks which felt like mayhem, things around here are finally getting back to normality. The weeks leading up to Christmas saw us finding a flat, signing the contract, quickly packing all our stuff in the old house and hiring a removal van. On Christmas Eve we drove down to Nottinghamshire to spend a couple of days with B.’s family – my first Christmas away from Italy and from my family! Then back up to the North West to finish the move (it turns out you can accumulate A LOT of stuff in a couple of years) and celebrate the arrival of 2014 with friends. Never before has January brought so much change in my life. People always herald the start of a new year as the perfect time to put the past behind and start afresh, but it never really felt that way for me. Living in Manchester has already proved to be one of the best things we ever did. Lancaster was lovely – it’s fair to say we fell in love with it at the time – but it just wasn’t feasible for us to live there anymore.
As always, we have moved to a rented property. Out of the four we have lived in over the past three-and-a-bit years, this is by far the best. Fantastic location, a bit quirky, lovely landlord (have these two words ever been typed together?). The kitchen is not too shabby either. OK, there is an electric hob – we live in a flat after all – but, on the plus side, the oven gets much hotter than the previous one, so pizza is way better. I am still getting used to cooking here. I still turn to the left of the oven to find pots and pans, only to then remember that now they are to the right of the dishwasher. Which reminds that, yes, we now have a dishwasher! Probably the second best thing of the flat, after the higher oven temperature (ahem… pizza geek… ahem). The recipe I have today is a childhood favourite. I am a big fan of proper broths – but I like those made from good-quality stock cubes too – and these gnocchi are, for me, the best thing to have in it. They are pillowy gnocchi made with semolina and egg, enriched with Parmigiano and nutmeg. Their ingredients are mixed and partially cooked in a saucepan, then shaped and finished in the broth. Traditional chicken, beef and vegetable broth all work fine, and don’t be afraid to use more exotic flavours: the one I used here was the one lightly spiced, saffron-coloured leftover from Felicity Cloake’s coronation chicken.
Put in a saucepan butter, milk, salt and nutmeg. Bring to the boil, then turn off the hob. Quickly add semolina and grated cheese and mix rapidly with a wooden spoon. Leave the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes, then add the egg and stir until evenly combined. My grandma suggests leaving the mixture to rest for half an hour, which make the gnocchi softer. In the meantime, bring a large pot of broth to the boil. Shape the gnocchi: either form clementine-sized balls with wet hands, or use two spoons and shape into quenelles. When they are all ready, gently place them in the boiling pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve immediately along with the broth.