Semolina flour, from which this is made, is the name for a grade of milled wheat that can be made into a sweet or savoury porridge. Unlike polenta, the cornmeal porridge that needs to be boiled a good half hour, semolina cooks quickly and needs only be brought to the boil.
The idea here is that the cereal should be cooked with flavoursome ingredients such as cheese and eggs, allowed to set, then cut into shapes for grilling or broiling and baking. It can be served with a robust concoction of tomato and herbs, or with venison or partridge.
In a saucepan, season the milk with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix in the semolina and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. The mixture will thicken to the point where it is almost solid. Stir in the grated Parmesan and egg.
Pour half the semolina mixture into an oiled tray. Slice the fresh goats’ cheese and lay it on top of the first layer before pouring on the remaining semolina mixture.
Remove the gnocchi from the oven and leave to cool. Cut it into squares – or whatever shape takes your fancy.
To gratinate, heat a frying pan and grease it with a few drops of olive oil. Add the gnocchi, stir to coat, then put the pan on the base of a hot oven for 10 minutes to give a dark golden brown crust underneath. The gnocchi are then lifted and turned upside down onto the plate to serve.
The set up at The Merchant House has never allowed the luxury of kitchen tantrums. Neither Anja nor our waitress would stand for it and there is, in any case, no time. Part of my tiny and invaluable cooking space is used to house a radio and CD player so there is music in the kitchen. Mozart’s operas play almost constantly, usually
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