In the weeks leading up to Christmas I was concerned. It’s my first Christmas away from home. Not just away from home, but over 8,000 miles away from home. In a foreign country, surrounded by people I don’t know with customs and traditions not my own. There would be no Christmas morning biscuits and gravy and eggs, no opening stockings while cooking breakfast, no patiently waiting my turn to unwrap presents on the living room floor. In fact, no presents at all.
I wanted to ignore Christmas completely this year. But I sucked it up and hopped on a bus for the 40 minute drive to a small truck-stop-like village straddling the Kampala-Masaka highway for my first Christmas away from home. While it rained the entire two days I was there, my taxi dropped me off in what I can only assume was an impromptu river, and I was attacked by mosquitoes, it was a truly great Christmas
We spent two days preparing various foods (matooke, rice, spaghetti, irish potatoes) and sauces (beans and corn, pork, beef, chicken, raw slaw, and …).*
They expected and cooked for around one hundred people, but only about 50 or so showed up for food, so those lucky kids got dinner and breakfast out of their Christmas meal!
After spending a Christmas without the usual accompanying traditions, I decided that Boxing Day (the day after Christmas for all you Americans) should have a tradition of its own. And I decided that with the mysterious abundance of irish potatoes (why, oh why, did I buy so much?!) in my house necessitated the making of gnocchi. And my complete inability to estimate how much seven boiled irish potatoes would make caused me to make an insane amount. Hence, gnocchi four ways!
And oh, my. It’s good.
*Ugandan meals are made up of two elements: food and sauce. Food equals something starchy: matooke, posho, rice, or spaghetti. Sauce equals whatever you serve with it: groundnut sauce (peanut sauce), beans, cabbage, any type of meat or poultry, etc.
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 pounds potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 cups flour (I had to use more, for some reason mine was really sticky)
1. Peel the potatoes and boil until just soft.
2. Grate the potatoes into a large bowl using the largest holes on a box grater.
3. Add the salt and egg and mix well.
4. Add the flour slowly, only adding as much as you need so that the dough will not stick to your hands. I had to do this in batches since my dough was so sticky.
5. Kneed the dough, as you would for bread, for 3-4 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
6. Separate the dough into 6 smaller balls and roll out each ball into ropes about 3/4 inch thick.
7. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces.
8. Cook in a pot of well-salted boiling water. Continue cooking for one minute after they rise to the top.
1. Boil gnocchi and serve with a homemade tomato sauce
2. Boil gnocchi and transfer to a saute pan and saute until golden brown adding homemade tomato sauce or sauteed veggies.
3. Mix in cinnamon and nutmeg to dough before boiling. Cut and cook gnocchi as directed above and saute in pan with a simple syrup to coat.
4. Mix in chopped Kalamata olives to gnocchi before boiling. Boil gnocchi and saute with fresh spinach, walnuts and lemon juice with a splash of cream.