My pantry

Food Philosophy and Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Prawns

April 3, 2013

gnocchi ingredientsThere’s been a little dietary shake-up at the Holsby Bar and Grill.

My Facebook friends would have seen that after a tumultuous year of illness, I’m trying a stint of no wheat and no sugar because there is some evidence that perhaps these things are not great for the human body.

Such blasphemy.

Many people have exulted at the news and kindly send me websites and recipes with substitutes and sweet treats that are actually great for you… if you like that kind of thing.

I’m sceptical about whipping up an avocado and pretending it’s chocolate mousse, and biscuits made from chick peas and mashed banana tasting like TimTams, but I’ve agreed to give this thing a whirl.

I could use this time to cleanse my body from carbs and treats, but that’s really not my style. Instead, I’m getting creative. I’m discovering ways that I can still make my treats using different products.

potato in the ricer for gnocchi

My philosophy has always been that cooking your family’s food from scratch is the way forward. I still believe that baking your family’s biscuits and slices is a million times better than buying packets of stuff.
I’m now experimenting with different flours, and natural sweeteners that are better for you than sugar. Coconut flour, sweetened with fruit puree – still not a TimTam, but you know, it’s pretty good.

Use what YOU want to use. Use my recipes as a guide.

I’m not turning ethno-bongo-paleo-tastic, I’m just trying something different for a few weeks to see if it does make a difference to my wellness, because I’m sick of my illness.

Do we as a society consume too much wheat?


Are we as a society addicted to sugar?


If you are interested in finding more out about what the effects of these things have on your body, google it. This is not that blog so I’m not going to bang on about it.

I think the biggest thing to remember is variety. Some wheat is ok, but if you’re eating half a loaf of bread for breakfast, sandwiches or noodles for lunch, muffins for snacks and pasta for dinner, then you’re consuming too much.
Not pointing any fingers, certainly not at any triathletes I may or may not know.

I promise to blog the Easter gluten-free orange cake with sugar-free ganache that was such a hit on Facebook. I don’t want anyone to worry about my calorific intake.

Speaking of calories, I finally made gnocchi.

rolling and cutting gnocchi

I saw a Maggie Beer recipe that I wanted to try so I used that but replaced the wheat flour with gluten-free rice and corn flours. It worked fine and was supremely yummy… probably had something to do with the large amounts of butter in the buerre noisette sauce.


My mum was here to eat it and she agreed that my gnocchi was a much greater success than hers, then she reiterated that until I cooked a goose I could not touch her crown.

Gauntlet was officially thrown.
If you see me with a cross-bow at Centennial Park, give me a wave.

Yield – 4 adults

What you will need :

  • 750g waxy potatoes, scrubbed. I used Dutch Cream but you can use Nicola.
  • 2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 125g plain flour (gluten free if you want to be cool like me)
  • 170g cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 verjuice
  • 40 sage leaves (about one bunch)
  • extra virgin olive oil, for cooking
  • 16 raw king prawns or yabbies
  • sea salt and cracked pepper

gnocchi finishedWhat you need to do – 

Steam unpeeled potatoes until cooked through (about 30mins) but not palling afart. Pop aside until cool enough to handle, then slide their skins off. Press hot potatoes through the potato ricer over a bowl, then add eggs and salt.
Spread flour into a rectangular shape on the counter and spread your potato mix over it. Quickly mix it using a cutting motion with a pastry scraper or flat edged knife. When it comes together to form a dough, give it a little squeezey love with your hands but resist the urge to knead.

Divide into quarters and rolls into a sausage about 2.5cm wide. Cut off 1.5cm chunks and gently press with a fork to leave an indentation that gathers sauce.

Preheat oven to 200C

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and in batches cook your gnocchi until it rises to the top and floats. Mine took about a minute or so. Drain well and transfer to a flat dish.

Place 150g butter and sage into a large flat baking dish. You want a single layer so a big roasting tray or large lasagne dish works well. Bake butter for 5 mins or until sage starts to cook and go all fragrant and yummy.

Increase oven temp to 230C. Transfer poached gnocchi to your melted butter tray and bake for 5 minutes. Flip or turn each gnocchi with tongs, then drizzle 1/4 cup verjuice over the lot, before popping back into the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining butter in a pan woth a splash of olive oil until the butter goes nut brown. Reduce heat and quickly cook your prawns until pink each side and just cooked through.

Season and deglaze pan with remaining verjuice. Place this lot into your buttery gnocchi goodness and give a toss.

Serve immediately.

gluten free gnocchi with prawns

I’ve been wanting to try gnocchi for ages, but kept putting it off, so I reckon it’s perfect top hook up with my homegirl, G, at Bunny Eats Design for this month’s Our Growing Edge.



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  • Reply Lisa April 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I have been reading your blog for about a year – have been loving the recipes and your blurb which has helped keep me sane sometimes – we all go through a lot of the same things and your blog wakes me up, gives me a little shake and reminds me that we all do. Anyway, I just bought a book on quitting sugar (to experiment) and am really glad you are trying it too so I can get some great ideas – especially treats! Thanks Danielle and good luck!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 3, 2013 at 8:27 am

      What a lovely message! Thanks, Lisa. You just made my morning.
      I’m thrilled you love my blog, and I’m thrilled there is someone else out there going through sugar withdrawals with me!!

  • Reply Cooker and a Looker April 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Morning Mrs Holsby. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been crook. I started back on the no-sugar wagon yesterday. Mine’s not health driven though – I just realised last week that I’ve been going to the gym for eight weeks now and not dropped a single keg! I felt so good last year while I was sticking to it – it’s making the detox a bit easier this time!
    Hope it works for you and you’re feeling well quickly.
    PS. It will not surprise you that I have cooked Maggie’s goose before. I didn’t shoot my own though. Your Mum sounds like she could have written a few of the recipes I’ve been researching for time-worn tucker! 🙂

  • Reply Bunny Eats Design April 3, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Gluten-free and gnocchi? Overachieve much?

    “ethno-bongo-paleo-tastic” sounds like a hippy percussion group.

    Hey sweets, it’s a real bummer you’ve been sick and I hope you feel better soon. At least you can still eat yummy things with a bit of creative know-how and experimentation.
    Whether or not you actually WANT this diet to fix you…

    I went through a few months of torture about 5 years ago. I cut out a bunch of stuff from my diet, got tested for various food allergies but to no avail. Luckily whatever was annoying me went away eventually. It could be a combination of things but fingers and toes crossed for you that it all just “goes away” on its own.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 3, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      I always roll my eyes at ‘healthy alternative’ blogs. This is probably a lesson from the Universe before she lets me go on my merry sugar scoffing way!!

      Yes, overachieve much!! 😉

  • Reply Mrs H April 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Hi mrs h. Sounds delicious, but what’s verjuice? I have to try to not eat wheat which I find hardest with cake, great bread and biscuits, my nemeses. Looking forward to your take on good recipes to help, like this one. Thanks, the other mrs h…

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Hey the other Mrs H, verjuice is the juice of young grapes. It’s like an unfermented wine. You can buy it in the supermarket, near the vinegars I’d reckon.

      I love wheat. Really really love wheat. And sugar.


  • Reply Mrs D April 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I dislike that you have been unwell. But….being the devils advocate that I am….I personally think that the whole no sugar no wheat thing is just another modern day diet that really doesn’t do anything to improve one’s overall health in the long term. The sugar free diet seems to have been one of the best marketing ploys since the Pritikin Diet of the 80’s. There is evidence to support the theory that artificial sweeteners especially in soft drinks will make you eat more because of the chemical reaction that the brain receives a sweet signal…yet doesn’t get the glucose/sugar to back it up…Anyway, you know me…never one to keep my mouth shut. I really do hope that you start to feel better soon though as general ill health sucks. Good luck Mrs H & keep up that fab cooking.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys April 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Stevie tastes like arse, and all the others give you cancer.

      I love sugar like a fat kid loves cake, and I miss it…..badly.

      Two weeks in, and I don’t reckon it will become my new lifestyle. Cos it’s boring. And depressing. And ice cream-less.

      • Reply Mrs D April 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        one cannot live without cake or ice-cream..together. xxx

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