Ah, Valentine’s Day. The nemesis of singles and those who hate commercial holidays. And here in Cologne, as I already mentioned during my last blog post, it’s Carnival. And it was Friday, the 13th. Something to hate for everyone. I guess.
Anyway, currently my favorite new question to ask my husband (preferably in a loud and shrill voice early in the morning) is: “Will you be my Carnivalentine?”
Unfortunately, he always says “no”. Fortunately, he always laughs while doing so.
My husband and I kind of got together on Valentine’s Day. Well, that’s not exactly true. We began seeing each other because of it – in a way. There were packages sent back and forth, and among the one I received for Valentine’s Day, he gave me The Boatman’s Call by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
It’s a really amazing album, which starts with “Into My Arms”, a very special song, which was already very dear to me before then.
I was introduced to Nick Cave by my best friend back in the early 2000s. After she had gotten me hooked on PJ Harvey, I needed to get in touch with Nick – who had dated Polly Jean for a while – magic!
I would listen to this song in the dark of the night and while riding my bike to university throughout the day. I would breathe deeply and think of whichever guy I happened to be smitten with at the time while wishing they’d listen to this song and think of me, too. (Yeah, I was young. And silly.) So receiving this CD from him, probably meant quite a lot more to me than he had originally intended while wrapping it. I felt it was a good sign. To say the least.
Anyway, I still love, love, love The Boatman’s Call, and Into My Arms still holds a very special place in my heart. I can’t decide which of the verses is the most beautiful, so you be the judge. (If you are the copyright holder of this song and would like me to remove the quotes below, please get in touch. I will comply immediately!)
“I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
And I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candle burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore
Into my arms, O Lord”
Beautiful, no? I totally suggest you go out and buy this album. Like now. You’re missing out!
It’s now eleven years later after the Valentine’s Day that I was given The Boatman’s Call, and a hint that I may have found a really wonderful man. Many Valentine’s Days have come since then, we’ve been witness to many crappy and not so crappy songs about unfulfilled love and like every year, a decision concerning Valentine’s Day Dinner had to be made. In previous years, I opened the infamous Rrrrristorrrante Rrrrroooomantico, which exists exclusively on Valentine’s Day and seats only two. But this year I was sick (and still am). I decided to whip up a delicious meal anyway, without all the fuss of Rrristorrrrante Rrrrooooomantico and settled upon de-glutenizing the Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe my culinary friends Doc and Mae over at Foodgasm.me made recently and which I have been intending to re-create in my kitchen for a while. It turned out to be the right decision, because it was easy, quick and so lush!
It kind of made up for the somewhat botched Valentine’s Day cake we had for dessert…This meal was delicious, spicy, very different to regular potato gnocchi and a new culinary discovery overall. I have been obsessed with sweet potatoes for the last three months after all – and the combination with tomatoes, rocket, pistachios and some hot chili flakes? Amazing! Please try it!
What better occasion to cook with sweet potatoes (and turn them into something that somewhat resembles a tiny replica of the human heart) than on Carnivalentine’s Day? I can think of none!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi (for two)
600g sweet potatoes
180g gluten-free flour (I used Schaer Farine)
½ tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
500g cherry tomatoes
salt, pepper and chili flakes (to taste)
Wash your sweet potatoes and place them in a pot full of salted water. Boil for about twenty minutes to half an hour (or until cooked – this can take longer, depending on the size of your sweet potatoes).
Once cooked, remove sweet potatoes from the pot and rinse under cold water. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then remove the peels and immediately run sweet potatoes through a potato ricer.
Add the gluten-free flour mix, xanthan gum and the grated parmigiano. Knead the sweet potato and other ingredients into a smooth, lump-free dough.
Heat a large pot of salted water. The dough will be rather sticky and somewhat moist, so rolling it out into long snakes and then cutting off small pieces and then forming small, round gnocchi, will not do IMHO. Instead, use two teaspoons and form small gnocchi and drop them into the lightly boiling water. I formed and boiled the gnocchi in about three batches in order to avoid overcrowding in the pot. For the last batch, I also added a bit of additional salt to the water.
Allow gnocchi to cook, for about four minutes. They will float to the top and you should take out one gnocco and take a bite from it. If it is not yet done, proceed to boil for a few more minutes. Remove gnocchi from water, e.g. using a small colander that you can use to fish out the gnocchi and then drain from all water. Set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining gnocchi.
Wash your tomatoes and cut them into halves or quarters. Clean your rocket and set aside. Coarsely chop your pistachios.
Heat a large pan, in which you have distributed the olive oil. Add the gnocchi and fry them for a few minutes, until they are lightly roasted brown on all sides. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry for about three minutes. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
Set gnocchi and tomatoes on plate, decorate with rocket and pistachios and serve immediately!