Nick Hannaford spent most of his childhood on Kangaroo Island, where he produced his first painting at the age of 12, before being tutored by artists Ruth Tuck, Jo Caddy and his uncle Robert Hannaford.
His father Ian Hannaford is an architect and his mother Belinda Hannaford started Jolley’s Boathouse restaurant in the 1980s. His sister Rachel Hannaford runs Hannaford & Sachs, which offers gourmet food experiences and accommodation at Snellings Beach, Kangaroo Island, where the family has held property for generations.
In 2012, Nick started Kangaroo Island FEASTival, the island’s first food and wine festival. This year it has been combined with the Kangaroo Island Art Feast to create an art, food and wine festival called the Kangaroo Island Art FEASTival, which takes place at the end of September.
Today, Nick works as both an artist and a creator of immersive hospitality and tourism experiences. He is currently exhibiting in Adelaide at the Intersect Gallery as part of the SALA Festival until September 2.
Back on the mainland, he regularly cooks for his family and friends. Here he gives us some insight into life at home and shares a favourite recipe for handmade gnocchi.
In the kitchen I am …
Chaotic, messy, spontaneous, unorthodox, passionate and emotionally stressed.
The fridge is nearly empty – what do you cook for dinner?
With two young kids and a family who love carbs, I go for one of my grandmother’s favourites – coddled eggs: very soft boiled eggs tossed in with fresh torn white bread and real butter. I can’t help reaching for the truffle oil in an attempt to convince myself that I’m eating a gourmet meal.
Most useful cooking tool?
My handmade Japanese chopping knife that my sister gave me. Its rustic feel inspires careless creativity and I can get a razor-sharp cutting edge with just a few strokes of the steel.
Three essential grocery items?
Pasta to make sure my kids are happy, porridge oats and bananas to make sure my wife is happy, and kick-ass chilli sauce to make sure I’m happy.
How did you learn to cook?
When I was around eight years old, my mum (Belinda Hannaford) gave me a retro kids’ cookbook that contained recipes such as knickerbocker glory, devils on horseback and bright pink coconut slice. After cooking every recipe in the book (and with family members getting cooked presents for Christmas each year), I was hooked. I went on to work in the family restaurant that Belinda started in Adelaide, Jolleys Boathouse. She was my mentor.
It changes depending on my mood. Parwana for an authentic Afghani, home-style, no-frills meal. Sean’s Kitchen when I feel like a bit of a treat. I love the ambiance and dishes that are not over-worked and the focus on quality produce.
Easy: Gnocchi with Rosa Sauce. This is a dish that I have been making for years and is a family favourite and also a dinner-party people-pleaser. I’ve even had guests roll up their sleeves and roll the gnocchi with me!
Gnocchi with Rosa Sauce
1kg large potatoes, peeled, quartered and steamed till very soft
2 egg yolks
150g (approx) strong 00 plain flour
Salt and pepper
6 to 8 large, very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped into 2cm pieces
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch basil, chopped (keep 1/3 aside to garnish finished dish)
1 good teaspoon sugar, if needed
Good splash cream (or 2 dollops)
Fresh parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
To make the gnocchi:
Let potatoes cool and mash well in bowl till creamy. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.
Slowly add flour, mixing until the mixture starts to form a very soft, wet dough. Tip dough out onto floured table and continue mixing in remaining flour, bit by bit, until just workable* so that you can section it off and roll it into finger-thickness snakes.
Using a knife, cut the ‘snakes’ into 1.5cm to 2cm pieces at an angle to form the gnocchi. Using the back of the knife, pick up the gnocchi and place side-by-side on a floured tray. Do not pile on top of each other. Continue until all the dough is used.
*Dough should feel soft to touch when rolling, but not tacky. This will make light and fluffy gnocchi. If you add more flour, it will feel firmer like bread dough, and will make a firmer gnocchi.
To make the sauce:
In a medium-sized deep frypan, lightly cook garlic in oil for 3 minutes. Do not brown.
Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and 2/3 of basil.
Simmer on low for 10 to 15 minutes and taste for sweetness* and then simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until sauce thickens.
Before serving, add the cream and bring up temperature without boiling.
*If your tomatoes are not sweet, you may need to add a little sugar to balance out the acidity.
Fill a very large pot* with water, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.
Add gnocchi to boiling water and when all of them start to float, wait 30 seconds before draining and tossing in with the rosa sauce.
Garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan.
*If you don’t have a big pot, cook the gnocchi in 2 batches as they only take a few minutes to cook.
Serves 4 to 6
Nick Hannaford is currently preparing for a series of Kangaroo Island Art FEASTival events at which guests will see a range of his artworks before sitting down to a three-course lunch prepared by Rachel Hannaford which has been inspired by the art. Bookings and more information about these events can be found here.
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