Daily Archives: October 4, 2012

Books, Glorious Books…

Reading enthusiasts in Spijkenisse, [near Rotterdam] the Netherlands can climb spiraling towers of terraced bookcases beneath a shimmering glass pyramid to find new printed treasures. Architecture firm MVRDV has completed ‘Book Mountain’, a public library that floats the conventional wisdom of keeping books in the dark. This library was opened this afternoon by HRH Princess Laurentine of Orange-Nassau.

Believing that the exposure to sunlight is offset by library books’ four-year life span due to wear and tear, MVRDV placed row after row of books in a stacked configuration protected by a glass envelope that lets sunlight come streaming in.
In a nod to the town’s agricultural past, the exterior of the structure was designed to mimic the look of traditional Dutch farmhouses, down to the false chimney poking out of the roof. MVRDV also designed the adjacent Library Quarter, which contains housing units, parking and public space.

Says MVRDV, “The library is designed as an advert for reading, its visible presence and invitation holding great significance for a community with 10 percent illiteracy. From underneath the glass dome the library is visible from all sides, especially from the adjacent market square where the library appears as one big book mountain.”

“Following the maximum permitted volume the Book Mountain is covered by a barn shaped glass envelope with wooden trusses resulting in a transparent almost open air library. Underneath the glass is a public space without air conditioning. In summer natural ventilation and sun screens result in a comfortable indoor climate, in winter under-floor heating and double glazing maintain a stable interior environment.”

La Cucina #26 – Gnocchi

Saffron Shrimp with Gnocchi and Caramelized Onion

Makes 4 servings

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 15 gr or 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 gr or 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 450 gr or 1 [16 ounce] package potato gnocchi
  • 20 peeled and deveined large shrimp [21 to 30 per pound]
  • 45 gr or 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 gr or 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 gr or 1 pinch saffron
  • salt to taste
  • 5 gr or 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
  • 20 gr or ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the onion, mushrooms, and brown sugar.
  3. Cook and stir until the onion has cooked to a deep brown color, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the caramelized onions and set aside.
  5. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
  6. Once the water is boiling, stir in the gnocchi and return to a boil.
  7. Cook until the gnocchi floats to the top, about 3 minutes; drain, and keep warm.
  8. Place the skillet over medium-high heat, and stir in the shrimp.
  9. Cook and stir until the shrimp have turned pink on the outside and are no longer translucent in the center, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the caramelized onions, sour cream, paprika, and saffron.
  11. Cook and stir until the mixture begins to simmer, then gently fold in the cooked gnocchi, then season to taste with salt.
  12. Pour the gnocchi into a serving dish, and sprinkle with shredded basil and Parmesan cheese to serve.

Note 1: A hearty, healthy, and very comforting dish. You need to let the onions get a deep brown by slowly caramelizing them.
Note 2: You can always use a bit more saffron, so start small and add what you need.


Amount Per Serving
Calories: 333
Total Fat: 14.7g
Cholesterol: 198mg
Sodium: 471mg
Total Carbs: 26.7g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2g
Protein: 23.7g

PDF of this recipe: 20121004-Saffron-Shrimp-Gnocchi-Caramelized-Onion