Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gnocchi!

     I made gnocchi for the first time today and it was delicious.  Anyone living in New England knows we have had more snow than is really required for a winter here, and as a result of the 2/1/11-2/2/11 snow storm, I am in fact snowed in until the earliest tomorrow morning.  Two separate snow storms in a 48 hour period will do that.  Faced with boredom, I changed out of my Pajamas and decided to make some homemade pasta for dinner.  Being unable to go to the market due to the snow, I had to work with what i had.  I had originally planned on making ravioli or tortellini, but then after reviewing the contents of both my pantry and refrigerator I determined that stuffed pasta was out of the question.  Having noticed the potatoes we had on hand and that we didn't have very many eggs, I remembered the potato gnocchi we made in culinary school.  It was inexpensive, easy and didn't call for very many eggs.  So potato gnocchi it would be.


Potato Gnocchi 
Serves 4-6 depending on serving size. 


Recipe:
2 cups baked potatoes (mashed)
1 egg
QS salt (Kosher preferably)
2 cups flour

Bake the potatoes ether in the oven or the microwave depending on the time frame your working with. Once cooked through, remove skins from potatoes and discard skins or find something else to do with them, just don't put them in the gnocchi.  In a stand mixer, mash the potatoes with the whisk attachment until there are minimal lumps or lump free.  When potatoes are no longer steaming, change to a dough hook and add the egg and a few pinches of salt and mix well.  Add the flour a little at a time until fully incorporated.  The mixture is probably going to look crumbly, like it has too much flour even before you have added all the flour.  Don't worry too much about that, it will all work in during the kneading process.  If you take and squeeze a piece that looks crumbly between your fingers, you will notice its very moist and sticky on the inside.  Once the dough has taken in most of the flour, turn it out on to your kneading surface and knead away.  Add more flour if you find the dough overly sticky.  Knead the dough to a nice stretchy consistency that springs back when you poke it, it should form a neat ball.


Next cut chunks off the dough ball, and roll onto long snakes in the same manner in which you did with play dough when you were 6.  Line the snakes up along a lightly flour dusted tea towel.  Ideally you own a gnocchi board.  You don't? Well nether do i, so we will have to make due.  A gnocchi board is actually relatively cheap, most costing $5-$10.  It has pointy ridges on the surface that in addition to giving the gnocchi its trademark dimples, it grabs onto the pasta creating the correct shape.  The same thing can be done with a wooden cutting board and a fork as i will demonstrate in the following video.

video

This set-up works quite well, but takes twice as long due to having to dimple each gnocchi after you shape it.  If you don't want to be bothered at all, you can also just snip the 1 inch pieces and use them as is.  


Cooking: 
     Cooking the gnocchi is very easy, you just boil them as you would any pasta.  Now when it comes to cooking any pasta, the trick is to use a large pot, a stock pot would be great.  If you were to make chili from scratch, think about what pot you would use.  It would be a large one, use that pot.  Fill it with water, at least 3/4 full.  Now toss in a few large pinches of salt and bring it to a boil. if you have a lid, toss it on to bring the water to a boil faster, but don't cover the pot one you start cooking the pasta, or it may boil over.   Once its boiling, toss in the gnocchi individually, (not in one large clump) and stir the gnocchi around once you have put your desired amount in the boiling water.  The gnocchi is finished cooking once it floats.  I let mine float around in the water a while just to be sure they were finished cooking as some of mine were a bit on the larger side.  Drain and top with your favorite pasta sauce.  I feel like the gnocchi works well with a thicker sauce than a thinner sauce, but that's up to your preference. 

The sauce was just thrown together from what I had laying around.  I had some tomato sauce from a jar, so I used that, but first i did some doctoring.  I sauteed some onions, carrots and green bell pepper in olive oil in a large saute pan on high heat until the carrots started to soften. I then threw in some chopped garlic.  At the same time i cooked up some sliced Johnsonville brawts in a saute pan and tossed that into the vegetable mixture.  I poured the jar sauce in the mixture and cooked it for a while.  I tossed in some basil and some "Italian seasoning" from one of those pepper grinder type things.  It tasted off, so I ran out to the porch and grabbed an open bottle of our house wine and added some to the sauce and it tasted better.  I threw in little balsamic vinegar that my friend brought back from Italy and then some more house wine.  I let it simmer to cook off some alcohol and the sauce turned out really tasty.

The Result: 
    Well the result was a lovely dumpling like texture in the gnocchi.  I can see where the dimples would hold sauce better than un

 "Wine makes everything taste better"

   The house wine actually is our house wine, I made it late 2009 early 2010.  Its a pinot noir (red) and it doesn't have a very high alcohol content due to my own mistake, but it was my first time making wine so I'm allowed a few mistakes.  I'll post more about the wine at a later date.  

     I will definitely be making gnocchi again.  I had left overs that I boiled up, then put into ice water, dried on a tea towel and then froze for a later date.  Perhaps next week I'll try a different pasta.   The sauce would have been better if I had used canned or stewed tomatoes instead of the canned sauce, but I figured I would finish off the jar.   

     I have fun culinary plans for tomorrow, hopefully they will turn out well and give me something to tell you all about tomorrow. 

Happy Cooking!

11 comments:

  1. That looks SO yummy! I want gnocchi so bad right now! Is that our recipe from class?? Love the video too. Hopefully a lot of home cooks will follow you and become great chefs!!!

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  2. Yay! Nice first dish. It does look really really good. And yes I also sympathize with the snow. I need a little sunshine, not snow storms.... Got something ready for next week?

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  3. thank you for leaving a comment on my blog :) luckily I've just eaten otherwise I would've drooled on my keyboard by the sight of your food :) looks really yummy. Good luck on your blogging adventure

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  4. I love Gnocchi. I'm Italian and buy them ready made.... shame on me. Thanks for reminding me the joy of cooking.

    Mad About Pink now following you from Sb

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  5. YUMMMMMMM!! I must try!!! I am your blog partner from swap-bot! You can check me out @ www.trashybetty.com :)

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  6. I am sure other students love you!

    I am Kim (Kimminita) by the way from swap-bot, visiting for the Follow my blog swap

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  7. Hey this is Miissc from Swap-bot!
    I am happy to see a cooking blog! I hope to try some of the recipes that you have posted someday.

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  8. Hi! I'm Mayje from Follow My Blog Swap in Swap-bot. I love visiting blogs, especially those related to crafting, gardening and cooking. I love to cook and eat different kinds of food. It's too late for me, but if I can go back to school, I would be taking up culinary arts! Happy blogging and swapping! ~~ Mayje

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  9. Hi, Amy! I'm visiting you from Swap-bot's "Follow My Blog". You're my partner! It's so good to see your new blog.

    I must say that this gnocchi looks delicious! And thank you for posting the recipe! It looks easy. :) I think I'm going to have to try this!

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  10. Ohhhh God, Gnocchi is amazing! I've never made it fresh. I shall try it now! It looks soo much better fresh and hand made! :) Thank you for the recipe! :D

    I am RyuLuna on Swap-bot, and I am now following you!

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  11. The gnocchi look great! I've never tried cooking anything like this, because I prefer baking. But now that I have the recipe... I'm a new follower! Come check out my blog on http://tanjascupcakes.blogspot.com! It might give you some dessert ideas :)

    Happy swapping/cooking!

    Tanja (tanchyka on swap-bot)

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