It was an absolute blizzard in Charlottesvegas this past weekend. My mind left to its own devices in snowy, cold, winter weather obviously resorts to the preparation and eating of food, and lots of it. So H. and I decided to make gnocchi (Italian for "dumplings") for ourselves and whoever else wanted an escape to Italy amidst the seemingly never ending snow (that is, if they wanted to brave the roads). Sadly enough, only one of H.'s roomies could join us. I'd never even eaten gnocchi before, but we decided to make it from scratch, and it turned out to be really delicious (to me, at least). So we made it from a recipe in one of my Martha Stewart Bible-sized cookbooks, which had very nice, methodical directions for making gnocchi each step of the way, complete with pictures. So really, last Friday's feat couldn't have been accomplished without Niknak and her great ideas-big shout out to Niknak! We made spinach potato gnocchi and ate it with a creamy vodka sauce. Here's a glimpse of the preparation:
H. successfully made the potatoes look like they'd been through a ricer, a kitchen gadget that neither one of us own nor plan on owning in the near future. It started getting really thick and gooey and doughy once the flour was being added, so it may have been smart to use the sweet KitchenAid mixer and dough hook that sat in the corner rolling its eyes at us. However, we made ourselves feel better by repetitively stating how authentic the experience was because H. mixed the dough (which took forever) and I kneaded it for a couple of minutes to get the gluten working. That's some really authentic Italian hard work right there.
Then H. rolled the dough out and cut it into the little one-inch thick dumplings...
I took a fork and made them magically turn into cute little gnocchi! You roll one side over a fork and press in on the opposite side with your thumb so that there's a pocket on the gnoccho that will hold sauce. Very clever idea, props to the inventor(s) of gnocchi as well as MS for her good directions!
I had a big chunk of time to perfect the technique of gnocchi-crafting (or whatever it's called); there was another panful besides this one.
We laughed because we spent so much time making the gnocchi only to eat it with canned sauce, but it was still delicious. You just cook them in boiling water for a little over 2 minutes; when they rise to the top of the boiling water, you leave them in for another 15 seconds to give them that fluffy, "elegant" texture, according to MS. Because it would be the end of the world if gnocchi were "inelegant." Because we made so much, we froze the majority of it. So, a freezer bag and two minutes later will yield fresh gnocchi anytime for the next couple of weeks I'm sure, as there were copious amounts of it.
And then there were spicy molten lava cakes to go around afterward...these are becoming a go-to dessert for me to make...again, thanks be given to Niknak for the recipe! And they pair quite nicely with whatever red wine you use in the recipe...I think it was a Shiraz this time around.
Next on the pasta-making agenda will be some sort of meat-filled ravioli. Maybe we should gobble all the gnocchi up before undertaking another project of this sort (or split the recipe perhaps). I highly recommend a little excursion to Italy such as this one. It was a fun project, it tasted delicious, it was made with minimal amounts of moolah, and it was topped off by a snowball pitching contest.