Monday, May 5, 2008
Gnocchi at Last
A multiplicity of lists exist in my life. Mostly mental lists, rather than in written form - perhaps if I actually got around to writing some of them down I wouldn't repeatedly forget things such as "drop off the vacuum for repair" or "stop at the hardware store for a file to sharpen the wood-chopping ax." Perhaps the true reason that I'm always forgetting such necessities, however, is that they're simply crowded out by the more creative lists that are much more pleasant to remember - hiking trails to try, books to read, art shops and used bookstores to visit, and, of course, dishes to prepare. One of these ever growing lists is "things to learn how to cook," which contains a variety of culinary techniques and recipes that are completely new to me. Some of these items I discover and prepare with rapidity, but there are always a lingering few that I keep passing over for another day - usually because they seem, sadly, unwarrantably all-consuming to juggle between school, work, and the rest of the daily weather. Not to say that they're necessarily too complicated or time consuming - I regularly fix dishes (baking bread, for example), that take all day, but they are so familiar that I can whip them up over the course of an afternoon while studying and writing and singing and carrying laundry back and forth. (I've been guilty on more than one occasion of taking an online test on my laptop with one hand while stirring some roux with the other hand, all the while hoping that none of the roux would wind up on my keyboard...)
Case in point: I've been stockpiling recipes for gnocchi for years. Yet, in the unique way that inspiration often functions, it wasn't until I was reading my umpteenth gnocchi recipe in this year's Italian-themed issue of Gourmet that something started to feel tinglingly familiar. "Why do I feel like I've fixed these before..." I wondered?
It hit me the next morning. They reminded me of dumplings! Little, mini, dumplings! Forgive me if my southern-girl brain has unfairly co-opted gnocchi, but the important part (in my mind) is that I promptly overhauled Gourmet's recipe (I'm a notoriously disobedient recipe follower), and made gnocchi - light, delicate, fluffy, creamy gnocchi-went-south.
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup light, non-hydrogenated vegan margerine OR butter
1 tsp rosemary
~ In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, salt, and pepper.
~ Stir in the flour to form a soft dough.
~ Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
~ With damp hands, gently roll small, 1/2" diameter balls of dough, and drop them into the boiling water.
~ After about 3 minutes, you will see the balls start to float. They're not done yet, though... Notice how they're floating but also still bobbing about in the boiling bubbles? That's how you know they still need to keep cooking... When they are floating definitively and stably on the top of the water (approx. 5 minutes more), you know they're done. Fish them out of the water with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a colander to drain. You will probably have to cook them in 2 or 3 batches to get all the dough cooked.
~ When all your gnocchi are draining, heat the butter or marg with the rosemary over medium-low heat until golden brown - approx. 5 minutes for butter or 7 minutes for marg.
~ Gently toss the gnocchi with the brown butter, and garnish with a bit more parmesan cheese if you like... Serve warm, and be prepared to be transported to gnocchi heaven...