Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gnoc, Gnoc, Gnocchin' On Heaven's Door

Having invited our young friends, Naomi and Sam, to come to lunch and to bring their new baby Isobel with them, I was churning over some ideas for what to serve. Naomi and Sam love good food and they love to cook - in fact, Naomi offered to bring dessert and she's a champion baker so I happily assented - so I wanted to make something interactive. Even with young Izzy and their rescued greyhound, Hobbes, along, I was hoping they'd have time to get their hands dirty.

Then, just when I was thinking about some kind of quiche, I read a recipe on the blog A Cup of Jo that sounded relatively easy and that would also introduce me to the mysteries of gnocchi production. I had never even tasted gnocchi so it would be fun to try it out. Plus, the recipe used flour rather than mashed potatoes, so it promised to be easier to make.

Disclaimer: we changed up the recipe as we went along - it ended up being different than the original. And we all agreed that we'd make even more changes next time. Having said that, it was quite delicious - everyone had second helpings.

While Naomi was busy with the baby, Sam and I whipped up the gnocchi in fairly short order, mixing the ingredients (quick, easy), forming the gnocchi (we made them quite a bit smaller than the recipe suggested), boiling the gnocchi, and then gently sautéing them to a golden brown in butter (the recipe called for olive oil but Sam is a big browned butter fan). 

Topped with a good bottled marinara sauce and a generous chiffonade of fresh basil, they were not as "pillowy" as I imagined they should be from descriptions I had read - these were more like kneeling pads. Substantial. Filling. But lovely, too, just not the texture I expected.

So, what would we change?  

First, I'd definitely doctor the bottled marinara sauce, adding sautéed mushrooms and more herbs. 

Second, I'd try the olive oil, as I think the browned butter was a little lost under the marinara sauce. If browned in butter, they might better have a lighter sauce.

Third, we added a good deal more fresh pepper than the recipe called for and I liked that - the pepper flavor shone through in each bite. 

Fourth, I wouldn't forget next time to offer more Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the top. Oops!

Fifth, I'd make the gnocchi even smaller than these teaspoon-sized ones - maybe half-teaspoons next time for a higher sauce-to-gnocchi ratio.

What a fuss-budget I'm becoming! Take a perfectly delicious meal and analyze it to death! It may not be heavenly just yet, but we are getting there.


Anonymous Lisa Paul said...

And extra points for linking Italian food with Bob Dylan!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

what fun! a new dish and two chefs. sounds divine.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie, meet Zuni. Zuni, Zoomie.
Here's a recipe that will give you amazing, light gnocchi. It's lengthy to read, but walks you through the procedure intelligently. There's very little flour. You'll be stunned.

Also, gnocchi making is like matzo ball making. Sometimes you get fluffy wonder; sometimes you get lead.

Brava for trying!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Lisa, thanks, I can use all the points I can get!

Diane, it was pretty darn good, but I'm sure it could be improved.

Cookiecrumb, hey, thanks, kiddo! I will follow your link - turns out, I bought too much ricotta the first time, so it will be good to have a second (better) recipe to try. You da bomb!

Thursday, November 14, 2013  

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