Friday, July 23, 2010

Learning to Love

My mom makes a mean gnocchi. Seriously, people line up for them at my brother's restaurant and there's major drama when we run out. I've seen it. Now, as I understand the demand for the gnocchi- ( they are the most fluffy and light pillows of pasta you'll ever taste), I have a confession to make: I'm not a big fan. It's nothing against the gnocchi, I just prefer dried pasta to fresh ( with the exception of lasagna which I'd eat everyday if my metabolism allowed it).

Consequently, my husband loves gnocchi. I think they're his # 2 pasta choice ( second only to pici) and I'm fairly certain they're the only fresh pasta he has ever made (and he's made them on more than one occasion). Really, he is so happy smashing those potatoes up and rolling them with flour to make dough- it's a sight to see. I love my husband, and would do anything for him, so I make the little devils and lovingly eat them, dreaming of penne or capellini with each bite.

And since we've moved to Texas, I've done a lot of dreaming, as in daydreaming about strolling through the streets of Rome or lounging on the beach in Stone Harbor. And again, its not that I mind Texas, its just that I miss NJ and even ( gasp!) Minneapolis ( one year ago I never thought I'd say that). And yes, I know that probably by this time next year I'll be loving Texas just as much as any other place I've ever lived, but right now, its just okay.

As is always the case when you move, it takes a certain amount of time to adjust. And the other day I was just about at my melt-down point. We live in a beautiful apartment which is so different from any apartment I've ever lived in because it is nestled in a super-community of condos and apartments all of which are snuggled right up next to each other. The benefits are great- the kitchen is beautiful, we have not one but two pools, and the grounds are amazingly green, even in this terrible heat. The downsides are little things, like cable and internet that just don't work ( this post has been a two day effort due to varying wireless service), which all seem to add up when you are constantly on the phone trying desperately to remedy the situation. Which is exactly where I was on Thursday.

After spending one hour on the phone with the internet company ( apparently not only the internet service is slow) I'd about had it. So I decided to make homemade pasta. I realize that sounds funny, but people are comforted by all sorts of things, and my biggest comfort is making things by hand. Since we needed to have dinner, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and whip up some pasta. When I saw the five pound bag of potatoes untouched in my kitchen, I decided gnocchi were on the menu.

And soon I was smashing the potatoes ( and my frustrations) through a ricer and rolling them out with flour and an egg yolk. Frankly, it was fun, and I was happy knowing that Gian Luca would be pleasantly surprised when he come back from work.

As the gnocchi was cooking I made a quick sauce by heating some extra virgin olive oil and garlic and tossing in some slices of fresh tomato. I finished it off with some basil from my garden ( another benefit of Texas).

Just as I was loving life, the sink decided to regurgitate someone else's food ( ah the joys of apartment living). The entire sink clogged and up floated a straw and a plastic knife ( how is that even possible?). Luckily it didn't overflow, so I didn't break my stride. I just turned my back on that sink and focused on the stove.

When Gian Luca came home he was so happily surprised by the gnocchi, that I don't think he minded the fact that after dinner he'd be plunging out the sink.

And as we were eating I realized that I really did enjoy the gnocchi- I wasn't dreaming of anything else this time. And if I could learn to love that pasta, surely I could learn to love the great state of Texas. It might just take a while, but I'm hanging in there.

* sorry there are no pictures for this post- the internet is too slow to upload them. :)

Graziella's Potato Gnocchi
Serves 2-4

4 russet or Idaho potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg *

* optional

1) Boil peeled potatoes in salted water until soft.
2) Mash hot potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl. Let cool slightly.
3) Add egg yolk, salt, nutmeg, cheese and flour. Mix well and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.
4) Knead into a ball of dough. The mixture should be soft and pliable. If it is too sticky add a little more flour.
5) cut 1/16th of the dough and roll into a rope about 1/2" thick. Cut the rope into 1" pieces.
6) (This step is optional) Make an indent with your thumb or the back of a fork ( of the dull side of a cheese grater) into each gnocchi ( this will allow sauce to coat the gnocchi.
7) Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to boil. Add gnocchi.
8) When they float to the surface cook them for an additional minute then remove with a slotted spoon or strainer.
9) serve with your favorite sauce.

The gnocchi are best served fresh, but the uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for up to one month.



  1. Awesome post!!! BTW, its not the interweb thats bad, its the Macintosh cpu from 1989 that you have thats doing you wrong....

  2. haha you're right. I need to ditch this old mac and get myself a PC!