So it's been an awfully long time since I've been posting regular updates here and that's been a for a whole host of rather dull reasons -- busy at work, busy at home, a bunch of work travel over the Fall that had me feeling like I barely touched down on domestic life, etc. -- in addition to the dull and rather everyday reasons, I also went through some fairly profound introspection that had me questioning just how much time I wanted to be spending online. This self-analysis came out of some fairly low periods over the past few months, as well as some really high points. The high points all came in the form of face to face interaction with incredible people (some old friends and some new) and I somewhat subconsciously decided to take a bit of a break from spending too much time with the computer (or as much of a break a the partner in a website design studio can take). But, the combination of the rain and the shorter days, my own adventures in researching holiday projects and recipes, and some interesting online personal projects that have come my way recently have me thinking about this site again. So, I thought I'd share one of the things I've been up to in all this offline time: gnocchi nights.
Our house, as much as I love it, isn't really that well suited to mass entertaining. We don't have a diningroom (or a particularly large kitchen table) but about two months ago I decided I couldn't let that hold me back, as I wanted to start entertaining friends in our home. I had also been itching to try making homemade gnocchi, never having been able to quite shake the bliss of the first homemade gnocchi I tried in a small town outside of Rome over a decade ago. And so, gnocchi night was born. And has since been repeated with great success.
Amongst my cookbooks I have several recipes for gnocchi, including ones hailing from specifically vegan cookbooks and others from Italian tomes. On the inaugural gnocchi night I had actually planed to make Heidi's recipe from 101 Cookbooks, but the internet went down at our place at a rather untimely moment. In the end I used a very simple (and hugely successful) recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which is really a must-have cookbook for any vegetarian or veggie food loving cook out there as it is a truly comprehensive (minus the meat) guide to cooking and eating well. I've made the recipe a few times now and it's been reliably delicious and fabulously easy.
Potato Gnocchi Recipe
From Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone mildly adapted by me
2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds, I've been using local organic spuds and I've needed significantly more than 2 as they've been fairly wee, so have gone by weight)
1 1/4 cups of flour (more if needed)
Pinch of sea salt
To start with you bake the potatoes in a 400F oven until tender. Then cut them open and scoop out the potato from the skins after they've cooled enough to handle but are still warm. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or just mash'em with a potato masher (many recipes I've read said this last technique won't work, but mine have been more than fine, just mash'em well). They should be light and fluffy. Let them cool to room temperature and then add a pinch of salt and sprinkle with the flour.
Using your hands, gently work the potato/flour mix until you have a smooth, soft dough. If it's too sticky add more flour. Don't knead or overwork it. Take a 1/4 of the dough and roll it out into a large rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the rope into diagonal pieces about 1/4 inch long. Set these in a single layer on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour. Repeat with the remaining dough, then cover with a towel and refrigerate for a few hours.
To cook them, add salt to a large pot of boiling water and then add about a quarter of the gnocchi. As they rise to the top, count to ten and then remove with a strainer. (I put the removed gnocchi in a pan in an oven on low heat to stay warm while I cooked the rest. Ta da.
I worried that they would fall apart in the water, or all stick together but they haven't either time. You can serve the gnocchi with the sauce of your choice. The Artful Vegan has a particularly tasty looking beet sauce I have yet to try that is paired with gnocchi. I have to admit, however, that I'm a sucker for a simple butter and sage sauce, particularly at this time of year. Some roasted pumpkin is also quite nice tossed with that.
We had a gnocchi night for my birthday and I made gnocchi while everyone else brought sides, salads (and of course cupcakes!). It was a great way to have a dinner party and really there's nothing quite like a belly full of tasty, light, fluffy potato dumplings in butter on a rainy winter's night.
(If any of you out there know if you can easily replace the wheat flour with a gluten free option I'd love to hear it).