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Gnocchi Tinged Memories

Passport & Plate - Simple Potato Gnocchi

Italy | Sunday, 1 March 2015 | 1 photos

4 cups riced russet potatoes, (about 2 large)
4 egg yolks
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
sauce of your choice, for serving
optional special equipment: potato ricer, gnocchi paddle


How to prepare this recipe
1. Place potatoes (skin on) in a large pot of salted water and boil until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes, let them cool just enough to handle and then peel. Cut each in half and place in a potato ricer. Rice into a large bowl. Stir in the egg yolks and salt, then add the flour and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Knead gently until a smooth but slightly sticky dough forms.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each piece into a 3/4-inch-thick rope, then cut each rope into one-inch pieces. Place each piece against the gnocchi paddle and gently roll with your pointer finger to make ridges on one side and a small indentation on the other; drop onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the other ropes.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the raw gnocchi, 36 at a time. Allow to cook until they rise to the surface, then simmer for another 2 minutes longer.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl with you’re favorite sauce. Gently toss and and serve on individual plates.


The story behind this recipe
As a child nothing pleased me more than a trip to G. Fox & Co. department store. I’d talk my mother into visiting the housewares dept. where I'd wander around, reading the bridal registry cards on each place setting and dreaming of the day I would choose the stemware and stand mixer my heart desired. Not dreaming of being a bride mind you, rather of having a fully stocked kitchen. My love of housewares hasn’t diminished, but one item missing from my collection is a pasta maker. However lack of necessary equipment hasn't lessened my desire to make pasta. Instead I choose to embrace pasta in it's most basic form— Gnocchi.

I discovered gnocchi in college when a boyfriend brought me to Louis Seafood in the Bronx. The restaurant, around since the 40’s, is the epitome of Italian comfort food with a side of Bronx attitude. The gnocchi was deliciously unfamiliar and I couldn’t stop stealing forkfuls off his plate. For years the term gnocchi made me wistful for college, the Bronx and Louis Seafood. Then I traveled to Italy and everything changed.

We were starving when we arrived in Florence. So hungry we didn't bother to stop into our hotel, instead dragging our luggage to the closest cafe in hopes of a meal. “Oh, mi dispiace signora” the waiter said “La cucina è chiusa.” We looked at him in disbelief. The kitchen was CLOSED? As we turned to go the waiter reconsidered, he could in fact offer us a few items off the menu. We collapsed in our chairs, ordered a glass of wine and toasted Italy. I have no idea what I ordered that day, what I remember is my husband's plate of gnocchi. They were airy puffs of perfection, unlike anything I imagined gnocchi to be, and a food experience that has changed me forever.

Many years have passed since that trip to Florence. I've since learned to make gnocchi of my own and on a quiet evening with a conversation of “remember whens” and a little homemade gnocchi, I can almost see the Duomo.

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