The first time I attempted gnocchi was sometime last year when I was cooking for The Client. Anyone out there who used to follow my cook days for The Client would recall his healthy obsession with whole grains. I attempted the gnocchi with whole wheat flour and came out with hearty little dough balls. I called them “forest gnocchi” because they reminded me of the inexpensive boiled dough balls made by Indian village women…in this case I imagined them to be tribal forest woman. Luckily, that wasn’t all that was on the menu. Even if it was, The Client was a surprisingly laid back guy.
The second time I tried gnocchi-ing was earlier in the week. All I have around is white spelt, so I combined that with the potatoes (boiled), a little butter, salt and some cottage cheese. When they floated to the top of the pot of boiling water, I was elated. When I tried to scoop them out of the water, I was dejected. My gnocchi disappeared; I was left with a pot of milky looking water.
Today I gave it a third try. Yesterday I had the realization that gnocchi was very similar to “Coxinhas Encantadas (potato pears),” except boiled, not fried. I felt confident. Again, only white spelt flour in the house. Also, I was down to only 3 medium sized potatoes. I wrapped them in foil and baked in the oven until way soft. Some mashing, pat of butter, dash of salt, half cup of flour and a tablespoon of gluten flour added to make up for what the spelt lacks. I don’t think this was a crime against gnocchi, but probably a little gluten overkill. In retrospect, a teaspoon would have been sufficient.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
I don’t have a potato ricer but honestly think life is okay without it. Mashing seemed to work without any complications. Here is the dough, kneaded and ready to go. I used Yukon golds, because that is what I had and some internet sleuthing leads me to believe that there is not much difference between them and russets. Next time, however, I am going to let the dough rest in the fridge a few hours before shaping the gnocchi.
Rolled into a rope and then sliced…all on a spelt floured work surface.
I still need to work on my form.
I definitely learned my lesson from my last gnocchi around the block. This time I did a test batch of three dumplings.
The finished results (above…as if you couldn’t figure that one out 😉
After removing the delicate gnocchi from the pot with a slotted spoon, it was gently tossed in a cast iron skillet with olive oil, butter, black pep, yellow hing, dried sage (I need a round the year herb garden I do I do), salt and sweet red bell peppers.
I really loved the results. Totally satisfied my craving for steamed Chinese dumplings. Doughy and light and yummy. Only thing is, I don’t have much to compare them to. These gnocchi pretty much tasted like fluffy mashed potatoes–if mashed potatoes could be formed and boiled and served slightly al dente.
My husband, the great family connoisseur of haute cuisine (his mother did write food articles for the Washington Post, mind you), liked them very much, thank you. Gnocchi will definitely make repeated appearances at our dinner table. Being the people pleaser that I am, I am eager to improve, so please! let me in on your gnocchi tips. Thanks!