Say ben tornata (welcome back) to the Frazzled Chef (me). It’s not often that I make a grand foray into the kitchen. Like I’ve mentioned before, cooking well is something I wish I knew how to do, but I don’t. What I can do well is cook very, very messily in a somewhat stressed, somewhat frazzled, often not-very-careful way.
Two days ago, I had a refresher course on making one of our family’s favourite pastas: gnocchi. And who better than to teach you about the family faves than your Nonna, right? So my dear (brave) Nonna invited me into the shiny, nice, new kitchen in her nice, new house to make two types of gnocchi: regular, and sweet potato. Also present for the day’s labour were my Mamma and friend/Italy travel companion, Martina.
How did I do? Well…
Before we get too frazzled, let’s start with a little language lesson. Say it for me, gnoh – key.
No, not gin-oh-kee.You’ll make my ears bleed doing that.
Gnoh – key.
Oh, some of you don’t know what gnocchi are? They’re delicious, that’s what they are. Unless they’re store-bought, in which case they’re usually mushy and slimy. But real, homemade gnocchi made according to my Nonna’s recipe are to die for.
Gnocchi are pasta made from potatoes and flour. No eggs, no water. Just potatoes and flour. It’s simple food at its simplest. You’ll also need a knife, a fork and, of course, your hands. Yesterday we made both regular and sweet potato gnocchi, hence the orange pasta in pictures below.
Ok chefs, don your aprons. On your mark, get set, gnocchi!
Peel potatoes. Boil potatoes. Mash potatoes.
Add copious, immeasurable amounts of flour to the potatoes. Knead. Add more flour. Get flour everywhere.
Knead. Wish you were done. Add more flour. Wonder how you’ll ever get this gunk off your hands.
You’ll know you’ve added enough flour when the dough isn’t wet and sticky any more. And your arms will hurt. And you’ll start to wonder why you just couldn’t have been happy with some store-bought gnocchi.Then, move your dough to a cutting board. Hack off a piece of dough. Roll it long and thin. Not spaghetti thin, but thin enough. Not too thick though! You get it, right?
Then, cut the gnocchi from that roll. They should be sort of rectangular, not too big and not too small, but it depends how you like them. Then, pressing quite firmly, roll one little piece of gnocchi down the prongs of a fork so that it comes out ridged.
Repeat fifty million times, or until your dough is finished, whichever comes sooner.
Cook in boiling, salted water until they bubble to the surface. Do not overcook! Cover in your favourite sauce. Enjoy.
Attenzione! Be careful! Because they’ve got so much potato in them, gnocchi are known, KNOWN for giving stomachaches to overambitious eaters. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Buon appetito!