The gnocchi experiment

What can one do when it’s ungodly cold out? But make gnocchi, of course! My husband and I have been wanting to try his grandmother’s recipe for a long time, but shied away for fear of a disaster. Last night, we decided to take the plunge.

Gnocchi are a staple of Italian cuisine. According to some sources, the word gnocco has a negative connotation and means a silly person, thus giving the dish a rustic feel. Problem is, gnocchi are everything but rustic. The dumplings are one of the oldest dishes ever recorded and have become a sophisticated addition to any menu.

The secret to soft and light gnocchi is the choice of potatoes. Luisa, my husband’s grandmother, had one rule and one rule only: Yellow potatoes, the starchier the better. For our experiment, we chose big, Russet potatoes (low in water and high in starch), able to hold the dough together. The process was fairly easy and it took us by surprise.

GNOCCHI

1 kg of yellow potatoes

350 g of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 egg

 

Russet potatoes get washed

The potatoes are washed and ready to be boiled. We left the skins on the potatoes while boiling, but we peeled them once they were cold to the touch. Smash the potatoes and add flour a bit at the time and the pinch of salt. Once the ingredients are are well mixed, add the egg and work the dough until soft and elastic.

Work the dough until it's soft and malleable

Cut the dough in smaller pieces and work them into long and thin rolls. Once the rolls are uniform in size, cut the gnocchi and place them on a floured surface.

Cut the dough in small pieces

In a pot of boiling water, add the small dumplings. Gnocchi cook in a few minutes, in fact, they will rise to the surface once ready. Drain them and add the sauce of your choice. We chose a traditional and simple tomato sauce with a bit of pesto.

Once ready, gnocchi will rise to the surface
Potato gnocchi with tomatoes and pesto

In the end, the experiment was a huge success. The gnocchi were soft, tasty and, most importantly, they did not stick together!

Vocabulary:

Le patate – potatoes

Il sale -salt

La farina – flour

Bollire – to boil

 

 

Advertisements

A homemade Christmas meal

I know, it’s almost been a month and I am just getting to this. My apoligies, but going back to the routine has been much harder than expected. Alas, the food cooked and tasted still lingers in my mouth. At times I can clearly point to the delicious duck made with fresh-from-our-backyard oranges (serously, my parents have two amazing orange trees in the backyard that are also an endless supply of freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast). Or the honey with bits of white truffle spread abundantly on a baguette.

 

Th duck ready to be served.

The duck was served with creamed cauliflower with a hint of saffron and potatoes.

Cold cuts.

Cold cuts, of course. A staple of Italian cuisine used as an aperitif or as a cold and light meal. Salame, coppa, prosciutto cotto and prosciutto crudo.

 

The working station.

Yes, that’s how we do it. It’s the most beautiful sight, a large and fully functioning kitchen. My parents designed this beauty with our family’s love of food in mind. It’s no surprise to us that it is still the room we spend the most time in regardless of the time and day: breakfast, lunch, tea, chat, shopping analysis, family meetings, dinner, coffee, dessert and more.

 

The Christmas table

And voila’, our Christmas table with more food than you can possibly imagine. Decorations and colors thanks to mom, cooking thanks to mom and dad, eating thanks to mom, dad, Gabe, Fra and I.

Of course, Christmas would not be complete without the Pandoro, a sweet bread topped with powder sugar or Panettone, another sweet bread loaf originally from Milano, my hometown. The Panettone has candied fruits and raisings, while the Pandoro is a plain, flowless delicacy. In my family, both il Pandoro and il Panettone are served with the fantastic crema al mascarpone, mascarpone cream: a sinful cream with mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar and liquor.

Vocabulary:

Il Pandoro – Pandoro                               I saIumi – cold cuts

Il Panettone – Panettone                         Il tartufo – truffle

L’anatra – duck                                         L’arancia – orange

Il cavolfiore – cauliflower                      La colazione – breakfast

Il pranzo – lunch                                       La cena – dinner

 

Freezing rain + snow = soup time!

It’s winter and it’s finally time for soup! There probably are millions of recipes for soups with interesting ingredients and unusual combinations, but this particular one is easy, inexpensive and delicious.

I wish I could say I came up with it, but my parents are the real authors of this masterpiece. I call this, zuppa alle zucchine (zucchini soup)…yeah, not very creative, but isn’t it that the simplest things are the best things? Right.

ZUPPA ALLE ZUCCHINE

3 zucchini

1 leek

3 potatoes (and they can be of any kind)

1 onion or Shallots

1 clove of garlic

celery (at your discretion)

1 vegetable bouillon

salt and pepper

 

First, peel and chop the veggies and put them all into a bowl. I happen to love blue potatoes because not only they have a sweet after taste, but they also make the entire soup a deep green color. Let’s face it, you want your soups to look good. Am I right?

 

The veggies are happy!

Once the vegetables are ready in the bowl, pour them into a pressure cooker, my new best friend. Cooking with steam is faster (remember Speedy Gonzalez? Apparently, according to this article, it cooks food 70% faster using 50% less fuel. A win, win if you ask me), but it also keeps the food’s nutrients intact.

The pressure cooker...my new best friend
Once the veggies are ready, blend them all

Add salt, pepper and a bit of extra virgin olive oil either before cooking with pressure or after, when the vegetables are ready to be blended. (Above)

And here it is. Delicious and nutritious

Once the soup is fine, or coarse, depending on your taste, move into your bowl of choice.

It takes more time thinking about this recipe than actually executing it.

 

Vocabulary:

La zucchina – zucchini                   Le zucchine – zucchini (plural)

Il porro – leek                                   I porri – leeks (plural)

La patata – potato                           Le patate – potatoes (plural)

La cipolla – onion                            Le cipolle – onions (plural)

Il sedano – celery

Il sale – salt

Il pepe – pepper