Monday, April 6, 2009

Gnocchi, No Good

Last night, amid swirling April snow, I paid homage to my non existent Italian grandmother by making a dish from the old country, gnocchi, Mary's favorite food. How could anyone resist, potatoes cooked like pasta? Perfect food, when cooked by a real Italian grandmother.

We tied on our aprons, opened a bottle of wine, boiled potatoes, riced potatoes and spread them out to cool on a cookie sheet. The girls pushed the riced potatoes into a small mound, made a well in the center and I added one beaten egg and a dash of salt. Four small hands attacked the mushy pile, we added flour, one cup, and continued to work the dough into a small ball. Lidia tells us to take no longer than 10 minutes as the dough will become tough; best to always listen to Lidia.

The dough was divided into three balls, I showed Mary and Kate how to roll their piece into a long rope, which they did, over and over and over. They cut the roll into small dumplings and them mashed them completely with the small tines of a fork. We boiled them, tossed them with butter, sage and asparagus and sat down to a truly terrible dinner.

In retrospect I am not sure Lidia intended for me to use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, so good but a bit grainy in a delicate dumpling. Next time we'll limit our dumpling assembly time, but only if we want to actually eat the gnocchi, playing in the dough was much more fun to a four year old than eating their mushy gray meal.

Perhaps this culinary adventure might have met with greater success if my Italian grandmother existed not only in my mind but in my apartment, in the kitchen, apron on, rolling gnocchi with her grandchildren.

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