Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi: The Adventures of the Yu Sisters

This being a long weekend + my sister needing to do laundry + a mutual desire to do some experimental cookery = food explosion!

As it were, we both wanted to try and make gnocchi from scratch.  What is gnocchi some of you may ask?  It is, plainly put, a potato dumpling (or ricotta if you like), and is of Italian cuisine origin.  Why the sudden desire to make it?  I can't really say, except that it is notoriously difficult to make, and seeing as we had some time to kill, why not?

And so the scene is set: Gnocchi is to be the main dish, but what else to make with it?  Roasted vegetables instantly pop up in our mind, and  I decide to make some bread: Our meal is complete.

With our daunting task in front of us, we set out to make a meal to remember.  I began with the bread, using Jim Lahey's famous no-knead bread recipe, as it would take less effort, and could easily be put together.  And what a beautiful loaf of bread!

Seeing as we couldn't just eat bread by itself (although quite delicious I might add), and our gnocchi would need some kind of sauce, a pesto seemed like a perfect accompaniment.  But, our basil had wilted, so our alternative was a broccoli walnut pesto, from Serious Eats: Recipes.  And boy did it look amazing!   The only thing I would change is to roast the garlic before adding it to the food processor, just to cut some of the sharpness of raw garlic.

 We bought around 7 pounds of potatoes, and it turned out to be just right, considering we messed up our first try.  The recipe we were using called for 3 pounds of potatoes, and said to bake them, to "get creamer gnocchi".  So bake them we did.  But alas, they were not quite done after the state 1 hour of baking, and we ended up trying to grate them to get them down to the consistency and texture we needed.  After adding the flour and egg, we found ourselves in a potato pancake-like dough, and nowhere near a dough for gnocchi.  So potato pancakes we made, and they were delicious.

This is not what your potatoes should look like.

On to round two:  We decided we needed to boil them instead, and we got a much softer and fluffier consistency, albeit with a few lumps here and there, but we got it down to manageable dough, and started kneading.  *Tip: Don't add all the flour in at once.  It'll make it easier to knead it in if you add it in a little at a time, about a 1/2 cup.*
A So we get our lovely potato dough together, and start creating the potato dumplings, rolling it out into ropes and then cutting them into small little pieces.  We weren't quite sure which way the ridges were to go, so we ended up forgoing them and just tossing them into the pot of boiling water.  And this is what we got:  Beautiful, tender and tasty gnocchi!  Success!!

Admittedly, we weren't really quite sure what gnocchi were supposed to taste like, but nonetheless, our first foray into making homemade gnocchi yielded edible potato dumplings.  Plus, they didn't fall apart when they were cooking, which is apparently the worst thing that could happen when you make gnocchi.

As to our roasted vegetable medley, what a colorful medley we had!  Carrots, butternut squash, red onions, and red and yellow bell peppers made up our mix, with a roasted acorn squash.  We modified recipes for the roasted vegetables and the roasted acorn squash.  Let me just say, having never cooked any type of squash, I never realized how difficult it is to cut and peel a butternut squash, much less cut in half an acorn squash.  Never have I been more grateful to have my trusty Cutco chef knife with me.  That being said, despite the difficulties we had in preparing the dish, the vegetables came out perfectly caramelized and deliciously tender.

And there you have it: 5 hours of cooking and eating for a fully satisfying meal and a wonderful time laughing together with my sister.


  1. hehe. it sounds delicious!! good job!!

  2. totally following this. :] this blog i mean, iono if i can muster up a gnocchi like you two