I have a confession. I have had a pasta machine, the one to roll pasta out, for about six years now. I took it out of its box when I was given it. I admired it, I even turned the handle a couple of times imagining the wonderous creations that would come through the rollers. Then I put it back into its box.
It is still in that box. Now, part of that isn’t my fault. It just so happens that the box the pasta maxhine is in, is safely in storage in Northern Ireland, along with everything I kept from my home there. And has been for the past almost four years.
But the point is I have been meaning to make pasta for over six years. And I haven’t.
I keep looking at the recipes I have gathered up for pasta. Longingly even. I sigh dramatically and blame my not attempting to make pasta on anything and everything, except the truth.
I was scared.
Yep, scared of flour and egg.
Me, who has conquered bread making and has tamed the art of making sixty billion cookies each Christmas Eve. 🙂
Then I heard someone on the Food Network refer to gnocchi as “beginners pasta” and I was sold. Even I would be able to master gnocchi!
So, I set to. Fully determined not only to provide Allan with one of the best pasta meals of his life but also to prove to him that my addiction with the Food Network was paying off. Allan teases me about the FN. If ever I have the remote control he asks if I am watching “that damn food channel”. He is teasing me and is actually my enabler in this addiction as he is the one who put it onto the package of channels we get from the satellite provider.
I am spoilt.
Allan, I should point out, would happily eat pasta for every meal for the rest of his life, similar to me with my champ obsession, I guess. And in so many ways I saw this potato gnocchi as a food emblem of our relationship, pasta and potato in perfect synchronicity.
No pressure, then.
To add to the pressure Allan used to play semi-pro football (soccer, for the uninitiated) when he was younger and one of the teams was Italian. He developed his passion for pasta and all Italian food during those years when pasta was eaten in vast amounts pre and post games.
He also nearly got lynched during one game for flicking a mosquito from under his chin, making a motion that he didn’t know was offensive, but that every supporter from the opposing team took as him asking them to go do something to their mothers.
He was saved by members of his own team explaining he was a “mange cake” (I am sure I spelt that incorrectly but you get the idea) and ushering him into the dressing room while he tried to figure out why opposing supporters were leaping over the seats towards him a la Cantona in reverse.
Mosquitos are dangerous critters!
He also played a game where the poor referee was struggling with all the Italian names mangling them beyond all recognition before finally coming to Allan’s very English surname and looking proud before pronouncing it with a strong Italian accent, totally mangling it too to the glee of Allan’s team mates.
The mothers of his team mates would feed him wonderful Italian food which created his deep seated love of Italian food. I can’t compete with them in any way, but he is kind, and I keep practising.
So, making gnocchi from scratch seemed to me to be a perfect way to raise myself to domestic goddess in his eyes.
I spent the morning making it. I chilled it in the fridge, then served it with bolognese sauce.
And he loved it. I was very proud.
So proud that I managed to delete the pictures I took of the gnocchi being made. 😦
But I did manage to keep a couple of the gnocchi drenched in bolognese sauce for Allan and rose tomato sauce for me.
The gnocchi was not only easy to make but imbibed me with such feelings of accomplishment I had to actually call Allan at work just to let him know what I had made for his supper.
I was a wee bit proud. I was even prouder when he ate it and declared it the best gnocchi he had ever tasted.
I will not mention that he went on to say that he had never eaten gnocchi before, as I am sure that even if he had it would still have been the best. It was that good.
I have grandiose plans now for making pasta of all shapes and hues. But I have to wait to get that pasta machine out of storage… don’t I?
- 3 pounds russet potatoes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, extra large
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup canola oil
Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board.
Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.
Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.
Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork.
As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.
Gnocchi in a bolognese sauce.