Monday, July 27, 2009

Gnocchi...With a French Twist !!

Gnocchi...why isn't that an Italian dish?...and if so, what's it doing in Julia Child's Volume One "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"?
Let me begin my cooking journey at the beginning. I have always been interested in food, eating it, cooking it, talking about it. Many family stories revolved around food.
My mother was Italian and my mother-in-law was Hungarian so I learned early on about making everything from stuffed cabbage and chicken paprikash to lasagne and pasta dishes.
The earliest memory I have of French food was when I was about 12 years old. My family and I would go into New York City and eat in one of the most wonderful French restaurants, Pierre Au Tunnel. Sadly, it closed a few years ago but I always ordered the same things. Escargots and Frogs Legs. I can still taste them !! Garlic and oil and just sheer yumminess!
But I digress. So I decided to choose the gnocchi recipe from Julia's cookbook. The name of the dish is Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage.
Although I've never made the Italian version of gnocchi, a potato dumpling, I was just plain curoius to see...rather this would turn out. Join me please as I try to explain the steps with the photos.

First I had to make a Pate A Choux (Cream Puff Paste). Julia says every cook should know how to make this! I only needed half the amount for this recipe so the other half went into the freezer. You just never know when you'll be craving French Dessert Puffs !
I measured the flour just as she said. Sift it into a cup and be sure not to press down to get the correct amount. Done !

Next I boiled the water and butter and added the flour and the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating the heck out of it...til I thought my arm would fall off!! Mix in the potatoes and cheese and beat some more.

She says to take a dessert spoon and on a lightly floured board, roll the dough with the palm of your hand to a certain size. Here is where I found a much easier way. Just roll the dough into a long thin rope and cut the shapes. So much easier! Really Julia...we need shortcuts!!

Poach them...don't boil or they'll fall apart, she says for 15 to 20 minutes. This I found way too long. The next batch I poached just a few minutes.
They really did have a great flavor. Very buttery and light as a cloud but almost too light!

Place into a buttered baking dish and when ready, heat on the stove and put under a broiler a few minutes. I didn't heat on top of the stove. I think I would have broken my pretty dish !

And here's the finished dish, browned from the broiler.
As I stated, I did like the flavor of the gnocchi but they were almost too light and delicate with the swiss cheese over top. My son said he thought they were great ! So... that's something !!
Would I ever make them again. Probably not. Certainly not in the summer in my hot kitchen!
Well, there you have I dare say it??? Bon Appetit !!

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