Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gnocchi Now, After Lessons Learned in Seminary

I finally made gnocchi today.  It's perhaps the third time I've made it.  Gnocchi is a very simple pasta, but like all fresh pastas, it's a bit of a pain to get the dough ready to go.

The last time I made the gnocchi, I was in Seminary.  I had a tiny, communal kitchen and strict rules about what we were allowed to keep in the fridge.  There were lots of fun people living in the dorms, and we were all going through various stages of dislike about the changes in the Refectory- the seminary cafeteria.  Several people took to cooking little meals in the dorms.  I became the unofficial bread baker with my trusty "R2D2" style bread maker.  I actually turned out french bread in those Seminary ovens!  Across the courtyard, I remember a group from Madison dorm inviting me over for homemade chai.    

When my turn came, I invited a group over for gnocchi.  I was low on white flour, but being low on any ingredient has never fazed me.  I will substitute without a pang of guilt.  (This is the opposite of M, who is liable to leave a dinner half done to go fetch a missing ingredient.  Not me.  I know every trick in the book. I will even make you cheese out of nutritional yeast if pushed...)  Therefore, being low on white flour did not bother me.  I had plenty of wheat flour on hand.

I subbed the wheat flour for the white flour, and plowed ahead.  I even took the time to use the fork to make those pain-in-the-butt tine marks on each and every freakin' gnocchi.  Usually, I cut and hand roll to make pillowy dough circles because I'm lazy like that.  But not this time.  Perfectly shaped and tined, every one.  In to the water they go, and as they floated back to the top, out they came.

A homemade sauce accompanied them.  I will say that the wheat flavor added a nice nuttiness.  Cheese was sprinkled on top, and thank God that someone had brought wine- lots of wine.  And that I had very good friends.

Because I had not counted on the fact that brown wheat flour, in a round pasta form, would end up looking so unfortunately... round and brown.  I could have submitted them for illustrations in that educational children's book.  Pasta fail!

My friends deserve credit for ever letting me cook again (which they did).  But I learned my lesson about making brown wheat pasta.

Tonight, the gnocchi were made with all white flour.  And they were pillowy and sweet, perfectly formed and tender.  I think I may have erased the trauma I brought upon myself five years ago.  I wonder, though, if any of those friends have ever eaten gnocchi again?

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