Sunday, February 15, 2009
For Valentine's Day Mike and I went to a cooking class at Tullia's Sauce House. Tullia is an Italian grandmother with the spunk of a teenager. She bottles her own pasta sauce, and teaches Italian cooking and language classes. Each visit to her Sauce House is entertaining as well as educational, both culturally and culinarily.
I signed us up for a class in gnocchi, those little pillow shaped potato dumplings, both so I could learn how to pronounce it correctly and make it. It turns out it is pretty simple: potatoes and water. Tullia boiled 6 large potatoes - doesn't matter which kind, but leave the skin on while cooking. Drain, then peel the potatoes when they are cool enough to handle but still very warm. Rice the potatoes directly on to a large, clean work area. Add flour to the pile of riced potatoes, working it in by hand. Tullia used about 3-4 cups of white flour - we didn't measure so I can't say for sure.
Continue working flour into the potatoes to form a smooth dough, kind of like playdoh. If the dough is too soft, the gnocchi will fall apart in the water when you cook them. If the dough is too hard, they will taste like cement. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it out into a rope, about 12-18 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Using the edge of a metal scraper or spatula, cut the gnocchi into small pieces. Scoop them with the scraper onto a large floured plate. Continue this process with the rest of the dough, sprinkling flour occasionally on the small cut pieces so they don't stick together. Try not to handle the gnocchi with your hands - it will make the dough soft.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Gently drop in the gnocchi. They will sink to the bottom. Cover with a lid, leaving a little room for steam to escape. When the gnocchi rise to the top, they are cooked. Drain the pot.
You can serve them with any kind of sauce and parmesan cheese. We had Tullia's own red sauce, of course, and it was delicious. I'll let you know when I try this at home.