Friday, 15 March 2013

Northern Italian-Week 1: Gnocchi!!!

Ever since my trip to Italy last summer, I have always wanted to relive the incredible gastronomic experience at home. Here I am, taking both the Northern and Southern Italian cooking classes. Each class lasts for 6 weeks, with the first class being demo-only. 

In Week 1-Northern Italian, our chef showed us 4 things, gnocchi di patate, sugo di pomodoro (basic tomato sauce), finissima di branzino marinata (marinated sea bass with Italian salad), and panna cotta (creamy dessert). Gnocchi was definitely my favourite by a large margin! One of the most memorable meals that I had in Italy was a gnocchi dish with smoked salmon in a creamy tomato sauce in Murano, a small island near Venice. To recreate that dish, I tried once, using the gnocchi that you can find in a groceries store and it usually comes in an air-tight bag. It turned out to be a bad, BAD idea. I think because of the packaging, preservatives were added and they make the gnocchi taste "off". You could almost taste the assembly line! I guess gnocchi could look a bit intimidating to make, but really, it's a lot easier than I anticipated. This is my first time to make those lovely potato dumplings, and they are way beyond my expectations! 

1000g baking potatoes
300g all purpose flour
3 eggs
60g Parmesan cheese, grated
salt/pepper/nutmeg to taste

1. boil a large pot of water
2. put potatoes (with skin on) into the boiling water, cook until done
3. peel the skins off the potatoes, press them through a potato ricer
4. add eggs, flour, cheese and salt/pepper/nutmeg, combine everything to make a dough
5. kneed the dough for 5min or so (when you pinch, the dough should spring back slowly)
6. take a small piece of the dough and throw it into the water as a tester. If the dough holds together for 3-4min, the dough is good. If the piece falls apart, you need more "binding" agents in the dough. Add an egg and try again.)
7. don't rest the dough and work fast with it. Roll it out to small logs and cut it into bite size. Lay them out on a floured tray. (you can freeze them at this point)
8. throw the gnocchi into heavily salted boiling water. They are done as soon as they float to the surface of the water. Then take them out. 
9. heat a pan, add olive oil, saute smoked salmon quickly. Then add tomato sauce, and gnocchi, toss them up until they are coated with the sauce. 
10. grate parmesan cheese on top when you serve it, garnish with parsley

Until next time, my friends, buona sera!

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