A couple of gifts

First, from the Smitten Kitchen website, a recipe for Gnocci that won’t stretch your belt:

Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 2 1/2 to 3 cups broth and 85 to 100 gnocchi, serving 4

Tomato broth
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium stalk celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine
One 28-ounce (795 grams) can whole or chopped tomatoes with juices
Small handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 cups (475 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 pounds (905 grams) Russet potatoes (3 to 4)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (156 to 190 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface

To finish
Fresh ricotta or shaved Parmesan, to taste, plus addition slivers of basil leaves (optional)

Bake potatoes: Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size, until a thin knife can easily pierce through them. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato broth.

Make tomato broth: Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. One it’s hot, add the carrot, celery, and onion, and cook together for 5 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if they begin to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more. Pour in the wine, and use it to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then cook the wine unti it is reduced by half, for several minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, mashing them a bit with a spoon if they’re whole, and the basil and stock, and simmer until the tomato broth thickens slightly, for about 45 minutes. Strain out the vegetables in a fine-mesh colander, and season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until needed.

Make gnocchi: Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes after baking, then peel them with a knife or a peeler. Run the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. Cool them to lukewarm, about another 10 minutes. Add the egg and salt, mixing to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour, and mix to combine. Add the next 1/2 cup flour, mixing again. Add 1/4 cup flour, and see if this is enough to form a dough that does not easily stick to your hands. If not, add the last 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is soft but only a little sticky, and able to hold its shape enough to be rolled into a rope. Knead the dough together briefly, gently, on a counter, just for a minute.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch lengths. At this point, you can use a floured fork or a gnocchi board to give each piece the traditional ridges, but I never bother. (The ridges are supposed to help sauce adhere, but here, we’re just floating them in a broth so it’s not a top concern.) Place the gnocchi on a a parchment-lined tray.

[Do ahead: If you’d like to freeze gnocchi for later user, do so on this tray. Once they are frozen, drop them into a freezer bag until needed. No need to defrost before cooking them; it will just take a minute or two longer.]

Cook gnocchi: Place the gnocchi, a quarter-batch at a time, into a pot of boiling well-salted water. Cook the gnocchi until they float — about 2 minutes — then drain.

Assemble dish: Meanwhile, reheat broth to a simmer. Add drained gnocchi then reheat through. Serve gnocchi and broth together, garnished with a few slivers of basil leaves and/or a dollop of fresh ricotto or some Parmesan shavings, if desired.

See more: Italian, Pasta, Photo, Soup, Vegetarian
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Next, a dish for your ears: Go to YouTube and do a search for “Standing in the Shadow of Motown.” It is a movie in 4 parts that will delight and enlighten you, and is more than worth the 30 or 40 minutes you’ll spend enjoying the music.


2 thoughts on “A couple of gifts

  1. Did you ever make this recipe?

    My grandmother used to make a dish that she call potato-knaedlach soup. It was a grayish gruel with about 1-inch balls of grated potatoes in it and schmaltz-fried sliced onion strips floating through it. Disgusting though it sounds, I loved it, ’cause the knaedlach smooshed against the hard palate, much as good potato gnocchi do. I think the gruel-like liquid got its thickness from disintegrating potato balls; the broth may have been little more than water. It was true shtetl food, something I’ve never found since, though I’ve searched and miss it acutely, as does my brother.

    A common trick of modern Italian cooks is to use a wheat flour-potato mixture for their gnocchi to lighten them up, but that takes away the peasanty, sticky coarseness of pure or near-pure potato gnocchi one so seldom finds and I like so much. A few modern Italian chefs make really delicate gnocchi by using ricotta and flour for the dumplings. One chef long ago in his restaurant called Sogni d’Oro (Golden Dreams) made gnocchi that were light as quenelles, a miraculous achievement.

    BTW, gnoccho (the singular of gnocchi) means “lump,” a derisive term for a lazy and/or stupid guy, often followed by a knock upside the head.

    Ever have gnocchi with tomato-vodka sauce? A classic that strikes the balance between refined and everyday: Common, simple, exquisite.

  2. Sounds tasty. Still experimenting with variations of the carrot soup. So far the addition of coconut is my favorite. KL made some soup today that was terrific, with a few chopped up shrimp, Ti vegetable, green onion & cilantro. The cool thing here is that fresh basil, cilantro, garlic, & chives are really inexpensive and used in many dishes.

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