Monday, May 16

Gnocchi With My Hands

And it’s like that you know, when you’re standing there at your kitchen bench looking down at your hands, hands covered with the dust left over from flour and patches of wet dough, and its spring outside and you’ve just spent the morning at the markets buying ingredients to make a dinner of gnocchi from scratch with.

A thick fresh cream and aged blue cheese is just sitting there in your fridge with dozens of mushrooms that have been picked that very morning from somewhere in the French countryside, but right now down in the streets it’s quiet because it’s a Sunday in Paris and people don’t start to wake until just before midday, cafes still have their shutters down but you, you’ve been up for hours to watch the morning unveil itself so you can spend a day in the sun way up in your tiny Parisian apartment listening to Ray LaMontagne while you make cookie dough to store in your freezer for future snacking and a homemade Italian meal of gnocchi involving a creamy mushroom and blue cheese sauce.

But you’re just looking down at your hands that are in the middle of creating. And this moment, it’s like an answer and you can’t quite believe you get to live this way, in this life, in this country, making food with the vegetables you bought from the very people who harvested them, and the only thing you can be is thankful because it’s all too much, and you’re too exhausted from wondering how long this will all last for and so you just decide to enjoy it and to try and see how it can be shared.

Russet Potato Gnocchi

Enough for 5-6 people as a main course.

2 large russet potatoes
1 cup standard flour
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

It is said that gnocchi is best when it is made from russet potatoes and so I went from stall to market stall in search of the most beautiful looking pale beige potatoes with dark brown speckles and I bought two. Then I came home and boiled them in salted water till they yielded to the slight piercing of a sharp knife and I pealed them and pressed them through a very fine sieve on to a floured workbench, all with my own hands, to come up with this:

And I sprinkled over a little chili powder because it was the only spice I had, an embarrassing amount of salt because salt is the only thing that goes with everything, and a reasonable amount of flour to form this dough that I am making for the very first time. And then I worked the conglomeration, with my hands, until it came together.

A well was made to cradle one beaten egg and then there was gentle kneading and an addition of a bit more flour until it came together into an easy ball.

I rolled the dough out between two sheets of baking paper until it was ½ an inch thick and then cut it into 1 inch wide strips,

And then on a lightly floured surface, rolled the strips into rope-like pieces,

And cut out 1 inch long pieces of gnocchi, placing them in the fridge until I was ready to cook them, about two hours later.

A pot of salted water was brought to the boil and decreased to a steady simmer and the gnocchi was added, one piece at a time, and once they had risen to the surface, they were removed with a slotted spoon and were added to my mushroom and blue cheese sauce.

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