Sunday, September 14, 2008

Channeling My Inner Italian

Yesterday morning I woke up and was in the kitchen drinking my Ghiradelli chocolate and raspberry coffee (heavenly) and got inspired. I'm not talking inspired to clean the bathroom inspired (which does actually happen sometimes, not often, but sometimes) I'm talking inspired to challenge my limited cooking abilities by making gnocchi inspired. This past spring I started this Italian carbohydrate-making binge, by making fettuccine egg noodles from my mom's (and i think grandmas recipe) that i request her to make for me every time I go home. From there I graduated to tortellini which turned out wonderful thus boosting my kitchen confidence a teeny bit.

I had been talking about making gnocchi all summer and yesterday morning decided that that was the day. So i turned to one of my favorite italians (well italian-american, but he lives in Napa so he gets that extra bit of coolness) on the food network, Micheal Chiarello. I printed off his recipe for gnocci with wild mushroom sugo, put on my golashes, and trucked out into the rain to the lincoln park farmers market to get some potatoes and some mushrooms. I had 21 dollars in my purse and had to turn around and go to the gorcery store after i spent 19 bucks on mushrooms. Who knew fungus was so expensive? I had a double take when she told me my total but she had already poured the three little buckets of mushrooms into my reuseable grocery bag (go environment!) and I didnt want to make her separate the shitakkes from the portobellas to take some off my order.

So my money spent, I headed the the grocery store to pick up the rest of my ingredients. Mind you, it was still pouring, turning out to be the rainiest 24 period in its history. I made it home through the monsoon and threw the potatoes to bake in the oven for about an hour. At this point in my little tale, I think I should mention that I do not have a potato ricer and therefore would have to find a different way to get my potatoes in a suitable condition for making gnocchi. Out came the micro plane (I google the words 'make gnocchi no ricer' and surprisingly there was an array of topics for help for my little conundrum) and i spent the next two hours peeling and shoving two HUGE potatoes through a 3 inch by 5 inch grater. This was so much less fun that making pasta- throwing flour and an egg into my Cuisinart and buzzing it around a few times to get my perfect little ball of dough.

Ultimately though I survived the Battle of the Potatoes of 2008 and the gnocchi came out decent. The sauce (or sugo) was delicious but the gnocchi were far from light and fluffy, but not horrible for my first time. I will try it again, only after I con a potato ricer out of my boyfriend for Christmas...

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