Thursday, July 30, 2009

Return to Gnocchi: The Continuing Search for Pillowy Dumplings

Those of you who have been following my efforts to make gnocchi know that my last attempt at reaching gnocchi nirvana was more like gnocchi meets scrambled eggs. Not that I don't like something that resembles a cheese omelette but not exactly what I had in mind. So, here we go again, this time with pictures to document the attempt.

And this time, we got it right! Soft, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi!

Microwave 1/2 gallon of whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized!) for 15 minutes.
If there is evidence of boiling, remove skin from the top. It will easily stick to a spoon. Don't try to get it all.
Pour in 1/3 cup vinegar, in this case cider vinegar. Note, the color of the vinegar will affect the color of the curds. It will start to curdle. These pictures are after about 15 minutes.
Let it sit to curdle. If after an hour or so, the whey is still white like milk, give it a stir to redistribute the vinegar and another 3 minutes in the microwave to bring it back up to temperature. Do not microwave too long at this stage or your cheese may become rubbery.
It is ready for the next step when it is cool enough to handle and the whey looks like chicken broth.
For draining, I use a screen strainer in a collander in a bowl. I don't do this directly over the sink because I don't want to risk losing the cheese.
Periodically tilt the bowl over the sink to get rid of the whey. Save the whey if you have a use for it.
Tilt the strainer, holding the cheese with a spoon to get all the separated whey out. In the past, I used muslin instead of the screen strainer and wrung the ball of cheese out. This made it too dry and rubbery. Your cheese should resemble ricotta.
Transfer the cheese to a dry bowl and stir about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 egg.
Sift and stir in 1 cup of flour about one quarter at a time.
The dough you will end up with is quite sticky.
To form the gnocchi, use two teaspoons, a bowl of sifted flour, and something to make grooves in the gnocchi. I use the back of a tile. Even poking your thumb in a gnocchi will give it someplace for sauce to cling so don't let shaping them intimidate you.
Drop dough by spoonful into the flour and sweep flour on top of it. Then shake off the excess flour and roll into a rough ball. This picture shows, among other things how hard it is to take a picture with one hand!
Flatten the resulting ball on your grooved surface. Then lift it on one edge to roll it off the grooves.
Gently pick up the gnocchi by its ends and they will flatten as you transfer the gnocchi to a lined cookie sheet.
When the gnocchi are frozen they can be moved to plastic bags or other storage container. Keep the gnocchi frozen until you are ready to cook them.
To cook the gnocchi, place them in gently boiling water and when they float move them to the sauce of your choice. Allow the gnocchi to continue to cook in the sauce for another 3-5 minutes. Here, the gnocchi are shown in homemade pesto with mushrooms, summer squash, a minced shallot, and flat-leaf parsley.

Gnocchi on FoodistaQuark Cheese on Foodista


  1. Gorgeous photos!

    Looks delicious, thank you for sharing.

  2. Why thanx! I'm trying to remember to grab the camera but often things go from stove to plate to tummy too fast for image capture! ;-)


Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.