That’s a fine looking tomato there
Eating Things with Noah
Gnocchi is so simple yet so fascinating to me. It’s just about the most simple pasta yet there are so many ways to do it wrong and so much comes down to feel. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve made it in one form or another but the biggest realization for me for making light, fluffy, delicate gnocchi was to let the dough be looser than I’d thought it should be. You can follow a recipe to a T but there are enough variables with the moisture content of the ingredients, the proportion of eggs or lack thereof, the gluten content of the flour, that the final preparation becomes an intuitive thing.
This ricotta gnocchi is probably the easiest variation I’ve made. Without the need to cook potatoes it comes together in about the time it takes to boil water on my feeble stove. It’s just a large dollop of ricotta, an egg and some flour gently mixed together until it forms a loose dough. With the loose dough it’s essential to keep a lot of flour on the work surface. Gently roll the dough out into 3/4 inch ropes and slice into pieces. It took me several tries to figure out the trick rolling on the back of the fork to create ridges on the gnocchi but I couldn’t actually say if that helps the sauce stick. After boiling the gnocchi in well salted water until they float, I tossed them in a really simple fresh tomato sauce. The sauce is just a couple whole cloves of garlic sauteed in olive oil until brown with some peeled tomatoes tossed in with salt and pepper and cooked down until it gets to be a jammy consistency. I just used some regular hydroponic vine ripened tomatoes but between the garlic and the reduction, it really brought out the sweetness of the ingredients. With the gnocchi in the pan with the sauce I added a little cooking water to loosen it all up and tossed on high until the sauce coated the gnocchi well. Plate and cover with freshly shredded parmesan or pecorino.
Here’s a little bit of cooking 101 with the classic unfilled French herb omelette. While I’m more drawn to the rusticity of traditional Italian cooking over the more refined French styles, there’s something really appealing about the the precision required to make this omelette and it’s interesting to see how many ways eggs can be prepared in different cultures. This is definitely one of the more particular preparations. It’s just three eggs, butter, herbs, salt and pepper so it’s all about the technique. I had to watch Jaques Pepin prepare this over and over because everything comes together so fast that there’s no time to think. Even then it took a couple tries to get the motion with the fork in the pan and I still didn’t quite nail the dismount on this one. Maybe next time I’ll get it right.
I never knew that I’d be so excited to be eating vegetables. I guess a week of gorging on New England seafood will do that to me.
I was pretty reserved with the food photos while on a little vacation to Massachusetts with my girlfriend but the portions at the Causeway restaurant in Gloucester were pretty remarkable and needed to be documented for posterity. Gloucester is the quintessential New England fishing town so it figures that the seafood was incredibly fresh. My only disappointment is that the other ingredients seemed like something of an afterthought.
I love how polenta gives such a blank canvas to show off whatever you’re eating it with. Today I’m cleaning out the vegetable drawer because I’m going out of town for a couple days and finishing off a surprisingly resilient bunch of Swiss chard sautéed with some leftover strained tomatoes, garlic and red wine vinegar.