There are few things more rewarding in life than accomplishing something you didn't think you could (or would) do. The pride, happiness, and feelings of self-actualization that come from reaching one of these goals - whether you knew or not that it would be something you would do - is invaluable.
Since being a grown-up (or as close to one as I'll ever become), I've realized and materialized the following:
- I can put together a book shelf and a shoe rack with my very own screw-driver and hammer.
- I can chop fire wood and wield an axe with the most seasoned wood choppers.
- I can measure, level, and install a curtain rod - and it looks GOOD.
- I can speak up and stand up for myself (or someone else) if I feel someone is being unfair. In this, my interpersonal and diplomacy skills have blossomed.
- I can boil water. And teach others to boil water, as well.
- I've learned to let people come and go from my life and not judge that (or them). While it can definitely still hurt, I've discovered that it's actually, okay. Let it happen. Grieve. Or celebrate. And move on.
- I've almost completed a 4 year degree at the University of Victoria in Women's Studies. Who saw that coming?!!
- I can dig up the lawn (back breaking labor!), and plant my very own vegetable garden.... Post to come!
- I can laugh in the worst of times.... And usually do.
- I can make Gnocchi!
The last is really, what this post is about. But I do think it's important to brag about our accomplishments and those of others. Celebrate them. While they may seem small to one person (i.e. boiling water), it can mean a great deal, to another...
So, let's get on with it, shall we? Gnocchi! Ever since discovering Jaime Oliver I've dreamed of making my own gnocchi. Paralyzed from the fear of trying something so new and delicate, I abstained from the task. However, this past weekend, I made Roast Leg of Lamb with Bordelaise Sauce and I just couldn't resist any longer. I decided to do it. And do it, I did.
They were fluffy, soft, delicious and actually fairly easy. I let go of my fear of flour, and threw caution to the wind! If they didn't work out, it was okay - I had backup heavily processed gnocchi just in case. Ew. But luckily I didn't have to call on Plan B - Plan A worked out just peachy keen.
Make sure you have a couple hours or so to make the little guys - especially if you haven't made them before. But it is easy. The ingredients are simple. And the reward is well worth the effort. Trust me.
Gnocchi, from Scratch
2 Lb (600 g) Floury Potatoes (i.e. Russets).
160 g + 125 g White All-Purpose Flour.
1 Free-Rage, Organic Egg Yolk.
1 Tsp Nutmeg.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
What to Do:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and dry the potatoes thoroughly. Poke a few holes in their skin with a fork to release the heat while they're cooking (or they may burst in your oven - messy!), rub with some olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about an hour or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool about 4 minutes.
While those are cooking, mix together 160g of flour, the nutmeg, and some salt and pepper to taste.
Now, grab an oven mitt and cut the little guys in half. Scoop out the hot potato into a bowl and discard skins (or save to stuff as a snack for later. Yum!...Ooooooh, blog post coming on....)....
Smash with a fork to eliminate lumps. Be gently though - you want these little guys to be fluffy, not pulverized. Work quickly, you want the potato to stay warm.
Add the egg yolk to the potatoes and work through.
Once incorporated, add the flour mixture and gently mix in with your hands.
Once it starts to hold together and look more like dough, lightly flour your work surface, remove from the bowl, and knead the entire bit for about 3 - 4 minutes.
* To knead, use your palms to push down on the mixture, spreading it on the counter, fold over toward you, and turn 1/4 of a turn. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
** You may need to add more flour as you go because it gets sticky (true for the rest of the recipe as well) but try not to add too much or you will end up with heavy gnocchi.
Once your kneading is done, break off a big handful of the stuff and roll out like a rope on the floured counter to about 3/4" thick.
Slice all the way down the rope into 1 inch pieces.
Slice all the way down the rope into 1 inch pieces.
Traditional gnocchi has little grooves in the top. You can do this with a fork but I didn't bother.
Place "pillows" on a floured piece of parchment paper, cover with a towel and set aside until ready to cook.
When you're ready to cook them, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in 10 to 12 gnocchi at a time and let cook for about 2 minutes. They will pop to the top of the water when they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a shallow glass bowl or plate until all the gnocchi are done.
At this point, heat a large non-stick skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter. When hot, toss in the gnocchi (gently!) and brown slightly.
Serve as you would pasta - I offered them as an accompaniment to the Lamb and drizzled the Bordelaise Sauce over top. It was absolute friggin Heaven!