Some people think potatoes are about as fashionable as a puffy fleece at a cocktail party. But mmmm, puffy fleece. Yesterday, with all the chilling rain and leaves whirling about my yard, was a potato day.
And, OK yes, there was a time when I would have made a giant, steamy bowl of mashed-po and plopped down in front of the tube and called it dinner. If I was feeling sassy, I might whip in some goat cheese. Not my proudest culinary moment but a creamy one nonetheless.
But, as I am now all about the journey, I pushed myself to do something I haven't done before: make gnocchi. It seemed brilliant; I had flour, potatoes, sage, and prosciutto. But it really wasn't until I found Faye that I knew I could successfully do it.
Faye Hess is one of my new favorites. She is personal, a little kooky, very natural, and real. I stumbled on her video class for making gnocchi while I was looking for a recipe, and I was sold. In a regular cramped kitchen, using common household utensils and normal ingredients, she turned out some tasty looking little bits of potato pasta. Plus, she cooks like I cook, without a recipe and or strict measurements.
If I'm going to own a dish, I need to cook it from the hip. I need to be able to throw the ingredients together and eyeball what's too much and what's enough. Truly, that means failure. A lot. But by the time I get it right, it's cemented in my repertoire, and I never need to look at a recipe again. Chili, spicy braised short ribs, potato leek soup, crepes are all called upon often because I can make them blindfolded.
So I mucked around with the potatoes and flour and managed a sticky dough that I had no idea was correct or not. I rolled, cut, plopped the odd nubbins into boiling water, and they were done. Different from Faye, I crisped up a little prosciutto and threw in some fresh garlic and sage with a slew of butter. For my first time out, they turned out well. The bites were firm, but not rubbery, and soft without being mushy on the inside. The family tucked in and cleaned out the bowl.
Next time, I might add a little more salt, try a different flour or kind of potato, or go for a touch fruitier olive oil just to see what happens. But I think the mashed-po dinner has officially been banished for good.