Years ago, Queen Midget and I, after we met and decided to live in sin prior to experiencing the benefits of marriage, rented a house in East Sacramento. This was when I was just starting out on my food odyssey. Before I made pizza. Before I made beer. Before so many things.
There was a restaurant we visited occasionally. I’m going to avoid the name here, because, well, you’ll see in a moment. They made this fabulous dish. Gnocchi. You could get it in a red sauce or in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Or, best of all, half and half. There was something about how the red sauce and gorgonzola sauce mixed together in the middle that was just so incredible.
I wanted to make it. I wanted to make gnocchi, just like that. Only problem was, every recipe I could find for gnocchi seemed far too complicated. They were all recipes for potato gnocchi. So, one day, I’m talking to my new neighbor where we were renting a house. Turns out he is the chef at the restaurant that made this fabulous dish. And, he told me how they made the gnocchi. Simplest recipe ever. Equal parts ricotta cheese and flour.
Our neighbors — the chef and his wife — seemed to be good people. They had a vegetable and herb garden with a drip system. Something I think about whenever I work in my own garden. They drove nice cars. And, every once in awhile, they had screaming rages at each other that filled our home with their anger. I’ll never forget it.
But the gnocchi. So incredible. I’ve made it occasionally over the years. One of my favorite things to do, which I’ve actually done only once or twice is to make it with three difference sauces — red sauce, gorgonzola sauce, pesto — and then serve it in one dish so it looks like the Italian flag. Why? I’m not Italian. Because it just seems like the thing to do.
I like to shake things up every now and then, though. I’m tired of the rut, you know. I make pizza, I make my Mexican fiesta, I make this and I make that. And every once in awhile I just need to try something different.
And, so it was that tonight I made ricotta gnocchi in brown butter sauce. The recipe calls for pan frying the gnocchi rather than boiling it. The sauce is the brown butter, garlic, and parsley.
I’m pretty sure this is how I’ll be making gnocchi in the future. Or at least until I find a new way to try it. Here’s the recipe:
1 cup ricotta, an egg, 2 ounces parmesan cheese. Mix well. Add a half cup of flour and fold in. Don’t overmix. Then form into little balls — maybe half the size of a golf ball. It’s a wet dough. I formed them and then put them on a plate with a lot of flour to keep them from sticking. Melt 1 TBSP butter in 2 TBSP olive oil over medium high heat. Put the gnocchi in and brown on each side for 3-4 minutes each. Take the gnocchi out. Add 4 TBSP of butter. Swirl around and let melt until it gets to be golden brown. Add a clove of minced garlic and a bit of parsley and pour the sauce over the gnocchi.
There was chicken and caesar salad to go with it.
We sat down to watch Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s about a boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks. The first few minutes just hit me so hard. It’s one of the few movies I’ve ever watched, based on a book, that has compelled me to purchase the book. It’s just a remarkable thing about 9/11. The incredible loss that resulted from the attack.
That’s my evening. Great food and a movie that really stops and makes me think.