Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

As my devoted followers know, I love gnocchi. Usually I satisfy that love by buying dried, vacuum packed gnocchi (because fresh is too $$$) or by ordering at restaurants. However, for a long time I've been wanting to make gnocchi.

Bucket lists are popular these days. I don't have a bucket list, but in the back of mind I have a long list of things I would like to do someday. A lot of those things are food related---make my own pasta, take a real cooking class, make to-die-for-Almond Rolls, and eat at Uchi (or Uchiko). Some things, I've already done like making rustic Italian bread (didn't love those results and haven't had the desire to try again...), making buckeyes, making my own mayonnaise, and making a whole bunch of cookies for Christmastime. Making gnocchi was also on the list.

We loved this gnocchi (which J called Humpty Dumpty). Curtis and M normally don't like gnocchi, but they thought it was fabulous. In fact, M told me "Mommy, I can't believe you made this because it looks so good, but I saw you. I thought it came from the best bakery in the whole world." (Five year olds occasionally get food sources confused). We easily polished off a whole batch.

A couple of recipe notes: 1) This recipe takes a lot longer to make than it looks like due to dropping the gnocchi in the water. The recipe suggests doing this via a pastry bag. That works great, it doesn't give you the characteristic gnocchi ridges and looks more like a very rustic gnocchi. Your hands will also get sore from squeezing the gnocchi through the bag. Give yourself a good half hour to squeeze and cook all the gnocchi. 2) The cream sauce was an epic fail, but didn't drive me to laying on the floor and crying (like in Julie/Julia which Curtis and I watched over the weekend). I used sour heavy cream and mascarpone that had grown mold, which I scraped off. Since I knew I was throwing out the ingredients anyway, I thought I'd give it whir, just in case. Didn't work and we ended up using store bought pasta sauce we had left in my fridge from when my mother-in-law came to our house and made supper. 3) I didn't have a potato ricer and wasn't ready to go buy one. After much searching through the kitchen, I decided to try the food mill attachment for my Kitchenaid that I use for making applesauce. It worked perfectly!

This serves 4 - 6, depending on how much people eat.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission
4 medium-size sweet potatoes
1 medium-size russet potato
2 c flour
1 egg, beaten
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Mascarpone Cream Sauce
4 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 T sugar
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c stock or water
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1 bunch sage, finely chopped

Roast sweet potatoes in preheated 300 degrees oven for 1 hour or until tender (could also grill, I suppose). Peel and keep warm. Meanwhile, peel and cut the russet potato into chunks. Cook in boiling water until potato is tender. Cut sweet potatoes into chunks. Put all potatoes (sweet and russet) through a potato ricer or food mill. Stir in flour, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to help mixture hold together. Divide into two balls. Bring water to boil in a large pot. Put one ball of sweet potato mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" diameter tip (I used the base piece for the other tips and nothing else). Squeeze pastry tube over boiling water, cutting mixture with kitchen sheers at 1/2 - 1" intervals (I did closer to 1"). Cook in boiling water until dough floats to the surface. Remove with slotted spoon, put gnocchi in a colander to drain and keep warm until all gnocchi is cooked. Repeat until all dough is used.
For the sauce: In a saucepan, heat the shallots (onions), garlic, sugar, cream and stock. Add the cheese and sage and heat until cheese melts and is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine gnocchi with sauce and serve.

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