We were doomed from the beginning. You think it would be easy. Gnocchi = Potatoes + Flour. How could you possibly screw up two ingredients? Well. As I started to read the recipe and Mom simultaneously started peeling the potatoes, I yelled out. See, when I follow a recipe, I ABIDE by the recipe to the julienne. I can improvise on some measurements but for the most part, I consider cooking a science - a wonderfully enriching and delicious science. Mom doesn't follow recipes to a T, how hard could it be?
So halfway through peeling the potatoes, I stopped her. The recipe says to peel after cooking (it's easier that way), probably to preserve the starch. You do only have two ingredients to work with after all.
So I added the flour and mixed it up and thought, well, this doesn't really look like a dough. Sorta like mashed potatoes. But the recipe says not to add too much flour or to knead the dough too much. Whenever a recipe tells me this, I freak out. I mean, how do I really know when too much is too much? (Refer to the incident where Stefan had no idea how stiff the stiff peaks of whipped cream were supposed to be. When it started turning to butter, he knew he had gone too far).
The test is to pinch off a bit and throw it into a pot of boiling water (throw is perhaps the wrong verb, dangerous burning splash not recommended) and see if the piece holds its shape. It did. A very strange shape, but it held its shape nonetheless.
So we tried to roll out the dough, but it was like mashed potatoes. Maybe it was soaking up the flour. We added more and more flour, all the while thinking we were headed to rubberland, afraid of the "not too much" indications of the recipe.
The other tough part was shaping the gnocchi. You're supposed to press it into the twines of a fork, give it its characteristic shape. There was nothing characteristic about the shapes we were making. Glutinous blobs. Numerous times I called out for help, my fingers covered in potato-flour goo, unable to manipulate flour from its tub.
Defeated, laughing, and christening our pasta Disaster Gnocchi, we made it through the ordeal of shaping the pasta. And with a final fateful plop we put our gnocchi into water and waited for them to float up, ready.
Seasoned with a delicate butter-sage sauce, the gnocchi looked surprisingly good on the other end. And were REMARKABLY delicious. Light, tasty, good fun. Gobbled up by the family.
A lovely surprise, a riotous time. I know we scored poorly on appearance (or at least form), we'll work on it...