According to Chef Loic Malfait, when serving Gnocchi you should always think of paying tribute to the Mediterranean diet.
There are so many combinations one can make.
Bell peppers, green onions, beats, cabbages, and of course tomatoes, are the substantial veggies.
Fresh, fragrant dill, basil, peppermint, and other herbs are always a must. Don’t forget the olive oil, Italian food doesn’t taste the same without it.
Although we all know about the potato based consistency of gnocchi, you may be surprised as to know that there is more to it.
Indeed, there are 3 different kinds!
Here is Chef Loic Malfait telling you more about it…
Here comes one, here comes all.
As I said earlier, Chef Loic Malfait taught me plenty of wonderful things about Italian gastronomy and gnocchi. In a series of little clips, you will become as knowledgeable as I have become. … I am joking of course, but I do feel the exciting topics (and tips) we covered could make you shine at the dinner table.
Make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s always great to learn from the best.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby present to you Chef Loic Malfait of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School!
Earlier this week, I had a little chat with Chef Loic Malfait from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. We got to talking about gnocchi and how to prepare them. According to the chef, the Italian potato dough should always be served as a tribute to its Mediterranean origin. We can then play with southern flavors such as basil, olive oil, mozzarella, and pesto. You get the picture…
Pillowy dumplings are best to define the delectable gnocchis and with a glass of wine, they are almost a fashion statement nowadays. Of course the greatest thing is not only that as a meal they taste amazing with almost anything, but they are also affordable and easy to make.
However I must admit the ‘finesse’ of the dish relies on the shape of the little goodies. Paying attention to details is key here and I suggest looking at traditional Italian cookery books to get an idea of how gnocchi should look like.
The perfect/traditional shape of Gnocchis resembles a sea-shell. To make them have this particular silhouette is a must and does not require any particular skill or wit. Indeed, follow the following steps:
- Take some of your dough preparation and roll it to make a lengthy sort of sausage.
- Cut the end of it and roll it your hand to make a little ball.
- Then take a fork and squeeze gently the little ball onto the fork’s end.
- Roll it up and you’ll have a little seashell look alike.
- The perfect gnocchi is in your hand.
Just a tip: don’t forget to put some flour onto the fork. Otherwise, it may stick onto the tool and it can get nasty.
After a gnocchi delight, ending the meal with a tiny cup of coffee adds just the right touch. However, in terms of skills an Englishman is not well known for his coffee making. No wonder shops, such as Starbucks, Nero and Costa, are spreading like mad in this country.
I am always very loyal to my black Americano. Though I do take it with a dash of milk in the morning, I don’t really enjoy it any other way. On the other hand, everyone else seems very excited to have it with caramel, chocolate, cream, ice and even fruit. Indeed, every time I step into a coffee shop, it seems that a new variety has made its entrance in the fabulous and luscious world of “coffee drinks”.
Going back to the genuine way of enjoying one’s coffee, are we all queuing up unknowingly toward putting an end to what coffee culture really is? In Italy, there are know how’s and don’ts:
- One of them is that milky drinks such as Macchiattos, Lattes and Cappuccinos should always be had in the morning, never after lunch.
- One should always sit up when having his cup of brownish delight. That said it makes me think that le café francais and its pleasurable terraces must make many Italian’s frown.
- One should never ask for an espresso. If you do so in Italy, apart from your accent, everyone will know you are a tourist. Espresso means “coffee dose” so ask for a caffee instead.
Hum, hum what to make of this?
Let’s say we are in England and the world is moving on to improve and disapprove. Freedom of choice means having our coffee the way we like. Indeed, that’s what it is.
Making Potato Gnocchi
The quality of your gnocchi depends on the quality of your potato. It should be a perfect balance between floury and waxy. Our team is planning and extensive planting programme so next year we will have scientific ‘proof’ but for now we are backing King Edwards.
Scrub, but do not peel, about a Kilo of potatoes. Place them in well salted cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until soft (depends on the size of your potatoes, it’s easier if they are all of a similar size). While still hot, peel them. Now you have a choice. Some say dry them out for 10 or 15 minutes in a medium oven. If you want to try this, break the cooked potatoes and place in a baking tray and cover loosely with foil.
Alternatively mash them finely – a ricer is perfect, a fork will do – but it is worth pushing the resultant mash through a sieve if you’ve gone for the fork method. Then add 300g of flour, 00 or plain. If using plain flour (it delivers a better result if sifted), one whole egg and a very good pinch of salt. Mix together whilst the potato is still hot.
Dust your work surface with flour. Giorgio Locatelli recommends flattening your mix in to a rough square about 1.5cm thick and slicing it in to 1.5cm strips then gently rolling it. I like the precision of this but it’s equally good to take off a chunk and roll it into a sausage about 1.5cm thick. Cut the resulting sausage in to 1 – 1.5cm lengths using more flour as needed to stop it sticking to the surface or to each other.
Lastly, take a small fork and lightly press it down on each piece of Gnocchi – so the fork leaves an impression.
If you are going to cook immediately, bring a pan of well salted water to the boil and gently pop the gnocchi in. When the Gnocchi comes to the surface, it’s cooked. Scoop out with a slotted spoon or sieve and sprinkle with olive oil and a sliver of butter to stop them sticking together whilst you warm the sauce of your choice.
Gnocchi freezes well but you need to do it on a floured tray so they don’t freeze into one big blob. You can cook straight from frozen and the same rule applies – when it rises to the top of the pan, it’s cooked
On the 29th of every month, Argentines eat ñoquis (gnocchis, as we would say). For the uninitiated, gnocchi is a potato-based pasta. It is pronounced nyoki. Like a lot of Argentine dishes, this flavourful dish has Italian roots. Many Italians worked on coffee plantations in Argentina during the 19th century and they left a permanent impression on the culture’s cuisine.
Why gnocchi? Why the 29th? Gnocchi is cheaply made and belly filling, a combination appreciated by the working poor on the night before payday. The story goes that a poor family welcomed a hungry man into their home and shared their gnocchi supper. To reward the family’s generous spirit, the man, who was a saint in disguise, left a gold coin under his plate. Hard financial times in Argentina after World War II may have helped the tradition to grow and now Gnocchi Night is practically sacred.
The tradition comes with hopes of attracting prosperity and involves putting money under your plate during your meal. Donate that money (it has to be that money, now warmed by the plate) to charity after the meal, and it will bring you good fortune.
It’s a refreshing celebration of the good value meal. I love the tradition of sharing what little you have and, with that sharing, nurturing hope for good fortune. Clearly the Argentine populace is infused with good spirits and good humour: government workers that are scarce except for when paychecks arrive at month’s end have been nicknamed ñoquis too!
Gnocchi can be made from scratch, of course, and we will be sharing our step-by-step guide so that you can take part in this tradition. The goal (and the challenge) of good gnocchi is that it should be light and fluffy while also dense enough to have flavour, but not so dense that they are chewy or gummy. Once you get started you can explore a whole host of amazing recipes, sweet and savoury, for this delightful tradition. We’ll be sharing our favourites and we welcome you to share yours!