It's the time of year where we Texans pretend it's fall. We talk about a slight chill in the air, despite the temperatures that still hover above 90. We shop for sweaters, we squint our eyes really tightly and stare at the trees, imagining we see something close to leaves changing color. And today, at the grocery store someone managed to pipe the smell of apple cider throughout the entire place. I actually love this little game we play with ourselves, despite the fact that it occasionally leaves me a bit uncomfortable due to my utter disregard for the weather, choosing to wear knee high boots and a scarf whenever possible. Oh hell, I even went sweater shopping today. I'm crossing my fingers that global warming is not actually a descriptive term... If in fact, global warming makes weather more erratic and unpredictable, perhaps Austin will become a ski resort in the next 20 years?
So in a hopeful celebration of the joys of climate change I made gnocchi the other night. After all, the air conditioner had been turned off for an entire 12 hour stretch... that's, like, the dead of winter here in Texas.
Now gnocchi's a funny little beast... maybe not to anyone else, but to me it is. I know intellectually what gnocchi is. I've read about the perfect gnocchi. I've even eaten it once at a restaurant, however, to be fair, it was a bit of a fusion place. What I'm saying is, I'm not sure what gnocchi is really supposed to be like! My mother never made it. I have no Italian friends with Italian grandmothers. I live in Texas and we're not exactly overwhelmed down here with authentic Italian restaurants. Even my trips to Italy have been utterly devoid of gnocchi. I've read about how a lot of gnocchi's texture is sub-par. Apparently there is a sublime state you can achieve in gnocchi-dom. What is this perfect texture? I always assumed that gnocchi was the Italian version of dumplings, spaetzle, matzoh balls... all variations of the same funny little beast. Am I wrong to believe this? As much as I very much adore all members of the dumpling family (most most especially spaetzle!), I'm not so eager to proclaim any of them sublime. Or rather, I wasn't until I threw together my little gems of gnocchi the other night. It was an absolute mistake. I was just trying to find a vehicle for the goat cheese left over from calzone night. Somehow these gnocchi ended up being less dumpling-y and instead were transformed into airy little cheese puffs. The outside of the gnocchi had a traditional dumpling/gnocchi texture. Once your teeth passed through that, there was an air pocket and then a melty creamy nugget of cheese. What a delightfully happy accident, no? So what I give you is my interpretation of a sublime gnocchi. And my hope for a ski resort right down the road.
Goat Cheese Gnocchi
Adapted from The Greenmarket Cookbook edited by Joel Patraker and Joan Schwartz, recipe by Bill Telepan
* This recipe serves two *
2 ounces chevre, crumbled
3 ounces Bucheron, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, slightly heaping
1/8 cup grated gruyere
Combine the cheeses, egg and pepper and mix well. Add the flour and just mix to combine. It should be a rather sticky dough. At this point taste and add salt to taste. Scoop small balls of dough into a spoon and roll with your hands to form a tiny egg shape, about an inch long and half an inch thick. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once you have a rolling boil drop the gnocchi in. Once the gnocchi float to the top cook for 1-2 minutes more. Drain and serve with this sauce.