Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 252 - potatoes

I learned several things today, all in one way or another, related to potatoes. On weekends, I often like to make a NYT recipe and this week, despite the fact that I thought I didn't really like them, I decided to make gnocchi. I have had them a few times before and always felt that they were a bit like eating small gluey bricks without a lot of taste. The pictures in the NYT were so appealing and lots of people whose taste I trust like them, so I thought why not? It's only an afternoon and a bunch of potatoes that I've wasted if I hate them. It turns out that if you make the recipe in the NYT exactly, I like gnocchi. A lot. They taste like potatoes; they're not gluey and while they were not "light as a cloud," they were not heavy. Having been raised by people who lived through The Depression, I very carefully searched for a recipe for the potato skins before I started the whole enterprise. Pioneer Woman has a nice potato skin recipe and they're good without the filling, too.

After the first batch was out and I tried a couple and decided that they were edible enough to eat for dinner, I realized that I had been so enchanted by making noodles, that I forgot the rest. Noodles--even really delicious noodles--without sauce is not a very appetizing dinner. Terry has a dairy allergy; Tommie has a tomato allergy so I felt like a kitchen impressaria, whipping together tomato sauce with olives and capers on one burner, improvising mushrooms in white sauce on another burner and boiling 12 homemade delicious gnocchi at a time on the third burner (they clump if you cook too many at a time and also when you put them in, they lower the temperature of the water and then they don't cook as nicely). If the whole doctor gig doesn't work out, maybe I have a future as a gnocchi chef.

The one thing the NYT recipe doesn't tell you is how hard it is to rice potatoes. It turns out for me that there are a couple of extra steps involved. First, you have to google "ricer" to find out what one is. It turns out to be a kind of extrusion device, like we used for play-doh when we were little. Then, you have to drive to Portsmouth to buy one. I was out of chocolate so I really had to go to Portsmouth anyway. Then you bake your potatoes, do the goofing around to make potato skins and finally, stuff the ricer full of potato flesh and press. Because I had no idea what I was doing, I used the little holed disk first. I swapped that out fast! Ricing is such hard work that I literally worked up a sweat. If you think I am one of those people who uses literally when they mean figuratively, come see the long sleeved shirt I had to trade for a T shirt! After the ricing, it continues to resemble play-doh in that you mix the potatoes and flour with your hands and it gets kind of crumbly and then you add a little more flour and the whole thing suddenly sticks together. You roll out a long snake and cut it up and boil it. Not appropriate for low carb diets.

Partially frozen and waiting for lunch next week. I wish I had taken a picture when it was warm, on a plate and photogenic.

For tomorrow, I will hope for safe travels for all of us.

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