Eyre Affairs

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Thursday, March 16, 2006


"And it is a name by which I think it expedient to be called..." ~ Jane Eyre

This Armenian woman has no business to be making gnocci on Sunday, but she making it anyway.

As a novice chef, gnocci is one of those recipes that puts you over the edge of being a good novice chef to a great novice chef. I am anxious and nervous already about the task; this is the SAT exam of cooking for me. I am sure that other novice chefs have their own standards of what recipes make them more masterful of the culinary arts. Some are cooks, others are bakers. Whatever it is in whatever genre of cooking, there is that one dish which challenges us novices.

I wonder what it is for others. For me, it is a mixture of potato and flour.

J. Sarah was a comfort when I told her of my gnocci anxiety last night over sushi dinner.

"Remember, Amy, this is one of those recipes where you need to remember that you are probably going to fall flat on your face the first few times. Gnocci is a dish that probably can't be mastered until you have done it at least a dozen times."

I know she is right. However, deep down I hope that the little potato dumplings I assemble on Sunday will be edible. The danger lies in the flour...too much or too little can ruin the consistency and make the gnocci dough get tossed in the garbage instead of boiling water. If I can't do this simple mixture, how will I ever make manti on my own one day?

(For a general idea, see here: http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/monti.html)

Still, I will take the risk on gnocci. I don't own a potato ricer, and Lidia says I need it for this. So, after my English Department meeting, I will head to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (aka Bed, Bath, and Bananas to J.Sarah's clan) and get my kitchen tool.

I love shopping for kitchen tools. The wishlist in my profile is linked to Williams Sonoma. You name it, I love it and want it. The garlic press, the melon scooper, the new OXO mango pitter. (You can check out new arrivals at WS here: http://ww1.williams-sonoma.com/cat/index.cfm?CID=ctlnewi&src=catcctli%7Cp1%7Crshop%2Fhme Does anyone else out there get excited over batter ladles? Alligator vegetable dicers? Sesame seed and spice toasters?

Once I master the gnocci, I want to make a platter that looked just like the one Tea's mom did when I was a kid: A platter of gnocci in the colors of the Italian flag. Bolognese sauce for the red, Parmesan for the white (or as Chaz pronounces it, "PAWMAASOWN"), and a pesto sauce for the green. Mmmmmm.

Thanks to Chaz and his ever-thoughtful nature, I have Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's cookbook, Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. We both love her show on PBS, though we joke that she has "man hands." I wonder if that is the secret to her gnocci? I am in trouble if it is. I watched the episode where she makes gnocci twice now, and I want to believe her when she tells me its easy. I hope to make Lidia proud one day. She rocks. She is the only guest on Martha Stewart's show that can instill the fear of God in Martha; Martha becomes Lidia's bitch. It is awesome.

I was talking about names the other night with Chaz. The older I get, the more important my last name is to me. I am no staunch feminist by any means, but why should I have to give up my grandma Krikor's name if I ever get married? One day it will be one of the only things I still carry outwardly of my father, Richard, and my grandpa. I don't want to lose it. I won't. Even if it were another Armenian name, I still won't do it.

So...

If Lidia Matticchio Bastianich can hyphenate her name, I am going to hyphenate mine! :) And if Lidia can make gnocci, I know I can do it too. I don't know when it will be a success, but it will get there. And when its good, you are all invited to my table, as my darling Lidia says!

10 Comments:

Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Chaz~
I can't wait for our dinner on Sunday; you are a darling to be my taste tester. I can't wait to taste your E.P.P.!
Ciao baby!
xoxo
Me

11:10 AM  
Blogger Charlie Mc said...

i have a hyphened name now c-mac-daddy!!!!

I am sure it will come out amazing like everything else you do. :)

11:32 AM  
Blogger ThoughtsGalore said...

You two are just too cute!

I did make a great gnocci last weekend! I was raised every weekend with my grandma and my Nona (great-grandma.) We would make Sunday Dinner (lunch..lol) and it was soooo awesome. I have the old pasta maker, with the old box, too. So fun.

I'm sure you're gnocci will be fabulous. Make sure you have a little cinnamon and sugar. I just love them warm and sprinkled.

PS...I'm sooooo hyphenated! LOL!
xoxo
C

7:39 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

TG ~
Thank you for the gnocci support! I am sure yours is amazing. I will definitely do the sugar and cinnamon. I know that Lidia requires nutmeg in the actual dough mixture...did you do that? :)
I got my potato ricer...yay!
xoxo
TN
PS I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE HYPHENATED

9:55 AM  
Anonymous jsh said...

If you get your gnocchi-feel down, I'll promise to get cracking on learning to make a flaky tasty butter-based pie crust as opposed to a flaky but not as tasty shortening-based pie crust which is my current standard. And then we can do a "get over your cooking fear" dinner together! I do have one other cooking fear that I haven't yet attempted: I can make many Indian dishes on their own, but I've always wanted to do a full feast with multiple dishes and I'm always scared to time all of them to come out to the table simultaneously! Still, you know, I finally figured out how to hard boil eggs, so there's hope out there.

In case it would be helpful to see some other people's suggestions for successful gnocchi, here are two threads from chowhound on tips and tricks!
http://www.chowhound.com/boards/cooking/messages/52394.html

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/cooking12/messages/39428.html

12:17 PM  
Anonymous jsh said...

:( Why did it cut off my URLs?

Is there a way to get it to show the links?

I'm going to try again:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/cooking12/messages/39428.html
(the last part should be:
cooking12/messages/39428.html)


http://www.chowhound.com/boards/cooking/messages/52394.html
(the last part should be:
cooking/messages/52394.html)

12:20 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

JSH~Thank you for the url's...the postings are very helpful! :) Hmmm. Maybe we can take baby steps and do a big Indian dinner together first? Two to start and then one when you get the hang of it?

5:48 PM  
Blogger ThoughtsGalore said...

Hunny...no nutmeg in mine. However, that might be wonderful. I love little variations on recipes.

When you're done with the gnocci...we need to get you on to the homemade tortellini. That's actually soooo easy and fun. I do have the greatest memories making that. "Fold then into a hat.." I can hear my grandma right now, like she was next to me.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Oh..and enjoy that coffee in the morning. :)
xoxo
C

9:09 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

"I am no staunch feminist by any means, but why should I have to give up my grandma Krikor's name if I ever get married?"


But Thursday,
Your favorite character (Ms Eyre) was the first real 'feminist' type character around! It's okay to identify yourself with feminists. We're not all bra-burning, man-hating lesbians. But we sure do get portrayed that way! Anyway, just commenting to say, thanks for checking out my site before and YES! Keep your last name!

:)

4:49 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Damn......

Now I'm hungry!

Thanks, Amy! ; )

1:32 PM  

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