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Friday, February 10, 2006




I am very fond of my copy of Marzella Hazan's "The Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking" which I think it is a quintaessential book in the subject.

About gnocchi, one of the best culinary things that have happened in my life was a dish of gnocchi at "La Trattoria de Emilia" in Sorrento. Deep in my memory.


It's good to read other people's gnocchi findings. I've been fiddling with several recipes and they've all come out wildly different. "rubber erasers" would be a euphemism for some of them. but i whole heartedly agree on the baked potato aspect. the less water involved, the better.

i have used pastry flour with good results. and i admit, that arguably the best batch came from using the last bit of flour from the white lily bag i purchased for biscuits.

my friends and i actually conducted a huge gnocchi lab in the kitchen. compared marcella's, bugialli's, and lorenza's recipes along with some personal hybrids we most prized. we actually preferred the batch made with pastry flour and without any egg for heavy rich sauces (butter sage, the ubiquitous gorgonzola), and liked something with more "chew" for the lighter tomato sauced versions.

yeah, we have no life. and really big bellies.


Think I'll give gnocchi makin' a shot now. Thanks for posting Craig Stoll's recipe. great pics, btw.


Since I always thought that the '00' flour referred to the degree of fineness achieved during the milling process, I was a bit puzzled reading this post. I found this web site (http://www.ochef.com/830.htm) which seems to argue exactly what I first thought. The site even goes further suggesting that ‘00’ flour is often higher in protein than all purpose flour. That being said, and if this info is right, there might be different types of '00' flour some suitable for gnocchi others for bread making. I know that the only kind of ‘00’ flour found at my local grocery store is recommended for bread making… and I assume high in protein.

shuna fish lydon

I would like to note, as well, that 00 flour should always be sifted, at least once, right before using.

I have always put gnocchi in the category of something just beyond me, like, let's say fish quenelles or waiting tables. But I never tire of reading about how the elusive texture is achieved.

I might have to agree with your rant. I am tired of "meditteranean" food. Well especially in our pretty little town...I would welcome a Spanish place indeed.


Great post, and I think I'd have to agree with you. It's like...everybody's doing it why shouldn't we? (as far as the bistro/ trattoria are concerned). But I love the post on helping me with a gnocchi recipe. It's inspiring. I hope I do get to try it someday and greatly appreciate the baking/broiling tip!
Have a great weekend Brett!

mrs D

Ah, good rant. I'm much more partial to Spanish food as well, if I'm going to go with Southern Europe. And I'm so sick of places that claim rustic Italian, but are all just big, cheesy upscale versions of Old Spaghetti Factory (shudder).

Oh, by the way, I tagged you for a meme. (http://www.belly-timber.com/mt/archives/2006/02/eek_a_meme_part_1.html) My email's being funky so if you suddenly receive five emails with the tag a week from now, that's why.


Anybody else have this experience? I found that working with the riced potatoes while they were still as hot as I could handle them, I got the lightest gnocchi. Not gluey, not heavy. And I don't have a huge amount of experience with gnocchi (though I have some), but my best results were nearly finger-burning. (And as a neophyte, I was amazed and pleased.)
I also know from the simple dumb fact that I only buy all-purpose flour, that that's what worked.


Pisto, Marcella Hazan is a goddess! Although I do love gnocchi and think this version is quite good, I don't think I have yet had a truly trancendent potato gnocchi. Some day I'll have to go to that restaurant you mentioned.

Vanessa, wow, I want to hang out with you and your friends! I'm just that obsessive of a food geek that I would totally love to do something like make a dozen different gnocchi recipes and compare them. You bring up a good point, too, which I hadn't thought about. Different styles of gnocchi probably do pair better with different types of sauces.

Kat, get back to me and tell me how your version came out. I'd love to know.

Magictofu, according to what I've read, you are right that 00 flour is very finely ground. Marcella Hazan calls it "talcum-soft white flour." But she goes on to say it is "less strong in gluten than American all-purpose flour of either bleached or unbleached variety." She's the source for info in this post.

Shuna, good tip to sift the 00 flour. By coincidence, I did this time:-) I'm glad I'm not completely alone in my sentiments on the Bay Area dining scene. Maybe some day I will be able to get this restaurant thing off the ground.

Mona, yes, a lot of restaurants prefer to play it safe and serve whatever the critics (and public) like. It's hard to argue with that logic. Who wants to risk their life savings on something that could fail?

Mrs. D, ack! Memes make me scream! (Well, not really, but I liked the rhyme so I had to say it). I checked it out. I think you may be right that Alberto Gonzales started this meme. Will try to find the time this week.

CC, how funny! I've found just the opposite. It's OK to rice the potatoes when they're hot, but then let them cool. But if it works for you, go for it! I think what I'm learning from the comments on this post is that everyone has their own tricks that work for them. There are so many variables, such as how each person handles the dough. Maybe things that work for me might not work for everyone. I always say, whatever works for you is the always the best guideline, no matter what the recipe!

laura @ cucina testa rossa

bonjour brett! this looks spectacular! i love gnocchi, i love to eat gnocchi, i love everything about gnocchi but the last time i tried to make it, you could have used them for bullets. I was afraid I would take an eye out should one get lose. I followed a lidia bastianich recipe to the "t" and it was dismal. will you show me how you make them next time i'm in town? and remind me to tell you about the time i cooked with marcella hazan...

and while i see your point with all these newfangled "italian" trattorias, the best one in town (imho) is pane e vino on union, full every night for 13(14?) years. true, traditional, authentic northern italian cuisine. not fancy, just fabulous night after night after night. grazie a dio!


Now this was really enlightening for me. My mom has made gnocchi ever since I can remember. I never liked them because they were heavy and doughy. That was the way she learned to do it, though. Also, she always made the spinach ones, which may add to the heaviness by affecting the proportions and adding water. I have to say that dumplings, in general, are not my thing, so I don't know if lightness would help. \;+)


And I am one who [brave enough or dumb enough?] tried making gluten-free gnocchi with alternative flours. What a gummy disaster. [You'd think, being primarily potato, gnocchi would translate well to gluten-free]. I'll have to try again. Someday.

Yours look lovely!

kel @ Green Olive Tree

wow that´s a great deal of italian kitchen wisdom. Thanks for sharing your gnocchi secrets. I myself am a fan of mediterreanean food. That was my incentive of relocating to Barcelona. I really enjoy reading your posts!!


Gnocchi are one of those things I've always wanted to try making, but never got around to.

I will definitely take a stab at it... as for the orecchiette... ick. ;-)


your gnocchis look perfect brett! thanks for all the tips. i recently made my first batch of gnocchi from leftover ricotta but they are still sitting in my freezer. i'll have to try these fluffy potato ones out next time depending on whether i totally f'd up and get traumatized from the first batch. :)


Laura, happy to give you a gnocchi demo some day, if only to hear your Marcella stories. Also, I too am a fan of Pane e Vino, though I haven't been since they moved to their new location. They are masters of grilling fish whole.

B'gina, thanks for sharing your story!

Karina, I think you need some gluten, but maybe not. Maybe the egg is enough of a binder? There are other versions that might better translate into gluten-free, like ricotta gnocchi.

Kel, I am so envious. One of these days I just may join you and move to Barcelona!

Fatemeh, give gnocchi a stab. Just don't think of them as fat, puffed up orecchiette!

yoony, yum. I love ricotta gnocchi. I'll keep an eye on your blog to see how they turned out once you defrost and cook them.


Wow! I sure am learning a lot here. I've only made gnocchi twice and was just so grateful that I did not mess it up! It tasted quite yummy but a little heavy as I was using a gorgonzola and walnut sauce. Not expert but I'll give this a try. Hope I don't mess it up ...


I tried the gnocchi recipe, and it turned out really well. Very light and fluffy!!! I, personally, would probably cut down a bit on the nutmeg next time-- but the egg:flour:potato ratio led to an incredibly delicate gnocchi. I wrote more about my results on my blog over at almostchef.com, if anyone is interested in my specifics.


All the links to the Stoll recipe take me to a page that tells me that I can have it if I subscribe to Food & Wine...is there any way to get it without buying something? Otherwise, great post...I've been using Marcella's recipe for years but would love to widen my scope...thanks!


Stephen, I'm pretty sure you don't have to pay anything to see the recipe. I think you just have to create an account, similar to the what you do if you want to read the NY Times and other newspapers and magazines on line. For some reason, the F&W site is down right now, so I can't access it to verify if this is true. God, I certainly hope I'm not paying for the F&W site. I rarely use it.


Stephen is indeed right. F&W have now made the recipe accessible only to their magazine subscribers. I have edited my post to add my adaptation of Craig Stoll's recipe.


Does anyone have a potato gnocchi recipe that is gluten free? What type of substitute flour(s) do you use with success?

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