Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spinach Gnocchi Gratin (Page 239)

  • Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I have been eying this recipe for a while -- gnocchi are a favorite of mine, and gnocchi covered with cream and cheese sounded pretty irresistible. However, it is really potato gnocchi that are close to my heart, and these gnocchi were French gnocchi, made from a pate a choux dough rather than a potato-based dumpling dough. Pate a choux is the pastry you use to make cream puffs, and I think of it as being a dough that you bake more than a dough that you boil, but I am open to new things. So I made my pate a choux, stirred in the cooked, chopped spinach, and dropped it in little chunks into the boiling water. As I should have anticipated, but didn't, the little pieces of dough grew tremendously. So what seemed appropriately gnocchi -sized when I dropped it in the water rapidly became the most gigantic gnocchi on earth. Oh well. The directions at this point were bad. They said to cook the gnocchi until they floated to the top, about 5 minutes. This is the test I always use for potato gnocchi -- you wait until they surface, and then you take them out. These giant gnocchi blobs, however, immediately floated to the surface. I left them in for about 5 minutes anyway, since I knew the centers were not instantly cooked, despite the floating. Then the gnocchi got drained, arranged in a baking dish, covered with some cream and parmesan, and baked and then broiled. The end result was pretty tasty. The gnocchi were heavily seasoned, which was good since they didn't have a lot of strong flavors in them. The parmesan cheese on top was essential to give the dish some power. I do prefer potato gnocchi to these French gnocchi, which didn't have the same earthy flavor or cloud-like texture of their potato counterparts. However, the dish was still good.

Here is the recipe.

Last night I made dinner from The Book, and Matty and I sat at the dining room table, leisurely eating and enjoying each other's company for a long time. We have been having a lot of dinners lately of the form: some fish dish, broccoli with some sauce, and something else. Last night was no exception. Even with those reasonably restrictive parameters, you can imagine that the quality of the dinner varies greatly. Last night's was more successful than most.

I am not going to lie and say that living apart from my special gentleman friend is easy. I have always been opposed to long distance relationships for myself, and have, in the past, flat-out refused any time such a relationship came up in my life. My special gentleman friend is extremely special though, and it made no sense to let such a silly thing as a thousand miles split us up. So that's how it came to be. In general, long distance isn't fun. There is one wonderful thing about it though. Last night, sitting at the table eating dinner together, I felt so enormously grateful. I was appreciative of that very simple time together in a way that I think I never was before I moved away. Before I moved to Bloomington a friend of mine who lived in a different country as her now-husband for several years before they got married said to me, "The distance will be enlightening." She was right about that. It certainly is.

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