Monday, October 11, 2010

Potato Pillows

So, last month I took a cooking class and I forgot to take photos or make a big deal out of it but it was awesome. It was a fish cooking class and we made Crispy Skin Salmon with Shiitake-Cream Sauce, Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks with Ginger-Soy Sauce, Classic Fish and Chips, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Pan Fried Sole with Lemon-Butter Sauce.

I've looked for awhile for a cooking class I wanted to take. And by awhile I mean like, years. Obviously this wasn't super intense looking but still. The thing about finding a good cooking class is they're all led different ways. I wanted something hands on, with food I could eat (no meat for me), a reasonable price, a subject I was interested in, and during a time convenient for me. I decided to go for it when I found a Saturday evening class where I would be able to actually cook everything rather than just watch, I could eat everything, and the whole thing was around $70. Plus I am awesome at making vegetarian food but I don't have a lot of knowledge about cooking fish, which I occasionally eat. And here's where we get into a tangent because I know someone is going to be curious or outraged at my eating fish.

I was raised vegetarian from birth. When I got into high school I was going out with friends more often and it was harder to always find a vegetarian option. I started eating chicken and fish for a brief time but never ate any red or dark meats or any white meat other than chicken. Later I stopped eating chicken and most fish. I now eat fish occasionally when it's of very good quality. I call myself a vegetarian because I think saying I'm a pescatarian makes me sound like an asshole.

Alright, so the fish cooking class was so awesome I decided to come home and immediately sign up for more classes. I registered for a gnocchi class and a handmade pasta class that will take place in November. This weekend I took the gnocchi class and it was super fun. We made two kinds of gnocchi, a traditional potato gnocchi and a gnocchi gnudi, which is gnocchi made from cheese. "Pillowy" is the word most often used to describe gnocchi but pillowy gnocchi is pretty rare. I've had it once and it was one of those meals I still think about and crave. I guess since making traditional gnocchi pillowy was so difficult someone decided to use ricotta to make gnocchi, which is called gnocchi gnudi. So, we made the traditional potato gnocchi, a spinach ricotta gnocchi gnudi, and three sauces. A marinara, a hazelnut gorgonzola cream sauce, and a browned butter sage sauce. My favorite was the spinach gnocchi with the marinara sauce.

These are the spinach gnocchi after they were cooked.

Potato gnocchi with the gorgonzola sauce.

Gnocchi in a pot.

Potato gnocchi prior to being cooked.

Spinach gnocchi prior to being cooked.

I actually didn't like the gorgonzola sauce at all. It had some lemon in it that was really weird with the gorgonzola. And I looooove gorgonzola. This was also sort of a difficult thing to do as a class simply because one of the things we learned was that it's really important the gnocchi all be the same size. Otherwise when cooking some will be perfect, some gummy, and some hard. In a class setting with 16 people making gnocchi it's impossible to make them uniform. The gnocchi gnudi was a lot more forgiving I think which may have been why that was my favorite. I'm excited to try the potato gnocchi at home where I have more control over how they all turn out.

This is something I learned at my last class but I've been excited about it since I heard it. It's "called" FAS. Basically it's like a little reminder of how to fix things while cooking. The F stands for fat, the A for acid, and the S for salt. If while cooking something tastes too fatty you add acid (citrus, tomatoes, etc.), if it's too acidic add salt, if it's too salty add fat (olive oil, butter, etc.). See how it goes in a circle? I seriously think this is the coolest thing ever. I also learned at the gnocchi class that when something calls for anchovy paste it's in an effort to hit a savory note. Artificially this is what they do with MSG. If you want to avoid using anchovy paste (which I actually think is fantastic) you can use miso paste.

Alright, now I'm just rambling but if you're interested in taking a cooking class I highly recommend taking one at Sur La Table.


  1. hey lolo!
    did they teach you how to roll them over a fork?
    My grams used to make use "roll" gnocci for hours every 29th.
    (It's tradition in Argentina to eat gnocci the 29th of every month, and placing a dollar bill under your plate while you eat - for good fortune)

  2. I love that tradition! We did do it with a fork but I didn't really like how they turned out that way. Mine were ugly when done with the fork (I bet your grandmother's were much better). We also had gnocchi paddles available and I found that to be both easier and prettier. The guy teaching the class was big on the fork method though.

  3. I always get excited about gnocchi, and then disappointed when I eat it. For some reason, every mouthful I expect there to be something more to the gnocchi than potato.

  4. Wow, that looks and sounds so fantastic! Gorgonzola is awesome, but, I can't picture it with lemons, either. Two misleading flavors together...

  5. Mmmmm. I ate gnocchi on Saturday and totally thought of your cooking lesson. I've made gnocchi before, but it didn't turn out that well. Maybe I need to find a gnocchi cooking class here :)