Or: – Gnocchi the roman way –
This week did not start well, in fact not well at all!
It is always said, that ‘bad things come in three’ and they most certainly did.
First, after 1 am at night our bedroom Airconditioner blew up with a bang – Compressor gone. The heat was unbearable – sleep? We had hardly any.
Next day, whilst waiting for the Repair crew to arrive and we were working in our study on our individual blogs, very tired, hot, and not in the best of mood, wondering why this room was not refreshingly cool – we discovered that the
Airconditioner here too was sickening with something; hot air came in instead of cold! Our hearts sunk – oh no! What else could go wrong?
So today, Thursday, when I was all geared up preparing my above recipe and some others which I wanted to prepare in advance, I discovered that I ran out of Gas in my kitchen. A quick call to the Gas Agency and I was given the ‘cheerful’ news that no delivery could be possible until the end of next week.
And so, since I had my share of ‘the bad three” I try to cheer up and plot on with the original task intended.
Thursday is Gnocchi day in Rome and the first time I have eaten these Gnocchi here was in a lovely little Trattoria in Trastevere a few years ago.
They were not even on that day’s menu but when I saw the Patrone having those as part of his lunch I became curious and asked for them. He was quite pleased and before long the most delicious Gnocchi arrived on my plate straight from the pan. But the funny thing is that they look more like little fried cakes then soft squishy Gnocchi.
Unfortunately, before I could ask for the recipe the Patrone had left and it was closing time. For a while I forgot all about this recipe until by chance I found it in one of the most enjoyable Italian food sites I have come across for a long time.
“Memories di Angelina’ is owned by Frank Fariello, who in his own words is ‘a Lawyer by day and cook by night’. His blog is in memory of his beloved grandmother Angelina and the site is also very knowledgeable and educational. Go and log in so you too can read his wonderful memories and his more than delectable recipes.
With his kind permission I now pass on his recipe for Gnocchi alla Trastevere (as they are now called in our house – grazie tante, Francesco and I hope you don’t mind).
1 l of milk, hot but not boiled
Dash of salt and a little butter
250 g Semolina (Rava)
And a generous helping of grated Parmesan cheese.
Heat milk with salt and butter and in a slow stream – in Italian they say ‘a poggia’ or ‘like rain’ – add Semolina into the simmering milk, stirring all the time.
Lower the heat and let the mixture cook until it has become quite stiff.
Mix in some grated parmesan cheese and spread the mixture out thinly, about ½ cm, on a lightly oiled or buttered baking sheet. A wet spatula is ideal for this operation. Allow the Semolina mixture to cool completely by keeping your baking sheet in the fridge for a while.
Take a glass or biscuit cutter and cut out disks of the mixture. Arrange those disks in a buttered baking or gratin dish, layering them in slightly overlapping rows like so many roof tiles.
Top with copious amounts of grated parmesan cheese and melted butter.
Bake the gnocchi in a hot oven (200 c, 400 F) for maybe 15 minutes or pass them under the grill until nicely browned on top. Let the sizzling gnocchi ‘settle’ for a few minutes and then serve them in their baking dish.
(Because of my gas problem I was not able to do those gnocchi inside my oven but had to do them in a frying pan. They should really look a bit lighter, more golden coloured, but I hope you forgive me, since I was determined to get this recipe out to you)
In our house we often just serve this with a nice bowl of very slightly wilted spinach, tossed for a couple of minutes in only some good olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, a pinch of sea salt and rounded off with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Our Andrea making her promise “I will return!”