I joined a cookbook club in London yesterday. A lovely little informal group where everyone brings a book they’ve read and a little something to eat. I made my vanilla brown butter madeleines and took along my new book Bistronomy. You’d well have guessed by now the theme for this month’s meeting – Paris!
Everybody had a Paris story to tell – of love, hate, despair and holidays gone wrong. We spoke about the elegant patisseries, the classic Parisian shrug, the cab drivers who never take any customers, the Paris Syndrome, the changing dining scene, falafels, Julia Child, the classic spots: Lipp and Deux Magots. It made me reminisce about the time I made friends with my fromager and the time I scored handcrafted French copperware. I felt happy. I felt like I was back in Paris.
We also spoke about Parisian kitchens – specifically about how incredibly tiny they are that it’s amazing how Parisians get any cooking done at all (hello, Picard!) and how the only thing they ever bake at home is a yoghurt cake.
I made the gnocchi when I was living in my apartment in the 19th in Paris. It was the biggest kitchen I’d had during my time in Paris, but not big enough to make gnocchi. I created extra space by shutting the top of my cooker to roll out the dough, while the top of my tiny refrigerators doubled as a second counter to collect the shaped gnocchi.
As for the gnocchi, whenever I make it, I am reminded that I need to do so more often. There’s no denying it’s a bit of work, but that’s the fun of it. Boil or steam potatoes, pass them through the food mill (or mash it as a substitute), knead it with a bit of flour and eggs, then roll it out into thin sausages and cut them up. And then, press them on the tines of a fork to get those ridges for holding the sauce. Just set aside an hour for yourself, clear up some counter space and get going. Have this music play in the background. My future gnocchi-making plans include: spinach and ricotta gnocchi, walnut gnocchi and semolina gnocchi.
Here’s the gnocchi recipe. And here’s the tomato sauce recipe. Make the gnocchi, toss with tomato sauce and shave lots of Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.