I have always been crazy for gnocchi. One of the first things I learned when I started studying Italian is that the word gnocchi is plural for many gnoccho. And many is what you need to make in order to feed a crowd - even if the crowd is only three, as it was for this batch. While the project may seem daunting, it is in fact quite simple once you get the feel for it.
Gnocchi may be made either with or without eggs. I do not know why someone would choose to add saturated fat, cholesterol, calories and cruelty unnecessarily. This dough was a simple combination of potatoes and flour. The key to light gnocchi is to incorporate as little flour as possible. Therefore, it is best to bake the potatoes in order to avoid excess water that will only need to be absorbed by the addition of more flour.
After baking four starchy potatoes I pressed through a ricer while still hot. Using a ricer is the only way to keep the potatoes, and the resulting dough and gnocci, fluffy and light. I did not measure the flour, but kept adding it, a small scoop at a time, until the dough just held together. I think it turned out to be about two cups. This photo shows the dough before I turned it out and kneaded it on the counter. Gnocchi dough is warm and puffy and easy to work with. Using my hands, I broke off small pieces and rolled them into ropes about a half inch thick. Then I them cut crosswise into 3/4 inch pillows. While I was working I had a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove. I'll admit that I tried to press ridges into the dumplings against the back of a fork and nearly had a nervous breakdown. Even with my mother's help this small detail would have doubled the time of the entire project. So we scrapped that idea until I purchase a gnocchi board.I cooked the gnocchi in batches until they rose to the surface of the water, and using a spider, removed them to the simmering sauce. I kept the sauce simple so I could analyze the taste and texture of the gnocchi. After pureeing tomatoes in my Vitamix I reduced them down for several hours along with a very aged balsamic vinegar.
Cashew cream is a healthy, nutrient-packed, versatile ingredient. After soaking raw, organic cashews they can be pureed in a high powered blender until silky-smooth. The resulting "cream" can then be sweetened into a decadent confection, or turned into a savory sauce for vegetables and pastas, as I did here and here. The amount of water you add determines the thickness of the sauce. And unlike dairy cream, cashew cream is totally cholesterol, trans fat and cruelty free.
Lately I have been experimenting with making "cheeses" and spreads out of cashew cream by adding rejuvelac to it. Rejuvelac is a fermented beverage made by soaking sprouted grains in water. It is loaded with enzymes and probiotics. Here you can see the tiny sprouts just emerging from the quinoa.When fully fermented, the rejuvelac is a cloudy liquid with a nutty flavor. I poured the mixture of cashew cream and rejuvelac into cheesecloth-lined ramekins and allowed it to culture at room temperature for several days, which brings about a sharpness and depth of flavor similar to dairy cheese. After that I stored it in the refigerator until ready to serve. So far, I have made four different cheeses using cashew cream, including this fresh mozzarella style. Tomorrow I will post the photos of a cheese course I served over the weekend.