Friday, January 14, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Gnocchi à la parisienne

Well, here I am, participating in my second week of French Fridays with Dorie, after I told myself I wasn't going to make this week's dish, gnocchi à la parisienne. I admit it, I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to creamy, cheesy, baked comfort food...especially after seeing my man's eyes light up at the prospect of trying a new style of gnocchi. We've made traditional potato gnocchi, Gnocchi Verdi al Gorgonzola and Gnocchi Gnudi, but never gnocchi made from choux pastry. Frankly, before embarking on this gnocchi à la parisienne, I envisioned a plate of cream puffs, drenched in béchamel sauce...not too appealing. Silly me.

Unlike profiteroles, the process of dropping the quenelle-shaped gnocchi into simmering water before baking creates dense, not hollow, but pillowy-soft gnocchi. We now have another form of gnocchi in our gnocchi-loving household!

A few, simple ingredients - eggs, milk, flour, butter, Emmenthal cheese
...and my additions of toasted walnuts and sage 
The dough comes together easily, first in a saucepan stovetop (water, butter, salt and flour), and then in the bowl of an electric mixer for incorporation of the eggs. You can use the dough right away, but I followed Tante Leo's method of covering the dough with a kitchen towel and letting it rest for a few hours. Who is Tante Leo, you ask? I have no idea, but he taught Paule Caillat, Dorie Greenspan's longtime friend, how to prepare this family recipe.

Standing in for the potato dumplings is pâte à choux,
or cream puff dough

While the dough rested, I made the béchamel sauce.  Something went wrong here, despite making successful béchamel sauce in the past. I doubled checked my measurements of butter, flour, and milk, which were correct according to the recipe, but the sauce came out almost as thick as the gnocchi dough. Miserably failing in pushing it through a fine mesh sieve in order to disburse the lumps, I ended up scraping it back into the saucepan and whisking in another cup of milk to achieve the right consistency and quantity for the recipe (based on subsequent review of comments in the FFWD Forum, I wasn't the only one who experienced thick and lumpy béchamel).

Dorie says, "Gnocchi a la Parisienne is a dish that doesn't wait. As soon as it comes out of the oven, it should go directly to the table."  Easier said than done when you're a food blogger taking photos of everything along the way. I had the dish out of the oven, and on the table, for photographing...and then John wanted an Alton Brown-ish "oven shot" (calm down, I didn't bake the pie dish of gnocchi on the pizza peel).

I loved how the gnocchi around the edge really puffed up.  I did turn the broiler on for a minute to brown the cheese a bit more.

We had some walnuts and fresh sage on hand, so I toasted the walnuts and fried some crispy sage leaves for a crunchy and flavorful garnish.

Again, we don't post the actual recipes from Dorie's Around My French Table, but if you want to join the fun, I highly recommend adding this cookbook to your collection.

French Fridays with Dorie is scheduled to prepare something extremely decadent next week. As of this moment, I'm telling myself I shouldn't...

...but it's sooooo tempting!


Lizzy said...

Crispy sage garnish...ingenious!!! And your crusty cheese topping is also so appetizing...yum

Cher said...

I am relieved that I wasn't the only who struggled with the sauce. I did make another bechamel a few days later to make sure I wasn't losing my mind and that one worked better for me. All's well that ends well!

Caroline said...

This looks delicious! I've only made gnocchi a few times, but I love making it from scratch - yours looks perfect. I have never tried baking them in the oven like this, I guess that's next on my "to-try" list!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Beautiful photos - would love to try it with sage. I bet it was amazing! :)

KarenP said...

Your photos are beautiful! I'm still working on my food styling... I also haven't decided if I'm making next weeks recipe or not - my small family doesn't really *need* something so decadent.

Steph said...

Walnuts and sage...perfect additions! Glad you decided to make this one...we all need company in eating this richly in January. Same issue with the bechamel here too, but another cup of milk seemed to help. I think the recipe amounts are just wrong.

Carmen said...

This is a promising recipe since my man doesn't like potato gnocchi – and I've found that making choux pastry by hand absolves the sin of eating it.

dorie said...

What gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

bunkycooks said...

How could anything be more decadent than this dish? I am drooling looking at that oven shot! This really looks fabulous. A must try when the diet mess is over. :)

Karla said...

Really lovely photos!

I think we had a similar reaction to this dish - and I had a thick, pasty bechamel, as well. Loved the outcome, despite the reservations!


lifeisfull said...

Welcome to FFWD! Your dish looks delicious and I love the shot of all your ingredients. The sauce turned out thick for me too.

onewetfoot said...

Love the photos and especially love your pie plate. My béchamel was thick, but I think that added to the texture of the finished dish.

(Tante is French for aunt, so Tante Leo is Paule Caillat's aunt.)

MandyM said...

Clearly I don't eat gnocci enough to know that there are different versions floating around the globe! I am absolutely intrigued by the sound of this dish, will have to get hold of the recipe and give it a try :)
Hmmm... Cheese!

Kim said...

I think it's cute that John has an opinion on which photos you should be taking for the gnocchi. :) At our house, Barry just patiently waits until I'm done with my "photo session."

I've never made gnocchi, but it's on the list to try this year!!!! It's one of those things we still "order when out" because we haven't figured out how to do it at home... yet.

Looks beautiful!