Gnocchi Cooking Class with Chef Nick Morfogen
May 27, 2016 / Stephanie Miskew / 0 Comments
Despite my passion for cooking foods of all kinds, there are a few things I’ve never tried to make. Simply because certain dishes, usually beloved regional specialties, require great skill, technique and time to perfect. Out of respect for those who have mastered these skills, and also a little laziness on my part, I usually only enjoy these dishes when dining out. Until recently, gnocchi was definitely on that list. Lucky for me, however, Chef Nick Morfogen of 32 East here in Delray Beach kicked off his Summer cooking class series with these iconic Italian dumplings. Over the course of the evening, he gave a whole new spin to this previously daunting dish.
The demonstration-style cooking class was held in the restaurant’s upstairs dining room. In addition to observing Chef’s mad gnocchi skills, he also shared some insider culinary tips and tricks. First, he explained that gnocchi is not really pasta. It is more of a “dumpling” since it’s made from a mixture of potatoes, eggs, flour and cheese. There are also many regional variations in Italy as well as other countries including France (gnocchis à la parisienne), Croatia (njoki) and even South America (ñoqui).
Chef also stressed the importance of using the best quality, freshest ingredients available. His favorite Parmesan cheese is the Vacche Rosse Parmigiano Reggiano. “Vacche Rosse” literally means “red cow,” and refers to the special breed of Italian cow whose milk is prized for its high butterfat and protein content. The Vacche Rosse Parmigiano is also aged for a minimum of 30 months, compared to only 24 months with other Parmesans. Chef also clarified that buffalo mozzarella is a fresh cheese made from the milk of the Italian water buffalo. And much like Italian wines, certain high quality foods including these cheeses carry a DOP classification (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta,” or “Protected Designation of Origin”) which ensures they are from a specific region and have met certain strict production criteria.
Chef also suggested baking the potatoes on a bed of salt to prevent the bottoms from burning (brilliant!). After divesting the pre-baked potatoes of their skins, he deftly worked them through a food mill. This broke them up while also imparting a light, airy texture. Either a food mill or potato ricer can be used for this task and I’m a big fan of the ricer. I’ve used mine to make heavenly mashed potatoes for many years and I especially like this one. While incorporating the flour into the potato and egg mixture a little at a time, Chef stressed the importance of not overworking the dough. This will make it tough and could possibly ruin the finished product. Once the dough has been rolled into “ropes” and cut into the classic bite-size pieces, each gnocchi must be rolled over a “gnocchi paddle.” This essential piece of equipment gives the gnocchi their hallmark, groovy appearance. At under $10, this is a worthwhile investment for the gnocchi lover.
After boiling the gnocchi in a large pot of salted water (when they float, they’re done!) our lesson was complete. We then had the pleasure of sampling Chef Nick’s Gnocchi all Sorrentina. The dish featured the freshly prepared gnocchi in a flavorful marinara sauce dusted with grated Vacche Rosse Parmigiano. It was pure heaven and we enjoyed the dish with a bottle of Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Riserva. This Sangiovese-based red wine from Tuscany paired perfectly with the gnocchi and savory red sauce.
Inspired by Chef Nick’s class, I recently made plans to have some friends over for gnocchi. Perfecting any recipe takes time and you have to start somewhere, right? I’ll also have lots of Chianti on hand just in case.
"Chef Nick Morfogen's Potato Gnocchi"Author: Chef Nick Morfogen | 32 EastCuisine: Italian"Potato Gnocchi" Author: Chef Nick Morfogen | 32 East Cuisine: ItalianIngredients
- 3 Russet potatoes, scrubbed
- ¾ Tablespoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ Tablespoon black pepper
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup flour, plus extra for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Poke potatoes with a fork and bake on a bed of Kosher salt, about 1½ hours, or until done. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out into a food mill or ricer.
- Place in a bowl and make a well in the middle, and add salt, pepper and egg yolks and stir. Sprinkle in half of the flour and fold until incorporated. Add remaining flour and form into a dough. Wrap dough in a towel and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into ropes using extra flour. Cut with a bench scraper and roll with a gnocchi paddle. Place on a towel lined sheet pan and cook in boiling, salted water until they float.
May 27, 2016 / Stephanie Miskew / 0 Comments
Stephanie Miskew thinks life is better with wine and she wants to help you enjoy it to the fullest! As a Certified Sommelier, her real world advice on tasting wine like a pro, discovering which wines you truly love, picking the perfect bottle for any occasion and creating magical food and wine pairings will have you looking like a wine expert in any situation.
The offers for wine clubs are E V E R Y W H E R E these days! From department stores to airlines, it seems like everyone wants to sign you up and they’re making pretty outrageous-sounding offers to lure you in. One promises “20 wines for a dollar,” while another features ONLY “award winning wines” – they all sound… Read More
“By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea!” ~ Harold Atteridge + Harry Carroll, 1914 While Summer is definitely one of my favorite times to pack up and get outta town, as the season draws to a close, I find myself craving the comforts of home. Don’t get me wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Highlands, North… Read More
“Meet me in Montauk!” – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The day after the glamour and indulgence of “Chefs & Champagne,” the James Beard Foundation’s Summer fundraiser that I cover every year, Steve and I love spending a relaxed, unplanned day discovering the Hamptons. Last year’s meandering led us to afternoon cocktails at Topping Rose House followed by a… Read More
Nowhere embodies relaxed Summer glamour quite like the Hamptons. Located on the East End of Long Island, this sophisticated seaside haven is also home to our favorite Summer event, the James Beard Foundation’s “Chefs & Champagne.” Held on the last Saturday in July, this glamorous Summer soirée takes place under a sprawling white tent beneath cerulean skies, at the scenic… Read More
I recently featured this cocktail as part of my WPTV Father’s Day segment but we’ve been enjoying it so much I felt I needed to give the Summer Citrus Old Fashioned more love in the form of its very own blog post. This recipe is a delightful Summertime spin on a revered classic cocktail and if you love Bourbon, or… Read More
It’s Week 3 of Rosé Month on The Wine Atelier Podcast and in this episode, I’m excited to introduce you to someone who’s had his finger on the pulse of rosé since his first cover story on the subject ten years ago, Mitch Frank, News Editor of Wine Spectator Magazine. I’m also happy to report, his second cover story on… Read More