Attempt 1 at Venetian Gnocchi

I’m a total cookbook addict. I’ll buy anything with pretty pictures and a back story and something that will look glamorous at a sophisticated dinner party I will throw when I am a grown up. The problem is that I forget they are up on that high shelf (I am quite short). Sometimes I’ll try one recipe and if it goes terribly wrong I’ll be put off ever attempting one from it again. So I am making an effort this spring to go through and try and cook new food from my books. Yesterday’s attention turned to Francesco’s Kitchen. For those of you who didn’t catch his series, Francesco Da Mosta is a wee bit smarmy, being proper old-money-gone-poor in his palazzo on the Grand Canal (which to be fair his family only re-acquired back in 1919), but there is something endearing about him too, making it a really interesting family and city history book as well as a cookbook.

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I just stopped looking as soon as I came across canederli – or salami gnocchi. How on Earth could anything top the combination of gnocchi and salami? Husband would surely come home early from work for this (he didn’t). Weasel would surely go crazy at the combo of two of her favourite foods (she doesn’t have many, so this could be the holy grail of dinners). And to make it even more appealing, it uses bread soaked in milk instead of potatoes, so no faffing around making mash first (I’m always told to just use leftover mash, but I assure you this concept does not exist in my house. How could you possibly not eat all the mash?).

Ingredients: serves 4, so I halved it. And most have no measurements, so it’s a lot of guessing.

500g dried bread (cut up, soaked in milk, bought a proper loaf even though I’m sure your bog-standard sliced would have sufficed), 100g pancetta (I used the raw cubetti), 100g of salami (I used the lunchmeat since you’re tearing it up anyways), fresh parsley (finely chopped, I just used dried, but admit fresh might have been more flavourful), ground nutmeg (no measurement, so I put in about a heaped tbsp), flour to bind (it called for Italian 00, but they don’t sell that at the tiny shop I went to, so normal plain was good enough), 4 eggs, salt, 1 litre of beef stock (I used 2 of the Knorr gel pot thingys).

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We soaked the bread in milk in a bowl, then added in everything else. It says to use a wet wooden spoon to form balls, but I just got my hands dirty. Weasel isn’t a ‘get-your-hands-dirty’ kind of a girl, so I had to face the squidge on my own whilst she messed around with the paper towels. I totally made the gnocchi huge since the photo in the book is such a close-up. In hindsight this was incredibly stupid of me and should rewatch the Father Ted episode that deals with this sort of mishap.

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We boiled the balls in the beef stock (adding extra water to fully cover them, doing the crappy pan transfer after realising I made bad cooking vessel choices) for 30 minutes, then took the balls out. I then reduced the gravy and added cornflour to thicken. I suck at adding cornflour to thicken and can’t make gravy to save my life, so this led to some pretty grim sauce.

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Verdict: Good, but not as tasty as ones made of potato. I’d definitely make them small next time and would never ever serve them with the world’s most over-powering rocket again. Note to self – learn to make decent gravy.

Weasel’s Verdict: She enjoyed tearing up the salami, poking the eggs with a fork and sneakily eating the dough (containing raw meat) before I realised and stopped her. She liked eating them on day one, eating most of what was on her plate. On day two she announced that although she liked the steam coming off of them, she didn’t like “lami gnocchi”. Ah, toddlers.

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