The weekend we were supposed to be hit with the effects of Hurricane Joaquin, Lance and I took a gnocchi making class at our local Sur la Table (Pronounced: Sir! Laaa. T-ahhh-b. Laaa). Originally, we were supposed to be in a soups and salsas class that day at our local community college, but it was cancelled due to lack of enrollment.
We were pretty bummed.
You might remember, a few years ago we took a knife skills class at the college and loved it. Since then, it seems we have continually tried and failed to make it to another class. When our soups and salsas class was cancelled, we decided to give a class at Sur la Table a try. They have classes scheduled all month long ranging from seasonal recipes to basics to homemade pastas. Since we registered for the class so late, it was half-priced.
The menu included two different kinds of gnocchi:
- Traditional Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Corn, Pancetta and Sage
- Roasted Beet Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola and Wilted Greens
With fourteen students in the class, the teacher split us into groups and assigned us a different gnocchi to make. As the class progressed, I wasn’t too thrilled with the fact that we weren’t all able to make our own pound of gnocchi. Even with having paid half-price for the class, I’m not sure what we were paying for if we only partook in making a pound of gnocchi with three other students.
All our ingredients were premeasured and ready for us…something I never do when cooking at home. Embarrassing, I know. It made the recipe that much easier to be able to grab the ingredients when they were needed instead of having to search for the measuring tool and the ingredient itself. I’m resisting it a little, but after this class I have been trying more and more to make a habit of prepping all my ingredients before I start cooking.
I was the person in our group chosen to mix the dough together. This alleviated a little of the annoyance over not making my own pound of gnocchi because I was able to at least feel and understand the texture of the dough as it went from wet to dry.
Being in this class was like being in the third grade class I used to teach. Half of the students weren’t listening, a quarter of them were talking and the rest were really trying to understand the process of gnocchi making. The result yielded gnocchi cut up in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
My perfectionist hard at work…
That little smile makes my heart flutter. Lance was one of two men in the class. The other husband looked like he had been dragged there with little to no interest in actually ever making gnocchi again in his life. Lance, on the other hand, was the one who initiated the cooking class conversation. Goodness, I love my Hubby.
Despite what you may have heard about beets, I didn’t use gloves at all while working with the beets and my hands remained unstained. Adding beets to the dough, I felt, didn’t really affect the flavor too much. It may have given it a subtle hint of sweetness, but with my eyes closed, I’m not sure I would have known the difference.
The potato gnocchi recipe was good, though I think the dough may have been over worked. True potato gnocchi should taste like a plump pillow, with a light texture. These were closer to a dumpling consistency.
When it came time to cook the gnocchi, we were supposed to alternate people coming up and working on the sauces and the boiling of the gnocchi. However, the only station that ever changed people was the boiling station.
Not exactly the most difficult station. It goes like this: drop fresh gnocchi into boiling salted water. When the gnocchi floats to the top it is done. Take it out of the pot. Put in more. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
If I was a novice cook* who wanted to experience making something that I more than likely will not cook at home or would be too scared to attempt on my own, then I think this class would have been perfect.
*I just realized how pretentious this sounds, but you know what I mean, right?
I did take a few nuggets of wisdom away with me:
- Premeasure/chop/set aside all ingredients whenever you are cooking
- Use a ricer when making gnocchi*
- A bench scraper is a fantastic kitchen tool**
*The first time I ever attempted gnocchi at home, I used a fine mesh strainer that I pushed my potato pieces through by hand. It was not a fun experience and it took forever. Using a ricer made the process quick and easy.
**While I did have one at home, it was hidden and unopened on a shelf in the kitchen. I am now using it when I cook.
In the end, we accomplished what we set out to do: we made two different kinds of gnocchi.
If you are looking for a fun cooking experience where you can make something that you don’t ordinarily make at home, then a class like this is perfect. However, you may find that what you take away from the class with you, in mental and physical terms, may not be worth the price of admission. Unless, of course, you paid half-price.