risotto + gnocchi (a cooking class)

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A friend invited me to attend a cooking class at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square a few days ago where we focused on risotto and gnocchi.  I’ve made risotto before but I’ve never attempted to make gnocchi: my father-in-law makes gnocchi like a pro and besides, I don’t own the tools that make that possible.  So I was excited (and relieved!) to learn that we would learn how to make ricotta gnocchi vs. a potato one: something different and also something I could actually eat (I can’t eat potatoes).

Chef Jason Martin was a great teacher and explained why you would and wouldn’t do things while making both types of dishes, which is something I appreciate from a teacher.  His best explanation was how risotto is like the complete opposite from cooking rice.  With rice, we rinse the starch before starting the cooking process.  Then once you put the lid on you simply don’t touch it and let it cook on it’s own, none of this stirring business.  Risotto on the other hand starts off by cooking the arborio rice directly in the pot with something like softened onions and olive oil, and then continually stirring it for a while.  You don’t rinse the rice before cooking it so that starch helps make this deliciously creamy consistency (as does the butter and cheese that you add later … hee hee).

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We made three different kinds of risotto that night (pictured above).  One was with Fontina cheese and fresh tomatoes with a vegetable broth (top in the photo).  The second one in the photo was made with a fire-roasted eggplant and fresh tomatoes with a chicken broth.  The eggplant gave it a really smoky taste.  And the third one was made with wild mushrooms, a mushroom broth, truffle butter and some truffle flavored olive oil.  My favorite was the mushroom one and I would’ve been totally content sitting in a corner devouring an enormous bowl of it.

During the course of the night we also went through about 5.5 bottles of wine.  Twelve people.  You do the math.  🙂  It was really nice to be able to try six different kinds of wine, but I can’t guarantee that if you take a class (or this class) there that you’ll have that many to try too.  I’m just saying is all.

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On to the gnocchi: these were so pillowy and light once cooked and bathed in a brown butter sauce with sage.  And making them seems incredibly simple.  It’s all about how the dough feels as you incorporate the flour and knowing when it’s just the right consistency to hold it’s shape but not be tough.  I plan to make some of these for Valentine’s day this year so I hope I have the same great result.  Keep your fingers crossed!

To view more photos from the class, click here.  Beware: you may not want to view these if you’re hungry!

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