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Gnocchi in Pecorino Sauce with Guanciale

For those of you receiving these posts by email, I’m sorry about the funky formatting of the last entry. Due to computer problems, I had to create the post on my iPad, and obviously, I found out there are limitations to that platform. Hopefully this post, written on my new computer (yea!) has come through without any problems in viewing. To read my last post about pecorino di Pienza cheese, go to the actual site, http://ciaochowlinda.com.

Continuing on the pecorino theme, if you’re looking for heaven on a plate, have I got a recipe for you. These light as a cloud potato dumplings, served with guanciale and arugula in a creamy pecorino cheese sauce, were so divine, I was wishing I ordered a full portion for myself, instead of splitting it with my husband.

We ate these gnocchi as our primo piatto on a recent trip to Sardinia, at the restaurant in our hotel, La Villa Del Re.  After having tried a couple of other restaurants off site, we concluded that the hotel’s restaurant was unparalleled in its excellent cuisine. The chef here, Marco Granato, has a magic touch. Everything about this small hotel (adults only) along the Tyrrhenian Sea defines it as a special place, and one we can’t wait to go back to.

The food, the hospitality and the service are exceptional here and the views are stunning too. All the meals we enjoyed at this dreamy hotel along Sardinia’s Costa Del Rei were delicious and beautifully presented –

From breakfast with a view of the infinity swimming pool and the sea:

To the cakes and scones at the daily tea time:

To the toothsome homemade pastas:

To the main courses:

And desserts:

To the drinks and munchies by the sea.

The view from the private beach was pretty special too – with a sea that looked like it was painted by a watercolorist.

I’m still wondering if it was all just a dream. If so, don’t wake me up!

Just in case you can’t get to La Villa Del Re anytime soon, here’s that heavenly gnocchi recipe for you, courtesy of Marco Granato, La Villa Del Re’s talented chef.

More recipes and fun adventures from Sardinia to follow in future posts.

Gnocchi in Pecorino Sauce with Guanciale
 
Author:
Serves: serves 10
 
Ingredients
  • For the Gnocchi:
  • 1000 grams (2.2 pounds) boiled potatoes
  • 500 grams (about 3½ cups) flour
  • 50 grams fecola (about ⅓ cup potato starch)
  • 3 eggs
  • salt
  • For the Pecorino Sauce:
  • 350 grams (about 1¾ cup) milk
  • 200 grams (about 1 cup) mild pecorino cheese
  • 20 grams (1½ T.) flour
  • 20 grams ( 1½ T. )butter
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • For the Condiments:
  • 400 grams (small handful) arugula
  • ½ of a leek
  • 150 grams (about ⅓ pound) guanciale
  • 15 grams (1 T. ) extra virgin olive oil
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt, pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To make the gnocchi:
  2. Boil the potatoes in water with the lemon peel for 20 minutes.
  3. They should be cooked on the outside, but will finish cooking in the oven, which will also dry out some of the water.
  4. After boiling, drain the potatoes and put them on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  5. After cooking, pass the hot potatoes through a potato ricer or a sieve and spread them out on a cookie sheet.
  6. Mix the riced potatoes with the flour, the fecola, the eggs and a bit of salt. Form the mixture into ropes, then cut each rope into small pieces to make the gnocchi.
  7. To Make the Pecorino Cream Sauce:
  8. Cut the cheese into small pieces, then put the butter and half the cheese into a pan over low heat until melted. Add the flour, making a roux, then add the milk, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the cheese and stir, letting the cheese melt, while adding salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more milk until reaching the desired consistency.
  9. To Finish:
  10. Cut the leek into small pieces.
  11. Cut the guanciale into small pieces
  12. Cook the leek in some olive oil at low heat for about 10 minutes. If it starts to turn dark, add some hot water or vegetable broth.
  13. Add the guanciale until it's slightly crunchy, then add the thyme, salt and pepper.
  14. Boil the gnocchi in salted water, then in a separate pan with the sauce, gently stir the gnocchi in the pecorino sauce. Add the cooked guanciale and the arugula and serve on warm plates.
 

Cooking Cavatelli With Fabio In Rome

Cooking Cavatelli with Fabio in Rome

Rome has at least 50 museums where you can see everything from paintings to pasta, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a majority of them over the years. But I’ve learned that when you’re traveling, it’s nice to step away from museums sometimes and do something a little different. Something different… something fun… something delicious. That’s what I did in between museum-hopping, boutique shopping and hunting down new gelato shops. There are many cooking classes to choose from in the Eternal City, but this one is conducted by a chef — Fabio Bongianni — not in a restaurant, but in his own home nearby the Spanish Steps. Come on now, how often do you get a chance to peek inside an apartment owned by a noble family that dates back to the Renaissance and Middle Ages? That family would be the Colonna family, who supplied a pope and many political leaders over the centuries and who are the owners of one of the largest private art collections in Rome at the magnificent Galleria Colonna.
So I signed up and even though I’ve shopped in many of Rome’s less touristy-markets, I had fun tagging along as Fabio began the day by choosing vegetables in the Campo dei Fiori market.
Next stop was the old Jewish ghetto for some meat.
And some fish too. Can you tell Fabio has a good sense of humor?
We walked to his apartment on via Gregoriana, passing by the monumental Trevi Fountain.
Fabio stripped off his good shirt, we all put on aprons and got to work…. cutting fish….
pounding chicken…
making two kinds of pasta – one with eggs and flour for the ravioli, and one with just flour and water for the cavatelli.
Some people worked on squishing cooked potatoes through a ricer for the gnocchi:
Rolling out the cavatelli took a bit of practice but people caught on fast:
We ended up with a tray like this:
The ravioli were stuffed with ricotta cheese, zucchini that were cooked and mashed, parmesan cheese and an egg to bind everything together:
Fabio was an expert at tossing everything in the pan.
The best part was the eating. Three primi: ravioli dressed with butter, sage and parmesan cheese:
Cavatelli with cherry tomatoes, sea bass, olives and capers and a sprinkling of bread crumbs:
potato gnocchi with eggplant, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Meat and vegetables too – chicken cooked two ways — sauteed with a coating of breadcrumbs and olives, and braised in balsamic vinegar; baked eggplant, fried zucchini and ricotta “balls.”
For dessert, we headed to one of Fabio’s restaurants — “That’s Amore” and celebrated the birthday of one of the young and lovely participants with cake and coffee.
If you’re headed to Rome and are interested in taking a class from Fabio, click here for more information. He plans to move his cooking classes from this apartment however, so I can’t guarantee you’ll be eating in this lovely dining room — or gazing at the view of St. Peter’s from his bedroom. (Yes, we were all invited in. His wife is very tolerant… to a point.) But you’ll have a great time no matter where it’s held — and a delectable meal at the end.
 Grazie mille Fabio per una giornata divertente.

Fabio’s cavatelli with sea bass, cherry tomatoes and olives
printable recipe here

 

Ingredients

For the pasta:
10.5 ounces of water (about 1 1/4 cups)
21 ounces of flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 pinches of salt
Fish stock:
1 medium white onion
1 stalk of celery
1 medium carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch salt.
2 sea bass
For the Sauce:
1 package of cherry tomatoes
1 c white wine
1 clove of garlic
Parsley
Capers

























Black olives
Pour flour on working surface and make a fountain with a hole in the middle of the flour. Pour the water into the middle of the fountain then add a little flour at a time with the tip of the fork. Keep beating and when all the flour is mixed and you have a dough consistency, knead the dough by pressing and folding gently with your hands. Now, work the dough with palm of your hands – holding with the left hand and pressing with the right, then fold the dough over and turn. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Let the ball of dough sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Take your ball of dough and divide it into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide it into quarters again. Take a piece of the divided dough (now and 1/8 of the original amount) and roll it into a long tube 1/4 inch in diameter. Divide the tube into pieces 1 inch long with either a pastry cutter or a knife. Now this is the fun part. Using the edge of a butter knife or pastry cutter, with the device at a 45 degree angle, press on each piece of dough and pull across the length of it. You find that the motion causes the dough to curl up the edge of the impliment. If you don’t get it at first, don’t be discouraged. Just keep working with it using different amounts of pressure on the dough and eventually you’ll get into the grove.

Debone the sea bass and use the bones for your stock. Place the bones in a pan with 1/8 c of olive oil and one clove of garlic. Then add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan to Sautee for a few minutes. Next add 2 cups of cold water and 2 pinches of salt. You need enough cold water to completely cover the ingredients so add more cold water if needed. Simmer for 20 minutes. Then drain the stock and save for the later step.
Saute cherry tomatoes cut in halves in a pan with one clove of garlic. Cook until the cherry tomatoes start caramelizing then glaze with white wine. Cook the cavatelli in boiling water until it floats. Add the pasta to the pan with the cherry tomato and white wine. Add the chopped sea bass and fish stock then cook until the sauce reduces. Reduce until you reach a nice creamy sauce.
Remove from the heat and serve with black olives, capers and fresh parsley sprinkled on top.





A Tuscan Treat

A Tuscan Treat

If you envision rolling fields of verdant vineyards, ancient olive groves and regal cypress trees when you think of Tuscany, you’re not the only one. It’s a picturesque region of Italy that’s long been discovered by tourists, and for good reason. Scenes like the one above mesmerized me on my recent trip, requiring a stop at nearly every bend in the road to snap photos. Grab a Vespa and come along for a short hop through one of Italy’s most beautiful regions.

It’s a region that continues to inspire painters, like this one working in Castellina in Chianti.

 

 

 Its beautiful towns and stone buildings make an impressive backdrop for wedding photos.

 

 

But the countryside is what’s most captivating. You’ll pass plenty of scenic vineyards on your drive and will want to drop in on at least a few.

My son and I stopped at I Selvatici winery and tasted a sampling of wines courtesy of owner Giuseppe Sala. You don’t even have to travel to Tuscany to taste his fabulous wines. He and his partner Barbara Singer travel to the U.S. each year with a personal chef and arrange wine tastings and gourmet dinners in your own home for you and a group of guests. They’ll even ship your order to the U.S., but I also managed to find room in my luggage for a bottle of his flavorful vin santo.

 

Barbara recommended we stay nearby at Borgo di Fontebussi, a hotel made up of an enchanting collection of buildings and gardens in the countryside with magnificent vistas.

 

She also suggested we eat dinner at Malborghetto, a restaurant near Gaiole in Chianti, where the gnocchi was served in a parmesan cheese bowl, smothered in shaved truffles. It was almost too beautiful too eat – but I perservered.

 



Naturally, back at home, I had to try making the parmesan cheese bowl in my kitchen, even if I didn’t have any fresh truffles. It’s easier than you think, although it might take a couple of tries until you get the hang of it. Just start out with about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (depends on the size of your pan) and sprinkle it in a small non-stick pan that’s been slightly heated.

Keep cooking the cheese over moderate heat. Don’t touch anything. In a few minutes you’ll see the cheese start to melt. Be patient.
When the edges look like they’re starting to brown, take a heat-proof spatula and lift the edges all around.

 

Carefully pick it up and lay it over a small bowl. No need to grease the bowl because the cheese contains enough fat. Do this quickly because it starts to harden as soon as it comes off the heat.

 

 

Wait a few minutes while it hardens, then you’ll be able to invert it.

 

And if truffles are not in your future, you can always use the parmesan cheese bowl to serve a much-easier-on-the-pocketbook herb risotto.