Thursday, April 17, 2014

Italian Cooking Experiment

We're studying the Continents this year in Geography/History.
 Presently, we are in Europe.
Last week, we studied Scotland, and had a grand time presenting our research at our local homeschool group's International Fair.
 Here's a pic of Blue and Pink in their Scottish attire. (Just for fun.)
(His kilt is a little short, but hey... it's not like I buy skirts to fit my son, people. We adapted from something Pink had in her closet.)
Okay, anyway.....
THIS week, we are studying Italy.
Today's activity was cooking an Italian food.
Now, I know what you're thinking.....but no, we did NOT make pizza!
We made gnocchi!!
 Definition: In the culinary arts, the word Gnocchi refers to a type of Italian dumplings made from potatoes and flour. The word "gnocchi" means "dumplings" in Italian.
I also wanted the kids to make their own pasta sauce, but we kinda cheated on that part. Rather than begin from whole tomatoes, we cut to the chase and used canned tomatoes.
Along with tomatoes, we added some various spices, and a bit of sugar.
( I've been making my own sauces like this for awhile now, as part of our gluten-free diet. I've got a great homemade BBQ sauce that goes wonderfully over some of Daddy Elephant's grilled ribs, which are awesome!!.....but back to Italy.)
Added the spices.....


Stirred things up.

Then we covered the sauce and simmered it for about two hours.
Meanwhile, we got the potatoes going for the gnocchi. I like to let the short people help with most safe steps of cooking projects, so we used the sink they could easily reach to wash the potatoes.

Mama Elephant did the paring, despite Blue's reassurances that HE could do it for me.
 Um, not this time, kiddo. :)

Then, we boiled!
 I actually made a double recipe of the gnocchi.
 Which turned out nicely, since Daddy Elephant needed something to take to work for lunch break tonight!

Meanwhile, I gathered the other ingredients needed for the gnocchi.
Eggs, salt, and flour.

Time lapse!!
The boiled potatoes go into the fridge to cool before mashing.

Meanwhile, the Elephants watched a few Youtube videos. We watched the history of pizza (while a man made some pizza; shocking.) We watched a how-to video on both spinach gnocchi and potato gnocchi. Which I liked, since the kids were more confident when we got to the 'shaping' part later on. They also watched an episode of Traveling With Kids featuring the country of (you guessed it!) Italy. We talked about what they'd seen and learned over our dinner.

Gnocchi time!
We mashed the potatoes up, added the eggs, then I added the flour.
(I was pulling double duty on mixing and picture taking, so I missed some shots.)
 The finished dough.... I should have let it rest for a few minutes, and I will next time.
 But at this point, we were racing the clock to have dinner with Daddy before he left for evening shift.

Let's roll! Gnocchi gets rolled into dough snakes,

then cut into small pieces,

 and then shaped.
Daddy got into the action for this part!

Roll the gnocchi on the fork tines to make the indentions that 'catch' the pasta sauce.
 Look at that focus on her face!

This was a super fun family activity!! 

Our sauce, plus the sautéed garlic and meat that daddy helped me cook up and add.
Gnocchi goes in.......

It's done when it floats!

Time to say grace and dig in!! 

Pink's first taste...

Pretty plate of hard work and learning! 
 Blue though it was.......
Pink loved it, too!

I've never made gnocchi before today.
Before our Italy study, Gnocchi was just the name of Chef Pasketti's cat on Curious George.
(Yep, I'm a mom!!)
It was a LOT of fun, and it honestly makes me want to try making pasta, next!!
Try making gnocchi at your house!!

  • Two medium boiled potatoes, mashed (equal to 1 cup)
  • salt
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose (GF) flour
  • patience
That last ingredient is needed if kiddos are helping. (LOL) Boil potatoes until tender enough to be pierced with a fork, but still firm. Around 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash them, and measure 1 cup of potatoes into a large bowl. Add 2 cups of (GF) all purpose flour. Add 2 eggs, and a good dose of salt. Mix together until a dough forms. I had a bit of trouble with this part, since we use GF flour. I found a third egg plus about 3T of water made the dough perfect. Gather the dough into a ball, and let rest (covered) for about 20 minutes. Divide the dough into 1/4s and roll out into "snakes" about 1/2in thick. Cut the dough into short lengths, about 1/2in long. (Ours were all kinds of sizes, with small hands helping.) Press the gnocchi pieces onto the back of a fork, rolling downward over the tines to create grooves.
Set gnocchi gently into a pan of salted, rapid-boiling water. They are done when they rise; around 3-5 minutes.
Cover with sauce of your choice, and some cheese. (If you get to eat cheese!! lol) *This recipe makes 4 servings. Enjoy!!
Thanks for visiting the herd!

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