Hey there! Here’s my next installment on the items that we’ve been preparing in my Fundamentals of Classical Techniques class.
We’ve been learning the basics and classics in this course and you can’t have classic without the mention of pasta and rice! Our first item in this category was Gnocchi. And I guess you could really put it under the veggie heading since it’s mostly made from potatoes, but I felt it’s more of a pasta dish than a veggie dish.
I’ve always wanted to make Gnocchi and before we made it in class, but it always intimidated me. After making it in class, I feel a lot more comfortable with out it’s supposed to turn out. We were originally going to pipe the mixture into a long rope and cut into sections, but our chef said the consistency was not suitable to handle that way. So we made them into quarter-sized shaped discs and marked them with a fork, almost as if you were making a criss-cross pattern for peanut butter cookies.
Gnocchi – After we made our dough – consisting of potatoes that we ran through a food mill, AP flour, semolina flour, olive oil - we refrigerated it over night and then prepared the discs, stuck them back into the fridge to cook later.
To cook: we brought a pot with salted water up to a boil and dropped all of the discs into the water at the same time; boiling for 2 minutes (or if they floated they were ready, but I think our Gnocchi were rather too large to float). Then we spread them out on a #1 pan, added in a few ladles of homemade tomato sauce, a little grated cheese and parsley and popped them under the broiler, until the cheese browned. This was amazing! Probably one of my top favorite things we prepared in class.
I can’t wait to try my hand at these again!!!
Homemade Pasta – Look, our very own homemade pasta! Ours came out a little thick, but it was awesome to make it from scratch, cook it and then turn it into an actual dish. This is the only photo I snapped of our pasta. Our dough was made out of AP flour, Semolina flour, eggs, salt and cold water. We used the mixer and dough hook to knead it and then we rolled it out on a pastry sheeter to help get it to the proper thinness.
We covered this with plastic wrap until we were ready to throw them into salted, boiling water so the noodles wouldn’t dry out. Once the water was up to the boil we dropped it in and cooked until al dente – probably about 3-5 mins due to our thickness. We then tossed this into a roasted chicken and mushroom sauce we cooked that day.
Bechamel Mac + Cheese- Creaminess, Cheesiness! Yes, Indeed. We made a bechamel sauce from scratch and once it had simmered for about 45 minutes and thickened to our liking we assembled a heavenly mac + cheese dish. We used spiral noodles, 3 different cheeses – mascarpone, cheddar and Asiago, a few ladles of bechamel sauce and salt/pepper to taste. We popped it into the oven covered and backed for about 25-30 mins.
Here’s my plate to sample our work.
Now onto our rice dishes….
Rice Pilaf – I didn’t realize it, but pilaf is an actual cooking method and not just a type of rice
The Rice Pilaf Method: Long Grain White Rice – LGWR,Rice or Grains cooked in hot stock/broth – liquid. Ratio = 1 part Rice to 2 Parts liquid
- Pre-measure + Pre-Season Liquid – salt & pepper – Bring to boil
- In separate pot (depth/width even), Sweat “onions” or other veggies in fat + season – “onions” refers to any member of the onion family – i.e. – garlic, shallots, onions
- Toss rice in Fat + Onions + Season – coating rice w/ fat
- Glug liquid in ! All liquid goes in at once
- Cover the pot – Pilaf has to be covered – to trap moisture and properly soften rice
- Bring to a low simmer – poke hole in foil to watch steam. Choose – 6A. Continue on Stove Top or 6B. Into 325 – 350 degree F oven.
- LGWR – 18-20 min Simmer – will vary based on variety of grain -Degree of doneness – “Al Dente” – which means to the tooth – not crunchy or mushy
- Transferred to a #1 pan – if left in pot, it will continue to cook
Risotto – We also made a risotto that I didn’t capture – BOO!! I was really excited to learn to make this as well. This is another intimidating dish to me, but it came together nicely for our team. We used a fish stock as we were pairing it with our fish dish, but you can use any type of stock.
We started by sweating our shallots in fat and then we added our rice and stirred until all grains are coated in the fat. Add in the wine and allow rice to fully absorb. Then we will add in the stock. Stock used equals 3x the amount of rice used. The trick we learned is to add the stock in stages, stirring constantly until it’s almost all absorbed before adding the next round of stock. After all of the stock has been added and absorbed and is al dente, remove from heat – add a little butter to finish and season with salt and pepper.