He met my great-great-great Grandmother who'd turned up in San Francisco via Panama, in 1851. She came from Ireland with her two sisters and was 17. Their offspring got mixed up with a bunch of Italians, but by the time my mom's Italian traditions came down to me, they were pretty assimilated.
My dads' parents on the other hand, were right off the boat from Tuscany. My grandmother didn't speak English... ever. And they cooked and lived very old school. As a result I grew up in a very weird household. A mix of an old-line San Francisco family and Italian immigrants. It was also a multi-generational household.
The one thing that both sides of the family had in common was the food business. My mom's family were "provisioners of fine comestibles and viands" during the Gold Rush. For them, the gold they found was not in "them thar hills." It was in meat. Yeah, you heard me. They started one of San Francisco's first butcher shops The Clipper Market at the corner of Front and Pacific Street. They were into food. One of my great-great uncles on my mom's side was pastry chef at the legendary Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
|The Gilt Edge Market, my grandfather on the right|
Among the pastas or primi we always had were gnocchi, soft cushiony little pillows of dough, the kissing cousins of Austrian spaetzle. So the other day, after my big pre-birthday dinner at Morimoto, I had a strange compulsion to revisit childhood roots. Maybe it was turning a year older. Maybe it was a sense of mortality that accompanies every birthday. Maybe it was the partially used-up can of pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge about to go bad. Yeah, okay, I'll cop to it. It was the pumpkin.
I can't stand to see anything go to waste. That's the way I was raised. Waste not want not. That little jar of pumpkin puree was calling my name. I had to answer. My answer was pumpkin gnocchi. Pumpkin gnocchi is something that uses the bare basics of ingredients. Pumpkin, flour, 1 egg yolk , a bit of salt and a pinch of nutmeg.
Here's what to do:
First, boil some water... lots of it.
Next, in a bowl mix together:
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
Set it aside.
In a separate bowl combine:
3/4 cup of flour (more or less, I'll explain)
1/4 tsp of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg
Now combine the flour mixture with the pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Knead the dough well.
When your gnocchi are shaped and ready, it's time to pop them into the boiling water.
Meanwhile in a skillet, heat some butter. Heat it until you have browned butter, and toss in some fresh sage leaves. They'll sizzle and fry up fast.
Meanwhile, I'm right in the middle of my birthday week and heading toward my Saturday night, Indian street/finger food party. Much cooking will ensue. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori