Category Archives: Travel
Gnocchi alla gorgonzola e pera is actually a pretty common dish in the northern half of Italy; the kind of thing any restaurant that might be serving tourists would throw on (without regard to seasonality, local cuisine, etc), and while that might turn you off, it’s actually quite good. That said, I ate it several places in Florence, and am fairly certain I spotted it on other menus around the way.
I couldn’t find much on the history of this dish, so I think it’s more of a modern classic–prior to not-too-many-years-ago, most classic products of regions didn’t get transported or heavily used much in other regions. There was a time when gorgonzola is what you ate when you were in piedmonte; risotto is what you ate in Milan and in the far north, you ate potatoes in Alto Adige and maybe in Emilia-Romagna. Less so now, with the best of the best being desired by Italians everywhere loving food.
Gnocchi is, however, typical of Alto Adige (where potatoes are most common), and gorgonzola–if it is officially DOP gorgonzola–is from Piedmonte. For this dish, you’ll want to use the opposite of what you’d likely want to snack on in a cheese plate. You’ll use Gorgonzola Dolce, which is the young, “sweet” gorgonzola. As the cheese ages it becomes more “piquante” or spicy, hot. It’ll tickle your throat if it’s the wrong type for this job. If you don’t have a quality cheese chop that carries both and can point them out, look for gorgonzola (imported, not pre-crumbled) that has a more soft, creamy texture with less blue bits–that’s usually it.
3 oz gorgonzola dolce cheeese
1 ripe pear, diced
1 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup light vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk
salt, fresh ground pepper
Boil your water and have it ready. If you are using fresh gnocchi (which you could be!), they require VERY little cooking time, take what you think they take and cut it by half. Seconds! Otherwise, they’ll fall apart, and you’ll regret it.
Dice your pear, have your ingredients ready. You may or may not need slightly more or less veg stock & milk. Create a roux by heating the butter in a small sauce pan, until clear and stopped bubbling, medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until color darkens slightly, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and slowly add the vegetable stock, then the milk, until you get a mac-n-cheese type consistency, or slightly thinner. Add the gorgonzola and continue whisking until smooth.
Add the gnocchi to the water and cook; remove the gnocchi as soon as they float to the top of the pan using a slatted spoon or gnocchi paddle. Add the pear to the sauce and let it warm up, adding the gnocchi to the sauce and stirring gently to coat, with a large wooden spoon (don’t use metal, you’ll chop up the dumplings).
Add some salt and black pepper to taste, serve!
Fresh gnocchi makes a huge difference over the vaccu-packed kind you’ll find on the pasta isle. It’s much less dense and has the texture of a down pillow, collapsing in your mouth. I buy mine in bulk from Rainbow market or from Faletti Foods; both carry gnocchi by the bay area’s “Pasta Shop,” which lots of local stores retail products from.
You could also use pumpkin blossoms for this recipe, so long as they are not too large/brittle/old.
I have finally figured out how to make my fried zucchini blossoms less oily, more light and all around prettier. The secret is really two things: 1) Thin batter. The texture of crepe batter. 2) Use something carbonated in the batter. Don’t settle for sake, wine, water. Use champagne, beer, sparkling water.
For the stuffing
1/3lb fresh goat cheese, such as Capricho di Cabra
3 T pepitas (uncooked, dried pumpkin seeds)
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Bring goat cheese to room temperature, toast the pepitas lightly and mix everything together. Stuff the clean, dry zucchini blossoms with the mixture and fold the flowers closed on it. About a tablespoon per flower.
For the batter
1 C champagne, bubbly, beer, etc
3/4 cup tempura flour mix or 2/3 cup flour + some baking soda and salt
May need to adjust the batter ratio; start with the liquid in a bowl and add the flour mixture, gently mix with a fork, it should be somewhat lumpy and thin like crepe batter.
I have made a Florence google map guide to my favorite places and picks for accomodations, shopping, restaurants and wine bars in Florence along with extensive notes for each marker and some suggestions for what to pair the stop with. I hope you’ll find it useful!
I first learned about these Tuscan-style crepes while living in Florence, studying food and wine (both formally and inevitably informally) at Apicius. I rediscovered them when a pleasant little article popped up in the NY Times recently about them.
I made a pilgimage to Rainbow to get chestnut flour and good quality pine nuts (often rancid in my corner store). i went to work. I followed the recipe quite closely, save for the filling which I used a bit less boursoin and more sheep’s milk cheese. The rest was delightful. I wilted some spinich, squeezed half a lemon over it and we had a wonderful dinner. I’d recommend it and it’s a great one for a dinner party as you can assemble, and then pop in the oven for 10 minutes just before serving.