Saturday, May 15, 2004

Cena with Bread Gnocchi at Pieve Asciata (by Steve)


Carla Ducci is from Torino in the North of Italy. Although she does not make them all the time at home for Antonio (who is totally Tuscan), she does know a lot of very unusual recipes from the North in general and from Torino specifically. This is the first draft of a recipe for bread dumplings or bread gnocchi.

Carla has been wanting to have us all together since we got here in February. More than three months have passed and until tonight we’d not managed to do it. Carla had explained how much more fun she has having guests out to Pieve Asciata. Unlike their house in Siena, the country house has really big tables and, perhaps because it is more rustic, Carla doesn’t really worry about the kids getting things dirty or breaking them. Somehow I just think she has more fun cooking and serving there; it seems special, unlike cooking and serving from her own kitchen.

For the first few weeks we were here Antonio was in and out of the Hospital. Then it was really cold and wet. Then the Germans started coming to Pieve Asciata so we couldn’t use it. Finally on Monday this week, Carla called and invited us for cena (supper) tonight. Apparently the week was "German free." She suggested that we might have “bread gnocchi” and “carne alle brace.” It was awesome.

Carla explained that the bread gnocchi are really more Austrian than Italian but they are eaten in the North of Italy as well.  Her mother who was actually German called them “knaidle” or something like that.

Here is the recipe for the bread gnocchi. I am not sure about the measurements because neither was Carla and I did not actually see her complete the first steps. So until some of you brave people try this and get me some feedback, consider it a draft.


2 lbs (perhaps one kilo) of good crusty bread, completely dry
2 – 4 cups hot milk, sufficient to moisten the bread and make it soft enough to knead
2 eggs
100 grams of spec (a form of prosciutto) cut into small pieces
Parmesan cheese

Break the bread into chunks putting them into a large bowl. Heat the milk and pour it on the bread. With your hands, break the bread into smaller and smaller pieces and adding milk until all the bread is moist enough to knead. When cool enough, add eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, spec and “abundant” cheese, as Carla said. Form it into a large ball and place a plate over the top of it. Put a weight on the plate and allow it to rest overnight.

The next day, knead the ball until it becomes a kind of sticky dough. Carla did all of this during the day before we got together at Pieve Asciata.

This is what the bowl with the dough looked like when we got there.

Prepare a small dish with flour and space on the counter with a cookie sheet and towel to hold the finished gnocchi. Use your hands to form balls about one inch in diameter from the dough. Roll each ball in flour like this and place on the towel until you are ready to cook them.

Carla's looked like this when she was done. Not bad!

Bring several quarts of salted water to a boil.  Drop the gnocchi one by one into the boiling water and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until done. (I'm not really sure about the cooking time because I was talking and not paying attention). Serve hot with ragu and cheese.

While we watched and talked, Carla made about 70 or 80 with these (approximate) ingredients and it fed 10 adults (including Sarah and Alex) and two pretty hungry kids (Giulia and Costantino).
Carla's bread gnocchi

They went beautifully with the rich meat sauce, grilled meats (ribs, steaks, and sausage), raw artichokes pinzimonio (dipped in oil with salt and pepper), salad, bread and red wine.

COMMENTS from the original blog

2004-05-18 12:04:10 mhshaw
Re: Cena with Bread Gnocchi at Pieve Asciata (by Steve)
I don't know much about either of your backgrounds, so in case you don't know, the word ""knaidle"" (pl knaidlach) in yiddish, means matza ball. A presto- MHS

2006-10-21 14:37:4255 stefano
We knew...
We put it in the story to see if anyone was paying attention.  ;)

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