Do you ever have one of those days when you just want to take whatever project it is you are working on the kitchen and chuck it through the kitchen window???? (Even if it means opening the window in 15F weather and freezing out the house while you fling piece by piece out the window?).
Seriously. Am I the only one who has been caught up in what feels like a never-ending string of epic kitchen fails? Because some days it sure feels like it.
There is some thing about life in the kitchen that has a power to rule your emotions and turn your world inside out & upside down. No roller coaster can compare....
I was pretty excited to give the Parisian gnocchi a try. I (heart) gnocchi and have made it in several variations (such as this and this). Come to think of it, I have never made a "normal" gnocchi...I should add that to my list - that is, after the parsnip gnocchi I am doing this weekend...).
I was very intrigued by the concept of using a pâte à choux as a "gnocchi noodle". Now, I haven't worked with pâte à choux in a very long time and I forgot how sticky and temperamental it can be. Which made me a little moody (no comments, please), but all was still well.
The gnocchi weren't the prettiest things in the world; but they had a great texture and since they were going into a casserole covered with sauce, I decided to just accept them. This was a family dinner - as long as it tasted good, no one really cared what the heck it looked like. I could swallow my cooking pride and move along. (Sure, I could...)
Up to this point, things weren't going great - but they weren't horrible either. I was only mildly frustrated - and only occasionally cursing the three bodies in the living room playing Wii while I slaved in the kitchen alone. (The occasional cursing was usually accentuated by an extra loud clanging of pots or slamming of a dish. Seriously.)
But then came time to prepare the bechamel. And it just went down hill from there. Fast. [Blocks out memories and horrible images]
I have deleted all evidence of the bechamel carnage. I refuse to look back at the horror that was in my sauce pan. Instead I will reflect of an act of marvelous genius. And express my gratitude for modern kitchen electrics. Namely, the food processor.
As I struggled with what to do with the lumpy mess of cooked flour & butter sitting in the sauce pan (this is where the thoughts of flinging things out the window entered stage right...), I gave that "blob" in my pan a very nasty look. At this point, The Dude walks into the kitchen - I am fairly sure he took one look at me and walked right back out. I don't think I blame him - although I am pretty certain I was blaming him at the time.
The interruption did allow me the chance to take a deep breath. And think. What to do. What to do. Thought A: start over. WRONG. I was far too irritated. Thought B: Save it? But how? Aha! The food processor. It can save it - well, at least it's worth a shot.... Sure enough, I added the offending mixture and gave it a few pulses. Success. I went from
totally unreasonable severely irritated to mildly grumpy almost as quickly as the nasty lumps turned into creamy goodness.
From that point on, the universe righted itself. Don't you love the power of heat on cheese? How it turns that top into golden, crusty goodness? Who (in their right mind) could stay grumpy looking at that? Seriously.
This meal fit in well with my "go-meatless" twice a week objective (I paired it with last week's mushroom soup - which helped appease my guilt about the diet-busting properties of the layers of cream and cheese).
Here is what the baking dish looked like after the meal. There was a brief thought about saving some for leftovers; but when I mentioned this would not keep or reheat well, the dish quickly emptied. They liked it - they really liked it!
Like I said, all's well that ends well... Empty dish = whew. Bechamel and I have since had another go-around with each other. But that's a different post. For a different day. Cheers!
This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie - come check out how the other bloggers more gracefully and successfully navigated this recipe!