2011/01/13

Can this bechamel be saved???? (Gnocchi a la Parisienne)

The fine print:  This story has a happy ending (note picture of half empty dish below).  All's well that ends well, 'eh?


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!

30 comments:

  1. I messed up my bechamel, too...glad I wasn't alone. I just spooned the glop on and covered it with cheese...nobody even noticed. Whew. Glad yours was yummy, too!

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  2. I have had many days in teh kitchen that i would love to toss it out the window (thankfully my kitchen has none). It looks delicious, though!

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  3. Well, I have waited until I see a post to announce I am not joining you all this week. I just couldn't bring myself to boil dough and cover it in bechamel. I'm bloated enough already! But thank goodness for the healing power of cheese and a good bake in the oven as a method of covering up aesthetic sins. Looked great to me!

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  4. This bechamel is not our fault! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! I salvaged mine but the butter to flour to milk ratio seems off. The Dude in my life gave me a glass of wine and left the kitchen quickly:)

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  5. I didn't have any particular problem with the bechamel, but I still wasn't a huge fan of this dish. It was better than I expected, but not one that will become a regular around here.

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  6. I thought the same thing.. not very pretty, glad that I'm covering them up with bechamel and cheese! I been making bechamel since I was like 8 years old, and you are right the ration seem off to me, so I made my own recipe for it.

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  7. Cher - Love your post and am relived my experience while reading it. As you know by now, this bechamel disaster was shared by many...too much flour, not enough milk, whatever, it simply didn't work. I managed to salvage mine by scraping it back into the pan and whisking in another cup of milk. Your final dish looks fabulous! Great save!

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  8. Great post! Glad you survived. My bechamel was much too thick also, but adding another cup of milk worked. I wonder if Dorie will comment on all of our posts stating that the amount of flour is way off for this sauce! We had a lot left over and it has been tasty all week (just in case you ever make it again and have leftovers).

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  9. Love the happy ending! Not easy to regroup in the middle of many things not going well and came up with a wonderful solution!

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  10. Cher You are sooo funny!!! I had to laugh out loud. I'm glad it all turned out in the end. Funny I just got off the phone with my daughter telling her it will all turn out in the end. I guess that's our kitchen lession of the week...B:)

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  11. Thank goodness for the food processor! I'm glad your kitchen disaster turned into a big hit.

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  12. Congrats on surviving this recipe. It looks great when it's all broiled! I'm sitting this recipe out but I'm in awe of everyone who tried it.

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  13. I'm glad for the happy ending, too. (I love my food processor too!)

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  14. That was a brilliant save, Cher! Kudos to you. Something was missing in the recipe, whether it was a typo in the ingredients, or lack of instructions for preparing such a flour-heavy sauce. If the ingredients were correct then one absolutely cannot just dump milk into that much flour. It should've been more carefully explained.

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  15. My Bechamel was super thick. I wish I had thought of thinning it out or using the food processor.

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  16. You're not the only with kitchen issues, I've totally had my fair share. But the most important thing is that you kept pushing through and ended up with a great dish!

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  17. i've totally had baking tantrums so i can see a cooking tantrum not too far off. good for you for taking a moment to figure out how to save your bechamel instead of throwing it out the window!

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  18. Your sauce really did look great in the end!

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  19. i had better luck with the bechamel than the dumplings. with that said, the burnt cheese on the top did not disappoint!

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  20. Thanks for your post. I love the pictures and all your thoughts and feelings at the time. I am late on this recipe. Planning to make it Sunday. I appreciate the warnings regarding the bechamel. I hope mine turns out.
    Renee

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  21. Good thinking! I also had trouble with the sauce, and I too, in a cold sweat almost chucked it out completely, but then thought to strain it. Out went the lumps! Recipe saved.

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  22. Cher, you had me laughing throughout your post. I can relate, even though I did not make the gnocchi this week (I have several people who play Wii while I suffer in the kitchen:)
    But your dish looked great in the end - I am glad you managed to salvage it.

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  23. Hil-ar-ious. But you know I am laughing with you and not at you. And definitely "with you" about the part where you say you don't "think" you blamed The Dude. Literally had me laughing out loud. I have also noticed that my family is no where to be seen until they can "smell" my completion of a Dorie experiment. Then they come a runnin..... I seriously thank goodness that I was so far behind this week that I did not get a chance to read the Q&A's or posts before I did the recipe. I was already thinking this would be the first week I would bail, but in my ignorance bliss I got pretty darn lucky. Although I spent 3 seconds with the "designated wooden spoon" for the bechamel and then attacked with the whisk. Great post that I enjoyed immensely. Thx !! Tricia

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  24. It seems like a lot of people had issues with the bechamel - not just me!! I think your idea to use the food processor was genius - wish I'd thought to do that. So glad it all ended well for you!

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  25. I had a problem with my béchamel also. I am sure it was the ratio of butter to flour. I have made this sauce so often and never had a problem. When I saw the recipe, I thought seriously of changing the amount of butter. I should have done that because I also wound up with a mess of flour and butter. I had to seriously whisk it into submission..I wish I thought of the food processor. Good job!

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  26. Yeah, my 'dude' has the habit of walking into the kitchen at a most inopportune time and asking, "How come that's [burnt][lumpy][like that]???"

    He's damn lucky he's cute.

    That's pretty much what our baking dish looked like in the end, too. Yum!

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  27. I'm glad this had an happy ending. It sure looks delicious, creamy and cheesy! I skipped this week because I was alone and Dorie's comments about leftovers scared me. I'll have to try this soon.

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  28. I'm glad this had an happy ending. It sure looks delicious, creamy and cheesy! I skipped this week because I was alone and Dorie's comments about leftovers scared me. I'll have to try this soon. I'd like to hear more about the parsnip gnocchi after you make it. I have 10 pounds of parsnips in the fridge!

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  29. Cher, take heart, it really wasn't you! Even though it was a great save! I threw my first batch out! It is definately written wrong in the book! I am glad it was edible, even though frustrating! I feel your pain.

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  30. I think saving it in the food processor must have been much more satisfying than throwing it out the window - great idea to use the food processor. Love your comments about the Wii players in the other room, too.

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