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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nonna Caterina's Whole Wheat Gnocchi

I had the honor of having a beautiful Italian woman over for lunch last week and can I just say that I think I have quite possibly met my new best friend! Caterina Maria (Galiazzo) Rilinger is originally from Mason Vicentino, a province in the Veneto region of northern Italy, its capital city is Vincenza. and her Mother comes from Venetian aristocracy which was apparent to me from the moment we met. You see the Venetian woman are modest and elegant a lot like French women but  after only spending a few minutes with them their passionate and flirty ways reveal the Italiana signora  : )  Caterina's family was actually living in Libya when the war (WW II) broke out but she and the other children were sent to North Africa for safe keeping. A few years later while she was there working as a secretary she met a handsome young American soldier named George Rilinger who eventually became the father of her children  and  husband of 56 years! Her husband just passed away a few short weeks ago and she had many tear filled stories to share with us eagerly listening at the table. Two things she shared stood out to me in particular. The first one was a conversation they had their last week together. She asked him if she could French Kiss him in Heaven to which he replied, "I'll have to check with God on that one but if he says it's okay than yes!" She told me that their love was strong and affectionate to the end! The second thing was a bit of advise when asked what was the secret to a happy 56 years of marriage she simply replied, "Never have a headache." What a wise Italian lady : ) It's no wonder that the great writer of old Ange Goudar once said,"The women of Venice are beautiful but, more to the point, they are flirtatious." She also shared about their journey of faith in God and the peace she has that her dear husband is now in Heaven waiting for that possible French Kiss! Caterina is such a Venetian lady a true  romantic through and through and I found myself becoming more of a romantic myself as she spoke of her husband with so lovingly.  And of course as Italians our conversation eventually led to food. She mentioned that her family in Vincenza made their gnocchi with whole wheat flour which I had never heard of so I quickly asked for the recipe and here it is : )

Caterina and George, here you can see Caterina's modest elegance  !

I love this photo of the two of them out on a date!
Here they are after 20 years of marriage still being affectionate :)

A most recent photo of Popop George & Nonna Caterina along with their family: Kaleb and Jenny Holzhauer, Gina,Yvonne, Kiah, and Jessie Zupke.

Nonna Caterina's Whole Wheat Gnocchi
1 large russet potato (or 2 small) per person. This was a great new trick  learned form her!
salt and  black pepper (she said the black specks look nice)
1 egg 
just enough whole wheat flour to form a dough, no measuring!
Bake the potatoes until soft and cut in half press each half through a ricer (or scoop out and use a masher)
Add the egg and beat in the center.
Add salt and pepper and just enough flour to form a dough do not over flour.
Divide into balls about the size of indoor mini basket balls :)
 Roll each out into a snake about the width of your pointer finger.
cut into 1/2-2/3  inch pieces and roll into gnocchi shape by rolling down a gnocchi paddle or back of a fork.
Freeze on a cookie sheet with parchment until set then place in freezer baggie until ready to use. Or if using right away allow them to dry out on parchment.
When ready to cook them bring a heavily salted large pot of water to boil. 
Add about 1 cup of gnocchi at a time after they start to rise to the top allow them to boil for 1 more minute. Every batch of gnocchi is different so I always cook one by it self to see exact timing for all the other gnocchi.
 Remove with slotted spoon.
1) In a pan heat up enough red sauce and butter (as much as a 50/50 ratio try this at least once it is simply to die for) add the gnocchi  and cook together for 2-3 minutes and then sprinkle Parmesan on top!
2) In a casserole dish heat up the red sauce and butter in a 350 oven add the gnocchi and coat then add Parmesan on top and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts, this is my favorite way : )
~Here's the gnocchi just before freezing~
Notes on Whole Wheat Gnocchi: I found that the dough was much easier to form, roll out into the snakes, and cut into the pillows then regular gnocchi but it became a bit trickier when time to roll down the paddle. I found it was easier once I added a little more flour to each gnocchi before rolling down the paddle voila!

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