For The Father Who Has Everything

20 06 2009

I was lucky enough to spend some time with my Dad this week.  I’ll admit that Father’s Day didn’t really enter into it when we were making our vacation plans, but it worked out that both Nick and I get to see our fathers this June.  Father’s Day gifts can be difficult – you know your Dad probably doesn’t need any more stuff, but you want to commemorate the day and a card somehow doesn’t seem like enough.  But what do you get for the Dad Who Has Everything?

Piping and poaching Parisian Gnocchi

A huge mess in his kitchen.  I mean dinner.  A heartfelt, home-cooked meal is a surefire winner.  Everyone needs to eat, right?  So this year, that’s exactly what we’re doing.  For my Dad, whose honorary Father’s Day was on Wednesday, I drew up a menu consisting of Parisian gnocchi (pictured above – can you guess what I’m doing?), grilled salmon and zucchini (harvested from my parents’ garden), and lemon profiteroles for dessert.  I printed up some cute little menus on plain card stock and put my Mom in charge of setting the table on the back patio.  The meal was a hit and my Dad was surprised and impressed.

Gnocchi Parisienne

This was my first ever attempt at making Parisian gnocchi, but it won’t be my last.  These things are basically poached savory choux pastry (the very same dough used for the cheesy poofs, in fact, only seasoned with black pepper instead of mustard and chili powder) and they are so delightfully light and easy compared to their potato-based Italian counterparts.  Instead of piping out bite-size puffs, I pinched bits of the dough into simmering water and cooked them until they floated.  I spooned them out onto a sheet pan lined with a clean dishtowel until I was ready to finish cooking.  Inspired by a recipe from Ratioby Michael Ruhlman, I sauteed the poached gnocchi in bacon fat and tossed them with bacon, peas, and grilled corn.

Parisian Gnocchi with Bacon, Peas, and Grilled Corn

Next time, I will be sure to do this in a nonstick pan, as the gnocchi stuck to the stainless steel one I was using.  No problem, I just added a little more bacon fat and turned the heat up, but I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning that pan later.  I made the same amount of choux pastry as I made for cheesy poofs, combined with four or five strips of bacon (chopped) two ears of corn and about 2/3 of a cup of peas, and it served five of us as a substantial appetizer (it could definitely feed two as a main course).  A note on the flour: if you can’t find pastry flour, a mixture of half cake flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour is an indistinguishable substitute.

On to the main course…

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