If this is your first time visiting the blog, learn about the project here.

I cook without a compass when I’m off the clock. I’ve learned that the rules are suggestions. I play fast and loose with conversions, aiming for ballpark. I haven’t faltered yet—cooking by intuition is the original recipe. For this project, though, I tighten things up considerably. I use instructions, I follow order. Still . . . there’s always wiggle room.

My gnocchi is forgiving. I measure out the ingredients with only one eye on the recipe, imprecise, free to guess and form and hand-roll. I don’t decode the metric system just right on this one, but when my dumplings come out smooth and creamy, a touch of salt, I’m not surprised. The more casually I cook, the more authentic it feels. I’m not the first to combine potato, egg, and flour this way, or roll my dough over wooden grooves, and I feel the authority of all the hands that did this before me. Or maybe it’s luck.

Either way, I keep the conversation going with my ancestors. We say the same things in different voices; the same spice or herb on our tongues, a language that spans time like words never could. When I zoom out, I see these foods that kept them alive so that I could be alive, too; when I zoom in, I see a dinner plate. Somewhere between the two is our communion.

I sauté my gnocchi in butter and parmesan, crack some pepper over top. We eat outside for the first time this year, enough room for the two of us and all the spirits that cooked this with me.


The following is the recipe I used, as found here.


  • 3 ½ oz all-purpose flour

  • 1 lb potatoes

  • 1 egg

  • 1 ¼ oz butter

  • 2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • salt to taste


Place potatoes in a pot and completely cover with cold salted water, stopping when the water is 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (or when a knife enters easily), about 50 minutes.

Let cool until they can be handled. Peel and put them through a ricer or food mill.
Combine hot peeled potatoes with flour, egg and salt. Turn dough out onto a floured cutting board and cut into 3 portions.

Gently roll each portion into a long log about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each log into 3/4-inch pieces with a floured knife.

Press a piece of dough against tines of a floured fork, and push with a floured thumb in a forward motion toward end of tines, letting gnocchi fall from fork onto a floured kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

The gnocchi should be cooked in salted water, well drained, then dressed with a generous helping of butter and Parmesan cheese.

Add (to taste) tomato sauce or even better still, fresh cherry tomatoes browned in butter.



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