This is what Dino has to say about the origins of this recipe. Unlike the better-known gnocchi, which are made from potato, these are made from semolina, a durum wheat flour. Long before ships brought native crops from the Americas to Europe, Italy was a land without red sauce, corn polenta, or potato gnocchi. But even without the potato, gnocchi still existed in the form of the classic gnocchi alla Romana, a custardy, oven-baked version made with semolina, egg, cheese, and butter. You could say these are the OG: the original gnocchi.
6 cups of milk
1 ½ cups of semolina flour
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided in half, plus more for greasing
1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for grating right before baking and at the table
3 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching, until it is steaming. Season well with salt. While whisking constantly, sprinkle in semolina in a fine shower to prevent lumps: the mixture will thicken and become difficult to whisk. Once all the semolina is added, lower the heat to medium-low, switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 10 to 15 minutes, until a sticky, dough-like mass forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan; make sure to stir deep into corners and all over the bottom of saucepan to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
Stir in 4 tablespoons of butter until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the grated cheese until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Scrape in the egg yolks and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the semolina dough in a buttered, rimmed baking sheet. Using a wet rubber spatula or wet, clean hands, and rewetting frequently to prevent sticking, press and smooth the semolina dough into an even layer about ½ inch thick. It’s okay if the dough does not fully reach all edges of the baking pan, as long as it’s even throughout. Press plastic wrap against the surface, and refrigerate until set, at least 40 minutes and as long as overnight.
Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or similarly sized glass, cut the semolina dough into rounds. The rounds can be refrigerated for up to 3 days covered with plastic wrap before topping with butter and cheese and baking. Scraps can be saved and refrigerated for up to 4 days: deep fry in oil for a snack or assemble in a smaller baking dish to make a mini version of this dish.
To bake, grease a large baking dish or ovenproof skillet with butter. Using a thin metal spatula, scrape each semolina round from the baking sheet and arrange them in an overlapping pattern in the prepared skillet or dish.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and drizzle all over the semolina gnocchi. Grate more Parigiano-Reggiano generously all over. Bake until the gnocchi are hot and brown on top, about 15 minutes.
Serve, passing more grated cheese at the table.
Quiet Longely, New York, is abuzz with excitement over the opening of a revamped art complex—and catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons are helping put on an elaborate tea party for the opening night gala fundraiser. But when the billionaire behind the project drops dead, the Simmons sisters find themselves steeped in a whistling kettle of murder . . .Everyone in Longely is talking about Blue House, an art complex that will bring the town a theater, an art gallery, and even a restaurant and coffee bar. But they’re less than enthusiastic about Ludvoc “Zeb” Zalinsky, the self-made billionaire who’s funding the complex—and rubbing everyone the wrong way. Bernie and Libby reluctantly agree to cater the Alice in Wonderland themed tea party he’s planned, but it quickly becomes clear that Zeb is madder than the hatter he’ll be dressed as . . .
The night of the benefit arrives and Westchester’s finest show up in droves, having paid $500 apiece to attend Zeb’s meticulously-orchestrated tea party. But just when it seems the production is going according to plan, Zeb lifts an electric tea kettle, clutches his chest, and falls to the floor in fittingly dramatic fashion. The kettle shorted out and his pacemaker malfunctioned—but it doesn’t take long for police to decide that this seemingly random accident was actually cold-blooded murder . . .
As Bernie and Libby set out to find the culprit, they realize Zeb might have had more enemies than money. With so many possible culprits to sort through, only one thing is clear: Zeb was poured a steaming cup of revenge—and a second serving may be on the menu…
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