About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene
Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug
Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan
Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim
Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Gratinéed Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi | Main | Crespelle »

Baked Semolina Gnocchi

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I was excited to try this dish because I love gnocchi. I’m not sure why. There isn’t much to them but they make me very happy. This recipe is for gnocchi in a very different way than I am a custom to seeing. First off the dish is baked. I have only had gnocchi boiled. Second, the gnocchi is made with semolina. I have only enjoyed them made with potatoes.

After reviewing the recipe, I felt a certain satisfaction when I realized I already had all the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator. A couple of weeks ago I purchased semolina flour for a bread recipe I wanted to try. Finally, a recipe I can complete without making a special trip to the market. My excitement was short lived because the semolina I have is very fine powdery flour. Dang it! So off I go on yet another ingredient hunting expedition. A few stores later I found the required coarsely ground semolina.

My excitement quickly returned as I examined the semolina closely. It looked very similar to farina. I love farina. As a young girl I loved to eat farina for breakfast or after an early evening of playing in the snow. Even now on a day when the world seems crueler than usual I soothe myself with a big bowl topped with a little sugar, milk and a pat of butter. If semolina gnocchi is half as good I will be happy.

The preparation calls for cooking the semolina over low heat in milk until a thick mass emerges. Then egg yolks, butter, parmesan cheese are mixed in. The mixture is then spread out on a counter to cool completely before being cut into discs. The discs are arranged shingle style in a buttered dish and topped with bacon or boiled ham and more parmesan. I used ham. Bake, cool slightly and serve.

While the gnocchi was baking I decided to look up the difference between farina and semolina. As defined by The New Food Lover’s Companion:

Semolina – Durum wheat that is more coarsely ground than normal wheat flours, a result that is often obtained by sifting out the finer flour.

Farina – 1) Made from cereal grains, farina is a bland tasting flour or meal that, when cooked in boiling water, makes a hot breakfast cereal. 2) Italian for “flour”

Obviously, this writer does not enjoy farina. That’s okay I learned something new today.

There is a fine line with foods as far as my palate is concerned. For example, tuna salad is good. Tuna casserole is not. Meringue is edible. Egg as egg in any other form is not. Farina is good. Semolina as pasta is good. Grits are not good. I do not like grits. And will only eat them if literally there is nothing else available and the hope of accessing appealing food may take days. Basically I will only eat them in an emergency. Or, if prepared and offered to me by a gentle, kind senior citizen. For them I will force down a no thank you helping. I do have some manners. Anyone younger than seventy will get a resounding, “NO THANK YOU!”


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Why I am I blabbing on and on about this? This dish’s flavor straddles or should I say crosses the line. Semolina gnocchi tastes like grits. Cheese grits with ham to be exact. Perhaps this is appealing to others out there. It is not appealing to me. I was disappointed. Oh, well. The texture of the gnocchi is firm but still soft at the same time. The taste is slight creaminess followed by a salty bite from the ham and cheese. I opted out of trying the suggested fritters made from the semolina trimmings.


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. The New Food Lover’s Companion. New York: Barron’s, 2001.

© 2010 Irene D. Ericson


Comments (3)

Irene, I am so sorry you were disappointed, but your honesty is appreciated.

Being the daughter of a proper Southern woman, I love grits.

Marcella, yes, I have made this dish! And will continue to do so as I adore it.

Irene, it would be completely unrealistic to think that we could work our way through an entire cookbook (even one as exquisite as Essentials) without stumbling across at least one recipe we just don't have a taste for. I guess this one was yours.

Marcella Hazan:

Allow me to reciprocate: nothing, not even a distinguished older gentleman - would draw me to a bowl of cooked farina, and certainly nothing short of imminent death by starvation to have it for breakfast. I hope you haven't been tapped to do the polenta recipes.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 9, 2010 3:10 PM.

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