Gnocchi alla Romana...a delicious holiday side dish

Amazing!  In the Babble food blog voting you all have moved me from #197 to #27.  We are in the last weeks of voting.  If you enjoy "Snippets" will you   Click here or on the side link to the right.

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I have a truly delicious side dish that worked magic in our house.  The main portion of the meal was completely overlooked as this side dish took over all conversation.

This is a wonderful Italian side dish that compliments the blustery wintery days that are blowing all across the U.S.

I was, as usual, drooling over the lovely photographs in the Williams Sonoma catalog when this dish caught my eye.  

Perfect for a cold wintry day side dish...and delicious enough for the holiday Christmas table.

Gnocchi alla Romana 

This is Gnocchi like we've  never tasted before.  I really loved this dish.  The main ingredients are semolina, milk, and parmesan cheese.  Butter is brushed on top to give the soft, melt in your mouth patties a little crispness.

The winds have finally blown into Houston.  I cannot wait to get out the door with Chester for a long gusty walk.  He is quite in his element with these cold breezes and his little 'Papillon' prance is in full tilt.

What display of bravado on our long walks!  Little do all other dogs, that he was trying to impress, know...he typically curls up somewhere super comfy for a good long afternoon snooze.

We even bought...gasp...logs for our fireplace!  We are so excited.  It will be cold enough on Christmas Eve to hear the crackling and popping of a real wood fire.  

Whereas fall has long left much of the U.S., December in Houston is  fall here in full swing.  The leaves are still blowing and swirling.  Flocks of ducks from the North are sweeping in for a respite from their arduous journey.

Blessed rain has been falling for two days now.  It finally feels like the holiday season and not the tropical locale that is the signature climate of this part of the country.

Ever since M. was about three, she has helped me with the holiday table place cards.  First she helped me assemble them but now we collaborate together and it has become more of her holiday task.

We are hooked on the British series  "Downtown Abbey"  and any and all movies of the 'turn of the century'.  We love all of the wax seals they use when sending letters to each other.  We spotted this wax seal idea in Martha Stewart's catalog and decided to use it for our place cards this year.

Back to this Gnocchi alla Romana dish.  I would highly recommend it.  It was a snap to pull together, the aroma was heavenly, and the taste...Delisioso!  Bellisimo!  And all other Italian words that sound as good as these gnocchi taste.

Gnocchi alla Romana
(adapted from the Williams Sonoma catalog)

These tender gnocchi are prepared in the Roman style using semolina flour plus milk, butter, egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The dough is cut into disks, then layered in a pan and baked in the oven. 

5 1/2 cups milk 
2 cups semolina 
2 tsp. kosher salt 
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
2 egg yolks 
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus 3 Tbs. melted butter 

In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the semolina in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt and continue whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the semolina is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese, the egg yolks and the 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) butter until incorporated. 

Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Pour the semolina mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. 

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch French skillet. 

Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut the gnocchi into rounds. Arrange the gnocchi in the pan so they are overlapping, resembling shingles. Brush the top of the gnocchi with the 3 Tbs. melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then serve immediately with Roman-style meatballs. Serves 6 to 8. 

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