This is a favorite with children, and is also a succulent, delicate accompaniment to any meat or fish dish which most adults will love. It can be very elegant as a first course served in individual dishes and sprinkled with freshly grated cheese.
Scrub the potatoes and cook them in boiling salted water until they are tender. Protect your hands by using a kitchen towel or an oven mitt and peel them while they are still hot. Immediately put them through a Mouli food mill (do not use a blender because it would turn them into a sticky paste).
Slowly beat in the egg yolks, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the flour gradually, beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. The finished dough should be soft and smooth but not too sticky. Add more flour if it is too moist. Dust your hands with flour and divide the dough into balls the size of small apples. Roll each one out to a cylindrical shape about
The dish can be prepared in advance up to this point; cover the gnocchis with a towel and keep in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a few hours.
Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Put in the gnocchis and the peanut oil. Cook the squares of dough for 7 to 10 minutes, or until all have floated to the surface. They should be elastic to the touch. Drain well and place in a warm shallow dish. Sprinkle with the olive oil and stir gently, then add your favorite sauce and cheese. Sprinkle with the chives, mint, or basil just before serving.
The gnocchis can be made to resemble shells—they not only will look prettier but will absorb the sauce better. To make the shells, put each of the square pieces of dough on the topside tines of a fork and press down. Cook the shells for only about 3 or 4 minutes.
© 1990 Mireille Johnston estate. All rights reserved.