Friday, December 15, 2017
Cooking

Donatella Arpaia offers 'naked gnocchi' recipe at food festival

ST. PETERSBURG — She changed out of her cranberry-red shift dress and into crisp chef whites for her 4 p.m. cooking demonstration at the Mahaffey, one of the last events at the Nov. 15-17 food and wine festival called Enjoy Arts and Tastes St. Pete. Donatella Arpaia was one of nearly a dozen celebrity chefs to preside over demos, parties and tastings for the festival. As head judge on both Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef, her reputation as a forceful and opinionated taskmaster preceded her.

Enlisting the assistance of audience members, she launched into a "naked gnocchi" recipe, not her justifiably famous meatballs because, "I'm not giving away my recipe, no way."

The gnocchi is a great do-ahead first-course recipe for Thanksgiving and all holiday entertaining, she said, because it can be made and frozen, going directly from the freezer to the boiling water and cooking within minutes.

One assistant was promptly sent packing for being too slow on the job of rolling out the ricotta dumpling dough, another swiftly taking his place as Arpaia educated the room.

"What's the trick to making perfect pasta that doesn't stick?" she asked, grimacing when folks yelled out "olive oil."

"No, olive oil in the water makes the sauce not stick to the pasta. The mistake people make is choking the pasta and not giving it room to dance," she explained poetically, adding that what's essential is starting with lots of cold water and lots of salt.

Expertly rolling long snakes of dough between floured hands, she said quality sheep's milk ricotta is important ("this is not a recipe for Polly-O"), as is using the Caciocavallo cheese, available at stores such as Mazzaro's. "This recipe should be done like this or don't do it at all," she intoned.

Because, as she says, "there must always be a reason for a garnish," the gnocchi in this rich, creamy dish are topped with bread crumbs "because I wanted to give a little crunch."

The chef who the New York Post named one of the "most powerful women" in Manhattan demurred about rumors that she's thinking about opening a St. Petersburg restaurant. In keeping with her Iron Chef judging persona, she ended her festival session by focusing on the plate, stressing the simplicity of the dish because she's a proponent of using only "ingredients that count."

Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Comments
Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Giving the gift of cooking isn’t really something you can mess up. Whether gifting a gadget or paying for a class, you can encourage a budding culinary enthusiast or give a seasoned veteran a new toy to play with. Here are five ideas for holiday gi...
Published: 12/13/17
Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent Florida Pure Sea Salt Harvested from Tampa Bay’s waters, these handcrafted salts come in flavors like maple bacon, Sriracha, lemongrass, habanero or black truffle. They retail for $15 a jar online, at flor...
Published: 12/13/17
Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

If you’re buying me a gift this year, don’t get me an Instant Pot. I’m serious. I don’t subscribe to the "you can never be too thin or too rich" school of thought, but the "you can never have too much kitchen cabinet space" is dead right in my book. ...
Published: 12/13/17
From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes, you just want a hot, crispy potato.I didn’t get home from work the other night craving a full dinner; I arrived at my house with cartoon visions of potatoes in my head, and knew I had to make it happen.I wasn’t looking for a fast food fren...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty ...
Published: 12/12/17
Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Should I infuse this vodka with bacon?That’s not a question I expected to ask myself on a Sunday morning, but here we are. This Christmas, I’m giving homemade gifts: infused liquor and chocolate fudge. But I didn’t realize it would be so hard to find...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

When the weather gets cooler, we want to tuck into comfort food in our home. Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges. Today, I’m taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherd’s Pie. T...
Published: 12/08/17
Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

By MELISSA D’ARABIANSummer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring. The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, th...
Published: 12/08/17
My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

For the past 20 years, my family has looked forward to a boat parade party hosted by some of our dearest friends. The hostess provides cocktails, appetizers, dinner, desserts and a trombone choir to perform from a balcony overlooking her pool. My fav...
Published: 12/06/17
Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

When we opened this year’s call for reader submissions to any treasured holiday food tradition, I had no idea what to expect. That was kind of the point. I wanted to see what such a wide gamut would inspire. And you delivered. The stories that reader...
Published: 12/06/17