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Recipe from Amy Dibiase, former executive chef, Roseville.

I have been cooking since a very young age. A lot of pasta and gnocchi. Soups and stews. I grew up in a very large Italian family, so there was always something going on with cooking. I was always surrounded by food, whether we were going to a party or to my grandmother’s for lunch after church. But I didn’t even really know what a chef was until I was in high school. We had to do a project on a possible occupation, and I chose to do mine on being a chef. It’s what made me decide to go to culinary school.

I went to the California Culinary Academy and am classically French trained. But there are always hints of Italian aspects of the food I do. Right now, for the restaurant I am making arancini, which are risotto balls that are deep-fried.

When I’m not working, I don’t cook very often. My boyfriend is a general manager at a restaurant, so we go out to eat a lot. Mostly at home, we make breakfast because that is the only time we are home. Or we make Mexican. I am from Maine, so I wasn’t even exposed to Mexican food until college. I like making carnitas.

At work, when we have a chance, we do some family-style meals with the staff. We make each other something to eat or whatever is leftover. We have specials every day — Sunday night is short-rib night, so if anything is left, all the cooks will stay after and make each other short ribs. And everyone wants to work Monday night because we make burgers. For special occasions at the restaurant, I make my grandmother’s gnocchi, which we cook together during the holidays. Your family’s favorite sauce will work great with gnocchi. We prefer a spicy bolognese.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6

1 large russet potato (about 1 pound)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp nutmeg

HOW TO DO IT

Bake the potato until tender. Then, peel the skin off and cut into chunks, which you can mash with a fork or puree in a food processor.

Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle the flour all over. Add the egg to the well. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and add more or less than a teaspoon, according to taste.

In small amounts, drag the flour into the egg using your fingertips. Continue incorporating until the potato/flour/egg mixture starts to form a dough.

Place the dough on a flat surface, like a cutting board. Form the dough into several small rounds and roll each round into tight logs with a diameter of the size of a nickel. Using a dough cutter or butter knife, cut the logs into one-inch pieces.

Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water. Gnocchi are done when they float to the top of the pan. Drain and serve with sauce of choice. The gnocchi can be served later the same day or frozen and used at a later time, after a few seconds’ reheating in boiling water or hot sauce.

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