2 egg yolks
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour
Combine the goat cheese, yolks, cheese and salt in a stainless steel bowl. Mix well with your hands. Push the mixture into the bottom of the bowl and indent with finger tips. Sprinkle 1/2 a cup of the flour over the dough and knead the mixture with quarter turns. Continue kneading for several minutes, then test a small amount by dropping a small gnocchi into boiling water. If the gnocchi stays intact (does not melt) then do not add any more flour. If it is falling apart repeat the flour step again. When the dough is complete, then either roll the dough into 1" diameter ropes and cut them every 1" or so, or make each dumpling by hand using 2 oz. of dough and rolling it from a ball into a tube then tapping each edge flat to form a cylinder shaped dumpling.
For the Cream Sauce to go with the gnocchi:
4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 shallots, thinly sliced
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Parsley, Tarragon or Basil Stems, chopped
2 Lemons, zested and juiced
2 cups white wine
4 qts, heavy cream
In the medium saucepan, slowly cook the onions, shallots, garlic, parsley and bay leaves with a little oil for several minutes until soft but with very little color. Add the lemon zest and juice. Add the white wine and cook slowly over medium heat until almost dry. Add the cream and cook over medium heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Strain through the chinois and adjust the seasoning with salt and add fresh cracked black pepper.
FOODIE NOTE: This recipe was provided to me by Chef/Owner Ted Habiger of Room 39. The story behind this started about 3 months ago, while I was attending a Share our Strength dinner at The American restaurant, and Ted was there serving this very same goat cheese gnocchi with this cream sauce. I was intrigued with his dish not only because the flavor was amazing, but the texture of the gnocchi was right too. You would not believe the number of people I meet who claim to love gnoochi and when they share with me what they are eating it is a heavy, gummy dumpling and not the light, soft and pillow-like clouds that should be the correct texture of gnocchi.
I also happen to make a mean potato gnocchi, so I was curious how Chef Ted managed to get the texture right using goat cheese. When I got to chatting with him about it, is when he offered to teach me and the lady I met that night at the event, Amanda Frederickson, how to make it along with a tasting menu for a specific dollar donation to Share Our Strength. It was on like Donkey Kong, as we whipped out our checkbooks and went halvsies.
He made good on his promise and we showed up to his restaurant on 39th street right at 5 pm, as his staff was sitting down to a family meal before the dinner shift started. Ted was charming, interesting and entertaining to talk to as he stepped us through exactly how to make the goat cheese gnocchi while at the same time answering the any number of questions we peppered him with concerning his professional career. He even lent us both Chef's whites to wear. I could hardly contain my excitement, as I sat on the benches outside of his kitchen and changed from my heeled open-toed sandals into my heavy black Shoes for Crews. I'm no rookie, man. I was there to cook.
The secret to the gnocchi, we soon found out, was to get as much water as you can out of the goat cheese and then use the smallest amount of flour you need to hold it all together. Chef Ted buys his goat cheese from a local farmer, and he said this recipe was born out of having too much goat cheese on hand one night and needing to find the right dish to feature this delicious farm fresh cheese. It has turned out to be a very popular dish at Room 39.
The funny part about this experience was the fact that we spent about an hour or so in the kitchen with Ted learning and making this recipe with him, but we never actually ate it while we were there in the restaurant. It was a simple oversight, but it made us both laugh when we realized at the end of our night at Room 39 we had no idea what the goat cheese gnocchi we spent an hour slaving over even tasted like. I was curious as to whether our gnocchi would pass Ted's taste test to see if he would deem it good enough to sell at dinner that night. He assured me it was, and he would. How thrilling!
When we were finished, we went back out to sit down in the restaurant for our 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings, which was also part of the package. When Room 39 first opened it was only doing lunch, and then as the demand increased dinner was added. However, Room 39's dinner business is still slower than any other daypart he serves, including breakfast which he recently added.
Chef Ted sees his place on 39th street as a neighborhood bistro, and when you eat there, you do have a sense that almost everyone who walks through the door as been in the cozy dining room many, many times before. It feels casual and familiar and a great place to land for a drink and a bite or a full meal. I have had the benefit of eating at Room 39's location on 39th street for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night . . .and I am amazed at the chameleon like atmosphere the restaurant takes on during different parts of the day.
For breakfast, with the first rays of sun coming though the front window, the entire restaurant is vibrant with the yellow and red's coloring the restaurant walls shining like the morning sun. The place smells like excellent coffee, eggs and bacon. You hear people chatting over breakfast discussing current events and you hear the rustling sound of newspapers being read around you. It is an easy and wonderful way to start your day. Very European.
At lunch, the pace picks up considerably as the light in the restaurant has mellowed into a mild wash of even light. The place is packed and busy. People are talking loudly and laughing, and the place takes on a bustling lunch time bistro atmosphere. Service is precise and efficient.
Then come dinner time, the pace slows considerably. The lights are brought down as the sun is also setting and the restaurant glows with warm spotlights and candles on the table. Conversations are leisurely and spoken in more hushed tones. This is an intimate dining experience without being one bit stuffy.
Late night, there is a dark shadow over the entire restaurant with candles carrying most of the sexy brassiere bar atmosphere into the night-cap part of the night. It is a bit louder now, with alcohol plying everyone into a social mood, and the pomme frites that come from the kitchen are the perfect late night booze sponge before it is time to go home.
Although I have enjoyed eating many meals at different times at Room 39, I can assure you after enjoying a our 5 course tasting menu for dinner, I cannot understand why dinner would be slow. I think dinner might just be undiscovered. Every course of our meal was plated simply but beautifully and everything was perfectly cooked. I will also say the wines he paired with each course were spot on and the perfect accompaniment to the food. Which is something that so many restaurants miss completely in an effort to feature a wine they want to sell over how well it compliments the food. It was an absolutely fantastic experience, with knowledgeable and well-trained servers and fancy but not pretentious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
In fact, I was just thinking the other day that Room 39 was the first restaurant I remember dining at where the words "local ingredients" were listed on the menu. This restaurant was the first in Kansas City that I remember pushing the local agenda on it's menu . . .before the rest of the culinary scene in KC was talking about it. (They may have been practicing it, but they were not talking to the guests about it until fairly recently.)
I have placed some wonderful photos in my iPhoto web gallery for you to enjoy. Check out the cooking class and the 5 course dinner and make a point to go to Room 39 for dinner. You will be surprised in the best way possible, and discover the best undiscovered dinner restaurant in KC.
As a small side note, I did decide to make this Goat Cheese Gnocchi for "my mothers" for Mother's Day. But where could a Foodie buy 6 lbs. (I planned to make extra and freeze it.) of fresh goat cheese? From, the Goatsbeard Farm in Harrisburg, MO. Located approximately 2.5 hours from KC east on I-70 toward St. Louis. For $8 a pound for fresh goat cheese that had been made the night before I arrived with my cooler in hand to pick it up. I spent more in gas getting out to their lovely little farm than I did on the goat cheese itself. But the flavor of that goat cheese . . .I obviously never knew what fresh goat cheese tasted like.
I can assure you it beats the pants off of anything you have tasted in the grocery store. Gone is the musky "goat" smell or flavor, replaced by the sweetest, lightest and creamiest tasting cheese you have ever had the pleasure of putting on your tongue. When one of my containers began "losing" a small amount of goat cheese every night, I discovered that my family had been sneaking spoonfuls of it and then drizzling it with local honey and pecans as a sweet treat after dinner every night. I don't blame them, it was that good.