As in no thank you.
Last week’s FFwD Mushroom soup success had me sure I’d be able to transform this week’s recipe, Gnocchi a la Parisienne, pâte á choux dumplings baked with béchamel sauce and Gruyère, with ease. But after much internet research on vegan pâte á choux and cashew cream based béchamel sauces, I decided to scrap the diet friendly version and go with the real deal. I should know how to make Gnocchi a la Parisienne before tampering with it. Right? Besides the recipe looked pretty simple and I was already familiar with techniques. Or so I thought.
The first red flag was my pâte á choux dough. It came together a little too fast. “Energetically stir for 2 minutes,” Dorie cheers me on. Uh, Dorie? is this done? It’s only been 30 seconds. “Is it pulling away from the sides, forming a ball and leaving a thin layer of dough on the bottom of the pan? Uh, yeah. Well then it’s done now, isn’t it? Um, Yeah. I guess.
As I let the dough rest an uneasy feeling settles in. I’ve put a crack in the foundation of the recipe. Maybe I should have let it cook a little longer. Did I have the heat up too high? Chill lady, it will be fine, besides, you’re only having a bite. You’ve got an awesome bowl of rice and beans to eat. *Sigh* Yay, rice and beans.
If the pâte á choux dough was merely a crack, then the béchamel sauce was flood, allowing doubt to run through the door like a looter and take my culinary confidence as through it were a 56″ plasma flat screen TV.
It started with the roux. 6 tablespoons flour to 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter? It didn’t sound right, it didn’t look right, and when I added the milk to the pot, I got a matzo ball of roux bobbing around in pool warm milk. Uh oh.
The thread holding my sanity, already unraveling from sleep deprivation, hormones, work, the never-ending pile of dishes and laundry, the hair on the bathroom floor that never gets swiftered, the car with the heater that doesn’t work reaches it’s breaking point. SNAP. My lip begins to quiver and a white-hot panic takes over. Farrrrrrk! I went to culinary school. I should know how to make an effing bechamel sauce, Arggggggggggggggg.
And here is where I tell you that I take a step back, close my eyes and take a deep breath. Exhaling I look over at my baby, who is smiling at me from her pack and play, my man gives me a hug and tells me how proud of me he is and I save the dish. We all sit down to eat in our kitchen instead of in front of the TV, Ella says her first word- it’s mom-, and the man gets down on one knee. Yes, of course the answer is yes!!
Except this isn’t a Reese Witherspoon movie.
Instead I whisk like mad to break up the lumps, and throw the whole lot into the strainer, eventually discarding a good 1/4 cup of lumps. Stupid sauce. After hastily assembling the dish- it is a forgiving assembly- I slide it in to the oven and plop myself on the couch with an ample serving vegan mac and cheese (my diet friendly dinner- screw the rice and beans). My mood begins to improve.
If looks were everything, the dish killed. But we all know better and after my first bite of hot, steamy dough soaked in a cloying and flavorless cream sauce I was done. The man, on the other hand, adored it. Proof that you can still win, even when you feel like you didn’t.
For the sake of my sanity I’ll be staying away from roux based sauces for a while.