1 cup + 2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups plain flour
2 tbsp choppped chives
2 tbsp chopped basil or parsley (See Notes)
1/2 cup fine grated mild cheddar or mozzarella (See Notes)
3 or 4 eggs (See Method)
Put the water, butter, and salt into a good saucepan (NOT non-stick, you will be beating the dough in this) and bring to a boil, stirring. Tip in all the flour and begin to mix and beat with a wooden spoon, keep going until you have a dough ball that pulls away from the sides, reducing heat as required to prevent flour burning.
Once you have the dough ball and have kept mixing it for a minute or two over low heat, remove from heat and mix in the dry ingredients and the cheese, making sure they are all beaten well together. Now add one egg at a time, beating until each egg is absorbed into the dough before adding the next. When you get to three eggs it's decision time. If the dough feels too hard, add the fourth egg.
The change in the dough as it incorporates the egg is quite abrupt and sudden. You must make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next, The ghost of Escoffier himself will haunt you if you don't do this right.
Let the dough cool for 15 - 25 minutes, meanwhile prepare a pot of salted water, bringing it to a slow simmer. When the dough's ready, put it in a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and begin piping the dough straight into the water, cutting into 1cm - 2cm sections with a sharp knife as it extrudes, and letting the pieces fall into the water. Work fast, and as soon as the first few pieces start to float to the surface, stop making more gnocchi and let the batch poach for a further three to five minutes, then lift out with a strainer or similar and lay on paper towel to dry off.
Meanwhile, make the next batch, and while its poaching, take the last batch and lay them on a tray covered with oiled greaseproof paper. When all the batches are done, let the tray rest until the gnocchi are all cool and dry to touch. At this stage you can freeze them on the tray if you like, then bag up the frozen gnocchi for storage, or proceed to the frying stage.
Place 100g - 300g butter in a good frypan (depends how many gnocchi, size of frypan, etc - aim for enough butter to 1/2 cover gnocchi when the pan is full but not crowded) and add dry gnocchi until the pan is full but not crowded. Fry, stirring often, until the gnocchi are golden brown outside. Lift out with a slotted spoon or similar and allow to drain, preferably on paper towel.
These can be used in a number of ways - add grated cheese while still in the pan for a delicious stand-alone course, or place in a baking tray and top with cheese and fried finely shredded bacon and bake until cheese melts, or drizzle sour cream and chives over and serve, use them like dumplings in stews etc
These gnocchi aren't like the gnocchi con patate, they are a bit lighter and fluffier on the inside, and they are versatile. If you'd like to make them more Parisian use the parsley and a relatively mild cheese, if you're after a more robust Italian flavour use a good mozzarella and basil and oregano in addition to the chives. Fresh chives preferred, but I've made them with dried herbs and they taste good enough for my meals - I'm not a food critic, and near enough is good enough for me...