My friends R and S, of the Night of Two Souffles and the 2016 Ottolenghi Dinner, and I had been kicking around ideas for another themed feast for a while now. S mentioned she'd been wanting to make a feta cheesecake from Honey & Co. and I said, half jokingly, well, we could do an entire meal around cheese.
And then that's what we had to do.
I'd been wanting to try making gnocchi for a long time. I recalled a Cook's Illustrated ricotta gnocchi (or in Italian, gnudi) recipe that sounded fun and cheesy. Like the insides of ravioli, without the outsides. Or, "nude" ravioli.
I made the dough, and we did the cutting and cooking together. It was sticky, and I can't say they were terribly pretty. And in another strategic error, we were pretty hungry, so I think overly enthused about dumping a whole lot in the pot at once rather than a few at a time. So while the batch you see cooking here turned out great, many of the ones after this ended up a bit clumpy.
Still, though, with a brown butter, shallot, herb sauce, it's hard to find any nits to pick.
I started with the gnocchi because it was the main event, but for an appetizer we made a very cheesy stuffed mushroom recipe -- melty taleggio, Parmesean, etc., from Ottolenghi's Plenty. I think I went too easy on the taleggio -- the picture in the cookbook is definitely way more cheesed over than ours turned out. Lesson learned. Also, the recipe didn't call for scraping out the portobello, just piling the filling on top of them. I think it would be better with some scraping out. So I'll try that next time.
It must be said though that the stuffing was amazing. I was skeptical reading the recipe, along the lines of "you want HOW MUCH sun dried tomato in there???" But it was rich and flavorful and the leftovers made some tremendous scrambled eggs the next day. Definitely the kind of thing I could see just making and using kind of like a condiment. I feel like it would improve everything it touches.
There was also a very nice, simple goat cheese salad, which I didn't take a picture of because even in these photo-happy food memorializing times, sometimes I just forget. And a small cheese plate to start.
And finally the cheesecake. It was beautiful and utterly light and divine. I quibble just a little bit with calling it "cheesecake," I think it was more of a mousse. But whatever one calls it, it was definitely the high point of a very cheesy evening.