- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let the holiday season taper to a cozy finale with a low-key New Year’s Eve dinner at home.

Rent a few movies, pop open a bottle of your favorite brut champagne, and serve a simple menu of soup, salad and the following delightful tiny gnocchi.

These scrumptious little dumplings are made in several steps, most of which can be done a day or two ahead. In keeping with the small-bite theme, be sure to have on hand a box of exquisite chocolates to pass around at midnight.

These miniature potato dumplings with sage and chives are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, with an intense flavor in every little mouthful. It’s hard to stop eating them.

They make a magnificent, if diminutive, appetizer and also go very well alongside almost any soup.

You can use any kind of potato for these. If you choose a baking variety, such as a russet, the dumplings will come out fluffier, with a lighter potato flavor.

Boiling varieties, such as Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn, will yield denser dumplings with a richer potato flavor.

Much of this recipe can be done well in advance. However, the dumplings taste best if served as soon as possible after they are sauteed.

Miniature potato dumplings with sage and chives

1 pound potatoes

Water

1 cups unbleached white flour (plus a little extra)

1 teaspoon salt (plus a little extra to sprinkle on later)

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

A little melted butter for sauteing

Dried sage

Minced fresh or freeze-dried chives

Boil the potatoes in plenty of water until soft. Drain, and set aside to cool.

When they are cool enough to handle comfortably, peel the potatoes with a sharp paring knife, and “rice” them in a ricer or the grating attachment of a food processor. (You should have about 3 cups cooked, riced potatoes.) Transfer to a medium-size bowl.

Add the flour and 1 teaspoon salt to the potatoes. Mix first with a spoon and then with your hand to make a dough. Add the milk a little at a time, as needed, so the dough becomes soft and workable. You want it pliable but not sticky.

Put a large pot of salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean, dry surface, turn out the dough and push it together with your hands, but don’t otherwise knead.

Divide the dough in two and roll each half until it is about inch thick. Use a plain dinner knife to cut 1-inch squares (or diamonds, triangles, rhomboids or whatever).

When the water boils, turn it down to a simmer and add as many pieces of dough as will fit without crowding. They will soon rise to the surface of the simmering water. Cook them for 10 minutes, then scoop them out with a strainer or a slotted spoon and put them on a plate.

Continue with another batch until all the dumplings are poached. At this point, the dumplings can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Heat a large nonstick skillet and brush the entire bottom surface with melted butter. When the pan is really hot, add as many dumplings as will comfortably fit in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Keeping the heat at medium, saute the dumplings on this side for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sprinkle the dumplings with the sage and chives, and turn them over. Saute another 8 to 10 minutes on the second side, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve as soon as possible. (If you have to saute the dumplings in more than one batch, keep the finished ones warm in a 200 F oven.) Makes 55 to 60 bite-size treasures.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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