We made sweet potato gnocchi with sage brown butter for dinner tonight. This recipe was adapted from the final issue of Gourmet Magazine last October. This is an example of taking a few really simple ingredients (potatoes, flour, egg, water) and transforming them into something really spectacular. What is better than little morsels of sweet potato dumplings coated in sage butter and dusted in nutty parmesan?
I personally think gnocchi are hard to make. In fact, I think they're my Achilles' heel of cooking. They're a challenge, but making something that challenges you makes you a better cook. If making gnocchi intimidates you, try it. If chopping an onion is something that's out of your comfort zone, try that. If making a 40-ingredient, 28-step dish from Julia Child is something you feel is a challenge (and who wouldn't?), challenge yourself.
Like anything, being a good cook comes from trying new things and pushing your boundaries a little. You don't need shortcuts or cheap tricks to make good food. You need confidence (you are a good cook!) and a few good ingredients. It doesn't have to be hard or scary dishes, just simple things. It's about approaching food - familiar or exotic as it may be - with no fear. No fear cooking. I like that.