Sunday, April 3, 2011
Kӓsespӓtzle (Cheese Egg Noodles)
The first time I skied, I was 30. I had moved to Austria a few weeks prior and my sister-in-law invited us to come along on their annual family ski jag. I had never skied and wanted us to stay home, but part of me also just wanted to go and check it out. And not ski.
Well I did ski some (and it turns out, I love it!), but every day at lunch I snuck away. Lunch was probably my favorite part of the day. I was enjoying trying all these Austrian specialties. My favorite by far was kӓsespӓtzle. Spӓtzle is an egg noodle of sorts. There are many different ways to make the noodles, so they come in all shapes and sizes. But I love my hopper and love the shape it produces. Small, rounded drops of dough fall into the boiling water and cook up very quickly. Most likely, I prefer my spӓtzle shape because that was the shape I'd first had them in. I've never had long, spaghetti-like spӓtzle, so I don't imagine it that way.
Here I am, tired and hungry and my brother in law takes us to Haus Nr. 8 for lunch. "You must have the kӓsespӓtzle", he says. Every time I try something new, I am nervous. But he sells it to me as German macaroni and cheese. Enough said. It came simply prepared, with just a mixed green salad. It was love. I could eat my weight in kӓsespӓtzle. Where had this been all my life?
But now, I'm back in the US of A and there aren't many places you can go and get a plate of kӓsespӓtzle and a krügel of beer. The first time I made spӓtzle here, I bought a pre-made package from the pasta aisle at the store. It was fine, but at over $4 a box, I wasn't willing to keep paying that, especially considering that its really just eggs, flour and milk. All I'd been told was how simple it is to make, just make the dough and push it through a colander with a wooden spoon. I opted to buy the hopper. I am still not so sure about the colander idea. Truthfully, the hopper has turned out to be the most used $15 piece of equipment in my kitchen. Well worth the investment if you're planning on making your own spӓtzle more than once.
Typically, when I make spӓtzle for dinner, I make a full batch. My recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, and to feed my family, I can easily third the recipe. But I make the full batch, freeze the remaining 2/3 of the recipe and save it for kӓsespӓtzle. As a simple side dish, I just take the plain spӓtzle and brown it in some butter in a skillet. There are so many other varieties of spӓtzle I want to try...kirschspӓtzle, apfelspӓtzle to name a few sweet varieties.
This is definitely a comforting dish for a cold day, or apres-ski. We had a cold spell come through Atlanta after being spoiled with summery temps. I jumped at the chance to make this one last time.
For the spӓtzle
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
Combine the flour, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy, then add the milk. Combine with the dry ingredients. It should be very thick.
Over a pot of boiling water, push the batter through the hopper. When the dumplings rise to the top, skim them off the top and place them onto a sheet pan lined with a towel.
For the kӓsespӓtzle:
1/3 batch of spӓtzle
1 cup of grated Swiss cheese (Emmentaler is best)
1/2 onion, sliced and fried in oil until crispy
1 tablespoon minced chives
Turn your oven on to broil. Place the spaetzle in an oven safe skillet. Top with grated cheese and broil until cheese is melted and browned. Top with fried onions and chives. Serve immediately.