Saturday, October 25, 2008

Posted via Pixelpipe.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Posted via Pixelpipe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to make spätzle (Pfälzisch style)

I'd been meaning to post this for a while, and since someone recently asked Brett if I knew how to make spätzle, I decided to go ahead and write up my grandmother's recipe.

These spatzle are the real thing; they're not like I've ever seen in any restaurant. But I can vouch for their authenticity, as my Oma is a German lady, living in the Rheinpfalz area (southwestern Germany, not far from the French border). She taught me to make spatzle when I was a kid, and I've always loved them.

By the way, since she was born and raised speaking what is called "low German" (or Pfälzisch) we don't pronounce them the way you might think from the spelling; we say something that sounds like "shpet-zya." You can think of low German as a country dialect, sort of the way we think of a strong Southern accent here in the states.

Oma's spatzle are simple and quick to make. The only three ingredients are eggs, flour and salt, and they're cooked in boiling water. You need only one fork, a knife, a mixing bowl, and a pan for the water. I also recommend butter for them once they're cooked, though these days I use something called "Smart Butter." So far I don't feel smarter.

Unfortunately for you, the reader of this recipe, I have been making these for so many years that I just know how much of each to use, and don't use any measuring tools. So I've taken some photos of the process and hope that will explain some of the more vague parts of the recipe.

Start by putting about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup flour, about two teaspoons of salt and two eggs into a mixing bowl. You'll have to adjust the amount of flour to get the right texture, so start on the lower end and add more, a little at a time, while you stir the mixture with a fork.

You're looking for a certain texture here; it should be very thick and doughy. Just mix it up and add flour until it sticks to the fork with determination.

It'll be lumpy, but keep stirring until it's fairly smooth. It doesn't have to be perfect, just of a more or less uniform consistency.

While you've been doing this, you'll want to have put your water on to boil. A medium-sized pan will be fine.

Now you need your knife, and you'll have to do the very important mysterious first step that my Oma insists is crucial: before touching the dough with the knife for the first time, rest it in the boiling water for a few moments.

Yes, it is possible to skip this step, but if you do, various hardships and disasters apparently will befall you. I wouldn't risk it. Besides, you wanted to make real, authentic German spätzle, right?

Ok, then. Now you use the pre-heated knife to scoop out portions of the spätzle dough and drop them into the boiling water. The size I like is about the same size and shape as a healthy garden slug. I hope this doesn't put you off your dinner, but it really is the only thing that works as a comparison.

Lower the spätzle-slug covered knife into the boiling water and hold it there until the dough falls off the knife. Then repeat, using the rest of the dough, one slug-sized glop at a time.

As you work, the earlier spätzles will float to the top of the boiling water. After you finish dropping in the last one, wait a few minutes for all the spätzles to float to the top, then take them off the heat.

Those last few moments are best spent doing a little clean-up. Believe me; you'll thank me for this. It seems that this combination of ingredients can also be used to make a very strong adhesive; take a moment to wash off your fork, your knife, and your bowl. If you wait until later, the residue left will make you (or your friend, partner, or spouse who washes dishes) sad and frustrated.

Ok, dishes clean? Then get out your strainer (I forgot to mention it at the beginning, but if you don't already have one, it's fine to leave the spätzle boiling while you run out and buy one. At this point they are virtually indestructible). Just drain off the water, and drop those little guys into a dish. For the best authentic Pfälzisch dining experience you will want to add a lot of butter.

That's it; I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.