Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dark Days #18: Spätzle

Do you remember when I wrote that I had enough meal ideas running around my head to get us through our Dark Days committment? I should have listed my ideas then so I'd have some proof of this, but I swear to goodness, I've known that spätzle was going to be one of my DDC meals from the start. Just because at least one of my favorite food bloggers decided to write about it recently had nothing to do with my cooking these this week!!

I used the recipe given to me by the wife of a friend. She's from Ulm (I'm pretty sure), in the Southern part of Germany. She made this for dinner one time while I was staying with them, and I liked it so much I made her write down the recipe for me that same night.

I love foods that bring back such happy memories!

That first time, she served them topped them with a chicken / mushroom / brocolli gravy type sauce, which was incredibly delicious too (yes, I also got that recipe), but not something I could keep local this week for dark days. Instead, I opted to make my version with some variations on the theme.

I started with spinach in my spätzle. Yus, IN. From the recipes I've found, this is not a traditional way of preparing spätzle. In my looking around though, I found a YouTube video where someone added some chopped herbs to her eggs before adding them to the flour. At least I assume that's what she did. It was all in German so I didn't understand any of it. But the visual cues let me to believe that's what she did. Anyway, it gave me the idea to put spinach in.

Then I went to see what was left in our freezer, and I found some ground beef.

Then I remembered the sauerkraut.

Then I had my meal.

Here's a litte photo essay of how I did it:

First I qickly beat up a fresh batch of butter.
Then I used my immersion blender to combine about a quarter pound of fresh spinach leaves with
4 eggs and 250ml tap water (yes, my recipe has metric units - straight from Alemania, remember?!).
 I combined that slurry with 1 cup of semolina, 2 cups of whole grain AP flour,
1 cup of white bread flour and a scant 2 tsp of table salt.
 Then I mixed (by hand) it until the dough was fairly stiff and quite sticky.
 Using my special handy-dandy spätzle making thing-a-ma-bobby,
I dropped little pieces of the dough into boiling water
and let them cook for about a minute (until they floated) before removing them with
a slotted spoon to a large bowl and then started the process over again with another batch.
 Then I moved to the topping. I browned about a pound of ground beef seasoned
with salt and pepper, drained off the fat and put the meat aside in a bowl.
 In the same pan I put some of the butter, and few generous handfulls of sauerkraut and let them toast up for a few minutes before adding back in several large spoonfulls of the spätzle to let it brown up also.
In the last few minutes of cooking I tossed back in the ground beef and some of this cheese that I'd cut into cubes. This essentially made the consistency of the final dish somewhere between a goulash and a casserole.

Somewhere close to perfect.

So good that by the time we sat down to eat it, I never did take another picture before we inhaled our bowlfulls! I served it with a side bowl of homemade applesauce, and the whole thing made for the ideal meal for the cold spring night we were having.

How local was I? / What did I learn?
  • 50 mile radius local foods included: cream for the butter (Hillcrest farms, Moravia), spinach (Stick and Stone Farm from our Saturday Market), eggs (backyard), whole grain flour (CPO/FGF), beef (organic, from the Sheffler Farm), cabbage in the 'kraut (Farmer's Market), cheese (Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese from the Farmer's Market), and apples (from my Dad's trees).
  • Non-local or foods of unknown sources included: salt, pepper, grapes in the 'kraut, semolina, bread flour (supposedly semi-local), and sugar and cinnamon in the applesauce.
  • I'm not sure if it was my whole grain flour or if it was the addition of the spinach, but I ended up needing to add more water than the recipe originally called for to make the dough the right consistency. Either way, it seemed to turn out OK and the little noodles were just the right texture after cooking.
  • Turns out that you couldn't taste the spinach in the noodles, but since it ended up getting at least a little bit of veges into my little guy (who loved them, by the way), it was worth the effort. It was still fun to have the green color, and anything that little guy eats, especially those that can be considered "vegetables", I consider a success in the kitchen these days!
  • Fried sauerkraut is good stuff.
  • Spätzle is a great dish - quick and easy to make and this recipe gave us enough for a meal for two, plus plenty of leftovers which I've found are great for freezing and using later in soups, topping a salad or in casseroles.
    • ONE IMPORTANT NOTE:  key to sanity in the kitchen on the night you make spätzle is to clean up anything that's come in contact with the dough right away. Especially the spätzle maker (or colander, or cutting board, or potato ricer or whatever you used to make the strands of dough). Once this stuff hardens it's a beast to clean up.
    • An added bonus to the spinach  the dough is that it made it easier to see where the dough was for said cleanup!

So that's all for week 18! Technically, I think I only need to do one more DDC meal to get me to my mid-April finish line, but there's this part of me that just want's to make it a nice round 20 for the challenge. Our spring Farmer's Market started again this past weekend, so inspiration is near!

I hope to get up a post about the end of the maple season some time this week, but in the mean time, here are a  few pictures from this past weekend while my boss and good friend Maria came to visit from CA. We are so glad she came and finally got to meet our little guy!

1 comment:

  1. This spatzle looks lovely! I made regular (non-spinach) spatzle a couple of years ago and it was such a pain without a spatzle-maker that I haven't made it since! But man, this looks like a good use of one of my last few jars of kraut. :)


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