After a many-months-long hiatus, this past week we finally got back into the "kitchen," and whipped up a new recipe using some fun new tools at Local Root. Recently, Local Root hired a new store manager, Kathy, and she and I have had a great time thinking up new and different ways to make the store a success. Just one of those many ideas included the reintroduction of "cooking days" as we call them here, when we take a few minutes away from our desks and the customers, and methodically put together a recipe. These cooking days are most often spurred by something a customer has suggested, a new cookbook we've received, or a kitchen tool that may seem unusual or obscure that we'd like to shed some light on.
This week's inspiration came from the latter. When browsing the store with Kathy during her first few days, we were looking carefully at each and every piece of merchandise, she familiarizing herself with all of these new things, and I reminding myself of how vast and impressive the collection really is. We came across a kitchen tool that looked much like a cheese grater, but attached to it was a secondary piece I'd never seen - something almost like a mandolin, but without the blade. Turns out the contraption was a Spaetzle Maker! Having only experienced spaetzle on one occasion in my life, it was something rather foreign to me, and a challenge to us both to make our own, so we gave it a try!
Friedr. Dick 7" Forged Santoku, Eurasia Series with Granton Edge
We picked a recipe from one of our store cookbooks, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. It was a basic spaetzle recipe, simple to assemble, with basic flavors that could really be dressed up in many ways.
We followed the recipe to a T, opting for a combination of chives, rosemary and parsley for our herbs. That part of the recipe is very easy to personalize, and with the addition or subtraction of one or two herbs, you can completely change the flavor profile of the dish.
After the dough was made, we loaded it into the spaetzle maker, and got to work. It's a messy job, and at first it seems as though we weren't doing it right, but low and behold - little dumplings starts to appear!
We quickly learned that more batter you put in the square box ("dough pusher," as we called it), the larger our spaetzle pieces were. Makes sense right - more pressure from above means the dough comes out faster! I suppose this is a mater of preference, but we all agreed that the larger spaetzle dumplings were the best.
We used a Rosle Hook Skimmer to fish out the tiny little dumplings
After all of the spaetzle dough was cooked, we got to work making the sauce. This dish was very simple - spaetzle, onions, mushrooms, chicken stock, herbs. It came together quickly and easily, and in no time at all, we had the beautiful dish below.
Herb-Speckled Spaetzle, served in a Pillivuyt Round Eared Dish (XL)
The recipe came out wonderfully, and we all got to enjoy an early-afternoon snack. Definitely the best kind of day at work! This recipe is a great starting point for someone who's never made spaetzle before, and there are innumerable ways it could be tweaked and changed to give it fun and interesting flavor profiles. If you try it yourself, we'd love to know what you think.
Herb-Speckled Spaetzle from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Ingredients 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (we used black pepper) 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 3 large eggs 3/4 cup whole milk 3 tablespoons minced assorted fresh herbs (like rosemary, chives, parsley and thyme), divided 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (we used baby bella and shitake mushrooms) 1 medium onion, diced 3/4 - 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
Directions Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil while you prepare your dough. Butter a large bowl, and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk, then slowly mix into dry ingredients. Batter will be thick and sticky. Fold in 1/2 of your chopped herbs (1 1/2 tablespoons) until incorporated.
Start with 1/4 of your batter, and press through either a spaetzle maker, coarse grater, strainer or wide ladle into your pot of boiling water. stir to make sure dumplings separate, and let boil for about 2 minutes, until all f the spaetzle is floating. Using a fine zieve or mesh strainer, scoop spaetzle from pot and place into buttered bowl. Repeat with remaining dough until it has all been cooked.
Spaetzle can be made up to 3 hours ahead of time. When ready to proceed, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add your mushrooms first, and saute until they begin to soften and brown at the edges, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, and continue to saute, about 5 minutes more, until onions are translucent and softened.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and then your prepared spaetzle. Saute for about 5-10 minutes, until spaetzle begins to brown. At this point, add 3/4 cup chicken broth, and simmer until the broth is absorbed. If you'd like your spaetzle softer, you can add additional broth (up to 1/4 cup more).
Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of herbs plus salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.