AmiExpat has been challenging other bloggers to a weekly session of German cooking from recipes she has translated herself out of an old cookbook. This week the recipe of choice was Kaesespaetzle so we had to get on board for it. We are big Spaetzle junkies and have been making it since living in Boston. But, we hadn't really mastered the art of adding cheese to the whole mix, so this was a great thing for us to try!
So, a couple of nights ago we got to work. Well, who am I kidding? Damon got to work. I only grated cheese and a couple of other small steps and spent most of the time in front of the computer fixing a big fat mistake I found in one of my final tables for my thesis. Thrilling!
Here is the recipe. First, the dough. Pretty much the same as in past recipes we used, but this recipe needed more water! So, he added more until the consistency looked right. I don't know if the recipe is always short on water or if it's just the dry winter weather and it could work in the summer. I guess you just have to play with it. The consistency you want in Spaetzle dough is such that it would not run right through the holes of a Spaetzle maker (think of holes the size of the large side of a grater), but would start to push through the holes slightly just from gravity. (So, it also shouldn't be so dry it just sits in a ball on top.)
Next, cheese grating and onion frying. I went with the small side of the grater. During all this the water was already on the stove heating up.
Then, the making of the Spaetzle. We have a Spaetzle maker since we make it so often. I wish I'd gotten a picture of it myself, but here's one from the intarwebs. It's not cheap but it makes this job very easy compared to cutting by hand (did that at Dad's house once!). You just set the dough (in portions of course, not all at once) on top and push it through the holes with the plastic thing directly into the water. In Boston, we used a food mill with big holes for this process which works about as well.
It floats quickly after being put in the water - and when it floats, it's cooked! So, we skimmed them off, layered them with cheese and pepper, and kept them warm in the oven while making the next batch. After all this, we just threw on the onions and more cheese and stuck it in the oven. After 5 minutes it was ready, and dressed up with a little more cheese.
I thought it was really good. The flavors mixed very well. I think we would crisp up the onions a little more next time (either in the frying step or the oven step). I don't like Emmentaler cheese that much, but it does seem to be the standard for Kaesespaetzle, so I'm not sure if I'd change it. Also, AmiExpat mentioned hers were too heavy. I'm not sure if ours were or not - they were a bit heavy, but not more so than our usual recipes, and this is how we like them!! If they are too fluffy they seem insubstantial and not quite as flavorful.
I think the Spaetzle we (or Damon, heh) make at home - including this recipe - is my favorite I've had, with one exception. I had something amazing called hazelnut Spaetzle at the Dorfschaenke in Neuenheim. If anyone knows how to make that, clue me in!