“Yesterday you said all the recipes are easy” called Deutsch Fraulein. “But I know one that is difficult to master.” Mouse looked at her expectantly and asked, “Made of flour, water and egg? I find that hard to believe!”
“Yes, precisely,” answered Deutsch Fraulein. “Where I come from we eat soft noodles called Spaetzle. They are fantastic with lentils for a cheap and healthy meal. As they are very porous they love to swim in sauce. They soak it up.” She gave Mouse the recipe. Mouse read it and looked very confused. “Yes,” said Deutsch Fraulein “they are a bit messy to make as the batter is very soft and it is best if you have a potato press. It’s even better if you have an experienced person to show you how it’s done.” The difficulty with this recipe is in getting the texture of the batter right. It can’t be too thin or too thick. But when it works, they are delicious.
“There is also salt in it” Mouse pointed out. “Do we need this? You know some of us have be careful with our blood pressure.”
“Yeah” said Deutsch Fraulein. “I would put it in. I personally find them a bit bland otherwise. But isn’t it the same with sugar? When you do so much home cooking, you cut out all the salt that’s in processed food, so this bit little won’t hurt, right?”
“I guess so” said Mouse. She still wasn’t sure whether a difficult recipe should be included, but then, who doesn’t like a challenge? “Apart from lentils, what else can you have with these soft noodles?”
Deutsch Fraulein’s eyes lit up and she explained that Spaetzle can be used as condiment for any dish that would go with pasta, though it’s best if the dish has a thick sauce. For a very cheap and filling meal, fry chopped onions in a good helping of butter and add breadcrumbs. Fry until the bread crumbs are saturated with butter and smell nicely toasted. Pour over the Spaetzle.
Or place a layer of Spaetzle in an oven-proof dish, cover with grated cheese, add another layer of Spaetzle and another layer of cheese. Bake at 2000 C until the cheese has melted.
In the end, Deutsch Fraulein said “I strongly recommend a huge side salad with these meals! Never forget to eat your greens!”
Ingredients (for 2 people)
1 cup of flour, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, scant cup of water.
You also need either a thin wooden cutting board and a long knife or a potato press with medium sized holes or a colander and a spatula.
Pour flour into a bowl. Add the salt. With a wooden spoon stir in the water little by little. Just enough so it feels and looks like a very stodgy porridge. Stir in the egg and then use the wooden spoon to beat the hell out of the batter. Beat it until it comes away easily from the side of the bowl and little air bubbles rise to the surface when you stop beating.
Let the batter rest for half an hour. In the meantime you can prepare the lentils or whatever you want to eat with your Spaetzle.
Prepare a bowl with cold water to spoon the finished Spaetzle into and bring a big pot of water (at least 2 liters) to the boil. The Spaetzle love space.
Now the tricky part starts. If you have no other utensils, use a thin wooden board. Wet it with water and smear the batter on the board. Use a long knife and slice off a piece of batter and push it into the hot water. Continue until all the batter is in the water. The process is much easier and faster if you have a potato press with medium sized holes. Just fill the press with the batter and press into the boiling water. (But make sure you move the press in a circular motion over the pot while pressing to avoid dropping all the batter in the same spot in the pot. If this happens you will end up having one doughy blob instead of noodles). The third option is to fill a colander with the batter, hold it over the pot, and with the spatula force the batter through the holes into the water below. With the last option you will end up with short Spaetzle.
The batter sinks to the bottom of the pot and the noodles are done when they float back to the top. This won’t take long at all. Scoop the finished Spaetzle out of the pot with as slotted spoon and put it into the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier. Then spoon them onto a warm plate and they are done. Make sure you shake the water off well.
If they get too cold you can reheat them in a skillet with a little butter.