Being of Germanic descent on all sides, it's somewhat surprising how little I know about German fare. Oh, I suppose I probably have been more influenced by their food than I know. I'm sure there are plenty of Pennsylvania Dutch (FYI, not really Dutch but Deutsch) touched recipes that I make all the time without knowing it. But overall, I feel like I have been somewhat neglectful of this type of cuisine.
Recently, my husband and I tried out a German restaurant in our new town. It was very good and the spaetzle, little noodle-like dumplings, was exceptional (of course, it might have been the gobs of oil and cheese on it). I started thinking that I could make them very easily at home. And I could! But I highly recommend using a spaetzle maker. While you can supposedly use a colander or simply spoon the batter into the boiling water, I think for the price, this little thing makes itself priceless. Unfortunately, the instructions and recipe both were a little lacking...
The first time I made spaetzle, I made a mess. Then I realized that the spaetzle maker should be mounted on the pot of boiling water before you begin adding the batter (it seems so obvious now). The spaetzle maker has a little container that slides along a track over a perforated tray. Once the water is boiling, I salt it and then pour the batter into the "cup" on the spaetzle maker. As the batter falls through I run the cup slowly back and forth along the track. The dumplings cook very fast and as soon as they float up to the top, you can start thinking about fishing them out. I use a large perforated skimmer spoon. Spaetzle can then be seasoned as you choose. They are just like pasta in that they are a nice, blank slate. I typically season with browned butter, a little Parmesan cheese, and thyme.
Yield: serves 4-6
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
Set a large pot of water on to boil. Beat eggs and milk together. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well incorporated. When water has started to boil, add a good pinch of salt and rest the spaetzle maker on top of the pan. The batter should be thick but still a little "runny," as it needs to be able to fall through the holes on the spaetzle maker.
Fill the little basket up and slowly move the basket back and forth across the slider. Batter should be falling into the water and making little dumplings. When half the batter is used, remove the spaetzle maker and let the dumplings in the water finish cooking. Remove to a bowl using a large skimmer spoon and hold while making the second batch. Flavor spaetzle with your choice of seasonings.