October 20, 2016

Oktoberfest

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Oktoberfest may conjure up images of free flowing beer, but there's plenty of German cuisine available at this yearly 2 1/2 week Munich folk festival. One of the dishes, spaetzle, is a specialty of the region.

I wasn't familiar with spaetzle until Simon, the wonderful young man I wrote about in January, asked me to fix it with schnitzel.  I looked in the German cookbook he'd given me and learned that spaetzle is a pasta made from flour, eggs, water and salt.  The resulting dough is too soft to roll out and cut so it's pressed through a spaetzle maker.  The recipe intimidated me for two reasons.  One, I'd never made pasta and two, I didn't have a spaetzle maker.  I was relieved when Simon told me dried spaetzle was sold at the grocery in Germany.  Since we live near several international markets, we decided to go on a spaetzle search.

The market we went to was huge and had products arranged by country. We found several brands of spaetzle and bought the one Simon recognized from Germany.  This solved the problem of making spaetzle. However, what was I supposed to do with the dried spaetzle?


Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle

Simon's grandmother, Oma, told me to cook the spaetzle in a large pot of boiling salted water, drain it and add butter to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Spaetzle can be served with just butter, but it's tastier with a couple of easy additions.

It's common in Germany to stir Emmental cheese into the hot spaetzle until the cheese melts.  That sounded easy enough, but it ended up being the hardest part of the whole recipe!  I bought two different brands of Emmental, but neither one of them tasted anything like the cheese Simon ate in Germany.  My son suggested we try Mozzarella, but it made a sticky mess!  On my fifth attempt, I added some Swiss cheese.  When Simon said the spaetzle tasted almost as good as what he ate in Germany, I knew I'd found the right cheese.


Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle
Spaetzle with cheese

While the butter and cheese are stirred into the spaetzle, the final addition, also common in Germany, goes on top.  Diced onions are cooked in olive oil until brown and sprinkled on the spaetzle.  I've eaten spaetzle with and without onions and I highly recommend adding them.



Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle
Spaetzle with onions served at a Munich
biergarten I visited this summer

A few months after my first attempt at cooking spaetzle, Simon's grandmother showed me how to make homemade spaetzle and gave me a spaetzle maker.  Until I get the courage to make spaetzle from scratch, I'll continue to used dried spaetzle.  And when I do, I'll think about the young man who introduced us to this wonderful dish and look forward to the next time he's sitting around the table with us.


Simon's Spaetzle
4 to 6 Servings

1 (17.6 oz.) pkg. dried spaetzle
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese
1 large onion, diced
olive oil (enough to coat saute pan)

Cook spaetzle according to package directions.  While spaetzle is cooking, cook the onion in olive oil on medium to medium-low heat until brown. Drain spaetzle and put it in a bowl; add butter or margarine and stir until melted.  Add cheese; stir until melted.  Top spaetzle with onion and serve.    


© Margaret's Morsels

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