Spätzle and Kitchen Knives

I promised to write an entry on spätzle (see previous post), so here it is.I managed to flatten my spätzlebrett, which I then took to Dresden last weekend where some of my fellow Fulbrighters and I made Kässpätzle, spätzle baked with cheese and topped with caramelized onions.I also had promised them the recipe for spätzle, which I had forgotten until last night when I was celebrating the purchase of my very own knives with a spätzle dinner.

Buying kitchen knives has been a difficult process and has taken me over a month and a half.It has been so tempting to reach for the 100+ Euro knife sets that were on sale by Zwilling and Henkel and WMF (a German knife and kitchen supply company that makes my mouth drool).I have decided that if I win a million dollars, I would first put aside enough money to put a WMF-outfitted kitchen in my dream home, and then give the rest to charity.I’m not exactly sure what my dream kitchen would look like, but I know it would have every utensil and appliance I would ever need (within reason of course), including – but not limited to: a food processor, a kitchen aid, a stove (preferably with oven!), and a “woosh-woosh thingy” (those blender sticks that are so handy for soups, milkshakes, frozen juice concentrate, and anything else that needs a quick “woosh-wooshing”).And, of course, my kitchen would have the ultimate: a tool whose only purpose is to scrape off dough that is stuck on the counter after kneading it.That, my dear friends, is a priceless tool.No knife can come near its efficiency in scraping dried dough and flour mixtures off of granite or linoleum!

However, I am getting off topic:the knives.It hurt very much to go to Karstadt, Germany’s biggest department store chain, and pass all the beautiful shiny knife sets to go to the hidden “Back Shelf of Shame” and buy the cheap non-brand-name knives.Of course, it’s just not practical to be buying the shiny amazing knife sets because I have no idea when I will stop moving around and be in one place for a long period of time.And it really is silly to be carrying around a knife block that weighs half as much as my baggage allowance on international flights.So, I picked out three rather nice-looking knives: a large chopping knife, a smaller chopping knife, and (I just couldn’t resist) a small serrated knife for tomatoes from WMF’s beginner’s line.

All three proved to be decent knives last night when I got to work peeling, chopping, and cutting mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and more for my dinner.As I sat down to eat dinner, including my first green salad since I got here (I have resisted buying a salad spinner, without which I find it very difficult to make salad – but that’s an entry for another day!) I began to think of all the food I can make now in my Amelie Kitchen.Being able to julienne opens up so many possibilities!

Spätzle

Note: this is a very difficult recipe to understand without having actually seen someone “scrape spätzle.” I am attempting to describe the process here, but I will continue to think of ways to improve this recipe and would welcome your advice as well!

Serves 4

500grams Flour
4 Eggs
½ tsp Salt
Water

Crack eggs into bowl, add a dash of water, flour and salt.Beat violently (yes, violently!) with a wooden spoon.When the dough forms bubbles on its own when you stop beating it is ready.

Bring a full pot of saltwater to the boil.Make the spätzlebrett wet with cold water and place a spoonful of spätzle on top.Dip knife into boiling water and then scrape off the spätzle dough in small, thin pieces into the water.After scraping off all the dough from the board, let the spätzle float at the top and then take out with a sieve and place in a casserole dish or an oven-proof bowl.Continue scraping the rest of the spätzle dough in portions, keeping the finished spätzle in a warm oven.

Serving options:

Kässpätzle: sprinkle cheese (Swiss, cheddar, or any other favorite cheese, preferably a sharper, aged cheese) into the spätzle.Caramelize some onion rings and top the cheese/spätzle with them.Place in 350۫ F oven until cheese is melted and as crispy as you like.This is a quick and yummy option, especially for singles on a tight budget and time-crunch (once you get the hand of making spätzle of course!).

Spätzle are very tasty, and fancier, served with any roast and topped with a gravy made from the roast’s drippings.

Spätzle can also, as in the photograph, be made with pork chops: brown pork chops on both sides in a pan with olive oil.Remove and keep warm in an oven.In the same pan with the drippings, sauté finely-chopped onions for 2-3 minutes, until clear.Add your favorite mushrooms, sliced, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms’ resulting juices have almost cooked off.Add a dash of white wine, and broth or water (optional), about a teaspoon or two of tomato paste, and seasonings to taste.Allow the alcohol to simmer off, then return the pork chops into the sauce (with the juices that have formed from them) and simmer until done (if the chops are thin, which is recommended, this shouldn’t take long).Serve hot with spätzle and a green salad.

3 Responses to “Spätzle and Kitchen Knives”

  1. Hi Kerstin!
    I finally decided to buy some decent kitchen knives a couple of weeks ago. It took me quite a while to make up my mind about which ones to get, so I know exactly what you must have been going through during the last one and a half months ;-) Have you considered buying blade guards for your knives as an alternative to a knife block? In case you don’t know what they are, blade guards are devices that enclose a knife’s blade between plastic covers for protection. They should enable you to store your knives safely in a suitcase, and they are light, thus avoiding the weight problem on flights. For further information and some pictures, check out this article: Knife Covers.
    There is a catch, however – I have been unable to find said blade guards in department stores (they don’t seem to be very popular in Germany), so I ended up buying an inexpensive (empty) knife block from IKEA. You might be more successful though, sometimes I just don’t look in the right places.

  2. Thanks David! As a matter of fact, two of my knives came with very low-fi knife covers (one clear plastic, the other thin cardboard). I love Sur la Table, the store mentioned in the article! I will have to keep an eye out for such knife covers. I would have thought WMF had it…is it possible the store could let me down?? I’m not sure I want to find out! :)

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