Search results for 'Spätzle'

Savory, With A Side Of Sunshine

22 Mar

Thank god for Latin.

Without this sad dead language, the only class in my entire life I gave up entirely, I’d be lost.

Wine Garden

I tried very hard to read Winnie the Pooh like an ancient Roman, but the look of perplexed amusement on my Professor’s face every morning when it was my turn to read to the class was too much. One morning he actually laughed out loud and asked, “Tell me again which language you spoke before this class?” I sheepishly replied, “German.” At which he nearly fell off his desk laughing and between gasps got out, “You have possibly the worst accent in Latin I’ve ever heard.”

I never went back to class after that. I decided that sleeping until 10am was far more important than being ridiculed by a tiny Englishman speaking a dead language every day for the rest of my freshman year. Sadly I hadn’t learned enough to become truly pretentious, but luckily I had learned enough to be good at parsing the etymology of taxonomic names.

Ah, The Majestic Gowanus

Why should anyone who cares about food care about etymology and taxonomy? Because it can free you to shop in stores where not only do you not know the language, but sometimes you don’t even know the alphabet!

Case in point? Those amazing dried porcini mushrooms.

All the packaging is in Polish, except for their scientific name Boletus edulis and the word borowik, which rang a bell as the mushroom used as the stuffing for uzska. Now, if I hadn’t had at least a little Latin in my life (well, that and wikipedia) I might have written both these recipes telling you to use borowik mushrooms, when I could have told you to use ceps, porcini,king boletes, steinpilz or even crow’s bread mushrooms. Confused yet?

So rather than bowing to one language over another, I can just tell you to look for the little italic script on the dried mushroom packaging that says B. edulis.

Want another example of useful culinary Latin? Fish. There are so many names for fish, and they can sometimes be confusing.

Case in point? Escolar, aka Snake Mackerel , aka Lepidocybium flavobrunneum, which is sometimes passed off as Chilean Sea Bass (another misnomer as they aren’t even bass), aka Patagonian Tooth Fish, aka Dissostichus eleginoides and I believe also Butterfish of which there are three kinds, Alaskan (Anoplopoma fimbria), American (Peprilus triacanthus) and Pacific (Peprilus simillimus), but may actually be a kind of Oil Fish (Ruvettus pretiosus).

See, just a little Latin and a friendly fishmonger can save you too from a night of unbearable, gut twisting intestinal pain.

Anyway, back to the mushrooms.

Opening the package of dried B. edulis is like walking through a thick, ancient, verdant forest after a day of rain. Musky, earthy, vegetal aromas waft through the air as they soak in the hot water. If umami has a smell, it is this.

The scent memory was locked in my brain the whole next day after making the porcini spätzle. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was a woman obsessed. And so somehow I convinced The Boy we needed to eat more mushrooms that very next night, and with pasta (not his favorite thing in the world), but I think the words farro (aka emer wheat, aka Triticum dicoccon) and risotto won him over.

What happened to the risotto, or absorption method of cooking pasta that had the foodblogosphere so in it’s thrall last year? Has everyone forgotten it? I certainly hope not because it’s a lovely and amazing way to impart flavor and a gorgeous texture to a simple pasta dinner.

Arugula, Raddichio, Blood Orange & Dill Salad

For this dish I soaked the mushrooms and then used the liquid as the cooking liquid for the farro curlicues to absorb. The result was intensely mushroomy in a seriously sensual way. The pasta was silky, yet firm and highly perfumed, enveloped in the shadowy, musky, almost feral, aromas of porcini and fresh sage.

I knew the dish was going to be intense so we planned a light, fresh sunny salad to go alongside it. Sharp and bitter greens with blood oranges, dill and a slightly sweet lingonberry/Scandinavian mustard vinaigrette with chopped hazelnuts (aka filberts aka Corylus avellana) on the side. The salad was a breath of sunshine in these depths of winter.

Lingonberry/Mustard Vinagrette

The filberts were also excellent on top of the pasta, lending a distinctive crunch to the dish.

Sometimes all it takes is a nut to tie it all together.

And yes, that is a Jack Daniels glass I use to mix my salad dressings. You mean, you don’t use one too?

Head below the jump for the recipes for Posh Porcini Pasta and Sunshine Salad.

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Porcini + Pickles

19 Mar

Does anyone know if there’s an etymological root shared by porcini mushrooms and the word porcine?

If not, there should be, because they make a handy stand-in for bacon.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

On an impromptu trip into the City this weekend, I picked up the winter issue of Diner Journal, a Williamsburg food mag with writing from one of my favorite bloggers, the ever irreverent and potty mouthed Grocery Guy. It’s a really cool little slice of literary food writing, with winter recipes from two Billyburg institutions, Diner and Marlow & Sons.

I browsed through it on the train home, drooling over all the meaty goodness. Brisket cooked in Chimay. Pork braised in milk. Lamb shanks cooked in white wine. Sigh. Can Meat-Free March be over already?

Porcini Spatzle + Sauerkraut With Pickles

The weird, ball bearing snow we got on Friday night makes it hard to believe winter’s almost over, but there are signs. Croci and daffodils are muscling their ways out of the frozen earth, the robins have returned.

The spring vegetables have not, so larder cooking remains the name of the game.

One of the few meat-free recipes in the Journal is for spätzle. There’s also one for Lentils cooked in red wine I have my eye on. I’m beginning to sense a theme here… These folk really like cooking with booze.

Their spätzle recipe differs a bit from the one I concocted from the memories of my aunt’s Easter-time dumplings in the ratio of egg to milk, so I decided to stick with the one I know. I made the dough a little thicker, like a stiff pancake batter, and used two spoons, as if I was making quenelles, to get the batter to drip into the boiling water. And then, in place of the bacon, I used some reconstituted porcini mushrooms that they sell for scandalously cheap at Polbridge.

Porcini Spatzle + Sauerkraut With Pickles

But man and woman cannot live on spätzle alone (although you could try, it would probably be a pretty good life too, until the scurvy kicked in of course).

The boy suggested making a vegetarian version of chocroute. I blanched. I paled. I gasped. I scoffed. I felt a little dizzy. Chocroute is one of the meatiest of meaty meat dishes. I felt Frenchmen and women all over the globe turning over in their graves at the very idea of taking the sausages and smoked meats and bacon out of the dish.

But then we got home.

I headed for The Czechoslovak Cookbook first. I hoped to find a cabbage or sauerkraut recipe, but alas, nothing piqued my interest. I then turned to Polish Cookery, and boy oh boy, here we hit the jackpot (and I bet you were beginning to wonder where the pickles fit in).

Porcini Spatzle + Sauerkraut With Pickles

Like many good old ethnic cookbooks, this one offers up a “mother” recipe which is followed by “chick” recipes, or variations on a theme if you prefer. To wit; Vegetable recipe 30, Sauerkraut in Wine (Kapusta Kiszona na Winie) is followed by Sauerkraut with Dried Mushrooms (no. 31 Kapusta Kiszona z Grzybami) and Sauerkraut with Pickles (no. 32 Kapusta Kiszona z Ogorkami) which is where I stopped in wonder and glee. Sauerkraut? Pickles? Can we get a hells yeah? I thought so.

The original recipe (no. 30) obviously calls for cooking the kraut in wine, while the pickle variation calls for cooking in stock, but I’m a lot like the Diner Journal folks. I enjoy cooking my food in wine. So, I did, but to get that hearty savoriness one would get from stock, I threw in the porcini soaking liquid. Genius, right? I love it when everything ties up neatly in a pretty culinary package.

Porcini Spatzle

And how was it all? Delicious! The spätzle had much more body than my original batch and were so garlicky and tasty with the silky, earthy mushrooms mixed in. One would think the kraut would be very sour and sharp, what with pickles and wine along for the ride, but it just isn’t so. The browned onions and mushroomy goodness impart a depth to the liquid that seems almost meaty and gets soaked up by the spätzle doubling their deliciousness.

This is hearty woodsman fare.

But if you ever do actually feed this to a lumberjack I’d suggest throwing in some smoked pork loin (actually, I’d suggest this preparation for anyone not having a Meat-Free March)!

Head below the jump for recipes for Sauerkraut With Pickles & Porcini Spätzle.

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From The Back Of My Pantry: Poker Widow Pasta

26 Jan

Editor’s Note: Finally! It’s Friday. Tomorrow we move the rest of the crap out of the old apartment, the new couch will (hopefully) arrive and then on Sunday, the grunt men come in to get the furniture out of Manhattan and moved to the borough of Kings. All of my kitchen stuff has been there since last weekend. We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches this week.

Naturally all I can think about this week is cooking. And so, since there’s nothing really exciting to share except this wonderful recipe (one of my first!), I figured I’d share some of the recipes I’ve been hoarding in anticipation of a big, shiny new kitchen.

Chicken Bouillabaisse: Sher published this recipe right around the time my parents got back from Spain. My mom brought me back a tin of precious saffron and I immediately pinpointed this recipe as the proper way to use it. It’s at the top of my list for possible first weekend meals.

Celery Root Soup With Top Shelf Beet Relish: I had this way back in balmy November at the incredibly awesome Pickle Party and have been dreaming about making it ever since. The creamy comforting soup garnished with the puckeringly perfect garnish would make awesome leftovers for one of those nights where I won’t get home until 9pm because of my stupid job and my new commute.

Madame Hermé’s Spaetzle: I know there’s a lot of Pierre Hermé fans out there. I’ve never been to Paris and I’ve never tried his pastries, although I do think they’re beautiful and I would love to try them. But I don’t sit up dreaming about them. What do I dream about then? His mother’s spätzle. Though it doesn’t differ that much from my Aunt’s, the addition of semolina is truly intriguing. And there’s so many sausage-makers (sausagiers?) in the new ‘hood that would go so well with a steaming bowl of spätzle.

Savory Haddock Korma: I have no idea if this recipe from Ulla is traditionally Icelandic or traditionally Indian or simply traditionally New Yorkian, but it sounds delicious. I usually don’t go in for fish curries, but this one with its combination of creamy dairy, bright citrus and subtle, comforting cardamom sounds so pleasant.

Azerbaian Pilaf with Pomegranate Meatballs: Pomegranates will start disappearing from the groceries soon, and ever since a quick trip to Ikea last weekend, I’ve been craving meatballs. This recipe from Lindy would make a nice, homemade stand-in for their frozen (but delicious!) Swedish variety.

Green Olive Gnocchi With Green Olive Sauce: God I love making gnocchi, and boy do I love olives too, but I only make gnocchi when I’m in a big kitchen. The mess-factor is way too high for a wee bitty space. So I’m really looking forward to delving back into the world of fluffy pasta-dumplings as soon as possible and this is the one I want to try first!

Risotto Ai Pompelmo: Lydia always knocks my socks off with crazy creative recipes for the goodies in her pantry, and this one was a real shock; Grapefruit Risotto? Get out! So awesome! So perfect for all the gorgeous citrus hanging out at the corner bodega! What a way to bring some sunny summer sunshine into these grey winter days. Fab!

Flo Fab’s Wheat And Cornmeal Cheese Rolls: The only thing that could make these sound more appealing is if there was bacon in this recipe to boot. Let’s see; there’s melty cheese, sage and maple syrup, and since they’re made with whole wheat flour, that means they’re healthy too! And now that I’ve overcome my fear of kneading, I can make these. Yay! Thanks Luisa!

And finally, is it possible to write a recipe wish list without including something from the uber recipe blogger Elise? I think not.

Puréed Roasted Parsnips: We love parsnips. We love roasted vegetables. We love purées. And somehow, neither of us ever thought to roast and then purée. Bloody genius. Seriously, cannot wait to try this!

Of course, I also really want to make my mushroom pasta recipe again as well. It really is a winner. So, check out these recipes, let me know if you’ve tried any, and I’ll “see” you all after the weekend!

Poker Widow Pasta. Originally published February 25th, 2006.


Friday night when I found myself a poker widow I decided, rather than going out, I would stay in and make myself something decadent. I had been waiting all week to try some Porcini mushroom pasta I had found and taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s foray into puttanesca I created this luscious, silky, tangy and downright sexy pasta dish.

Poker Widow Pasta

Poker Widow Pasta

prep: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Porcini Mushroom Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced (but not too thin)
  • 1 package Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp Capers
  • 2/3 cup Dry Vermouth
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Chile Flakes to taste
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hard Cheese (of your choosing)

N.B. ~ The timing on this meal is wholly dependent on how long your pasta needs to cook. The pasta I used only needed 4 minutes, but if yours needs longer, please start it earlier on in the sauce prep than noted here.

Place a large pot with salted water (for your pasta) over a flame and bring to a boil.

Place a small, heavy bottomed dutch oven over a very low flame. Add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom about 1/4 inch. When the oil is a little warm, add the garlic and cook slowly, about 5 minutes, to infuse the oil with its flavor and aroma.

Add the mushrooms and mix to coat well with the garlic oil mixture. Turn the heat up a little, to about medium, really cook the mushrooms down. When they have reduced in size, taken on a little color and released their liquid, add capers. Turn the heat up again to about medium-high.

Add the Vermouth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce by about half. Season with salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste. Add the tomatoes and stir.

Poker Widow Pasta

When the tomatoes start liquefying into the sauce, add your pasta to the water. Remember to keep stirring the sauce to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of your pan. When the pasta is done, turn off the flame under the sauce, it will most likely keep bubbling away for a few minutes.

Drain your pasta. Portion into bowls. Top with a nice glug of your very best extra virgin olive oil and your grated hard cheese of choice. Mix it all together and dig in! This is a truly delicious, earthy, sexy meal!


From The Back Of My Pantry: Sausages And Sparrows

20 Jan

Editor’s Note: Greetings all! The big move is underway, and the eating hasn’t been pretty (meaning, there’s no way I’m going to share some of the bizarre food we’ve been eating in an effort to clean up fridge and pantry), so I’ve decided to dig way, waaay into the back of The Granny Cart pantry and resurrect some old, seasonal posts from the early days.

Here, we have my attempt at recreating my Aunt’s amazing spätzle. A take-home container of these delicious German dumplings was hands down my favorite Christmas gift this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sausages And Sparrows. Originally posted March 27, 2006.


My aunt will be so proud. She will also be relieved… I taught myself how to make spätzle yesterday.


My aunt, the daughter of German immigrants, has been making her brand of spätzle for family gatherings for longer than I can remember. In the weeks leading up to, say, Easter, I’ll call my mother, “Are we going to Syracuse? Is Aunt L going to be making spätzle??” over, and over and over, even now that I’m old enough that I really should know better.

Aunt L’s spätzle are different than any other I’ve tried at any German or Austrian restaurant anywhere in the world. Hers are much thicker, closer to a dumpling and less a little sparrow (and no, I don’t mean this kind of sparrow) and more like a gorgeous, fat goose. Also, as a bow to my family’s obsession with garlic, she browns them off in oil and garlic until they’re golden and crispy. To me, they are the picture of culinary perfection. I truly believe I could eat her spätzle every day for the rest of my life.

Sausages & Sauerkraut

For my first attempt, I think my spätzle turned out pretty well. Mine were smaller, but they had the same chewy, toothsome feeling as my aunts. When I make them again (and I will make them again!) I will use fewer eggs, maybe 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks, plus more milk and even a little more flour. Then again, maybe I’ll hold off until Easter, when I’ll badger Aunt L into making hers for me again, you know, as research…


I served my spätzle with kielbasa (we’re a melting pot of Eastern European culinary traditions my family is…) and sauerkraut all braised with caramelized onions and dry vermouth. The kielbasa was much different than what I’m used to. I was inspired to try some local sausage from the East Village institution, Kurowycky Meat Market, which was unfortunate, because well, to be frank (heh), I didn’t like their kovbasa at all. It was nicely spiced and full of large chunks of meat but had a strange, gamey smell/flavor that I just couldn’t get past. I’m a little sad really. I thought maybe, finally, I’d find a more convenient local source for my kielbasa fix, but alas, I’ll have to keep making that trip to Eagle Provisions in Brooklyn. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Recipes for both dishes below the break.

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Pasta, Peas & Chou

5 Apr

Sunday, though nice, was not, for any apparent reason, as perfect as Saturday. The weather was lovely, yes, but, I had an agenda, the boy had an agenda, and so we parted was after sharing an early afternoon bulgogi sandwich.

I headed back to the bookstore to pick up what might possibly be my biggest and heaviest used cookbook purchase ever, The Complete Galloping Gourmet Cookbook. Even though I was laden down like Brighty of the Grand Canyon, it was too nice out to go home, so I bought new pots for my windowsill herb garden, some Sweetart Chickies, Duckies & Bunnies for my co-workers, and then walked and walked a little more.

By mid-day, I was knackered so I headed home just in time to meet the boy. I was thinking it was far too nice out to cook, that we should make sandwiches or go out or something, but somehow, a bee lodged itself in my beau’s bonnet, and this bee was eggs.

There were two leftover in the fridge from my spätzle making adventure and the boy was inspired by them. He wanted an omelette, or a fritatta or maybe even a tortilla for dinner. But after two consecutive days of beef for breakfast, I just couldn’t bear the thought of intentionally clogging my arteries any further, so I decided it was time to put my library to the test.shaker books

I started with The Omelette Book, which, surprisingly, only contains recipes for well, omelettes (which of course, I wasn’t in the mood for). Then I moved onto Diane Seed’s More Great Pasta Dishes, then Peter Rose’s Foods Of The Hudson, all of my many Shaker cookbooks, I even checked out my new find, but finally I settled into our armchair with my new go-to book The Silver Spoon.

While this Bible of Italian cooking has an entire section on egg recipes, what I was most interested in were the ones that weren’t in that section. silver spoon

I wanted something light and I didn’t want to use more than the two eggs I had already. I looked, and I looked. I giggled and I hit on a winner, but I didn’t give it up too early in the search, because it was just too perfect. After teasing with recipes like Eggs in Red Wine and Eggs with Fennel and Mozzarella, I finally revealed my sure bet recipe (because I know the way to the boy’s heart and stomach), Cavolifiore in Salsa D’Uova aka Cauliflower in Egg Sauce.

Just as I had suspected, this was met with a huge smile of pure satisfaction . Throw in my suggestion of adding some frozen peas and serving it mixed with pasta and his suggestion of garnishing with cheese and chili flakes, and I knew we had a surefire hit on our hands.

In retrospect, there were a few things I could have done better. For instance, I could have made sure I had the correct pasta shape on hand (I trust my brain more than my eyes from time to time). I also could have trusted the recipe more. I felt the sauce was going to be too thick to coat everything so I added a few teaspoons of pasta water. This was a mistake, it made it too thin and diluted the flavors. But all mis-steps aside, this was a lovely, simple, soul-satisfying dish that, in the end was the ultimate ending to a wonderful, nearly perfect weekend.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Pasta, Peas & Chou.
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