Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge #6: My Noodle Hands!

Like some of the recent Daring Cook's challenges, I was thankful for this month's challenge in that the topic was flexible! Yay for freedom! haha what I mean is that our host Steph from simply assigned us the task of making homemade pasta without the use of motorized equipment and to prepare the appropriate sauce to accompany the pasta, which gave me a lot of liberty to choose something that would fit my schedule, my skill level, and just my own personal desires, which was really nice, just like the potato salad challenge last month and the edible containers challenge a while back.

So what did I pick with all the choices that were available to me? Well I've tried making fettuccine before and that didn't turn out too well though I'm sure if I put enough time into it I could do it right, I've also made some really good ravioli at school, but they have a handy dandy crank pasta machine that made it a bit easier and it was still too time-consuming for me, then there's gnocchi which I had a great time making in this post, but I certainly didn't want to make the same thing twice! So with these three popular picks knocked out I was lucky that Steph provided us with a great option that I was very excited to try: Spaetzle!

We made Spaetzle in school a while back, but I wasn't in the group that got to make it and I was pretty bummer. It always seemed like one of those things that would be tricky for some reason so you can imagine my delight and surprise when I did some searching around and found that most of the recipes were actually really quick and simple - woot! The recipe I ended-up using is from Tyler Florence, I'm not a huge fan or anything, but he's okay and I've liked all of the recipes of his I've ever tried and this one looked good! The main change I made was using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose because I'm a whole wheat pasta kindof girl, but that's an easy switch to make.

All in all, it probably took me like 30 min start to finish to make this recipe and I even had a phone call in the middle and it was my first time so with a little more practice I think this would be a great side or main dish for anybody to whip up that is impressive and fun and can be made as wholesome or as indulgent as you want if you choose to serve it with fish and spinach like I like or with cheese and butter and breadcrumbs...which I also like :)

However you choose to serve it, I definitely recommend this recipe because of how super easy and fun it was for me to make and there really weren't any special tools needed like most people associate with pasta-making. Anyways, here's my rather short slide show since this recipe is so quick with only a few steps, enjoy:

Whole Wheat Spaetzle
Adapted from Tyler Florence

§  1 cup whole wheat flour (can also use all-purpose flour)
§  1 teaspoon salt
§  1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
§  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
§  2 large eggs
§  1/4 cup milk
§  3 tablespoons unsalted butter
§  2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or chives

1.       In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-milk mixture. Use a spoon or your hands to mix and combine well; the dough should be smooth and thick. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
2.      Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to a simmer. To form the spaetzle, hold a large holed colander, steamer, slotted hotel pan, or slotted spoon over the simmering water and push the dough through the holes with a spatula or spoon. Do this in batches so you don't overcrowd the pot. Cook for until the spaetzle floats to the surface, stirring gently to prevent sticking if necessary. Dump the spaetzle into a colander and give it a quick rinse with cool water.
3.      Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the spaetzle; tossing to coat. Cook the spaetzle for a few minutes to give the noodles some color, and then sprinkle with the chopped parsley or chives and season with salt and pepper before serving. Good topped with toasted bread crumbs, grated cheese, and/or fried onions, or roasted meat, vegetables, and gravy, but try out whatever you want, be creative!

Serves about 4 medium servings or 2 large servings

The dough comes together real quick for spaetzle
and doesn't require any needing, just a 10-15 min
rest and you are good to go! I used the minimum
amount of water and it worked fine, but you may
need to mess with it some depending on what
type of flour you use.

Ready to go with my lovely new pans (love them!)
aren't they pretty?

Finally getting to use some of the parsley that
my sister has grown for me in her garden!
Isn't that sweet of her? :)

I used a colander to push my dough through
since I figured it'd be a little easier to clean
up, but a steamer would also be great I think
and Tyler Florence gave the option of a slotted
spoon, but I think that should be a last resort!
At school we used a slotted hotel pan which
would be great if you have one and want to
make a huge batch! Another recipe I saw
for "authentic spaetzle" that also recommended
using a potato ricer. I don't have one so I couldn't
try that out, but if anybody does, tell me
how it goes please! :) Oh! and if you actually
HAVE a fancypants spaetzle press, feel free
 to use that...correction, you'd BETTER
use that you silly goose, that's what it's for!

The recipe also said to cook the noodles for 3-4
minutes, but mine floated to the top after about
30 seconds so I was just winging it, pushing through
a bunch of noodles, then scooping out a batch,
and not really timing anything and it all
seemed to come out just fine whether I waited
to take them out or not.

Pushing the dough through the holes brought back
fun memories of those play-doh head guys
where you push the play-doh through their
heads to make hair and beards. Remember those?
aaah fun stuff!

I didn't seem to have much of a problem of my
noodles clumping, which was nice, even after I
drained them, I just rinsed them and they were fine!

For only 1 cup of flour you end up with quite a nice
amount of spaetle!

I used about 1 Tbsp of butter for each batch of
spaetzle I cooked-up for a little richness, but
not a whole lot, if you have nonstick pans you
should be able to get away with less if you want
or you can definitely add more for extra buttery
flavor, but a buttery sauce might by nicer so
that the noodles don't just absorb it all.

I liked my spaetzle slightly browned and crispy,
but if you want yours softer or crunchier, just
adjust the time to your liking - practice batches
might be a good idea!

I guess I didn't really end up making an accompaniment
sauce to my pasta as I just topped it with more chopped
parsley and a few grates of parmesan-reggiano, but oh well,
that will have to work I guess :p The cheese may not have
been an authentic addition, but it did taste pretty yummy.
If you have any better ideas I'd love to hear them!
Go make some pasta! :)