Tag Archives: pasta

Family Spätzle

Spätzle, with butter and bread crumbs

I carefully reviewed the instructions…

“…stir until fairly smooth – consistency similar to puppy poop…”

Puppy poop? Sadly, I tried to envision what that could mean, having never closely examined it before. I asked J if puppy poop was like how people refer to baby poop.

This was going to be an interesting recipe.

I grew up eating spätzle, prepared by my Oma and Opa and by my dad. I never really thought about it, I knew it was a German dish and just accepted that it was what it was. It wasn’t until I started thinking about recipes that I thought to look up spätzle, and I found that there are many regional variations on the dish. The way my family makes it seems to be the less popular version, but it always reminds me of my childhood.

Every time I’ve gotten spätzle at a restaurant, it looked very different to the version I was used to. It was more of a squiggly chubby noodle shape, instead of the near-dumpling shape I always enjoyed. This page on the German Food Guide offers some insight to the dish, some of the different ways people shape it, some different recipes, and other neat facts about how it’s made. There’s even a way to make it with beer! (I might need to try that next)

We usually had it topped with a simple butter and breadcrumb sauce, but my dad would sometimes experiment with other kinds of sauces or other ingredients in the batter. I vaguely remember having carrot spätzle at least once…

Spätzle batter
Spätzle batter - checking consistency

Back to the puppy poop (just when you got it out of your head)… I wanted to post a family recipe, rather than finding inspiration on other sites or in cookbooks. I emailed my dad for the recipe, knowing that he didn’t have it written down. He wrote it the way he thinks, and as I read it I could picture him mixing together the ingredients the way he’s done since I was a kid. And I laughed out loud at the comparison of the batter consistency to puppy poop.

It was perfect.

Spätzle, inside
This style of Spätzle can be pretty dense inside, almost like a dumpling.

Recipe after the jump!

I may have ruined the effect by putting some structure to it, but I thought it might be easier to follow with some measurements and instructions.

Continue reading Family Spätzle

Welcoming 2011 with Rapini and Sausage Pasta

Rapini Sausage Pasta with Lobster Tail
Rapini Sausage Pasta with Lobster Tail

Celebrating the start of a new year can be a cathartic experience. We feel as though some things can be left behind, along with the change in digits. The world starts over, and with that – for us in Canada – there is almost a glimmer of hope that the Winter will eventually end. The combination of the Winter Solstice and the New Year seem to bring hope for a new start.

That makes it a great holiday for us to celebrate. J and I don’t have our own Christmas traditions, and have always floundered for a day to choose for ourselves. This year, we made the decision to celebrate New Year’s Day. It’s a day to relax, tidy up from the parties of the night before, live in jammies and watch movies.

To this, we’re adding a special dinner for two.

Rapini Sausage Pasta
A frickin' adorable rapini bud. Delicious!

This year’s special dish is something that I’ve made in various forms over the year – pasta with rapini. Full of lemony goodness and topped with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this pasta takes a bit of the bite out of the bitter rapini. With florets that are sometimes mistaken for broccoli, rapini comes in bunches of leaves and buds that can be sautéed or steamed.

It is quite a bit more bitter than broccoli or spinach, and requires a proper combination of flavours to ensure it doesn’t overpower your meal. I find that sweet, lemony, buttery flavours really help to incorporate the rapini into the meal. I often serve it as a side to steamed crab, as the sweet crab meat and melted garlic butter take the edge off.

This pasta dish is best when made with al dente, chunkier hand-shaped pastas like orecchiette or cavatelli.

Continue reading Welcoming 2011 with Rapini and Sausage Pasta

Mussels Twofer

Tomato Gorgonzola Mussel Pasta

No, I haven’t gone mad and decided to eat mussels every day! This post is a TWOFER! This is going to be an ongoing series of posts that show how leftovers can be used to make a second great meal.

Today’s dish was made with the leftovers of my Tomato Gorgonzola Mussels that I posted about earlier this week. Of course, you don’t want to keep leftovers for too long – especially seafood – so I made this up the very next day.

I loved the combination of tomato and gorgonzola, so I decided to make it into more of a sauce. First, I strained the broth to take out any bits and silt that came out of the mussels. I reduced the broth quite a bit, added some tomato paste, onions, garlic, herbs and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I also added some sautéed quartered mushrooms, green peppers (actually, I used poblano peppers because I had them on hand) and more gorgonzola. I added the remaining mussels, and tossed with some whole wheat egg noodles (did you know they make those!! Soo good! I’ve never seen a whole wheat egg though…).

Yeah, so that’s pretty much it! No real recipe here… just a concept. This is a part of our ongoing goal to reduce waste in our home – try to only buy what I need, and use it all up!! It doesn’t have to be boring.

Tomatoes in the Raw

Raw Tomato Sauce on Pasta

I’m still avoiding any extended cooking, but I realized I’ve missed having a simple pasta dinner. For anyone that knows me, you know how strange it is when I say that we haven’t made a pasta dinner all summer. I’ve had some pasta salads, sure, but it’s not quite the same thing.

A trip to the Nathan Phillips Square farmer’s market on Wednesday gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my love of pasta with my desire to not be stuck in front of a hot stove.

Tomato Basket

Tomato season is in full swing here in Ontario, and I was inundated with piles and piles of fresh, ripe tomatoes of many varieties. I bought a few piles, in three varieties. To justify this purchase, I had to think of something that would use up a bunch of them at once. A raw tomato sauce was in order!

If you’ve never had a raw tomato sauce, you might be amazed at how simple and quick it is. It’s pretty much how it sounds – a sauce made up of uncooked tomatoes. “Sauce” might be a misnomer, though, as it’s almost more of a tomato salad that you toss with hot pasta.

There – I gave away my secret.

Chopped Tomatoes

The real secret is just how amazing it tastes when you have fresh, LOCAL tomatoes on hand. Like a tomato salad, it really won’t work with mealy tomatoes, or tomatoes that spent most of their ripening on a truck. I picked up a basket of roma tomatoes for this, but you could use your favourite unmealy (is that a word?) tomato.

The recipe I used can be adapted to your taste – use the kind of tomato you like best, use the herbs you like best, the oil you like best, the shape of pasta you like best (although short stubby ones like penne seem to work best). I added in some grilled eggplant, and I think next time I might add some blanched green beans for crunch. It’s a dish that is as easy to customize as the usual pasta sauce, but without all of the stewing and cooking stuff.

Recipe after the jump!

Continue reading Tomatoes in the Raw