Brigitte’s Käse Spätzle (Kaese Spaetzle)

I can’t remember where I first had käse spätzle, but I have come to associate it with family friends in Durban. Despite my mum being German, it is not something I grew up with, but it is a dish I do so love very much. It reminds me of humid summer nights, in a wood-iron house in Manor Gardens; of drinking far too much red wine and smoking far too many social cigarettes, and talking intensely until far too late. So on our last visit to Durban I asked Brigitte to make it so I could document it and share it on the gibber. It was a summer night, but a much more demure wine-and-cigarette-less evening, what with being-knocked-up-ed-ness and general healthery.

There are not many vegetarian dishes in the stereotype of German cuisine, which is probably why I grew up with more of the mediterranean, middle eastern, and asian food I usually post. Cheese and wheat (the captain’s favourite food combination) was not something we regularly had. Macaroni cheese was something we ate at other people’s houses.

My mother recently tried to make käse spätzle, but she is not into rules (which is why, although a phenomenal cook, she is not a good baker either). ‘Recipes are for sissies’. She doesn’t have the patience for the science of cooking, and prefers improvisation – which is how I learned how to cook. So, with only a vague sense of a recipe, she whipped up the batter and pushed it through the traditional press she had inherited, but as soon as it hit the water it disintegrated. The result… a swampy puddle of diluted flower and egg mix and a good half an hour of weeping with laughter as we tried to think of uses for the sludge so as not to waste food. I think the best use was as a form of wallpaper glue.

Ingredients:

  • 250g normal flour (cake)
  • 5-6 eggs (depending on consistency – see instructions)
  • +/-100g emmentaler
  • 4 smallish onions / 2 large onions
  • A decent knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • spätzle press

Slice the onion and fry slowly in the butter, allowing them to go glassy and soft.

While the onions are frying slowly, prepare the spätzle. Put a pot of water on to boil with some salt. Measure out 250g flour and pop into a bowl. Crack 4-5 eggs into the flour and mix with an electric mixer (see pics for the appropriate attachment). Depending on the consistency, add another egg or two (again, have a look at the pics to see how the batter should form little worm poo shaped mounds).

Once the water is simmering, put the batter into the press and squash through, allowing +/-15-20cm strands to go through. The strands should break off, but you can gently encourage them with a knife as well. Allow to boil until white foam puffs up all around the spätzle. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Repeat until all the batter has been cooked.

Add the cooked spätzle to the onions and return to a medium heat and mix through so the spätzle keeps warm in the pan. Grate the emmentaler and mix through the warm onions and spätzle so it melts into gloopy strands.

I am sure there are all sorts of things to serve it with (which I plan to experiment with once I have enough guts), but we had it with a simple green salad, which was perfectly delicious. Thanks Brigitte!

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