As promised, dear friends, here comes another recipe – from the land of my birth this time. I haven’t got many ties left to Germany (I’ve always liked Greece better, and now that I’ve moved to London I like the UK even better), but this is one of them; my all-time favourite meal: Kässpatzen.
In my humble opinion, by far the best contributions to German cuisine come from Bavaria, and so do Kässpatzen. Very popular among the farmers especially in the Allgäu, where my hometown of Kempten is, but also in restaurants and homes in cities all over Bavaria and in parts of Baden-Württemberg, it’s a vegetarian recipe with no meat but oodles and oodles of cheese.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved this wonderful comfort food, and while my darling husband and I were visiting in Greece last month, my Mum made it just like in the old days; Ian was thrilled by it as well! So here’s how it goes; but first I should explain that some special tools might come in handy for the preparation, even though you can do without them if you can’t get them anywhere.
The most important tool for making Spatzen, the foundation for Kässpatzen, is called a Spatzenhobel; it’s basically a kind of grater with a wagon on top where you put in the dough. You might be able to obtain one from a German household goods shop if you’ve got one close to you; they’re not expensive, and you’ll be able to do Spatzen again and again!
Also, a colander spoon will be very helpful to take the ready Spatzen out of the boiling water; otherwise, you’ll have to use an ordinary colander and sieve them like spaghetti. Speaking of which, you can also use an Italian style pasta maker if you’ve got one! The aim is just to get the dough into some sort of shape… So here’s what you need:
Ingredients for 4 persons:
3 large eggs
250g grated cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Emmental or any other cheese that melts nicely)
1 big onion or 50g dried onions
Pinch of salt
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
As you can see, Kässpatzen are a very simple and straightforward recipe, and there’s nothing really that can go wrong preparing them. Just put the flour, the eggs, the salt and the water in a big bowl and stir with a hand mixer until you’ve got a thick dough; if it’s too thick, add some more water, if it’s too liquid, add some more flour. At the same time, bring a big pot of salted water to boil.
Now it’s time for making the Spatzen – a sort of pasta, probably the only one originating from Germany! As I’ve said, the easiest way to do real Bavarian Spatzen is with a Spatzenhobel; you put it on top of the pot with the boiling water, put the dough into the wagon, and start moving it to and fro – bits of it will fall into the water constantly, and they cook really quickly. As soon as you’ve finished up the dough, you can start taking the ready Spatzen out with your colander spoon and put them in a bowl!
Another way of doing it is, of course, to use a pasta maker; the shape will be a bit different, but the taste will be just the same. Put the pasta into the water, and very soon after take it out with a colander spoon or sieve it the Italian way.
Now if you’ve got neither a Spatzenhobel nor a pasta machine, here’s a simple trick my Mum told me: spread the dough on a cutting board, hold it next to the pot with the boiling water, and with a knife scrape off small bits of dough at a time into the water; they may not be perfectly shaped, but they’re still Spatzen!
And now for the cheesy bit of the Kässpatzen (Käs, of course, is Bavarian for cheese): put a big spoonful of the ready Spatzen into another bowl, then a handful of the grated cheese; then another spoonful of Spatzen and another handful of cheese and so on, until you’ve used it all up. (You should do this as quickly as possible as long as the Spatzen are still hot, so that the cheese will melt nicely.) Stir with two spoons or forks; the cheese should start melting now and go wonderfully stringy!
For some additional spice, put some dried onion on top of the Kässpatzen, or a freshly sliced and fried onion. You can also add some salt and pepper or even paprika according to taste. The best side dish to go with Kässpatzen is a simple green salad!
Bon appetit, or rather Guten Appetit, friends!