Friday, October 28, 2016

Oktoberfest: Cheese Spaetzle

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I was traveling in Munich, Germany this summer.  I enjoyed stopping at many small cafes and local joints to try all kinds of food.  I can't say that brats are ever going to make my top 10 foods--but the Kaesespaetzle  probably will.  Everything about my first time with this dish is great--nice summer evening, outdoor restaurant with bright orange umbrellas, leisurely conversation with good friends--and then came this cheesey-carb-loaded nirvana!  I can't believe I've lived my whole life without ever having the German dish spaetzle!  Spaetzle is a cross between fresh pasta and a dumpling and you can prepare it sauteed with seasonings or eat it like it did--smothered in decadent cheese and crispy onions.

I'm not a souvenir kind of person--so I brought things like chocolate, gummi candy and cheese home from my trip.  For this recipe I used an aged Dutch gouda--but any delicious melty cheese would be good (emmentaler is recommend in many other online recipes).  I went looking for recipes and most had you make the noodles and then just layer it with cheese and bake it.  I know the one I ate in Munich was more than just cheese--it had more creaminess than that. I did find a few references in some recipes that added cream and butter as well as cheese.  I improvised a bit and made a bit of a roux that would help stablize the cheese sauce during the oven baking time.


500 grams flour (its about 3.5 cups)
5 eggs
250 mL water (around 1 1/8 c.).  I actually used about 1 cup water with 1/8 c. half and half

This made a TON of dough.  Next time I'd cut the recipe in half (I ended up with enough for probably 8-10 servings of cooked spaetzle).  The rule of thumb is 1 egg, 100 g flour and 50 mL of water.  (I have a kitchen scale).   Mix up the 3 ingredients and you'll have a very thick, sticky dough.  I let it sit on the counter for about an hour while I did other prep like grate cheese or chop onions.

I do not have spaetzle press, so I used the "old school" method of putting the dough on a cutting board and slicing off small ropes of dough with a spatula.  It took me a while to get it figured out, but keeping the dough in a rectangle about 2 inches across worked nicely. I also learned that the heat of the steam and water at the edge of the board (and on the spatula) helps the dough un-stick from the spatula.

You drop the dough straight from the cutting board into boiling water and let it cook for about 2 minutes (until the noodles float).  Fish them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  From here you can then drain your spaetzle and saute them in butter and eat them...or do like me and add cheese.

Cheese sauce
1/2-1 lb grated gouda, emmentaler or other sharp flavored melting cheese
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. flour
1/2 c. half and  half
1/4 c. diced onions

I pulled out my cast iron skillet and slowly sauteed some diced onion.  Once they were nice and brown (but not burned) I put the onions on a plate and added butter to the pan and a spoonful of flour.  I cooked the flour mix for about 30 seconds and then added about 1/2 cup of half and half and added the cooked spaetzle (since my recipe made WAY more than I can possibly eat, I used about 3-4 cups of noodles).  Then I added the shredded cheese.  I used Gouda that I brought home from Europe and I added about close to a pound of shredded cheese.  I sprinkled onions on top and then put the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Yeah, its good stuff.  I added a bit more cheese to my plate when I dished it up--because why not?  Nice way to celebrate Oktoberfest. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pom Pom Dish Towels

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I got to spend 3 weeks in Europe this summer.  I highly recommend it!  I enjoyed all the places I visited, but I was surprised at how much I loved Amsterdam!  Oh the canals, and the cheese shops!  I'm not a big souvenir person, but I walked past a fabric shop and I do love fabric.  I bought two small fat quarters and took them home.  I decided that hand towels in the kitchen would be the perfect way to use the fabric.  I picked up flour sack dish towels and some red pom pom trim.  
I cut the fabric down to 4 inches and finished the edges with my serger. Then I sewed the fabric to the bottom of the towel.  (I had to trim the width of the towel because it was wider than my Amsterdam fabric).  Once the fabric was sewn on I started with the pom pom trim.  Its a bit tricky--it has some stretch to it, so I found that using the zig zag stitch on top of the trim worked the best. 
Now when I walk into my kitchen, I see the cute tulip and bike towels and remember my fun canal boat ride, the Rijksmuseum or stopping at every cheese shop!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spicy Thai Noodles

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Do you love take out, but don't want to leave the house (or pay for the high cost of restaurant food?)  You gotta try these Thai-style spicy noodles.  I made this in about 35 minutes on a Monday after work.  I doubled the batch because I was taking dinner to a neighbor and her family.  A single batch was enough for 6 servings for me (but if you are feeding hungry teenagers, maybe only 4).  For the double batch ingredients (and the frozen potstickers) I spent around $20--not bad for about 12 servings of better-than-restaurant-quality food.

1 pound of linguine noodles (or any long noodles)
2 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups zucchini, chopped
1 package mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy the pre-minced kind)
2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 T. sriacha sauce
3 T. brown sugar
2 1/2  T. fresh ginger, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 C. cilantro leaves, rough chop
1/4 C. peanuts, chopped 


In a large pot, boil the water and get the noodles cooking.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat the pan and fry the eggs.  Scramble them and dump them out onto a plate and wipe out the pan.  Heat the olive oil and toss in the red pepper flakes, zucchini and mushrooms.  Saute  on medium until veggies are tender but not mushy (probably around 5 minutes).  While the veggies are cooking, in a bowl or glass measuring cup mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, sriacha, brown sugar and ginger.  

When the noodles are done, drain and put back in the hot pot.  Dump in the cooked veggies along with the sauce.  Stir it all up.  Serve and garnish with the green onions, cilantro and peanuts.  

This dish is vegetarian, but you could easily add in chicken or shrimp (or leftover steak).  You could also squeeze some fresh lime on top.  I cooked up some frozen potstickers to go along with the noodles.  I also recommend  mango sticky rice for dessert!

Halloween Playlist

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I'll admit that I don't go too big for Halloween. I have a framed subway art on the mantle--that's the extent of my decorations.  I will usually don a costume and hand out candy to the neighborhood kids--but something I do like, no matter the holiday, is fun music.  Here's a collection that I thought you might enjoy (heavy on the 80's and 90's of my youth).

Thriller-Michael Jackson
It's a Dead Man's Party-Oingo Boingo
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Remix
Ghostbusters Theme-Ray Parker Jr (Run DMC version fun too--and Bobby Brown's On Our Own)
Highway to Hell-AC/DC
Crazy Train-Ozzy Osbourne
I Put a Spell on You (Bette Middler cover) or Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Somebody's Watching Me-Rockwell
Bad Moon Rising-CCC

If you'd like to add movie songs, then these are some that seem Halloween flavored

Harry Potter-Double Double Toil and Trouble
Jaws-Theme Song
Nightmare Before Christmas-Jack's Lament

Friday, October 7, 2016

Overnight Waffles

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Its pretty rare for me to make waffles. I'm just not home in the mornings, but I had a day off from work and I just enjoyed being home and really wanted waffles.  I have tried lots of waffle mixes, which promise delicious waffles with zero effort, and I haven't ever been in love (they taste like pancakes in waffle shape).  I know I love the Leige waffles you can get at Belgian places (or our local food truck)--but the sugar in the Leige waffles is hard to clean and you need a nicer waffle iron than I have to get the right heat going (plus it requires a trip to IKEA for the sugar or an order from Amazon).  So more research.  King Arthur flour always has interesting recipes, and they had one for overnight yeast waffles.  This sounds like my kind of time-saver; let the waffles get ready while I sleep.  

Mixing up the waffles took about 5 minutes in my KitchenAid--then I let the batter sit on the counter while I puttered around my bedtime routine.  Then put it in the fridge until morning. 
After 1 hour on the counter
After resting overnight in the fridge

I made only one change to the recipe, I used white sugar instead of maple sugar in the batter.  I found that my waffle iron on level 7.5 (out of 10) was the right temp.  I preheated the iron for about 10 minutes.  Added 1 cup of batter and let it cook for about 6 minutes.  I made 3 waffles in the batch.  The batter is pretty thick.  Maybe I'd mix it up in a gallon zipper bag next time and then cut off the tip to just squeeze out the batter. 
Serve it with fresh picked peaches and whipped cream.  I froze the leftover and they toast up nicely the next day.  The yeast gives the waffle a really nice light texture and more interesting flavor.  I think this is my go-to recipe.  I think I could even make a mix with powdered milk and then I'd just have to add eggs, butter and water.  Hmmmm.

3/4 C. lukewarm milk
3 T. melted butter
1 1/2  T sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 C. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. instant yeast

Mix everything up and sit on counter for about an hour. You can cook them after the 1st hour if you want...or refrigerate the batter overnight and make waffles in the morning.