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)
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.
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.