In this episode of “Cooking with Grandma”, Maria and her grandmother make a Southern German classic: Spätzle, a type of egg noodle.
Transcription of the video
This is my grandma. We’ll be cooking with her today.
Grandma: “So, we’re making Spätzle. And for that we need flour and eggs and salt.”
First into the bowl is the flour. Then an egg. And another- five altogether.
Grandma: “Now we add salt and water, and then beat the mixture.”
Exactly. And Grandma doesn’t allow herself to be fazed by the hungry family prowling around in the background.
Maria: “So what kind of consistency must the dough have, Grandma?”
Grandma: “Well, it needs to be a bit firmer than this. Not too firm, but…”
Maria: “And what should you do if it’s too firm?”
Grandma: “Then you need to add a little more water. You just need to judge it yourself.”
Maria: “Where did you actually get the recipe from, Grandma?”
Grandma: “The recipe is from my own grandmother. From the Black Forest. These are Black Forest Spätzle. […] Now we mix it a little more… properly, to beat in air throughout the whole batter. [2:00] Then we place it in the Spätzle machine.”
As she continues preparing the Spätzle, Grandma tells me about how she used to cook it when my sisters were younger.
Grandma: “The twins would sit together on that chair there.”
Maria: “Did they help you with the cooking too?”
Grandma: “Did they ever! I was worried they would burn themselves.”
But let’s get back to the task at hand.
Maria: “Here we go.”
Grandma: “So, now they’ve all been pressed through properly, we use a fork to separate them a little, so that they don’t stick together. […] We have to wait a little bit now.”
So much for taking a break. Just like the TV chefs, Grandma has prepared something in advance.
Grandma: “Now we’ll chop the onions and chives, stir in a salad dressing, and then add some lettuce.”
But first, back to the main dish.
Grandma: “So, now the Spätzle are put into the cold water for the first time… let them drain briefly and place them in a bowl of cold water.”
When all the Spätzle are cooked, the water is poured out.
One question remains: Do you serve anything else with the Spätzle? Of course- a sauce, which Grandma has already made, like so:
Grandma: “We add oil, chopped onions and tomatoes and seasoning – salt, pepper, basil – to the pot, boil it all together, strain through a sieve, and thicken with flour if it’s needed. You can add a little butter too.”
How does it taste?
Grandma: “Let’s see… Still needs a little salt… there we go… and add a bit more sugar to the tomato sauce.”
Someone in the background asks how much longer it will take.
Grandma: “Not long now. […] And now we heat up the Spätzle again in a pan with butter.”
Then everything is ready. It looks delicious. Or at least Grandma thinks so. And the rest of the family too- judging by the empty plates.
Every country has its own cuisine, and every childhood its own flavour. Whenever we went to Grandma’s house as children, we would have Spätzle; soft noodles, fried in butter and well salted, served with a beautifully red tomato sauce which ended up all over our faces. She still makes it for us nowadays.
My parents have related how as a small child, I would always wail: “Wiewa die Oma”, which in German child-speak meant “I want Grandma to cook, preferably Spätzle.” Grandma just makes it best. When others make it, even using the same recipe, it is simply not as good. That’s a fact.
Even today we often end up going home with a big portion of Spätzle after we visit Grandma’s house. I can’t understand people who buy readymade Spätzle in bags from the supermarket and then heat it up. No, that just won’t do.
Last year I was in the USA, where I lived in a co-op, short for co-operative housing; kind of like a huge flatshare. One of my responsibilities was to cook for my 60 hungry flatmates once a week. One time I decided to make Spätzle. Lacking a proper Spätzle press, I sliced the dough myself on a chopping board. That alone took two hours. But the end result was like heaven on earth- and almost, almost as good as Grandma’s.
1 tsp. salt
Butter for frying
Combine the flour, eggs, salt and water in a bowl and beat well. The resulting dough should have a rather firm, solid consistency; it should not tear easily when you try to lift it with a spoon.
The dough will now be pressed through a Spätzle press into a pot of boiling water.
If you don’t have a Spätzle press, you can slice the dough manually instead (of course, this will take longer…). For this method, spread some of the dough in a thin layer on a chopping board and cut it into thin strips. Add these to the pot of boiling water.
When the Spätzle in the pot rise to the surface of the water, they are ready. Remove from the pot, rinse with cold water and place in a bowl of cold water.
When all the Spätzle have been cooked, heat them up again before eating by frying with a little butter in a pan.
Tomato sauce is a good addition, but goulash works too.
Serve with a green salad.
Recipe: Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes (about 2 per person)
Onions (about one small one for every 3 people)
Pinch of sugar
A little flour to bind the sauce if needed
Butter to taste
Fry the sliced onions in olive oil, then add the diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and chopped basil. Add a pinch of sugar and leave to simmer. After about 30 minutes, puree the mixture or strain through a sieve. If the sauce is too runny, use some flour to thicken it. Have a taste and add more seasoning if desired. Depending on your taste, you can also add a little butter.