March 26, 2009
I made a pork schnitzel for dinner that was had a superb crisp exterior and tender and juicy interior. The only "complaint" from my family spoiled with gravy dishes deluxe was "where is the schnitzel gravy?" While delicious, the recipe was labor intensive especially with the shaking of the pot when the meat hit the oil. The best part was finding a delicious light and airy spatzle recipe!
I grew up with strong food memories due to my father's Slovakian heritage. He made ethnic dishes that I make today. I hope to pass on the same passion my father gave to me for his/my heritage through food to my own children. So much is lost after immigrants assimilate into their new country and new generations are born - language (my grandparents spoke Slovakian and my father use some words and I do not use any, traditional dress, religion and customs - everything except for Food was lost, and I am ever so grateful!
Some of my favorite food memories are watching my grandmother, aunt, mother and father making pirogi (cheese, potato, and onion, prune, sauerkraut) for an entire day so we could have a feast later that evening and into the next day. Watching my father and uncle eating pig knuckles with the gelatinous liquid with such vigor! My granny making chicken feet soup after the butchering of the chickens. She was in charge of taking the feathers off and and can remember her plucking away and those feet floating in a big pot on the stove. I will never forget that wet feather smell mixed with blood. The butchering was a neighborhood event for us kids, some kids dared to participate in the butchering - my father was very accommodating (I did not participate). Holidays meant granny would make her famous nut and poppy seed roll cakes. We looked forward to those! My mother thought the nut roll was too sweet but I enjoyed the textural grit of the sugar. My father loved the poppy seed cake. What I would do if I could have a piece of Granny's nut or poppy seed cake now.
One mainstay was halushki or homemade egg noodles. Every time my father made chicken soup, he would whip up a batch of noodle dough consisting of 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and water. He would drop the dough into boiling water sliding each noodle off the fork with his finger. We loved those thick, dense, heavy and satisfying noodles especially drenched in butter and salt, and in the soup. My father would always give us a noodle dumpling to sample while we waited for dinner - it was a real treat! We called these noodles halushki.
When my grandmother died, I received a ricer from her kitchen and I started using that to make my dumplings. I make them a few times a year because they are so labor intensive even with the ricer and the clean up was enough to cry over.
Then I recently made pork schnitzel and wanted a spatzle to go with it. As a child I loved the Birds Eye green beans with spatzle that was such a treat and brought the word spatzle into my life. I found a recipe for spatzle in a cookbook that I have had for nearly 20 years and have never used a single recipe from. I love the book because it is filled with photos that remind me of home. I used Ruth Henderson's spatzle recipe and it is something to Love. The spatzel is light and airy and so easy to make and clean up. I have made the spatzle 3 times now in 2 months. It is a breeze and so worth it. (sorry, granny)
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground white or black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup of milk
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl pour into the well in the dry ingredients.
Bring 2 quarts of water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil to a boil. Place about 1/3 of the dough in a lightly oiled ricer, spatzle maker or colander. Push through with a wooden spoon.
Cook spatzle until water returns to a boil and the spatzle rise to the surface about a minute.
Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat until dough is gone.
Ruth & Skitch Henderson's Seasons in the Country