It’s been a rather quiet few days on the blog, with my new celebrity lifestyle taking its toll: marking piles of coursework, planning the final lessons of the year and getting two kids from A to B via C. I even considered buying outsized sunglasses, but then remembered that our heatwaves are as short-lived as our summers. All that probably explains why it took me so long to share with you the wonderful dish Nigel Slater came up with: the ultimate ‘Spätzle Cheese’. Taking his cue from the traditional macaroni cheese, Nigel took fusion food to another level by adding smoked cheese and speck to the Swabian ‘Kässpätzle‘. Needless to say, my purist Swabian friends were slightly shocked at the idea of adding speck to the traditional Kässpätzle, never mind cream. But I am convinced that no German worth their salt should ever object to adding processed meat and cream to their beloved carbs! I have always admired Nigel Slater’s unconventional approach to food: his recipes are often intended to be a starting point for your own explorations, often giving you ideas and suggestions as to how to develop his own idea into something that suits your preferences or needs. He really is a man with a mission, and his mission is to get people to enjoy food, and enjoy cooking good food. When presented with my Spätzle, he immediately started looking for a way to convince people to try this at home. Giving them the ‘Macaroni Cheese’ treatment was a stroke of genius! That leaves you with the Spätzle, I am afraid. On ‘Eating Together’ I was using the traditional board and scraper, tools that haven’t really changed in the last hundred-odd years, as this illustration from my family cookbook from 1912 proves: Learning to cut Spätzle the old way takes time – you can always read my instructions here – but fortunately there are shortcuts to achieving these light and airy noodles. Marita recently alerted me to the fact that you can buy a ‘Spätzleschwob’ like this one quite cheaply on Amazon: But you don’t need to invest heavily: using a potato ricer or a colander, or even a grater with large holes is just as efficient, and you might have either of them already in your kitchen! Using a colander makes for shorter noodles, which explains why they are not called ‘Spätzle’ anymore, but instead become ‘Knöpfle’, or ‘little buttons’. Knöpfle are widespread in Switzerland, the Allgäu and along the Rhine in southern Germany, a region called Baden, where they are as central to the cuisine as Spätzle are in Swabia. The principles are the same as for Spätzle, and you will need to adjust the consistency to be able to push the dough through the holes and into the boiling water. I hope you’ll give Spätzle a try – even Nigel Slater was surprised at how light and airy they were!
Nigel Slater’s Spätzle and Cheese (serves 4)
For the Spätzle:
- 400g/14oz plain flour
- 4 eggs
- 3-4 tbs sparkling water
- a generous pinch of salt, to taste
- For the sauce:
- 300ml double cream
- 180g cheese, Emmentaler or Gruyere for me, Bavarian smoked cheese for Nigel, grated or finely diced
- 100g prosciutto, speck or cured ham, finely chopped
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- salt, pepper
As always on a Friday, I’ll be bringing this dish over to Angie’s for her weekly Fiesta Friday gathering. It’s going to be a little quieter than usual, but that shouldn’t stop us from popping over and saying hello!