After much hoopla about our latest gadget, we finally put the new spatzle maker to the test last night. The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home‘s delicious recipe for spatzle was what started the recent craze in our household and we decided to make it again with the new toy, this time pairing it with the Cauliflower Paprikash that the Moosewood Collective recommends with it.
A paprikash (or paprikache) is a traditional Hungarian stew and not suprisingly, it features paprika heavily. Typically, it also contains sour cream, onions, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Although the traditional versions are made with white meat or fish, in this version, cauliflower substitutes for the meat. (Incidentally, for the most amazing array of information and history on any food-related topic you can imagine, check out the classic French culinary encyclopedia, Larousse Gastronomique .)
Having read about, but never tasted, an authentic paprikash, I can’t say exactly how this one compares. I definitely made a few changes to the Moosewood’s recipe (which is posted, as published, below). First, I left out the mushrooms because they really aren’t my thing (but would guess that the dish might be better with them). Second, lacking sherry, I used a mix of marsala wine and old white wine from the fridge, but that seemed to be a fine substitution. I also ended up cooking the paprikash for longer to soften the cauliflower more (no one wants crunchy cauliflower in a stew!) which meant adding more liquid. And finally, I used low-fat sour cream instead of the full-fat stuff. I will say, however, that skipping the sour cream would be a big mistake. I tasted the dish before adding it and it was sort of a blah, one-note (paprika!) stew, but the creaminess of the sour cream added a much-needed richness and made the dish much more interesting. (By the way, I just learned that sweet paprika and your standard, plain “paprika” are one and the same; the other version is hot paprika and you want to stay away from that for this particular dish.)
As for the spatzle maker’s inaugural run, it definitely makes a different kind of spatzle. With the maker, they came out as small irregularly-shaped disks. With just a colander, the come out as bigger, even more irregularly-shaped blobs. I’ve gotta say, with this dish, I would have preferred the latter; the chunks of cauliflower overwhelmed the tiny spatzle generated by our maker. I’d probably use the spatzle maker mainly when pairing it with just a simple, non-chunky sauce and the colander for heartier pairings.
If you’re making the two dishes together, read through all of the instructions first for hints on how to time them properly.
Cauliflower Paprikash (serves 4, but I’d recommend splitting it among 3 or making an appetizer to go with it)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup water
10 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)- I left these out
pinch of salt
1 large head of cauliflower
1 cup sour cream (I used light)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large soup pan or saucepot, saute the onions and peppers in oil for 2-3 minuts. Stir in the paprika, sherry, and water and cook on high heat for a minute. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt to draw out the juices. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for five minutes while you cut the cauliflower into florets.
2. Mix in the florets and simmer until the cauliflower is tender but still firm, 7 minutes (or more). Remove the pan from hear and stir in the sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the paprikash and keep it warm until ready to serve, but prevent it from simmering or it may curdle.
Spatzle (again, technically serves 4, but better for 2-3 people)
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
4 qts salted water
2 tbsp butter
1. Before you begin the paprikash, prepare the spatzle batter: combine flour, salt, nutmeg, pepper, eggs, and milk in bowl, and stir well. When you begin to saute the onions and pepper, start boiling the water in a large pot. After you add the cauliflower to the paprikash, place the thick spatzle batter into a colander with large holes (or your handy-dandy spatzle maker).
2. Set the colander on the rim of the pot of boiling water and using the back of a wooden spoon, push the batter through the holes into the boiling water. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until firm but light. Remove the spatzle with a mesh strainer or large slotted spoon and place in serving dish. Add butter. Serve immediately.