Monday, December 1, 2008

Classically Swedish

The snow has melted away, and the temperatures have risen. The evenings still get a bit chilly, though, and that calls for hearty and warming food. Again, one tires of porridge, so I thought I'd make some meatballs.


Daniel posted a recipe a while back, and that's basically the one I used, if any. I added about two tablespoons of chicken liver paté to the mixture, remembering a commenter recommending it, and they turned out really juicy and, if that's even possible, meatier than normal. I ate the meatballs with mashed potatoes and our homemade lingonberry jam, and drank a glass of cold milk. It just doesn't get any more Swedish than that!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling tired, lonely and not at all like working. Then I saw the tiniest hint of a snowflake outside my window and jumped out of bed wanting to scream with joy, and the rest of my day was made. I really love snow. I may be 22 years old on paper, but as soon as it starts to snow I just want to take my shoes off and run around the block barefoot and half-naked, just as I did when I was six. Seeing the snow fall makes me feel truly happy, which I know is weird. But then again, I did grow up way up north...


Snow and winter calls for warm and comforting food. And what better "food" is there than cinnamon doughnuts?

Mini Cinnamon Dougnuts, adapted from Sju sorters kakor


1 egg
100 ml sugar
100 ml milk
2 TB butter
500 ml flour
1,5 tsp baking powder

Oil for frying

Sugar and cinnamon

Whisk egg and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the milk.
Melt the butter and stir into batter, then add most of the flour and baking powder.
Knead the dough until smooth and pliable, then roll the dough out half a centimeter thick and start cutting little circlets out -- I used a shots glass.

Heat the oil in a saucepan until 180 C/350 F, or just wait until it looks ready like I do, and risk getting unfried doughnuts. Make sure not to fry too many at a time, or the pan will cool off too quickly. Fry until golden on both sides, then let drip off on a piece of kitchen towel paper then cover in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
Repeat until done.
Enjoy with coffee.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I hardly ever cook when I'm on my own. It just seems so pointless somehow, not being able to talk to anyone while eating, not sharing your day over the meal. But man cannot live on porridge and porridge alone, so today I did some Proper Cooking (tm) -- pan-fried plaice with oven-roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips! (Yes, Ilva at Lucillian Delights sort of inspired me...) It's dead simple, and incredibly delicious!

Ingredients, serves 2

300 g plaice
Coarsely ground rye flour

400 g potatoes
3 big carrots
3 small parsnips
Olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/ 390 F.

Prepare the vegetables:
Scrub the potatoes, peel carrots and parsnips. Quarter the veg, and douse in a good amount of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in an oven-proof dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until soft and edible.

Prepare the fish:
Pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and coat with the rye flour. Salt and pepper on both sides. Place a generous knob of butter in a hot skillet, and fry on both sides until golden brown. Serve as is, or with dill-flavoured sour cream, or some more butter.

I don't have any pictures to show you of the food (my man moved to Bavaria, and took the camera with him. Bastard.), so here's a picture of a dog on a sofa instead.

voffe i soffa

Friday, October 17, 2008

Deep Fried Cauliflower

Munich went from early autumn warmth to late autumn chill overnight, as it does. The Bavarians can't be bothered with four seasons, two are plenty--one where you sit outside in beer gardens at night and drink beer, and one where you huddle up with Glühwein (mulled wine) or go skiing in the alps. They may be right, but for those of us who grew up in Stockholm, where any particular weather tends to linger long enough for you to get to know it by first name, it can be disconcerting to be able to see your breath just a day after you were out walking in a t-shirt and shorts.

When the cold season comes marching in, the thoughts of a foodie naturally turn to heartier fare: oven roast, potato gratin, anything with lots of cream and butter... As any ringed seal could tell you, the best way to fortify yourself before a cold winter is a decent fat layer, and so we enter Butter & Beans' territory. Of course, you'll also be needing your vitamins and minerals when the sun doesn't shine, so vegetables are essential.

The combination of vegetable and fat is a time honoured tradition in most countries. We've recently visited France for a potato gratin, and today we're taking a look in the general direction of India, although the recipe is courtesy of a resident of the Indians' former colonial masters, namely Jamie Oliver. The recipe, deep fried cauliflower with spices, is from his Jamie at Home series/book.

Like most people, I long ago realized the almost magic ability of deep frying to bring out the full delicious potential of food, and ever since, I've longed to be able to clog my arteries with my own creations. I've owned a few deep fryers since, but somehow the results were never really good. Then one day, this spring, I decided to try my hand at deep frying "by hand", with just a pot, some oil, and a little piece of bread as a temperature indicator.

And you know what? It finally clicked. I think it might partly be that my old fryers didn't really have the heat capacity to keep the oil hot enough, but mostly I think it's that I finally really focused on the process; looked at the oil, smelled it, placed my cauliflower in it by hand, looked at it as it changed colour, and extracted it piecewise with a slotted spoon. So, if like me, you've been somewhat challenged in this area of your cooking, try it once with just the pot!

Well, let's put our recipes where our mouth's are, shall we?

Deep fried cauliflower
Inspired by Jamie Oliver.

1 cauliflower head
200 g self-raising flour, or 200 g flour + 10 g baking powder
1 bottle of beer
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp spices, suggestions: turmeric, chili, pepper, caraway
oil for deep frying
lemon to serve

Pour oil into a large saucepot and put on high heat. Trim the leaves off your cauliflower, cut off the largest parts of the stem, then break down into small florets. Sprinkle the cauliflower with some flour, and set aside. Grind the spices with a mortar and pestle, combine with salt and flour in a bowl. Whisk in beer until the batter reaches the consistency of thick cream, then mix in the cauliflower pieces.
Check if the oil is hot with a thermometer (180 °C / 350 °F), or simply place a piece of bread or raw potato in the oil. When it surfaces and goes golden quickly, the oil is hot enough.
Place little batches of the cauliflower, piece by piece, into the oil--drop them away from you! Fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until the batter's gone really golden and nice. Remove with a slotted spoon, let drip off a little on kitchen towels, then sprinkle with salt, and serve with some lemon to squeeze over.

If you want to, you can also dip some parsley branches in the batter and fry them for 30 seconds. A nice little garnish.


Oh, and don't take pictures of them with a flash, or they'll look nasty, like the fries that have been lying around all day in a 24/7 kebab place, and not crunchy and delicious, like these will be.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Daily Bread


I found the recipe for this particular loaf of bread late last autumn, when I had a pot of Chili con Carne on the stove and decided I wanted bread to go with it. It is a kind of faux French country style bread, where the sourdough is replaced with regular yeast, making it quicker and a tad easier to put together. Although this bread may not as flavourful as when baked with sourdough, it still tastes great, and since it's ready to be eaten in just a few hours, it's perfect for those days when you just don't have time to bake all day long.

We had the bread alongside a wonderful soup I'm sure Daniel will be telling you all about soon, but it's also really great toasted and eaten with some butter.


Faux French Country Style Bread, from (a Swedish newspaper's online edition)
Makes two enourmous loaves.

900 ml lukewarm water
50 g fresh yeast (half the amount is more than enough if your yeast is so fresh it's almost wet -- I could hardly get the dough to stop rising!)
2 tsp salt
1,5 litres wheat flour
700 ml rye flour

Place yeast and salt in a huge bowl. Dissolve in a small amount of the water, stirring until done. Add the remaining water, and stir a little bit more.
Add the flour and knead well (if you have a machine to knead the dough, be careful as rye requires a bit more sensitivity than wheat), until dough is shiny and doesn't stick too much to the bowl.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1,5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250 C/480 F, with either your baking stone or oven tray inside.
Knead the dough one last time, then divide it into two parts, and shape in whatever fashion you see fit -- mine turned out quite round. Flour your hands if necessary.
Place the loaves on a floured baking sheet (if you're using your bread stone, and want the loaves to slip onto it easily) or silpat, and let rise one last time while the oven is heating up.

Cut a deep cross into the loaves before placing them in the oven. When inside, spray them with a bit of water.
After 20-25 minutes, turn the heat down to 175 C/350 F and spray them once again.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust has a nice colour, and when gently tapped on the bottom, the loaves sound dull and kind of hollow.

Let cool off for few minutes before cutting them.


By the way, if you live in a cold or drafty building, or if your yeast is a bit on the old side, you can always use my fool-proof dough-rising trick:

Yup, that's me, my dough and my laptop all in perfect harmony. Works quite well, actually.

For all of your bread needs, check out YeastSpotting over at Wild Yeast!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Potato Gratin or Gratin Dauphinois

Autumn happened early this year, we've had a couple of months of gray skies, rain, temperatures around 10-15 °C and general misery. It's not been all bad, though. There's been some mushroom hunting, a Swedish crayfish party (kräftskiva), and some really good stews in equally good company. Not to mention the beer tastings.

Okay, all in all, it's been alright. But it has been autumn, and with the colder weather comes a longing for hearty, filling comfort food, and what comforts better than a potato gratin?

Potato gratin is a dish with a bad reputation among the health freaks, so we opted to call it a gratin dauphinois. That's French, and as everyone knows, mediterranean cooking is very healthy indeed. We have a serious attitude about healthy food here at Butter & Beans, what with our family histories of heart disease and all.

Potato Gratin Dauphinois

800 g floury potatoes
3 cloves of garlic
300 ml whipping cream
50 g butter
150 g cheese that melts nicely (cheddar, gruyère, emmentaler)
salt, black pepper

Slice your potatoes to a thickness of about 1 cm. Finely chop the garlic.

Place them in a large pot, or even better a large oven proof cooking vessel which can also be used on the stove.

Season with a generous amount of salt and black pepper, and mix well.

Now get your cream. This Swedish whipping cream is only 40 % fat...

... so make sure you get it all in there. Don't worry, this will be our secret. Your personal trainer does not need to know.

Add a few knobs of butter (this too will be between just you and me), and place on a plate. Bring to the boil, then quickly lower the temperature, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are just about done, and the cream has thickened. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 °C / 390 °F. During the last couple of minutes, melt most of the cheese into the mixture.

If you didn't have an oven and stove proof dish, now is the time to transfer everything to an oven dish. Then, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and bake until a nice golden crust has formed.

This is a delicious side dish for a pot roast, or steak. It also goes great with lamb (add some rosemary!), which is especially nice during the autumn.

Like I said earlier, we take healthy food seriously here, so we gathered up a panel of some of the finest cardiologists in a nation, and asked them what they thought of our gratin. The results? This:


Sunday, September 21, 2008


No recipe today, sorry. It's a quarter past one in the morning, and I only just arrived in my small room in Munich. Tomorrow, I'll pack up all my belongings, and then I'm moving to another small room only a few blocks away. Then, I go back to Sweden to work some more. Not exactly the Oktoberfest vacation most people associate with Munich this time of year, but c'est la vie, eh?

After a year in Munich, and then a couple of months in Sweden, I've reflected a bit about the two cities I call home. Munich and Stockholm have so many differences, yet there are some key similarities, too. For lack of a better word, I'd like to say that both cities have a distinctly career-y feeling. Lots of business people running around talking in their mobiles, expensive apartments, loads of IT firms, salad bars and €4 cups of caffe latte. Both cities have a decent night life, yet neither is a never-sleeping vibrant party metropolis like Berlin or Amsterdam.

But I think the thing that most unites Stockholm and Munich is that despite their size (both in the range of a million inhabitants), they're not exactly super-urban. Both have large green areas, and also a distinctly greener feel than many cities. The first thing I saw when I got off the subway where I live was a hedgehog. And honestly, where else but Munich would you find a herd of sheep in the city park?


So... itchy...


... oh noes!

Again, I'm sorry there's no recipe here. I was going to write one up, but I had a layover in Shithole Schiphol airport, so I'm going to bed instead.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pasta with Shrimp Saffron Sauce


On my todo list for my stay in Sweden, "eat fish and shellfish" is way up on the very top. I love seafood, and it's impossible to find decent quality fish at reasonable prices in Munich. So, I'm trying to binge on it while I'm here in Stockholm, as evidenced by the marine blog posts of late.

This pasta sauce was one of those divine inspiration moments that came while we were browsing our supermarket trying to come up with a dinner plan. We realized that we had a bag of frozen shrimp at home, and fresh pasta was on sale. A match made in heaven, when combined with a creamy creme fraiche sauce and seasoned with saffron and some chili. The idea for the ad hoc shrimp stock (I couldn't help but use that rhyme) comes from one of my mother's staple recipes, a great shrimp curry sauce called Tages räkcurry.

Pasta with Shrimp Saffron Sauce
Serves 3.

The simple shrimp stock from this recipe is also great in fish/shellfish soups or sauces to serve with fish. It's a waste to ever throw shrimp shells away, when it's so easy to create a great stock for future purposes. Like any stock, it also keeps well when frozen in ice cube trays.

250 g fresh tagliatelle or linguine
700 g of unshelled shrimp
250 ml creme fraiche
0.5 Tbsp flour or 1 tsp starch
1 red onion
1 clove of garlic
1 fresh chili pepper
0.5 g saffron
olive oil for frying
salt, pepper, lemon juice for seasoning

Shell the shrimps, and save the shells in a pot. Set shrimp aside. Almost cover the shrimp shells with water, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain the shells off, pour the stock back into the pot and reduce to about 350 ml.

Start heating up your pasta water, and don't forget to cook your pasta in time (what time is "in time" of course depends on if you're using fresh pasta as recommended).

While the stock is reducing, finely chop the onion and garlic clove. Trim all the white stuff and seeds from the chili, then chop it finely. Heat a pan to medium low heat, add a splash of olive oil, then slowly fry the onion, garlic and chili for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add flour, give it a stir and then add half of the stock and the saffron. Stir in creme fraiche and bring to a boil. Let simmer for a few minutes, then check the consistency and add more stock or creme fraiche if necessary. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and serve over your pasta.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pan-fried Herring on Crisp Bread


Herring has been an important staple of Swedish cooking for a very long time. The Swedish working class used to subsist almost exclusively on salted herring and potatoes, with the occasional pickled herring when it was party time. Due to its importance, herring holds a special place in the food culture of Sweden. This recipe is one of the most beloved, but luckily also one of the simplest. If you're ever in Stockholm, you can buy these sandwiches at the square by Slussen. The only tricky part about the recipe is finding the right type of herring. Or perhaps, finding herring at all, depending on where you live.

You see, herring comes in many styles, depending on its origin. The version used here is the smaller and leaner Baltic herring (the subspecies Clupea harengus membras), fished in the Baltic sea off the east cost of Sweden. This type of herring is known as strömming in Swedish, while the larger and fatter herring used for pickling is called sill.

Pan-fried herring on crisp bread
If you prefer, you could serve these with mashed potatoes and a sour cream dip, but do try them with crisp bread at least once. If you have a hard time finding decent crisp bread, try IKEA, who usually carry crisp bread from Leksand. Avoid Wasa if alternatives exist.

1 kg of fresh herring fillets
a large bunch of parsley
bread crumbs


Remove the back fins from the fillets, if present, wipe them dry with kitchen towels, then match them up in pairs of roughly equal size.


Chop the parsley, and place a generous amount between each pair of fillets. As you can see, frozen parsley is fine too.


Pour bread crumbs on a plate and coat each fillet pair with a generous amount of crumbs.


Get your local nationalist butter...


...and place a big knob of it in a hot skillet.


Then fry the fillets for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.


Now get your best crisp bread. This particular brand is produced in a community of treehuggers in Järna, south of Stockholm. They also sell their own flour, beans and lentils, all of which is great produce.


Spread some butter on the bread, place a couple of fried fillets on it, and you're done! Serve with a cool beer or a glass of cold milk.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Humble Breakfast Rolls


Anybody there?


Didn't think so. I'm barely here myself, so I can't really hope for any of our dear readers to drop by either. But now I'm back, and hopefully my lovely co-blogger Daniel is too, in spite of working all the time.

Like I told you before, we've moved. Or rather, I moved, and Daniel came along to work during his summer vacation. He's going back to Munich in less than a month (eek!) while I'll be staying here in Stockholm to study. Hopefully, this will make our little blog even more important to take care of -- if I can't see him in person every day, at least I can read about what he's eating!

During the frantic Birthday Week (16th, 18th and 20th of August were his youngest sister's, mother's and middle sister's birthdays...) we got home late every night, almost falling asleep with our clothes on. But one night -- I think it was half past one in the morning -- I went into the kitchen and prepared a dough to sit in the fridge overnight. I didn't really measure anything, but I mixed about 500 ml water with 25 g fresh yeast, added equal amounts of graham and wheat flour, about 150 ml each of rolled oats and millets, about 100 ml each of sunflower seeds and flax seeds, and about a teaspoon of salt. Since this made the dough way too dry, I also added a good dollop of yoghurt and a splash of milk. I didn't really knead it for too long, since I was tired and lazy. I covered the dough with cling film and let it rise in the fridge until next morning.


After rising, I divided the dough into about 15 parts, rolled them out and placed them on a baking tray. I baked them for about 10 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 250 C / 480 F, until they were lightly browned. I let them cool off for about two seconds until I proceeded to cover them in butter and devour. Yum!

Stay tuned for a real Swedish classic -- coming soon to a blog near you!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grattis på födelsedagen, Angelica!


Last Friday was Angelica's birthday. In my family, birthdays are the "go!" signal for some serious gluttony. True to this tradition, me and Angelica decided to make not one, but two cakes for her birthday.


Since a student dorm room isn't the perfect place to host a birthday party with eight adults, an infant and a dog, we commandeered my parents' kitchen for the cooking. It sure was a change to work in a well-equipped kitchen for once.

Long-time readers and people who read the comments at FXCuisine will know that we do things old school here at Butter & Beans: we make our own sour milk products, we cure our own salmons, we make ice cream without machines, and we even whip egg whites by hand.

Well, not this time!


Meet Kenwood Major, my mother's kitchen machine. This baby has been in my mom's service for 33 years, making it 10 years older than I am (and in better shape, too)! Affectionately known as "the hell machine", the loud grinding noise of old KM makes me think of cinnamon buns and other goodies from the kitchen.

As for the cakes, Angelica wanted something Pavlova-inspired and maybe with mangoes. I was all ears, but knowing that my sisters can be a bit... let's say "picky", we thought we'd play it safe and make a sponge cake with berries and cream, too.

Sponge cake

This sponge cake is a great basis for loads of simple cakes. It's not as elastic in texture as most "stand-alone" sponge cakes, which makes it perfect in cakes, and as an added bonus the cakes made with it taste even better the day after they're baked.

4 eggs
200 ml sugar
100 ml potato flour (cornstarch is probably fine too)
100 ml flour
2 tsp baking powder

Set oven to 175 °C (350 °F).


Crack eggs into a bowl, then add sugar in a theatrical manner.


Beat until light and white.


Mix starch, flour and baking powder together. Sift them if you feel like it, but as you can see, we don't bother.


Fold the dry mixture into the wet one, pour into a greased 26 cm (10 inch) pan, and bake for about 30 minutes.


This is how we made the cake this time. Of course, you can substitute other jams and/or berries. Add sugar to berries as necessary.

1 sponge cake
200 ml homemade/high quality black currant jam
250 g bilberries or blueberries
250 g raspberries
250 g strawberries
300 ml heavy cream


Whip the cream rather stiff, taking care not to make butter. Cut the sponge cake horizontally in three layers. Place the bottom layer on a large plate. Spread jam evenly, add another cake layer. Spread the bilberries over the cake layer, and place a small amount of the cream on top. Add the last cake layer, cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the cream. Decorate the top with the raspberries and strawberries.

Fruit topping

"Pickling" the fruit in sugar and lemon juice makes it release its own juices and you'll get fruit drenched in the most delicious syrup. And all with just a few minutes of work.

3 ripe peaches
1 mango
juice from half a lemon
50 ml sugar


Halve and thinly slice the peaches.


Halve mango, cut grooves lengthwise, then crosswise to make a grid pattern. "Turn it inside out", then cut the pieces loose.

Place the fruit in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar, mix well, and let sit for at least an hour.


Based on this recipe from Whisk: A Food Blog.

When baking this meringue, we thought the amount seemed way too generous for the puny 23 cm circle the recipe called for, so we spread it quite a bit larger. However, it deflated on us, turning into more of a dacquois, so in the end, we just cut it in half and stacked the pieces on top of another to give it the desired height. You have the chance to get it right from the start, so just do the 23 cm version.

6 large egg whites
1.5 tsp potato flour or cornstarch
1 tsp vinegar
seeds from half a vanilla pod or 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 ml salt
350 ml sugar
175 g hazelnuts
60 ml boiling water

Heat oven to 175 °C (350 °F). Spread the hazelnuts on an oven tray and brown them for 10-15 minutes in the oven, giving them a shake or two during this time. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then grind them in a food processor or other suitable apparatus.

Get a squeaky clean bowl, preferably stainless steel. Crack the eggs one by one over a cup, and separate the yolk from the white with your hands. After each successfully separated egg, pour the white from the cup into the bowl. If a yolk ever breaks, discard that egg, get a new cup and try again. It is absolutely imperative that there is no trace of egg yolk in the whites--it won't rise!


Add starch, vinegar, vanilla and salt to the egg whites and beat them until they form soft tops. Gradually add the sugar while beating, until stiff tops form. Get the boiling water and add it in small batches, to avoid curdling the eggs. The meringue should now be beautifully glossy.


Add the ground nuts, and fold them into the meringue. Place a baking sheet on an oven tray, and spread the mixture in a 23 cm (9 inch) large circle on the baking sheet (it will be very thick). Place in the still hot oven, and bake for 10 minutes at 175 °C, then lower heat to 100 °C (200 °F), and bake for 75-90 minutes.


1 meringue
300 ml heavy cream
1 peach/mango mix
mint leaves


Whip the cream and spread over the meringue, top with the fruit and decorate with mint leaves.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Excuses, excuses...

Our two days in Öland were full of tasty food. Here is some lovely smoked shrimp from the local fishmonger.

It's been really quiet here at Butter & Beans for a while, what with the moving and vacationing and all that. I started school again, and Daniel started working, and there really hasn't been any time for cooking or baking, let alone blogging.

But this will all change as soon as I've dragged myself over to IKEA to stock up on some kitchen equipment. I have plenty of ideas I want to share with you all, so just hang on for a little while longer!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vacationing and moving

It's been a busy week or two. We flew up to Sweden last tuesday, stopped by Angelica's parents for a day, then had two days with my family on Öland, a large island off the Baltic sea coast in the southern parts of Sweden, and then came up to Stockholm, where we installed ourselves in a student dorm.

Naturally, we haven't had much time to cook and even less to take pictures of food. But it feels rude not to give you anything at all, dear reader. So I dug up a couple of nice shots from Öland, one of the dog, and one of my first own apartment, 2.5 years and six addresses ago.

View Larger Map

This is the location of Böda on northern Öland, where my family has been vacationing for several decades.


Himmelsberga is a very typical Öland village, now preserved as an open air museum.


Öland is a unique place, very beautiful and calm. Depicted here is Ramsnäs, a beach on the west coast of the island.


Tesla, named after legendary Serb inventor/scientist Nikola Tesla, is the last of the once three-dogs-strong pack that my parents keep. Luckily, the rumors are telling me there might be a puppy in the near future, to keep Tesla company. This picture shows Tesla engaging me in one of her favourite activities: you loop a finger around her fang, and she tries to pull you towards something fun, like a ball.


Moving homes is always a stressful activity. I left my parents' home in January 2006 in order to move to this little student room with the beautiful view. Since then I've lived in two locations in Stockholm, and three in Munich. Since this weekend, I'm at my third address in Stockholm, and as of September, I'll move into my fourth apartment in Munich. It's a nomadic life, but at least it means I make sure to travel light, and don't hoard unneccesary stuff. It's also helped me learn to utilize my sparse kitchen equipment to its full capacity, instead of perpetually buying new gadgets.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bavarian Comfort Food: Käsespätzle

Wow, it sure has been a while since I posted now. As the semester moved towards its inevitable conclusion, I was increasingly swamped in homework, then cramming, and lastly a little crescendo of exams. I did manage to get through it relatively unscathed, but I did feel a bit like a character from an old cartoon: all confused, and with a flock of little birds flying around my head, chirping something about statistics and stock portfolios.

This tuesday, however, it was finally over, and I could go back to spending all my time either thinking about, cooking, or eating food. Which I happily did, and as the weather took a turn for the worse, what better way to come back down to earth than some hearty comfort food?


Allgäuer Käsespätzle are the local, and much better tasting, version of Mac and Cheese. With the little knobs of slightly firm pasta known as Spätzle, mixed with crazy amounts of cheese and topped with fried onions, Käsespätzle is stringy, gooey, rich, comforting and delicious.

If you live in Bavaria, and are feeling lazy, you can easily buy decent Spätzle in any supermarket, but that's not how we roll here at Butter & Beans, oh no. Back in March, I lived in another student dorm, and when I realized one of my lovely neighbours there was an honest-to-God Allgäuer, I forced her to teach me the fine art of Spätzle making. This recipe is dedicated to her; thank you, Tanja!

Allgäuer Käsespätzle
Serves about two people.

If you ever pass through Bavaria, or know someone from the area, get them to set you up with a Spätzlehobel, and this will all be much easier. However, the recipe below will use the Real Man method, without need for special tools.

When it comes to cheese, if you want this to be real Allgäuer Käsespätzle, go for a mix of Allgäuer Emmentaler and Bergkäse. You could also use Appenzeller, or Le Gruyère, or basically any Swiss style cheese of alpine descent. Use a mix of mild and sharp cheeses to get your perfect taste profile.


250 g flour
5 eggs
2-4 Tbsp water
1-2 tsp salt
150-200 g cheese
1-2 onions, red or yellow


Mix flour, salt and eggs in a bowl, and add water little by little until you reach the right consistency. The batter should be rather firm, but still somewhat fluid. The ideal texture is slightly wetter than a bread dough, and quite a lot firmer than a pancake batter. Beat the batter with a wooden spoon until it goes smooth and starts forming air bubbles when beaten. Set it aside to rest for 20-30 minutes.


Meanwhile, grate the cheese, bring water to boil in a large pasta pot, and then slice the onions in thin rings or half-rings. Melt a large knob of butter in a skillet, and fry the onions on a medium flame until they get brown and crispy. Don't do it too quickly, or the onions will go bitter. Let the onions drain on some paper towels.
Heat oven to 175 °C.


When the dough has had its nap and the water is boiling, salt the water rather heavily, as for any pasta. Bring the water to a gentle simmer.
Spread the batter across a cutting board, and enjoy its lovely weird elastic texture.
Now use a knife to scrape small scraps of the batter straight into the simmering water. Work as quickly as you can, but don't worry too much if it takes a while.


When the Spätzle rise to the top, they're done. Remove them in batches with a slotted spoon, and set them in a small ovenproof tray. Between layers of Spätzle, layer in some of your grated cheese, and top it all off with the last of the cheese.
Place the tray in the oven until the cheese has melted nicely, then remove, sprinkle with the onions, and serve with a green salad.


Don't tell your cardiologist I gave you this recipe.