During the school holiday we spent a few days in the city, eating one memorable meal at an Austrian restaurant in Tribeca. There was no discreet way to take a photo, so you will just have to take my word for it that Jake Gyllenhaal was sitting just a few tables away from us, enjoying cheese fondue I believe. The children were less impressed with the movie stars (oh, yes, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard were there also) than with the spatzle. They have been asking ever since if I could make this rustic Austrian egg pasta at home. I did so last night, serving it not with ham, but with a tasty meatloaf flavored with dill and mustard. Here's the spatzle recipe:
Serves 4 as a side dish
You can buy an inexpensive potato ricer at the Variety Store (114 Main Street; 725-9706), if you don't already own one.
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
Ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a medum bowl. Stir in the flour until smooth. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Spoon about half of the dough into a potato ricer fitted with the disk with the large holes. Press down on the ricer, extruding about an inch of the dough through the holes and then slicing it into the boiling water, using a sharp paring knife (don't worry if the dough pieces clump together--just break them up by stirring with a wooden spoon as they cook). Repeat with the remaining dough.
3. When the spatzle pieces float to the surface of the water (this will take 2 to 3 minutes), scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl.
4. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cooked spatzle to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to crisp up and color a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, hot from the pan.