Homemade Spaetzle and Dad’s Beef Stew

Sundays are good cooking days. Lots of time and not much else to do besides clean the house a little and relax. I’ve had a couple recipes in mind for a while now, but they both definitely required a Sunday. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I embarked upon this 3 hour dinner project…

When Nick and I lived in Daytona, we made quite a few trips to Disney, particularly Epcot. As much as we hated the parks after a while, we never got tired of eating at the enormous German buffet at Epcot. Aside from the 25 different kinds of meat and sausage, one of Nick’s favorite things at the buffet is the spaetzle, a German egg noodle type dish. For a while now, he’s been asking me to try making some.

Last week, for my birthday, my dad sent me a new cookbook, Five Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson from the Food Network. When I picked up the cookbook, the first page it flipped open to was a recipe for Ricotta Thyme Spaetzle. I figured it was probably a sign that it was time to make it. Since it’s a somewhat very labor intensive process, I put it on my Sunday cooking list.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make with it, but then I remembered that my dad had emailed me a recipe for a beef stew he really likes when I first started the blog. We all know Nick likes his meat, so I figured I wouldn’t get any complaints. The beef stew recipe called for potatoes, but I left them out since we had the spaetzle for carbs. The recipe also called for half the amount of wine I used, but Dad said he likes to “let the bottle slip,” so I did too. :)

Just a side note, if you’re planning on making two recipes whose main spice is thyme, you should probably make sure you have thyme before you start cooking. Whoops. I substituted half/half parsley/sage for the stew, and the Ricotta Thyme Spaetzle became Ricotta Sage Spaetzle.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

(adapted from American Home Cooking by Frances Cleary)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 4-5 celery stalks
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 lbs “beef for stew” (according to the label on the meat I bought)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 package mushrooms, quartered

Preheat the over to 375 degrees.

I started with the veggies. I ended up using another carrot and another couple celery stalks. I like veggies.

Chop up all the veggies. Add half the oil to a dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Add the veggies and cook until slightly soft, about 5-10 minutes.

While they’re cooking, mix the paprika and flour in a large Ziploc bag, add the meat, and coat it evenly.

Remove the veggies from the pot and set aside. Add the rest of the oil, then brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Once the meat is browned, dump the veggies back in the pot. Add the tomato paste, wine, stock and herbs and bring to a boil.

Cover and transfer the pot to the oven for 1 hour. This is where I made dessert, and then started to clean up. Half way through my cleaning, this happened:

Have I mentioned before how much I despise this apartment?? Sunday cooking day is really not a good day for this to happen. Of course Sunday is also the one day the management office is closed. Wonderful.

I’d already come this far. I couldn’t stop now. So I just shuttled back and forth to the bathroom sink and made a really big mess.

Anyways, back to the recipe. After an hour, take the pot out of the oven, and add the mushrooms.

Put the pot back in the oven and go make your spaetzle. After 30 minutes, the stew will be done, but I can’t guarantee the spaetzle will be…

Yum. Now let’s get on to the difficult part…

Ricotta Thyme (or Sage) Spaetzle

(from Five Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson)

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups ap flour
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme (or sage)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Melt the butter in a large skillet, and set aside. Butter the inside of a large bowl.

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt & pepper.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and water. Then fold in the ricotta and thyme.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour and mix until smooth.

Now for the fun part. In batches, with a large rubber spatula, hold a colander with medium holes over the boiling water and push the batter through the holes into the water.

Cook each batch until they all float, about 1 minute. Using a large strainer or slotted spoon, lift them out of the water, shake off the excess water, and drop them into the buttered bowl. Continue cooking spaetzle, tossing in the buttered bowl to keep them from sticking.

Bring the skillet with the melted butter to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the butter begins to brown a bit. Add the spaetzle and toss well to coat in the browned butter.

Now put some spaetzle in a bowl, and top with the stew. Steamy.

The stew was AWESOME! The meat was super tender and the extra veggies and wine were definitely good modifications. The spaetzle was good too, but not totally to die for, and probably not worth the effort put into it. Next time I’ll buy premade egg noodles or use the potatoes, but it was fun to try once!

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be Sunday dinner without dessert. On Saturday we’d picked up some awesome looking strawberries and blueberries from a little Farmer’s Market.

Scanning the fridge, I thought about using the leftover ricotta for some kind of dessert, but then I spotted some heavy whipping cream leftover from a pasta dish Nick made for me on Valentine’s Day. My dad always breaks out the mixer and makes homemade whipped cream, so I figured since the rest of the meal came from him, dessert should too!

Cinnamon Almond Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Whip the cream and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add the cinnamon and extract and whip a few more seconds.

Top the berries with whipped cream and enjoy!

After dessert, we had to tackle the mess I made. I put as much as I possibly could in the dishwasher, but a lot of my mess was full of chunks of food. I ended up washing most of the dishes with the little hand sprayer while Nick pressed his thumb over the open hole where the faucet used to be.

Sigh. I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to move again.

Thanks, Dad, for the awesome dinner! :)

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