Sunday, February 7, 2016

Maultaschen






I've wanted to make Maultaschen for a very long time. They are a southern German type ravioli that are often served in broth or baked in a casserole with onions, cream and cheese. I came across a lot of recipes for these. Some used spinach, leeks or chives, some were meatless, others used beef instead of pork. This recipe came together after several tries and reminds me of the spinach and bratwurst ones I tried in Munich many years ago.

My method of forming Maultaschen is different. In Germany they often spread a thin layer of filling over a portion of the dough then fold that up. Using a the handle of a wooden spoon pressed down hard, the individual Maultaschen are formed and then cut apart. There are photos illustrating this method on a German blog here. I tried that twice and failed both times. My Maultaschen opened up during the cooking, so I just left space between the filling and cut them apart after I enclosed and sealed them with a bit of water.

This recipe makes about 30 Maultaschen and they freeze really well if you don't plan on serving them all at once.

dough
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 large eggs
water, as needed

Combine the flour and eggs in a large bowl or a food processor. Add enough water until you have a soft tacky noodle dough. If you are using the food processor, then run the motor until the dough forms into a ball. If you are doing this by hand, then knead it a few times once it all comes together.


Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30-40 minutes.

filling
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
5 oz package fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
3/4 lb good quality bratwurst (not precooked), casings removed
1 large egg
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the butter over medium heat and when it's ready, add the garlic. Saute for a minute or so then add the onion. Cook until the onions are translucent and lightly browned. Cool.

In a large bowl combine the fresh breadcrumbs, spinach, parsley, bratwurst, egg, nutmeg, salt, pepper and the cooled onion mixture. Fry up a tablespoon of the filling mixture to check for seasoning and make any adjustments if needed.


To form the Maultaschen, cut off about 1/6 of a piece of noodle dough and roll that out into a thin rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

Place heaping tablespoons of filling about 3/4 inch apart in the middle of the dough strip. (I was able to get about 5 Maultaschen with each section I rolled out.) Lightly moisten the edges around the filling with water and then fold the top edge down carefully over the filling followed by folding the bottom edge over the filling (see photos). Cut them apart with a pizza or pastry cutter. If you plan on freezing some of these, then place the formed Maultaschen onto a silicone mat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet, not touching in a single layer. Freeze for several hours before bagging them (for the freezer).


Continue making the Maultashen until all of the dough and filling have been used up.

to serve
about 1 1/2 cups beef broth for each serving of 3-4 Maultaschen
chopped parsley

Heat the beef broth until it simmers lightly. Add the Maultaschen and cook for about 10 minutes (add about 2 minutes if they are frozen).

To serve, divide among bowls and then garnish with chopped parsley.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sesame Rye Crackers



For the first time in about 14 years I neglected to get my flu shot last fall. I kept meaning to get around to it, and then I simply forgot. Well, I managed to catch the flu with a vengeance and that has kept me in bed for the better part of this month. I'm mostly recovered, but I haven't regained my sense of taste. Everything seems kind of bland at the moment and I don't feel much like cooking.

These crackers are fairly straightforward to make and by making them at home you know exactly what's in them. Feel free to experiment with different flours or seeds. Add some grated cheese! The possibilities are endless.

This recipe is enough for about one large cookie sheet worth of crackers. You can easily double this recipe for more.

1/2 cup dark rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/3 cup water, at room temperature
1 egg , yolk and white separated

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a  mixing bowl, combine the flours, all but two tablespoons sesame seeds and salt. Make a well in the middle and set aside.

Whisk together the egg yolk and water and pour this mixture into the well. Stir the mixture until you get a stiff tacky dough. You might have to add a few teaspoons of water if the mixture doesn't all come together.

Knead a few times, then divide the dough in half.

Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface between 1/8 and 1/12th of an inch thick. Sprinkle with small amounts of flour as needed to prevent the thin sheet of dough from sticking. 


Whisk about a tablespoon of water into the egg white and brush some of this over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of the reserved sesame seeds. Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired.

Using a pizza or pastry cutter, cut the dough into small squares or diamonds. You can cut out circles if you wish, however you will have to deal with the scraps afterwards.

Place the crackers onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet in a single layer. They can be placed quite close together as they will not expand or rise.

Repeat with the second half of the cracker dough.

Bake the crackers for about 20-30 minutes, or until they have browned lightly and are fairly dry and crispy. Turn off the oven and open the door a bit. Leave the crackers inside until the oven has cooled completely.

Once thoroughly cooled, the crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 8 days, or in a ziplock bag in the freezer indefinitely.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oyster Stew

(4 servings)

I had intended on serving this New Years Day, but it sort of fell by the wayside as things sometimes do. This delicious oyster stew comes together fairly quickly and can make a wonderful winter meal when served with slices of buttered toast.


4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint small shucked oysters and their liquor
2 tbsp unbleached flour
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed
2 pinches cayenne
salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables have softened; about 15-20 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent the mixture from burning.

While the shallot and celery mixture is cooking, pass the oyster liquor through a fine strainer to remove any sand. Set aside.

When the vegetable mixture has softened, sprinkle the flour evenly over the surface and stir. Gradually stir in the reserved oyster liquor, milk and half and half. Carefully heat the mixture until small bubbles appear around the edges. Do not boil.

Stir in the fennel and cayenne. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Stir in the oysters. They don't need to cook for very long (otherwise they might become tough), just until their edges begin to curl; about 2 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and serve the stew immediately. Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley. Nice with buttered toast.