Breakfast/Brunch

12. Austria: Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

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I was in Austria last summer, in Linz! Leading an amazing summer camp for 3 weeks! Austria in summer is often said to be boring or not interesting, but that is bullshit!  I know what your thinking, why would you want to go to Austria in summer when there is no snow! Exactly what I was thinking! But it was surprisingly hot, so hot that me and the kids had to look for shadow every time we went outside. Everytime we went outside to play soccer or play games everyone was advised to bring a water bottle. And yes the mountains are beautiful and the skiing is amazing in Austria and i’m not even mentioning the epic apres-skiparties with schlagermusic. But Austria also has some really cool cities. Salzburg for instance, picturesque with all the shops that still have their original sign board. I a real sucker for these details. Linz with it’s relaxed and layed-back atmosphere during the yearly international street art festival! I haven’t been to Vienna yet but only heard good stories about it! So here is some stuff you didn’t know about Austria:

  • The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade.
  • Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) has over 2.5 million tombs (more than the city’s live population), including those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Hollywood actor and current governor of California, grew up as an Austrian citizen.
  • Over 60 % of Austria’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources.
  • Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own wine.  Vineyards within the city limits produce incredible wine.
  • The most famous movie about Austria is of course The sound of music but you knew that already, but did you also know that most Austrians have never seen it nor heard about it! I experienced this myself and I think it’s priceless that half the world knows the songs by hard they haven’t even seen it!

Here is a playlist with austrian music I hope you like it! I sure did! http://8tracks.com/resl/musical-gems-made-in-austria

Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

And now for this weeks recipe I made Spaetzle with gruyere and caramelized onion. It’s the mac and cheese of Austria. It’s a very popular dish for after skiing.  But not as easy as I thought it would be making the Spaetzle is actually kind of hard even if you have a special pan for it! , I failed twice before I got it right so you really really really have to stick to the measurements I’m giving you. Because if you add to much milk and you think ooh well it was just a little too much that won’t matter, start over because you will mess up and it will and end up like a big fat burned ugly pancake at the bottom of your pan that it really hard to scrape off!

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 onion, sliced thinly,1 shredded Gruyère cheese (to taste, I added a lot because I loovvveee cheese!)

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. But don’t over stir it because again you will mess up! Let rest 10-20 minutes. The dough should be like pancake batter. While the batter is resting your can sauté the onion in butter and set them aside. Fill a pan with simmering water. Now comes the tricky part if you messed up your gonna notice it right now!

So again here are your guidelines how to not mess it up:

  1. Do not over-mix the dough will be tough. Just combine ingredients with your hand or a spoon until just mixed.
  2. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes after mixing. This gives time for the dough to relax and become more tender.
  3. Never boil the dough. Simmering keeps the dough… you guessed it… more tender.
  4. And last but not least do not add to much milk!

I used a special pan because I was lucky my roommate apparently had one. But you can just use a colander. Pour your batter into the colander above the pan so drops of batter will fall through the colander and you will get perfect spaetzle! They are ready when they start floating. Which takes about a minute. Add the spaetzle to a oven dish and add the caramelized onion as well. Sprinkle over the grated gruyere cheese, and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

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2. Albania: Byrek Filopastry with spinach and feta cheese

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Albania another country I know nothing about, but as you must know by now I’m very eager to learn. What do I know about Albania, it’s in Eastern Europe (Balkan country) and the capital is Tirana,… euhm I guess that’s about all I know about Albania. So I looked up some fun facts about Albania:

  • Albania, Armenia and Vatican City are the only European countries without a McDonald’s branch.
  • Albanians nod their head up and down to mean ‘no’, and shake it from side to side for ‘yes’(I guess that would beconvienient to know for people who are visiting Albania, could solve a lot of misunderstandings)
  • Sometimes Albanians add an extra zero to the end of numbers. Albanians do this sometimes not to be shady but rather out of habit since that is the difference between the “old lek” and “new lek”. For instance, someone might say you owe 1000 lek when they really mean you owe 100 lek. (I find this very odd to say the least!)
  • Mother Teresa was from Albania and is the only Albanian Noble Price Winner.
  • There are more Albanians who live outside Albania, then inside Albania. (a lot of the people outside of Albania are gypsies)

This seems like a very odd little country, but again we are eager to learn, let’s hope there kitchen is better then their counting :D . But I read everywhere that Albanians are very generous and when they invite you for diner you will get enough to feed an army eventhough the host has to go hungry the next day, which I think is very admirable because they don’t have a lot to give. It’s close to Greece, so their kitchen must contain products and spices that are similar to the Greek kitchen.

Here is some albanian pop music for you to enjoy while cooking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVgsYttAlCc

So this week I made Byrek, it’s a kind of vegetarian side (although sometimes they put in meat as well). I can also be eaten with a sweet filling of pumpkin for instance. But I chose to make the most traditional recipe. I served it for lunch with some green salad. I guess you could compare it to an East European form of quiche.

So this week I made Byrek, it’s a kind of vegetarian side (although sometimes they put in meat as well). I can also be eaten with a sweet filling of pumpkin for instance. But I chose to make the most traditional recipe. I served it for lunch with some green salad. I guess you could compare it to an East European form of quiche.

albanie byrek

 

Ingredients: 1 cup of olive oil, filodough about 30 pastry leaves, 600gr of spinach, 1 cup of diced feta cheese, 1 cup of chopped green onion, 2 eggs, salt

Preheat the oven to 180C. Fry off the spinach in a little olive oil and salt. Brush the baking pan with some of the oil and start layering the pastry leaves inside. First lay 2 leaves, sprinkle or brush them with oil, then lay 2 other leaves and repeat the procedure. Until half of the leaves are laid. Make sure that they cover the pan by hanign them about one cm over the edges of the pan. Mix the spinach with the feta cheese oil onions and eggs and spread the mixture over the already laid pastry leaves. Finish by covering the spinach with the rest of the pastry leaves repeating the procedure with the oil. Put in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Next week it’s Algeria’s turn! I can’t wait! :D