Their parents moved to New York
from Budapest on April 19, 1939.
- with a short foray in London,
where they were married, in between.
They were absolutely gorgeous.
Walter, Sr., was 6 feet 3 inches tall and better looking than Errol Flynn.
Giselle, nicknamed Gizi, was 5 foot 2, blond and beautiful
- as pretty as any World War II pinup.
She had been educated in a Swiss boarding school
and was more exotic-looking than the suburban Westchester housewives who surrounded her.
She kept a Victory Garden,
worked outside the home, designed and crafted beautiful needlepoint,
and founded Modern Knitting magazine.
Margaret on the Cover of Modern Knitting Magazine wearing a Gizi DesignShe was also a fantastic cook.
Photo Courtesy of mkdesigner at Etsy
Photo Courtesy of mkdesigner at Etsy
I didn't meet Gizi until she was in her eighties, but I was lucky enough to spend two weekends at the farm with her learning how to cook some of her family's favorite dishes. Together we made her chicken paprikash,
which has more tomatoes in it than any recipe I have seen elsewhere, her goulash, a delicious dish made with yellow summer squash and sour cream, and, of course, what she called nockerli and what most everyone else calls spaetzle.
Gizi made the nockerli by mixing up the batter and flecking off small pieces of it from a little board, using a small paring-size knife that she would dip in water as she went along. Fleck, fleck, fleck, fleck, fleck - at a rapid-fire pace. Walter has the little board in a drawer at the farm. The first time I used it by myself, the nockerli were too big. Almost the size of gnocchi. Totally unacceptable.
So I went on a search for a spaetzle maker. Paprikas Weiss was still open at the time, and I thought I would have luck there. But I didn't. The spaetzle makers I got just didn't work. I really have no idea why, but the results were less than successful until I found this spaetzle maker,
at the time available from King Arthur Flour. It was more expensive than the others, approximately $40. It turned out to be worth every penny. I don't know why I had success with this one; it certainly looks like two of the other spaetzle makers I went through. But all I can say is this one is high quality, it works, and is a tool worth having. It's available now at Chef's Gadget, and if you're interested in making spaetzle - and who wouldn't be - I highly recommend you get one while you can.
Spaetzle is easy, delicious, and versatile because iit goes well with many dishes. Hungarians serve it as a side dish, drained then tossed with butter, salt, and pepper.
Germans drain it then cook it in a skillet in butter, sometimes in butter in which onions have already been sauteed. It's excellent both ways, but I only cook it in a pan with butter when it's left over.
This is not really a recipe. It's a set of instructions. Once you make it, you will get the hang of it.
For 4 servings
A pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
Water - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
A walnut-size lump of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the egg in a bowl and beat it with a little salt.
Add the flour,
stir with the egg, then add water until you get a batter - looser than bread batter but not so loose that it would pour off a spoon.
It has to be thick enough that when you put it into the spaetzle maker, it doesn't fall through the holes on its own. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Put water into a pot, making sure the spaetzle maker spans the diameter of the pot, bring the water to a boil, and lightly salt it.
Put all the batter into the shuttle of the spaetzle maker,
put the spaetzle maker over a pan of boiling water, and very quickly (so the steam from the pan of boiling water doesn't clog the holes) start to move the shuttle back and forth over the water until all the batter is in the water. The nockerli - or spaetzle - will quickly float to the surface.
Cook for about a minute then pour into a strainer. Shake the strainer to remove some of the water.
Put the nockerli back in the now-drained pan off the heat, and add the walnut-size lump of butter. Stir while the butter melts, then add a little salt and black pepper to taste.
The German Way