Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Klutz-Proof Kluskis

You've seen me drooling over kluski noodles before. There's something special about a kluski. It seems to have more character, more substance, than other noodles. I don't really know why that would be since the basic recipe is a simple egg-flour-water concoction. Maybe it's because the kluskis aren't all neatly trimmed and regimented but rather rough and homely and blue collar, if you will.

In any case, given that the last few days have been the opposite of last week's mini-heat wave and my thoughts have turned again to cool weather food, I got to hungering after some good old-fashioned kluskis. Originally a Polish food, it's become a staple of Amish cooking in this country. You can order kluski noodles online, which is a good thing since they aren't necessarily easy to find in the local grocery stores. In this area, I can buy kluskis at the supermarket in the neighboring town but not here at our little market.

Which is why I thought, hey! I'll betcha even a klutz like me can make kluskis. How hard can it be?

Not very, as it turns out. Your basic kluski recipe seems to require one cup of flour per egg, plus seasoning and enough water to form a kneadable dough. Since I only had one egg on hand, that made the measurements simple. Here's how it went for me. For larger batches, just keep the 1 egg per 1 cup of flour ratio.


In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup flour (any kind) and 1 teaspoon salt, plus any other seasoning you wish. (I used 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon, which is plenty salty enough by itself. All kinds of different herbs or spices would be fine, depending on your mood.) Make a well in the flour and drop in 1 egg that's been whisked fairly well. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and start mixing everything together. Add water as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball and starts cleaning the bowl. (The amount of water you need will probably vary according to how big your egg was and the humidity.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for about a minute. Pat it down flat and roll it out to the desired thickness. Kluskis are thick noodles but remember, they'll swell as they cook. I sort of forgot that swelling part so I cut mine bigger than I should have -- not that it really matters.

Let the dough air out for awhile. If you dust it lightly with flour, that will help it dry a bit. Put a kettle of water on the stove and set it to boil. For this much dough I used 6 cups of water, which seemed to work fine. Roll the dough up like you were going to make cinnamon rolls and cut it into narrow slices. When you unravel the slice, toss the resulting noodle onto a dish. When you finish, you'll have a nice tangled mass of noodles all ready to cook. (At this point, if you want to, you can let them continue to air dry for a while longer, then store, covered, in the refrigerator to cook later. Or you could freeze them to cook a lot later.)

Assuming you're too hungry to go for later, slide the noodles into the rapidly boiling water and stir gently to separate them and keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the full boil comes back, turn the heat down just enough to maintain the boil and let the noodles cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring a couple more times just to be safe.

After the 10 minutes is up, drain the noodles and pour them into a bowl. You can dress them up any way you want. For the above picture, I pan fried a can of drained tuna with 1 minced lemon drop pepper and added some of my homemade cream of chicken soup mix* and enough water to make a gravy. Poured that over the noodles and tossed everything together, then ladled some out onto a plate and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese. Then I sat down and took a taste.

Oh my sweet sybarite soul.

Not only did it taste wonderful, it tasted wonderful through two very generous meals. I'm sure it could have been stretched even further had I added something like shredded chicken and mixed veggies. And who knew something this good would be that easy to fix. When even Madame Klutz, here, can do it, anyone can. I'm already plotting variations on the next batch. Wonder how it would work to knead minced onions into the dough? Yum!


Mix together in a bowl: 2 cups nonfat dry milk, 3/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup chicken bullion granules or powder, 2 tablespoons dry onion flakes OR 1 teaspoon each onion powder, basil, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Store in airtight container at room temperature. To use: combine 1/3 cup dry soup mix with 1 1/4 cup water. Mix well in small saucepan, bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. (Or cook in microwave 2 to 4 minutes, whisking each minute until thick.)


Bonnie said...

Hey everyone she is going to serve this at the cafe she starts up. :-)

Dee said...

Nope. Not me. That would be too much like work, don'cha know? I'm sharing the recipes so we can all do this stuff, then we can sit around the kitchen table and compare notes.

John Bailey said...

This one sounds yummy, Dee. I've very little experience of noodles but I'm tempted to give 'em a try. In these days when economy forces us back into the kitchen we need all the encouragement we can get. More power to your experimental elbow, missus!

The Old Guy said...

You know, Dee, I think now that you're starting a cafe operation (denials denied), you'll be needing some hi-tech assistance to maintain quality assurance for your franchising operation. I suggest you start with a tasting spoon, and work into more complex stuff as growth permits. You've got the products, now get out there and market!

Dee said...

Well, if you're going to dip into the noodle-making depths for the first time, this simple recipe is a good place to start, John. No fancy equipment required and success practically guaranteed. And Lord knows, there are an awful lot of ways to use noodles!

Bill, you come up with some of the most fascinating information! Here you are, with just one more appliance that is smarter than I am. (sigh) But where do I buy the appliance that looks like the studly young man holding the spoon? And does he sound like Sean Connery?

Mage And George said...

As soon as I get a break.......

~ Sil in Corea said...

I made the tortillas using the puchingae mix and they turned out pretty darned good. Couldn't get them paper-thin, but they cooked up really fine. I made "gyros" or "wraps" with some marinara sauce my friend Jerry the Army Cook created, and tofu, leeks and cherry tomatoes, all fried together in grapeseed oil. Swoon! Thanks!

Hugs from the Orient,
~ Sil

Mage said...

I've got a break and where are you.