Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Whether ‘Zun schiassn’, or ‘priyā-vat’, it’s All About the Love

Both mean (I hope!!!) more or less the same thing. To have fallen in love with something. One in an , one in .

In this case, something unexpected.

We were just looking for ways to use some peppermint. Maybe going beyond the basic peppermint and chocolate combinations. Trying to get away from Christmas connotations (it is May, after all).


I came across a recipe for Kasnudeln, or I might call them Kaskrapfen. Basically giant pockets of dough filled with cheese and herbs, sort of like a huge ravioli. And it used, interestingly, peppermint as the key herb in the filling. The Kas in Kasnudeln refers to Käse, or cheese, but in the regional dialect of southern Austria, the little dots and their associated pronunciation got lost.

The noodle dough is just flour and water, with some eggs. Nothing out of the ordinary. The filling is made of cooked and mashed potatoes, Topfen (also called Quark – a sort of fresh cheese popular in Germany and Austria), and peppermint. You can now buy Quark in many stores, or you can easily make your own (as many in Germany do), or you can use something like ricotta. The recipe also called for Chervil, which I didn’t have – so I added some of the arugula blossoms (surprise!) for flavor.


But I didn’t just want to put the nudeln in the typical brown butter sauce.

So a little more investigation turned up Podina Chatni – or Mint Chutney. This seemed to have some nice complementary flavors – garlic, ginger, lime, cayenne, and of course peppermint. The chutney was simple to make – everything pureed in the food processor, no cooking at all. The flavor was very interesting. One comment by someone who did not know the actual ingredients was “Kiwi?”. To me, the lime, garlic and salt, along with the mint gave it sort of a tomatillo salsa flair. But with a kick from the onions and all the garlic.

So, I decided Austria, or more precisely, the Kaernten region of southern Austria would meet India. I was not really able to pinpoint the origin of the Podina Chanti within India – maybe it has been made for so long no one could determine something like that any more?

But the combination of the two worked well. As Emeril would say – “Oh, yeah, baby! Can you taste it? It’s all about the Love!”

The Kasnudeln are sort of a comfort food. Mild, subtle flavors. Soft texture. The Podina Chatni had a kick. And just a hint of a crunch from the onion. Just a little bit of the chutney with each bite of the nudel.

Two opposites whose attraction for each other resulted in a flavor I could really fall in love with.





Ingredients
1. Fresh Peppermint Leaves: 12 Twigs
Wash. Pick leaves and discard stems
2. Chopped Onions: 2 Cups
3. Fresh Garlic: 8 Cloves
Peel and crush.
4. Sugar: 2 Tablespoons
5. Salt: 1 Tablespoon
6. Cayenne pepper: 1½ teaspoon
7. Ginger powder: 1 teaspoon
8. Lime Juice: ½ Cup
9. Olive Oil: ½ Cup (Optional, see note)
Yield: 1 Quart

Method
Blend all ingredients well in a blender to pulverize.

Yield.... About 1 quart. Keep refrigerated.

NOTE
In traditional Indian cooking, no oil is used to make this type of chutney. I have found that adding oil gives it a very nice texture



(Kaerntner Kasnudeln with Quark-Potato Filling)

For 24 pieces
(note the measures are in metric)

Noodles:
600 g Dinkel or wheat flour, finely ground
1 tsp sea salt
3 egg
200 ml water
Filling:
750 g of earth apples, with the bowl cooked
600 g farmer potting, firmly
1 onion, fine-chopped
olive oil
1 tbsp chervil, chopped
1 tbsp peppermint, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
a dash of pepper
sprigs of fresh peppermint for garnish

Noodles:
Place the flour on a board. Add salt. Make a hole in the center, and add the eggs. Start working the eggs into the flour, adding a little water at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead for 10 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes, covered.

Roll the dough into a log, and cut 24 even disks. Roll each disk out to the size of your outstretched hand. Place a full tablespoon of filling at the center of one half of the dough, leacing room at the edges to seal. Dab the edge of the dough lightly with water, and fold the dough over the top of the filling, forming a half moon shape, and matching the edges at best as possible. Using two fingers, crimp the edge of the dough all the way around the seam side to seal. Repeat for remaining dough disks and filling. Place finished noodles on a floured surface.

Filling:
Cook the potatoes in their peels. Press them through a potato ricer, or peel them and mash them.
Sautee the onions in the olive oil until soft.
Place the mashed potatoes, onion and quark in a bowl. Add the herbs and seasonings, and mix well.

Preparation
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently place the noodles into the pot, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the noodles are cooking, place a few tablespoons of chutney onto four serving bowls, covering the bottom of the bowls.

Lift the noodles out of the water with a slotted spoon, allow to drain well, and set two or three noodles on top of the chutney on each bowl. Garnish with a sprig of peppermint. Serve. Enjoy!

Kaerntner nature kitchen
Heimo Grimm
Steiri publishing house company, Graz, 1999
ISBN: 3854890184

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