Cooking With Tropical Storm Ernesto


Summer came to a pretty abrupt and nasty end last weekend when the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto hit the New York Metro area with 50MPH winds and torrential rains, keeping anyone that was sane inside with nothing to do. We couldn’t go out, and our DirecTV wasn’t getting any reception. So besides the obvious, what’s a couple to do?

We cooked up a storm — in a storm.

We decided to roast a chicken, which was rubbed with smoked paprika and a bit of salt and pepper. We wanted to set some food aside for the next day or so just in case the weather was horrible all weekend.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see what else we cooked during Tropical Storm Ernesto.


We had a whole bunch of potatoes that needed to be cooked, so Rachel suggested making a traditional gratin. Gratin is a casserole type dish that holds up really well, and it made a good side for the chicken to have for dinner the next few days.

The mise en place consisted of leftover grated cheese, peeled and thinly sliced potatoes (courtesy of the OXO mandoline), fresh herbs from our garden, butter and some whole milk. We would have used cream, but we didn’t have any.

Fresh thyme from the garden.

Parsley and Rosemary

Gratin in the oven

Finished Gratin

Plated gratin

Taking stock of what else was in the fridge, we had some center cut boneless pork chops which I thought might be good to pound into scallopine for a chicken marsala-type dish.

We had some brussel sprouts which we had just picked from our garden too. These we simply steamed. While steaming isn’t my favorite preparation for Brussel Sprouts, if they are garden fresh, you avoid the stinkyness quite a bit and they taste a lot better. The ones in the supermarket have usually been sitting for a while.

I sliced up a pile of mushrooms.

We then lightly flour dredged the pounded cutlets.

And cooked them in butter.

After the cutlets got cooked most of the way through, we reserved them in the toaster oven to keep warm.

We then added some flour to the pan, cooking it to a light roux, and then added and cooked the mushrooms. A little bit of sherry was added, with lemon juice, salt and pepper for taste.

Pork scallopine was re-incroporated into the pan along with fresh herbs.

At this point the poodles had become extremely interested in what was going on.

We needed a side dish for the scallopine. I thought that since we were doing pork instead of veal or chicken, it had certain Alsatian/German overtones so it was a perfectly good excuse to make Spaetzle. We used a very simple recipe from aaltonet.com. This was 2 cups of AP flour, 2 eggs, 1tsp of salt and 3/4 cup of milk, pressed thru a potato ricer (you can use a colander as well) into boiling water, pulled out of the pot when floating to the top, then tossed with butter and parsley.

We had some peaches that were going to go bad if we didn’t use them soon, so we made a cobbler.

Closeup of finished dish.

11 Responses to Cooking With Tropical Storm Ernesto

  1. I didn’t know it was that easy to make Spaetzle…I have that same ricer too. Thx Jason!

  2. What an amazingly simple yet creative meal you folks made … every finished item looked delectable!

  3. kitchentable says:

    What a wonderful dinner!

    Another option for brussel sprouts, especially if you don’t grow them – use that mandoline and shred them. Add them to a hot skillet where you have some warm olive oil and already translucent shallots. The shredding takes time, but the cooking will be 5 minutes tops. No sulphur, only sweetness. Toss in some toasted pecans for good measure.

  4. Rachel Perlow says:

    “I didn’t know it was that easy to make Spaetzle…I have that same ricer too.”

    I tried to find a link to buy that ricer for others. I bought it at Williams Sonoma more than 5 years ago. I can’t find any link to the same type on the internet (except for some old cached pics). The main thing is to have the larger holed/larger spaced insert for it. This ricer came with 3 blades, one is small holes close together, another with large holes close together, and the third I use for spaetzle. If you use the ones with the close together holes, the dough can glob together before it hits the water. And Alton Brown would approve, because it’s a multi-tasker. A spaetzle hex is a one use tool, boo.

  5. Bux says:

    You can also cut the brussel sprouts in half and cook them with some translucent shallots, but one of my favorite ways to cook them is to core them as you might do to a cabbage, (a bit time consuming I know, but worth the effort) separate the leaves and toss the leaves in a frying pan in which you’ve already crisped some lardons of either bacon or pancetta (providing the fat to cook the shallots as well). I don’t know if that’s more, or less, time consuming than kitchentable’s shredding, but it’s nice to vary the way one cooks any vegetable. Just as different shapes of pasta seem to taste differently in my mouth, I find vegetables cut in different ways provide different gastronomic sensations.

    Nice looking spaetzle, by the way.

  6. Trip Bakun says:

    Everything looks super tasty. I haven’t had spaetzle since visiting Switzerland 3 years ago. With that simple recipe (thanks for the link!), I may have to give it the ol’ college try. Any recommendations (all of my collanders have very tiny holes) for forming the spaetzle other than the ricer?

  7. Rachel Perlow says:

    Trip:

    You can use also use a food mill. I’ve never actually used a colander, and the traditional spaetzle makers (a flat colandar with a hopper to slide back & forth) don’t look like they’d be easy to use, to me.

    Some recipes call for a thicker dough (cut the milk back to 1/2 cup?), spread it out on a cutting board and use an offset spatula, knife, or bench scraper to cut the thick noodles.

    Hmm, you could try putting the dough in a pastry bag with a small holed tip inserted and squeeze out the dough into the water, you might want to use a knife or kitchen shears to cut the noodles while cooking (I’m thinking of a technique I saw the Chinese Iron Chef use to make fish noodles).

  8. Rachel Perlow says:

    I forgot to add, that if you don’t have a pastry bag, use a freezer zip lock bag and snip off a bit from the corner.

  9. Trip Bakun says:

    I like the suggestion for using the pastry/freezer bag. That’s probably easier than trying to borrow a food mill from a friend. My wife and I also thought about making it thicker and cutting it into strips, but think that the freezer bag will create less of a mess when it comes time to clean up.

  10. […] We got so many inquiries relating to the Spätzle we made a week or so ago during our Hurricane Ernesto cooking day that we decided to do a video going thru the whole process, and also to show you how to make a traditional Oktoberfest variation on the dish, käsespätzle which is essentially the German take on Mac and Cheese. I can assure you that its totally worth making and it’s one of the best mac and cheese dishes you’ve ever head. Plus it goes really good with sausages and beer. […]

  11. Kate Daniels says:

    Thanks for this! I was wondering if one could use a ricer for spaetle. I’ve never made Spaetle, though you would think with a last name like Schnel I would have!

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