Somedays I look out into the world and it is fresh with possibilities. This week I had one of those days. Filled with inspiration and a desire to try something different. Those are the days I look forward to the most.
The inspiration for this post was what would be possible with the recipes that grandma left behind if every ingredient was available, if there were no limits. I thought about her Halušky recipe, a meal that has been a part of my life since I was a very small child. A dish that has been made for me and by me one way for as long as I can remember. In the 1920’s, Grandma had limited ingredients available to work with; eggs, flour and potatoes were staples. I have recipes of hers where I see her include new ingredients and I’m sure that she discovered them when she emigrated to the United States gaining access to try different things. She felt inspired.
My inspiration came from a pile of sweet potatoes at my local market. I could picture Halušky made with sweet potatoes, topped with blue cheese, sage and spiced apples.
Serves 6 – 8 depending on accompaniments and if served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Ingredients For the Sweet Potato Halušky (Dumplings)
2 Pounds of Sweet Potato
3 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 Egg Beaten
Ingredients for the Toppings (optional)
1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Sugar
4-5 Fresh Sage Leaves
2 Tablespoons Butter
Blue Cheese Crumbles (approximately 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon per plate, to taste)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Peel the Sweet Potatoes and slice into uniform sized rounds about 1/8″ think. Place peeled and cut sweet potatoes into a pot large enough to hold and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and tender. Cool the sweet potatoes under running water. In batches puree the sweet potatoes, or use a potato masher to manually mash the sweet potatoes into a fine smooth pulp. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until it is a combined and smooth. Add the beaten egg and stir again until smooth and combined. Mix until it yields a slightly wet, tacky dough that holds together. If the dough is too wet add flour in small amounts until the consistency is correct.
Boil water in a medium to large stock pot and prepare a colander resting on a plate off to the side to collect the cooked dumplings. One of two methods may be used to create the Halušky (Dumplings).
Grandma prepared the potato dumplings by putting about 1/2 cup of dough on a cutting board and quickly pushing off individual dumplings using a butter knife into the boiling water. The cutting board should be wood and small with no gutter around the edge. Cook the dumplings until they float to the top and are cooked through completely. Cooking time depends on the size of the dumpling. Using a slotted spoon move the cooked dumplings to a colander. When the water returns to a boil complete the next batch. Repeat until all of the dough has been cooked. Eat plain, topped with the options suggested below or other toppings.
Preparation Modification that can save time (as completed for the final plated photos):
Using a spaetzle maker of your choice, following the tool’s instructions, push the dough through dropping them into the boiling water. This will be done in stages. Do not over fill your pot with dumplings, they need to float to the top. Cook the dumplings until they float to the top and the are cooked through completely. Cooking time depends on the size of the dumpling. Using a slotted spoon move the cooked dumplings to a colander. When the water returns to a boil complete the next batch. Repeat until all of the dough has been cooked. Dumplings will be slightly smaller using this method. Eat plain, topped with the options suggested below or other toppings.
For the Optional Toppings (you can prepare the apples first, refrigerate and reheat when the dumplings are ready )
Peel and core the apples, cut into thin even slices. Roughly chop the sage leaves, discarding the stems. In a non stick frying pan large enough to hold the apples melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and sauté the apples, add the sage, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg as the apples start to brown. Continue cooking until evenly coated. Remove from heat and top hot dumpling with the apple mixture, blue cheese and salt/pepper to taste.