knoephla soup

We have had a great big week! On Friday, we wrapped filming and ate a bunch of fried food to celebrate. It was so sad to see everyone go, but unlike the past two seasons when I didn’t know if the show would be renewed or not before wrapping, this time I knew they’d all be back in July! And they’ll be able to meet Poppy Seed! Over the two weeks of filming, Poppy Seed grew soo much and also flipped to be head down. For a little while I kept patting what I thought was her head but then we went to the doctor and confirmed that I’d been patting the butt this whole time. Hehe. Even though the counter became further and further away, my carpal tunnel symptoms luckily subsided (there will be a lot of pre-chopped vegetables in these episodes!) but then my brain turned to mush! Toward the end of the run it sometimes took me like six attempts to explain the simplest things like how to put sprinkles on the rugelach. And I dropped an entire tray of choco tacos. But thankfully I was able to hold onto my energy for the most part and avoid back pain, which were my two greatest fears other than over baking the potato bagels. On my evenings and days off, I recharged by swimming, watching figure skating, and descending deeper into my bachelor obsession. 

After wrapping, Eggboy and Poppy Seed and I were thrown the most beautiful baby shower by our moms (soon to be grandmas!), sisters (aunties!!!), and friends. It was sprinkle and hotdish themed, and they took my fear of baby shower games seriously so it was a lovely afternoon of eating confetti petit fours and tater tot hotdish, hanging out with friends from near and far, writing funny things on diapers, and unveiling the sweetest gifts that ranged from ultra practical (mountains of diapers!) to ultra homespun (like cousin Elaine’s hand knit sprinkle cupcake hats!!) to ultra hippo. I’m obsessed with this hippo. He’s sitting right next to me and I can’t stop looking at him and giggling. Eggboy and I felt soo loved and got even more excited to bring Poppy Seed into our extremely rad mishpocha. 

Continuing on with my list of foods that I plan to stock in our freezer for my maternity leave, I have to share this soup with you that is the best kept secret of the upper Midwest. Knoephla soup is right up with tater tot hotdish as my favorite new food that I’ve learned about since moving here. Knoephla (neh-fla) are little chewy dumplings that made their way to this area with German immigrants and are most commonly enjoyed in creamy potato soup, but can also be sautéed with sauerkraut and sausage or put into hotdish. They are kind of like plumper smoother spaetzle and the frozen store-bought ones look a lot like mochi bits. Knoephla soup is traditionally made without meat, just potatoes, vegetables, a bit of cream, and my favorite (from Dakota Harvest, r.i.p.) had the most warming hit of nutmeg. The texture of the dumplings and the pure comfort of it all makes this the kind of soup that I just shovel into my mouth with abandon. We had it at our wedding and for years now I’ve wondered why it hasn’t seemed to pick up that much popularity outside of the upper Midwest. The #knoephla hashtag is my favorite hashtag to follow on IG but all of the posts are from North Dakota! Many of them are from Kroll’s dinner, which has a killer version that you can supposedly buy by the bucket (?!), just in case you find yourself at one of those. This is probably one of the only areas where you can buy frozen knoephla at the grocery store, but not to worry, they are very easy to make. I have a recipe in Molly on the Range for knoephla soup but this is a new and improved version because over the past couple of years I’ve started adding more herbs to it, including an egg in the dumplings for added chewiness, and making a much bigger batch so that I can freeze some. I’m not sure if adding dill would be considered the most traditional move, but as I become closer and closer to being a Jewish mother, I’m more inclined than ever to channel severely dill-y matzo ball soup vibes into, like, everything. So while it’s still winter, make a gigantic batch of this and then eat it on the couch from under a fluffy blanket. 


knoephla soup

Serves 8-10

instructions

3 tb unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp nutmeg

10 c chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 sprigs dill, chopped

4 sprigs parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 lb (680g) red potatoes, chopped into 1/2” pieces

1 1/2 lb (680g) store-bought frozen knoephla or homemade knoephla (recipe below)

1/2 c (120g) heavy cream

clues

in a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. add the onions, carrots, celery, a good pinch of salt, and a few turns of black pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. add the garlic and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until fragrant.

stir in the stock, herbs, bay leaves, and potatoes, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. if using store-bought frozen dumplings, add them when the soup reaches a boil. if using homemade dumplings, begin making them when the soup reaches a boil and then add them for the last 20 minutes of simmering.

stir in the cream. taste and adjust seasonings as desired. remove the bay leaves before serving.

enjoy!

to freeze, let cool and transfer to freezer safe containers. freeze for up to three months and defrost in the microwave or overnight in the fridge, and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

knoephla

3 1/4 c (422g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

black pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 c (236g) water

1 large egg

to make the knoephla:

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, a few turns of pepper, and the nutmeg. stir in the water and egg and mix to form a shaggy dough. turn it out onto a clean work surface and knead it for a few minutes, adding flour as needed, until you have a smooth and stiff dough. roll it into 1/2”-thick blob, cut into 1/2”-3/4” squares, dusting with flour so they don’t stick together, and drop them directly into simmering soup.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett! dutch oven by great jones!

lefse

It has come to the point in the holiday season where I really just want to stick a straw into the balloon that is the month of December and blow it up a little. I’d like it to be two weeks longer, or maybe three. That’s the amount of time that I estimate I’d need to get all of the holiday things done that I want to get done, including just being able to sit comfortably in the holiday spirit without getting nervous that it’s going to end before I can have enough Sufjan Christmas moments.

I had a lot of mediumly grand plans this holiday season: adding rose nougat to my annual cookie boxes, throwing a Lefse and Latke Chrismukkah Party, making a Dala horse shaped stollen-y cake, and not having to pay for expedited shipping on the gifts I ordered online. At most, I only achieved abridged versions of these (thanks to these quick stollen bars and free shipping from Pendleton). But no party and no nougat. Which is fine because this season was still packed with other people’s parties, almond-heavy cookie swaps, and little Cliff’s Baptism bash. It also has yet to be packed with Christkindlmarket and an Upper Peninsula pasty tour. And I have a dentist appointment at the beginning of January so it’s probably best that I didn’t make nougat. 

But the one thing that I would seriously schedule first in the event that my expansion of December by way of blowing it up with a straw plan actually worked is a lefse weekend. Ever since I learned about the lefse making tradition when I first moved here, I admired it (even despite the fact that the first time I made it, it ended in tears). Making lefse symbolizes the holidays in the upper Midwest, it’s a group activity that’s been happening year after year for generations, and there are so many stories surrounding it. But to be totally honest, it wasn’t until I made lefse with cousin Elaine and aunt Ethel when we filmed the Chrismukkah episode of Girl Meets Farm back in October that it became a food that I craved with all of my might. Is it because I’m pregnant? Maybe. Good things, especially potato-centric things, do tend to taste better these days. Or maybe it’s because the last few times I’ve had it, it was store-bought. When we made it on the show, I was reminded of how fluffy, soft, tender, and flavorful it is when it’s fresh off the grill and slathered with softened butter. I wish I could have eaten more of it during the filming. I wish I could have paused cameras for a minute so that I could run to my cabinet and pull down all of my jams, nut butters, Nutella, etc., and just sit there eating a bite of lefse with each. But we were on a schedule and I needed to pace myself because that was also spätzle week. 

And then after filming wrapped I had one ultimate foam-at-the-mouth pregnant lady epitome. It happened on the plane to Florida when I opened up the December Bon Appetit and saw the most drop dead beautiful spread of roast beef, pickles, a white creamy sauce, and salty buttery fluffy rolls, all set up for a party. It was simple and stunning. I shoved it in Eggboy’s face and he also started foaming at the mouth. The more I stared at that spread, the more I realized I had to do it… but replace the rolls with lefse. And replace the roast beef with ham (I’m going through a ham phase). I mean??!!! Just imagine a soft warm sheet of lefse slathered with mayo and wrapped around salty hot ham. The pickle could be in it too, or it could be on the side, it would be perfect either way. I am a little dead just thinking about it. I might need to schedule a random January party just to do this. But something tells me that lefse ham tacos would taste better without the vibe of New Year’s diet mishegas in the air. 

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been daydreaming of.

<3 Lefse and ham. <3

Here is our family lefse recipe, which was developed by Ollie Amundson, my second cousin three times removed in-law in-law. (Or, the wife of Eggboy’s great grandpa’s second cousin.) It has more sugar than many other lefse recipes, and the fact that it uses oil instead of butter has been raising some eyebrows. But it’s the family recipe that Ethel has scribbled on a very special notecard and I love it for its extra sweetness and soft moist texture. The following includes directions for if you have a lefse setup (a lefse grill + a lefse stick) and if you do not (you’ll need a low-sided skillet and a large offset spatula). FYI, my ham taco fantasy uses smaller, skillet-sized lefse. This is best made as a group activity and it is best eaten the day of, however it is very common to keep a stock of it in the freezer. For video help, check out the video that the New York Times filmed at our house a few years ago!


lefse

makes 18 large sheets or 36 smaller sheets

ingredients

5 lbs. (2.25kg) red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2” cubes

1/2 c (100g) sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

2/3 c (133g) neutral oil, such as canola

1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk

2 1/2-3 c (325-390g) all-purpose flour, plus quite a bit more for dusting

Softened butter, sugar, cinnamon sugar, jam, or any other toppings as desired (like ham.)

clues

Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rice them into a bowl, continuing until you have 8 cups. Add the sugar, salt, oil, and evaporated milk, and mix to combine. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 

When you’re ready to grill, preheat a lefse grill to 400º or set a low-lipped skillet over medium high heat (I like using a cast iron pan, at least 10” big). Add the 2 1/2 cups of flour to the potato mixture and mix to combine. It should be sticky and hold together, but not so sticky that it’s impossible to work with, if so, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Divide dough into two logs if you’re using a lefse grill, and four if you’re using a skillet. Cut each log into 9 pieces and place three of the logs on plates or a cutting board in the refrigerator. Keep the dough chilled while you’re not working with it, and work with one log at a time. 

Roll one ball of dough into a ball and place it on a work surface dusted with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well and gently roll it out into a large thin circle, about 1/4” thick, adding more flour as needed. Rotate and flip the circle frequently as you’re rolling it out so that it doesn’t stick. And again- add more flour as needed! Not knowing to do this is what brought me to tears the first time. Using a lefse stick or a large offset spatula, transfer the circle to the grill or skillet and cook until small brown splotches appear on the bottom, about a minute. Using the lefse stick or spatula, flip it and cook on the other side, until small brown splotches appear. Transfer to a plate lined with a clean dish towel and cover it with another. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking lefse on top of one another between the towels. 

Serve with toppings as desired. This is best eaten the day of but leftovers can be refrigerated in a ziploc back and reheated in the microwave until warm. Or frozen and then thawed/microwaved before eating.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

butterscotch pudding dirt cups

It is October 8th, which, in most other years, would mean that sugar beet harvest is about halfway done. I’d be making my grocery lists and putting together recipes for the end of harvest party and waiting for Eggboy to give me the go ahead to start prepping the brisket and baking the cakes. The light at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel would be near and visions of Thanksgiving in sunny Florida would be filling up our brains. 

But this year is not like other years!

Winter came so unfashionably early, with two snowfalls already and an expected four inches of snow on Wednesday, that harvest has been at a total standstill for almost a week. It’s wild! I’ve never seen so much October Eggboy before in my life. We’ve been eating lunch together, we went to an art fest this weekend, and tonight we’re making squash soup! We’re cramming in all of the fun fall things now because as soon as the ground dries, it will be back to crazy harvest hours. At this point though, it’s really hard to tell when that will be. All of my fingers and toes are crossed that when harvest can get back up and running it will run smoothly, and that this insane weather delay hasn’t caused too much of a raucous. 

And, ok, I’m not that superstitious, but I meant to post these sugar beet butterscotch pudding dirt cups last week as a celebration of the beginning of harvest but because of my quick bop out to New York I couldn’t get to it until the weather shutdown, so I never posted my annual beginning of harvest sugar beet thing and what if I jinxed it??? What if I disrupted the tradition and that set a wave of bad luck into the air and mother nature was like screw it, we’re going in?? 

Or maybe I’m giving too much power to marzipan shaped into beets. 

This pudding is just one of the many beet-centric sweets that I made this year in celebration of harvest. Our deep freeze right now is packed with sugar beet cookies, cupcakes, blondies, and donuts, waiting to be defrosted for all of the drivers and other folks who help out this time of year. Most of these sweets were made from old standby recipes but I made this pudding as the new official 2018 harvest dessert.

Growing up, butterscotch pudding was always Stoopie’s thing, and it turns out that Eggboy is also a butterscotch person, so I’m going to attribute this to the fact that Stoopie and E-boy both have November birthdays. The November birthstone is kind of butterscotch-esque in some lights? I think I wasn’t too into butterscotch when I was little because it tends to be so cloyingly sweet and one-noted but when Eggboy suggested it with these cute little marzipan beets I couldn’t say no. 

So I brainstormed and brainstormed and somehow came across a very specific lightly caramelized flavor with a fuzzy mouthfeel that was buried deep somewhere in my memory. It occurred to me that I’d had what I wanted in a butterscotch pudding, I just needed to remember where. I sat on my couch, listing everywhere I could have eaten this thing I was thinking of, and a few more thinks later realized that I was dreaming of the pumpkin pie filling that Eggboy totally nailed last year at Thanksgiving. Up front it was creamy and milky, and it was backed up by a faint yet complex caramel flavor. It was very lightly spiced because he couldn’t find most of the spices in my mom’s house and he used Sarah’s recipe but made a few substitutions, namely he substituted more heavy cream for crème fraiche because he wasn’t confident enough in his pronunciation of crème fraiche to ask what it was or if we had it. I realize that pumpkin pie filling is not butterscotch pudding but there are so many similarities that I’d have been remiss not to use that as inspiration. So I tinkered with that filling and came up with this pudding. It doesn’t have pumpkin, but it does have brown sugar which gets caramelized, so that makes this butterscotch. (Did you know that?? Caramelized white sugar = caramel, caramelized brown sugar = butterscotch.) 

The rest of the ingredients, mainly the spices and the maple syrup, contribute to making this one helluva a butterscotch pudding. Does it need the cookie dirt and marzipan sugar beets buried within? No. But it needs a topping, something crunchy like a cookie or pie crust crumble would work, or a dollop of fresh whip, and perhaps a sprinkle of flaky salt. Oooooh yeah. Consider me a butterscotch pudding convert. 


butterscotch pudding dirt cups

serves 8

ingredients

1/4 c (56g) unsalted butter

½ c (100g) brown sugar

¼ c (50g) granulated sugar

¼ c (78g) maple syrup

¾ tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 c (600g) heavy cream

½ c (118g) whole milk

2 tb (14g) cornstarch

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg


To decorate:

Sprinkles

Crushed chocolate cookies

Marzipan and rosemary “sugar beets”

clues

Combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a large heavy pot, stirring until it begins to bubble, and then stop stirring. Cook over medium high for 7-8 minutes, until it turns a dark amber color and begins to smoke slightly. Carefully add heavy cream and whole milk (it will get a lil wild when you pour this in) and stir gently until the caramel melts back down (it will firm up when the milk goes in). Reduce heat to medium. In a separate heat safe bowl, whisk together cornstarch, eggs, and egg yolks. When the milk/caramel mixture is steaming, add a ladle of it to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously, and then pour the egg mixture into the pudding while whisking. Whisk continuously for a few minutes, until it thickens. When it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into serving glasses, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until cool and set. 

To serve top with sprinkles, crushed chocolate cookies, and hide some marzipan beets in the cookie dirt.


smoked butter shortbread with violet buttercream

Alright nerds, I have a Twelfth Night cookie for you!!

Last month, North Dakota Shakespeare put on a production of Twelfth Night in our town square and it was so great!! Eggboy and I packed the cutest ever picnic and I was brought way way back to Mrs. Meyer's junior year English class when I triumphed my way through Shakespeare, thanks to Sparknotes. You too? Ok cool. 

Just like last year’s rose cookies for Romeo and Juliet, I created this special Twelfth Night cookie to be sold the week of shows. This cookie is kind of all over the place but Twelfth Night kind of is too?! Like that play’s a lil drunk right?? But the important part is is that these cookies taste good and get you thinking about the play. So here are all of the references wrapped up into this chocolate and smoked butter and floral sandwich cookie:

Smoked butter cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves: these cookies have the same spices as the traditional English Twelfth Night Cake which was the predecessor to the King Cake. And what’s great is that the spices compliment the smoked butter element, which was a nod to this particular performance being outside during the summer, as they smelled faintly like a campfire. 

Yellow lemon buttercream: a nod to Malvolio’s yellow stockings!

Purple violet buttercream:

 “O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour.” 

Green rose buttercream: the fact that the rose buttercream is colored green and not pink is a reference to the theme of mistaken identity that’s all throughout the play. Rose is also inspired by Orsino saying something about lying on a rose covered bed.

Yellow, green, and purple buttercream: A nod to the King Cake, which grew out of the Twelfth Night Cake tradition.

Pink buttercream: it symbolizes the role of gender in the play and love, and also throws off the King Cake reference because having something as straightforward as a King Cake reference wouldn’t be in the spirit of this very wild play. It’s also pretty.

Chocolate shortbread: This represents the darkness of Malvolio’s prison. And it makes this a sandwich cookie, which represents the twins! I was also inspired by the cookies in this photo that I've had saved on my phone for forever.

…that’s it! Did I get a good grade??

My awesome friend Mollie drew a picture of it that was displayed during the shows with all of these references:

Here is the recipe for the full cookie, four kinds of frosting and everything. The chocolate shortbread, rose buttercream, lemon buttercream, and vanilla buttercream are all things you’ve seen here before, so what I’m most excited about in this recipe are the smoked butter shortbread and violet buttercream. 

Smoking butter is something I first read about in Katrin Bjork's beautiful cookbook, From the North. I always figured I’d need fancy tools to smoke stuff but when I read this recipe I realized that all I needed were wood chips and a dutch oven. What you do is you heat up some wood chips and then place a bowl of butter on top of them (propped up by some balls of aluminum… if you look in the photo below you can spot them). I found that heating it for about an hour gave it a smoky enough flavor to hold up in baking the cookies, but if you're just smoking butter to serve with bread or radishes, you can smoke it for less time. The process makes the house smell like a campfire which is never a bad thing. The options for what to do with smoked butter are endless and range from spreading it on toast to making a cake with it (how wild would smoked sprinkle cake be?!). It adds a smoky flavor that’s much more subtle than liquid smoke. These shortbread cookies are fairly simple and have some warm spices tossed in that amp up the smoky flavor.

Violet buttercream is a display of my new loyalty to melodramatic purple as the new millennial pink. I ordered violet syrup from Amazon and it smells like a snow cone! Not a specific flavor of snow cone, just general snow cone. Or like, how the blue sparkly snow cone flavored lip gloss that I owned in the 90s smelled. A few splashes of the syrup in a basic buttercream give it a light floral/candy like flavor, and then I added some purple food coloring because the color of the syrup isn’t that concentrated. 

Twelfth Night Cookies

Makes 12

Ingredients

Smoked Butter Shortbread: 

1 c + 2 tb (146g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of cloves
1/2 c (113g) smoked butter, at room temperature (recipe below)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Chocolate Shortbread:

3/4 c + 2 tb (113g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
6 tb (30g) dutch cocoa powder
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Violet Buttercream:

3/4 c (168g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2c (240g) powdered sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
1 tb heavy cream
2 tb violet syrup
A squeeze of lemon juice
Purple food coloring
 

Clues

To make the smoked butter shortbread, combine the all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until crumbly. Sprinkle in the vanilla and continue to stir, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula occasionally. Increase the speed and continue to mix until the clumps start to get bigger and the dough starts to come together. Scrape the dough onto a surface and bring it together with your hands into a big ball. Pat it out into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out until it’s 1/4” thick, dusting with additional flour if it’s sticky. Cut out 2 1/2” circles and transfer to the baking sheets, an inch apart. If desired, cut out smaller circles within the big circles using a round piping tip. Bake until lightly browned around the edges; begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes un the pans and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 


To make the chocolate shortbread, repeat the same steps as the smoked butter shortbread.

To make the buttercream, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add the heavy cream, violet syrup, lemon juice, and food coloring and beat to combine. Taste and adjust as desired. Alternatively, to make the four buttercream flavors pictured: don’t add the violet syrup or food coloring. Divide into four and mix in 1/2 tb violet syrup to one part, 1/4 tsp rosewater to another, 1/4 tso vanilla extract to another, and a pinch of lemon zest to the last. Add food coloring as desired.

To assemble, pipe the buttercream between two cookies and smoosh. Enjoy! 

These can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days!
 


Smoked butter

Makes about 1/2 cup

 

Ingredients

About 2 c Hickory wood chips (other wood chips work too)
10 tb (131g) unsalted butter

Clues

Cover the bottom of a big dutch oven with wood chips. Ball up three big pieces of aluminum foil to make three golfball-sized balls. Place them on top of the chips; they’ll be used to prop up the bowl of butter. Cover the dutch oven and heat over medium high for 10 minutes. Place the butter in a heat safe bowl and place the bowl on top of the aluminum balls. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot, allowing a small opening to vent. Cook for 1 hour. Let the butter cool and allow it to come back to around 65-70ºf. You can let it sit at room temperature overnight or stick it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spreadable and opaque.