Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bread Dumplings, Slovenia's Answer to Matzo Balls?

Bread Dumplings with Beef Goulash

I didn't get around to making the bread dumplings for Slovenian Dinner Week 4 until the next day.  But there was still plenty of beef goulash left for another dinner.

I had a dim memory of tasting bread dumplings, although I never made them myself. I found similar recipes in all three of my vintage cookbooks and came up with a sort of combination version.  It sounded like a Slovenian take on matzo balls, a traditional Jewish favorite I discovered when I met my husband.

For the bread, I bought a day-old French loaf from the bakery around the corner.  I substituted nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream.

1/2 loaf stale bread
1/4 c. milk
2 T. butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cube the bread and place in a large bowl.  Warm milk and butter and pour over the bread.  In a smaller bowl beat the eggs, yogurt, and seasonings and add to the bread.  Mix all together.

Mold the mixture into balls with floured hands.

If you can, that is.

The mixture I had created was so loose it would have run through my fingers.  My problem, I suspected, was that I hadn't weighed the loaf of bread.  It was probably smaller than the standard one pound loaf of sandwich bread the cookbook authors had in mind.  And it probably wasn't dry enough to absorb the liquids.  And maybe the yogurt wasn't as dense as sour cream.

No problem.  Luckily we had some matzo meal on hand.  I added a few tablespoons until the batter/dough was stiff enough to mold.

It was still pretty soft, but I managed to shape a dozen golfball-sized dumplings.  I set them in a pan sprinkled with flour.

The instructions said to let the dumplings sit for a half hour.  So I figured it would be fine to make them in the morning and refrigerate until dinner time.

By evening, the dumplings had firmed up nicely.  Time for  the final step:   I boiled up a pot of salted water and dropped them in.  I let them boil until they felt firm, about 10-15 minutes,  drained them, and served them with the goulash (which was even better the second night.)

The verdict:  Pretty good.  Maybe a little denser than I would have liked.  A fine accompaniment to goulash or, for that matter, any sort of stew.  Like so much of Slovenian cooking, it was simple food for people who learned to make do with what they had.

Next time, I'll measure the bread and dry it out in the oven if it's not stale enough.  And maybe stick with sour cream.

I thought the bread dumplings were reminiscent of  matzo balls.  My husband, who is more expert in Jewish cooking than I am, wasn't quite as struck by the resemblance, but he liked it just the same.

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