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Spaetzle aux Champignons - from Cafe Alsace

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From the menu of . . . Cafe Alsace
121 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur

Q: Cafe Alsace in Decatur has a wonderful entree that I would like to make at home. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the entree. It includes spaetzle, shrimp and mushrooms in a cream sauce. It is absolutely delicious!
- Suzanne Devoe, Alpharetta

A: Spaetzle (pronounced SHPEHT-sluh, SHPEHT-sehl or SHPEHT-slee) means "tiny sparrow" in German. It is a dish of tiny dumplings that are boiled and then tossed or fried with butter. The dough can be firm enough to roll and cut into pieces or soft enough to press through a colander or spaetzle maker.

Hands on time: 45 minutes  Total time: 1 hour  Serves: 6


    3 cups all-purpose flour
    6 eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    Salt to taste
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3 cups sliced mushrooms
    1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
    1 pound (30-count) raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
    4 cups heavy cream
    Pepper to taste
    2 cups shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs and milk and salt to taste. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to create a soft but not runny batter. When water comes to a boil, hold a colander or spaetzle maker over the pot and press the batter through the holes and into the water. (If you are using a colander, spoon the batter in a cupful at a time, coax it through with the back of a large spoon, and then scrape and shake it into the water.) When the dumplings rise to the top, cook 1 to 2 minutes and then scoop out with a sieve or slotted spoon. Drop into a bowl of cold water. When all the spaetzle pieces are cooked, drain them well.
In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and toss to wilt. Push the mushroom mixture aside and saute the spaetzle in the butter for a few minutes. Add the shrimp and cream and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until shrimp is cooked through and the cream is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into a buttered 3-quart baking dish or into individual 2-cup casseroles, such as French onion soup crocks. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.


If you worry that your diet is lacking in cholesterol, this rich dish will surely solve that problem. But the end result is absolutely delicious --- a creamy, earthy, grown-up alternative to mac and cheese.

Chef Sylvain Lefort at Cafe Alsace recommends a spaetzle maker for this recipe, but we tested it with a colander, and it worked fine --- although the process was a bit messy.

You won't find this particular combination of spaetzle and shrimp in too many places, said owner Benedicte Cooper. "The original dish is with ham, onion, cream and cheese, and we have that one, too, " she said. "This one, with the shrimp, we kind of made it up ourselves."


Per serving: 1,142 calories (percent of calories from fat, 64), 44 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 82 grams fat (49 grams saturated), 571 milligrams cholesterol, 376 milligrams sodium.

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