Childhood memories particularly play a role in how we regard food. Foods from our formative years and special occasions can become a very emotional experience, bringing us ‘back home’ to one’s beginnings.
Kase Knepfla is one of those foods for me. The name translates as ‘cheese buttons’ (kase = cheese, knopf = buttons). I have read somewhere, they were probably a version of the Ukrainian ‘vareniki’ that German immigrants developed to suit their own tastes.
To make them you need dry curd cottage cheese. I recall my mother making her own cottage cheese on the back ‘burner’ of our old wood/coal burning stove. Of course, this not being to interesting to a ‘kid’, I really never gave it any thought. It seemed that the milk was put in a certain place on the stove so it wouldn’t get too hot or it would become stringy as it turned to ‘cheese’.
Similar to a perogy, cheese buttons are made of a tender noodle dough. The dough is rolled out thinly and either cut into squares or circles, filled with a cottage cheese mixture, boiled then briefly browned in butter. I have noticed, in looking at numerous kase knepfla recipes, the cottage cheese filling is made with onions, salt and pepper. The only kind that I can remember my mother making was slightly sweet with a touch of cinnamon. No doubt, this was a version my parents grew up with themselves. Nevertheless, I am trying to preserve history one post at a time’….
Traditionally kase knepfla was served with summer sausage and beet pickles. For our meal, I paired them with some homemade pork sausage medallions, squash and fresh broccoli. We loved it!