When I was 17, in my final year of high school, I was lucky enough to spend a year as an exchange student with Rotary living in Austria. It's one of the most beautiful countries in the world, not unlike New Zealand, with its mountains and lakes and sprawling countryside. It also has the most incredible food.

Meals are a real family thing - sitting around the table together, sharing large dishes. There are so many meals that I loved during my time there, but one of my favourites was also one of the more simple. A side dish called knödel. In English, we'd call them bread dumplings.

This was often served as an accompaniment to a big Sunday meat meal, almost like the way we'd chuck potatoes with our roast lamb. But oh man, they are sooooo good. Lather them with gravy and there's honestly nothing better!

My host father would often make them, and I would always get so excited any time I'd smell them cooking in the kitchen. It reminds me of one of the best years of my life, and I'm so stoked I can share it with you.

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- Matty McLean co-hosts Breakfast on TVNZ1, weekdays from 6am.

AUSTRIAN KNÖDEL (BREAD DUMPLINGS)

(Serves 4)

180g of day-old bread
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1 egg
1/4 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg

Method

1. Cut or tear bread into small bits.
2. Pour 1/3 cup milk over the bread and let it sit for 5 minutes. The bread should be softened but not dripping wet; test to see if it needs more milk to achieve this consistency.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion, parsley and marjoram.
4. Stir the egg and nutmeg into the soaked bread, then add sautéed onions and seasonings and mix well.
5. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, then mix again briefly. Taste and add more spices if necessary. The dough should be firm, with pieces of the bread crust still visible.
6. With wet hands, form four round dumplings and cook 15 to 20 minutes in simmering water. Do not let the water boil. You can make dumplings any size; just adjust the cooking time accordingly, with longer cooking times for larger dumplings and shorter for smaller ones.

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