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Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Sweet or peppery, kugel adds a special touch

Tags: Food
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Ask half a dozen Jewish cooks how they make their kugels and you'll probably get a dozen answers. Some differences are regional. Others occur because recipes have been handed down through the generations with each generation adding its own special take on what to add.

One particularly scrumptious kugel that’s a favourite in my house is a sweet peppery kugel called Yerushalmi, or Jerusalem, kugel. Supposedly Yerushalmi kugel originated in Jerusalem with followers of the Gaon of Vilna, a late 18th-century Jewish scholar. Made with thin noodles, pepper, salt and sugar, it’s tricky because it has a caramel base that can stick or burn.

However, no matter which of the following kugel recipes you choose to set before your guests, know for a certainty that they’re all worthy of being served again and again and again.

 

YERSHALMI KUGEL

Deliciously sweet and incredibly spicy.

 

1 (12-oz.) package thin egg noodles

4 eggs

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil

 

Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Strain and set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar and oil over low heat. Cook until sugar turns medium brown, stirring occasionally (this should take about 20 minutes). Immediately pour caramelized sugar over cooled noodles, and stir with wooden spoon to separate lumps (some will remain and this is okay, sugar will re-melt during baking). Let cool to room temperature so as not to cook eggs.

Mix eggs with salt and pepper and add to noodle mixture. Mix well. Preheat oven to 350. Pour into the 9x13 pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1/2 hour. Remove the foil and bake an additional 1/2 hour. Serves 8 to 10.

 

ONION AND NOODLE KUGEL

This dish is a modified version of a recipe created by Susan Belsinger, a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier.

 

1 lb. wide egg noodles

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. margarine

1 lb. onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise 1/4-in. thick

2 cups milk

1 cup small-curd cottage cheese

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. salt

about 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. paprika

few dashes cayenne pepper

2 tsp. fresh marjoram or thyme or 3/4 tsp. dried marjoram or thyme

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp. fresh snipped chives or green onions

3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

 

Cook the noodles al dente, toss them with about 1 tbsp. of olive oil and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375.

Grease a 2-quart dish and set it aside. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and remaining one tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl combine the milk, cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, 1/3 cup of parmesan, paprika, cayenne, marjoram or thyme, parsley and chives and blend until the ingredients are well mixed. Add the cooked noodles to the bowl, along with the sautéed onions, and stir well to combine.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with the remaining Parmesan over the top of the kugel. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and serve hot. Serves 8 to 10 as a first course or side dish, 4 to 6 as a main dish.

 

POTATO CARROT AND ZUCCHINI KUGEL

Carrots, zucchini and two kinds of onions add colour and flavour to this recipe.

 

5 eggs

3 medium onions, peeled, cut into 1-in. pieces, divided

14 green onions, coarsely chopped, divided

5 8-oz. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-in. cubes, divided

2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1-in. pieces, divided

1 large zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1-in. pieces, divided

1/2 cup matzah meal or bread crumbs

2 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted margarine or vegetable oil, divided

 

Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400. Combine 3 eggs, half of onions and half of green onions in processor. Blend until mixture is almost smooth and fluffy. Add half of potatoes, half of carrots, and half of zucchini.

Blend until vegetables are finely chopped (bits of carrots and zucchini will remain). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Repeat with remaining 2 eggs, onions, and green onions, then potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. Add to mixture in bowl.

Whisk in matzah meal, 2-1/2 tsp.salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, then 1/4 cup margarine.

Brush remaining 1/4 cup margarine over bottom and sides of 13x9x2-in. glass baking dish. Place the prepared dish in oven until very hot, about 7 minutes. Remove the empty dish and pour the kugel batter into the hot dish. Bake until top is brown and crisp, about 1 hour. Serves 8.

 

CAULIFLOWER AND LEEK KUGEL

Coarsely mashed vegetables are the main ingredients in this utterly surprising – and irresistible – dish.

 

8 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 medium heads)

6 tbsp. olive oil, divided

4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts; about 3 large)

6 tbsp. bread crumbs or matzah meal

3 large eggs

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/3 cup almonds, toasted, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350. Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, transfer to large bowl and mash coarsely with potato masher.

Heat 3 tbsp. oil in heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender and just beginning to colour, about 5 minutes. Add leek mixture to cauliflower. Mix in bread crumbs or matzah meal and mix well. Set aside. In another bowl beat together the eggs, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon dill, salt, and pepper and then stir the egg mixture into the cauliflower mixture. Brush an 11x7-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Spread cauliflower mixture evenly in prepared dish. Mix almonds, remaining 7 tablespoons parsley, 7 tablespoons dill, and 2 tablespoons oil in medium bowl to blend. Sprinkle evenly over kugel. (Can be made 24 hours ahead of time. Cover and chill.) Bake kugel uncovered until set in center and beginning to brown on top, about 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serves 8.

 

 

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