Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom…and Shana Tova u’metukah! Last week I wrote all about brisket:
Now it’s time for something scrumptious to serve on the side – kugels! I love kugels of all sorts, including potato kugel (either grated or mashed), noodle/lokshen kugel (either sweet or salt and pepper, and all sort of vegetable kugels (e.g., carrots, spinach, broccoli, and zucchini).
So, without further ado, here are some of my favourite kugels that will make perfect additions to either your Shabbat table or for the upcoming High Holidays. Enjoy!
ARTHUR SCHWARTZ’S POTATO KUGEL (Pareve or Meat)
Adapted from Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited (Ten Speed Press) by Arthur Schwartz
All the old recipes for potato kugel come out sort of heavy and gluey, which is not at all how good kugels taste today. These days, the kugel sold in the take-out shops and delicatessens, not to mention those made at home by modern balabustas, are still full of good onion flavor but they are high and light. What may seem like an inordinate number of eggs is the secret. Some recipes call for baking powder, too, but I’ve found the baking powder does absolutely nothing. Lots of eggs are definitely the ticket to lightness. It also helps to use russet potatoes, which were not nearly as available in grandma’s day as they are today. Drier russets produce a fluffier kugel. Incidentally, this is a very low-fat recipe.
Besides serving potato kugel as a side dish for meat or poultry or fish, a larger portion of this egg-rich version makes a good lunch. If cut into small squares, it’s also a good finger food to go with wine or cocktails.
3 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
2 medium onions (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into chunks
2/3 cup matzo meal
1 Tbsp salt
3/4–1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp oil (for a pareve pudding) or melted Schmaltz
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks to prepare them for the food processor. Reserve in a bowl of cold water until ready to process, but don’t leave them there longer than 2 hours.
- In a very large bowl, beat together the eggs until well mixed. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the onions until very finely chopped, but not liquefied. Scrape the onions into the bowl with the eggs and stir them in. Stir in the matzo meal.
- Drain the potatoes, then set a strainer over a bowl. In the same processor bowl (no need to clean), process the potatoes in three batches, until very finely chopped. The pieces should be no bigger than a grain of rice and mostly smaller.
- As each batch of potatoes is processed, immediately scrape it into the strainer. With a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, press out the moisture so it drains into the catch bowl.
- Immediately stir the potatoes into the egg mixture. Discard the liquid and potato starch collected in the bowl. Season the batter with salt and pepper.
- Pour 2 Tbsp of the oil into a 13- by 9-inch baking dish, preferably heatproof glass. Tip the pan so the oil coats the pan bottom and halfway up the sides. Warm the empty pan in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.
- Protecting your hands, remove the hot pan from the oven and fill with the kugel mixture. The oil will rise up the sides of the pan, especially in the corners. It’s a good thing when the oil spills onto the surface of the batter, as it adds crispness to the finished dish. Press the batter down near the corners lightly to fill them with potato batter. Drizzle the surface with the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving, preferably somewhat longer. Serve hot or warm, freshly baked or reheated.
Serves at least 12
Note: The kugel reheats extremely well in a 350ºF oven, uncovered so the top can re-crisp. Reheating time depends on the size of the piece being reheated and the temperature of the kugel before it goes into the oven. It can be kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for at least 4 days, and for several months in the freezer. It is best to defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.
ONION KUGEL (Pareve)
Adapted from The New Food Processor Bible (Whitecap) by Norene Gilletz
If you love onions, you’ll love this side dish that my friend Helene Medjuck shared with me. Its texture is similar to that of potato kugel. The processor makes quick work of slicing all those onions.
5 or 6 onions, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 7- x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Slicer: Slice onions, using light pressure. You should have about 6 cups. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and separate onion slices with your fingers.
- Steel Blade: Process eggs, oil, water, salt, and pepper until combined, about 10 seconds. Add flour and baking powder. Process with quick on/off pulses to blend, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Pour batter over onions and mix well. It may look like you don’t have enough batter but you will—the batter will just coat the onions. Transfer to baking pan.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45–55 minutes, until golden brown.
Yield: 8 servings. Keeps 2–3 days in the refrigerator. Reheats and/or freezes well.
LEEK KUGEL: Instead of onions, substitute 6 cups of thinly sliced leeks.
NORENE’S FAUX-TATO KUGEL (Pareve)
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap) by Norene Gilletz
This kugel should be called ‘the great pretender!’ It’s a wonderful way to cut back on calories and carbs.
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup matzo meal (whole wheat or regular)
- Pour 1 inch of water into a large saucepan. Place cauliflower florets into a steamer basket and transfer basket to saucepan, making sure that florets don’t touch the water.
- Cover pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and steam until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour oil into a 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish. Place dish in oven and heat until oil is piping hot, about 5 minutes.
- In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process onion for about 10 seconds or until minced. Scrape down sides of bowl before adding cauliflower, eggs, salt, pepper, and matzo meal; process until mixed, about 10–15 seconds.
- Carefully add half the hot oil to cauliflower mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle a little additional oil on top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes or until nicely browned.
Yield: 8 servings. Keeps for up to 2–3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well.
MARILYN’S NOODLE KUGEL (Pareve)
(See step-by-step photos at https://marilyndishes.com/2018/09/03/another-kugel/)
My friend, Marilyn Glick of Edmonton, reminisced, “This recipe is the way that my Baba and my Mom made noodle kugel. When I was a young bride and moving out, I asked my Mom to tell me how to cook. I really did not cook when I lived at home, so I needed help! I have several “recipes” from my mom—really just notes written on index cards—but luckily, my sisters knew how to make this family recipe, so I could confirm with them to make sure I was making it right! I measured everything in order to write it out. Otherwise, it is just a bit of this and a bit of that!”
She continued, “Here is a tip from my Mom—when the kugel is just starting to crisp up, about halfway through cooking, take it out of the oven and cut it into pieces that are the size you want to serve. This makes cutting it so much easier than when it has finished cooking and gets very crispy. When I forget to do this, I always regret it! This recipe is very simple, just basic ingredients, nothing special, but when it all comes together, it’s delicious! Enjoy!”
2 packages medium-size egg noodles
2 Tbsp oil for greasing the baking dish
1/4 cup pareve margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add the noodles. Boil until very tender, using the cooking time on the package as your guide.
- While the noodles are cooking, put 2 Tbsp of oil into a 9 x 13-inch Pyrex baking dish. Spread it around and then put the baking dish into the preheated oven to heat up. (Heating up the pan is optional, but that’s the way Marilyn’s mother did it.)
- Drain the noodles and put them back into the pot.
- Add margarine to the hot noodles and mix well, making sure that the margarine melts and coats all the noodles before they cool too much.
- Add the sugar, salt, and pepper while the noodles are still warm; mix well.
- Now, taste the noodles to check the seasonings. You may have to add more salt, pepper, or even more sugar. (Marilyn likes the kugel to be sweet, but not overly so.)
- Once you have the flavour you like, then add the beaten eggs. (Marilyn likes to add the beaten eggs when the noodles have cooled a bit so the egg doesn’t scramble when it is mixed in.) Mix the noodle mixture really well.
- Remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Pour the noodle mixture into the hot baking dish—be careful.
- Bake the kugel for 1 1/2 hours or so. Halfway through, remove the kugel from the oven and cut it into pieces, then put it back in the oven to finish cooking. When the top and bottom of the kugel are nice and brown, then the kugel is done. Enjoy!
Makes 12 servings