Quick! Name three quintessentially Jewish foods. Don’t think too much about it.
I bet that kugel is on your short list.
Even the most health conscious cooks will likely whip up a luscious, highly caloric noodle pudding at some point in the next month as Jews everywhere, celebrate four holidays over five short weeks. This rapid-fire succession of holidays requires lots of planning and some easy recipes that are guaranteed to please a crowd.
Kugel is a versatile and variable concept. Depending on the region your family hails from, or the place you currently live, your kugel may be creamy and cheese laden, savory with fresh herbs and veggies, or stacked with potato and onion layers simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Add thinly sliced firm apples or slightly under ripe pears from the orchard?
Why not? Continue reading
I grew up knowing the fragrant aromas of freshly baked cakes, nutty cookies, jam filled pastries and whole grain bread. My grandfather was a baker by trade. He came to NYC from Poland, in his late teens.
In a tiny village in Poland, his step father contracted a master baker to house him and train him in all aspects of baking. After two years of horribly long hours and searingly hot servitude, he ran away but was tracked down and forced to return to finish out the terms of his apprenticeship contract. On his second attempt, he succeeded in making his way to a ship bound for Ellis Island.
He found some mishpuha (relatives) on the Lower East Side and sent for his beautiful and oh so sweet step sister, whom he then married in NYC. He made a living as a baker for the rest of his life. My grandmother, his step sister (yes, you guessed correctly), was a superior home baker of all things parave (non-dairy).
I remember them visiting our home every Sunday, toting both glossy, cardboard bakery boxes secured with twine and a second parcel of home baked, parave treats to enjoy after our meat meals. Calories be damned. We never gave it a thought and everyone lived long, healthy lives. Continue reading