Latkes with half-baked potatoes

December 17, 2020 at 11:03 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Fall recipes, Jewish, Root vegetables, Starches, Website / blog)

Derek wanted to make latkes for Hanukkah this year, and he found a New York Times recipe that called for pre-baking the potatoes (well, partially) then grating them. The recipe looked really simple. The only ingredients were the potatoes, salt and pepper, and the oil for frying.

But we found the recipe a bit challenging because it called for 4 large Idaho or Russet potatoes, and although we can get similar starchy potatoes they are not nearly as large. We weren’t sure how many pounds that should be, or how to adjust the cooking time. The recipe says to cook “until they are hot throughout but still raw in the middle.” That wasn’t so easy to ascertain, but we did our best.

Other than that, the recipe seemed to work okay, but we found the latkes bland. We want to add onions and maybe egg next time. Perhaps we will try this more traditional recipe.

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Autumn latkes with beets, carrot, and sweet potato

September 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Isa C. Moskowitz, Jewish, Root vegetables, Winter recipes)

I wanted to title this post “Oven-baked autumn latkes with beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fennel seeds,” but that seemed like a mouthful. In any case, these latkes are striking—they really show off the jewel tones of autumn.  Plus, they’re tasty and satisfying. The sweet potato adds lots of natural sweetness and the beets contribute their great earthy depth. And I’m always a sucker for fennel. The original recipe is from Veganomicon, and is, as you would expect, vegan, but I un-veganified it because I generally think of latkes as having eggs in them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegetarian Passover 2011

April 25, 2011 at 10:35 am (Jewish, Menus, Spring recipes, unrated)

Derek and I hosted our second ever Saarbruecken seder this year.  Including ourselves and Derek’s parents, we had a total of 12 people at our seder.  Derek’s father planned the seder itself, Derek was responsible for all the singing, and I was in charge of the food.  I tried a number of different recipes in the weeks leading up to Passover and debated a lot with Derek.   In the end I decided on this menu:

  • Appetizers (before the start of the seder):  kalamata olives, hummus, and crudite
  • Appetizers (during the seder): Hillel sandwiches with 2 kinds of harosetz and beet horseradish
  • Soup:  matzoh ball soup in vegetable broth, with diced carrots, diced parsnips, peas, and parsley and chives to garnish
  • Main course:  spinach matzoh pie  and a layered potato and chard terrine
  • Side dish:  beets, fennel, celery, and apples in a mustard vinaigrette
  • Dessert: orange, nut, honey cake; lemon bars with a matzoh-nut crust;  toffikomen

Read the rest of this entry »

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Light, fruited noodle kugel

January 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm (AMA, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Jewish, Necessarily nonvegan, Spring recipes, Starches, Winter recipes)

When I was a kid my mom used to make my grandmother’s noodle kugel recipe on special occasions.  It was a savory, not a sweet kugel, and I think it had about a pound each of butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs.  It was tasty, but super rich.  So when I saw a similar looking–but lighter–recipe in the AMA cookbook, I was curious to try it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hungarian sour cherry soup

July 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dessert, From a friend, Fruit, Jewish, soup, Summer recipes)

When I was in Israel last summer my friend made her Hungarian grandmother’s cold fruit soup.  It was definitely quite different than any soup I’ve ever made.  The soup was refreshing, with a nice balance of sweet and sour, but with some heft from the yogurt and eggs.  I wanted to make it this summer and so I emailed her and asked her for the recipe.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Charoset 2010

April 7, 2010 at 6:01 am (breakfast, Jewish, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

For Passover this year we made two different versions of haroset, the fruit and nut mixture that’s supposed to represent mortar.  One was a pretty traditional Ashkenazi charoset with apples and walnuts, and the other was a slightly more modern Ashenazi take with apples and dried cranberries and pistachios.  The recipe was from a friend of my mom’s.  I enjoyed both versions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabbage noodles

February 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm (Cruciferous rich, Jewish, Starches, unrated, Website / blog)

In college I roomed with my best friend from high school.  She was also a vegetarian, and trying to keep kosher to boot.  Unlike me, she was lucky to have a grandmother that was a) still around, b) in town, and c) a good cook.  Her grandmother was Hungarian and would regularly stock our mini-fridge with various vegetarian Hungarian dishes.  My roommate was kind enough to share her grandma’s food with me.  One of the dishes that I remember fondly is “cabbage noodles.”   Despite the name, the noodles aren’t actually made from cabbage.  As far as I recall, the dish was simply lots of rich, oily cabbage mixed with curly egg noodles and plenty of salt and some black pepper.  I don’t know what kind of fat Sarah’s grandmother used to cook the noodles, but I recently found a recipe on Salon for noodles and fried cabbage, or “Hungarian ice cream” that seemed similar, and it calls for butter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Carrot barley soup with mushrooms, thyme, lentils, and miso

December 9, 2009 at 12:11 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Jewish, Miso, Mom’s recipes, My brain, soup)

When I was a kid my mom would often make carrot barley soup.  There was something uber-comforting about the warm, orange broth and fluffy, exploded barley kernels.  I had some barley in the pantry and decided to make carrot barley soup for dinner, but Derek objected.  He would accede only if I made it into a miso soup.  I wasn’t in the mood to cook, so I decided to also throw in some mushrooms and red lentils to make it a one pot meal.  And thus, this soup was born.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 ounces grated carrot (about 1.5 cups tightly packed, or 2 medium carrots)
  • 9 ounces chopped onion (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 9 cups stock or water + no-salt bouillon
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbs. red miso
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a 4-6 quart pot heat the olive oil over high heat.  When it’s hot add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, and salt.  Reduce the heat to medium-ghigh. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables stop releasing water.
  2. Add in the water, barley, black pepper, garlic clove, thyme leaves, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. When the soup is done, mix in the miso. Either mix it in a separate bowl with some of the broth from the soup, or put it in a sieve and slowly push it through into the soup.  Garnish with fresh chopped parlsey and serve immediately.

Notes:

I didn’t have any parsley so I left it out.

The red lentils totally dissolved, but added a bit of grittiness to the soup.  The sliced mushrooms ended up slightly rubbery but I liked the textural contrast compared to the gritty lentils and the fluffy barley.   I couldn’t decided if the red lentils added depth to the flavor profile, or if they muddied up the pure flavors of the soup.  Similarly with the miso.  I just couldn’t figure out whether the miso added a nice umame flavor, or muddied it up.  The thyme, on the other hand, was clearly a great addition.  I think the soup would have even benefited from another 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. of thyme added at the end.  Of course, if I had had parsley maybe the extra thyme would have clashed with the parsley.

Derek ended up liking the soup.  He said he’d eat it again, but he wouldn’t yearn for it.  He gave it a B.  He liked the barley, and said that with enough salt it had good flavor.  He thought the flavor was a bit muddy, but the soup was pretty satisfying.

I enjoyed the soup.  I think perhaps it could be improved a little, but it was very comforting and satisfying, just like my mom’s carrot barley soup.  Rating: B.

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Vegetarian Passover 2009

April 12, 2009 at 10:43 am (Jewish, Menus, Spring recipes)

I hosted my first seder this year.  We had planned for 15 people total, but in the end one guest was sick so we had only(!) 14 people to feed.  I played around with a number of different recipes in the weeks leading up to the seder, but finally settled on this menu:

  • Appetizers (before the start of the seder):  matzoh, a cheese plate, and green bean pate
  • Appetizers (during the seder): Hillel sandwiches with harosetz and beet horseradish
  • Soup:  matzoh ball soup in vegetable broth, with diced carrots, diced parsnips, and peas
  • Main course:  spinach matzoh pie
  • Side dishes:  beets in a sesame orange dressing and three-seed quinoa salad
  • Dessert: apple rhubarb crisp
  • Mignardise:  toffikomen

I made the toffikomen a few nights before, and just let it sit out on the counter, covered by a bowl.  The quinoa salad and green bean pate I made the day before, along with the matzoh ball batter and the spinach matzoh pie filling.  The day of the seder, I made the haroset, the vegetable broth, the beets, and the crisp.  I also pre-baked the spanokopita and fruit crisps, and boiled the matzoh balls and soup vegetables.

All the food turned out well, but we significantly overestimated how much food we needed.  We bought 4 large chunks of different cheeses, which was about right.  However, I made 2 recipes of green bean pate, which made about 8 cups, but we only ate about half that.  I made 2 matzoh ball soup recipes, which was supposed to make 32 matzoh balls, but they came out small and so I wished I had made a few more.  If they had been bigger it would have been about right. I made 3 recipes of the spinach matzoh pie (24 servings), and probably 2 would have been enough.  We made about 16 beets, but they were barely touched.  I wouldn’t make the beets again, for Passover or otherwise.  The sesame orange dressing simply didn’t complement the beets that well.  We made three quinoa salad recipes (supposedly 12-16 servings), which made about 6 quarts! of salad, and again we barely made a dent.  Probably one recipe would have been fine.  I made 3 crisp recipes (18 servings), and 2 would have been enough.  We made 2 toffikomen recipes, and 1 would have been sufficient.  For next year, I’ve learned my lesson. Given all the courses, I think next year I will make 1.25 servings per person.  Some people will have seconds, but that is counteracted by the guests that only take half a serving.  Probably 1 serving per person is sufficient, but having some leftovers is nice.

To reduce the amount of cooking, I could have cut all the amounts, not made the harosetz or the green bean pate, and only made one dessert.  I think that everyone was pretty stuffed by the time the toffikomen came around.

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Passover spinach matzoh lasagne

April 12, 2009 at 10:15 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Jewish, Necessarily nonvegan, Pasta, Starches, Website / blog)

For Passover this year I wanted to make Peter Berley’s spinach mushroom vegan tart, but I didn’t have enough time to figure out how to make a kosher-for-Passover crust. I did try making an almond, matzoh meal crust held together with butter, but it just turned to crumbly sand. Instead, I ended up making this matzoh spanokopita (spanomatzikah? matzokopita?) recipe from Gourmet magazine for the main dish. Although it’s certainly rich and cheesy, it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly rich. I call it spanokopita, and although the flavors are similar, it would need significantly more feta and butter to deserve the name. I simplified the recipe significantly, by using a stick blender instead of a stand blender and skipping the matzoh soaking and spinach squeezing steps. Here is my modified version of the recipe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passover apple nut cake

April 12, 2009 at 9:41 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cake, Dessert, From a friend, Jewish)

A friend made this Passover apple nut cake many years ago, and I remember it being huge and fluffy and delicious.  I asked her for the recipe, but never got around to making it.  Finally, almost ten years later, I came across the recipe scribbled on a piece of paper, and decided to give it a try for Passover. Read the rest of this entry »

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Toffikomen

March 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm (A (4 stars, love), Dessert, Jewish, Other, Website / blog)

I’ve been trying out recipes for Passover this month, and came across Marcy Goldman’s “Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Matzoh Caramel Crunch“.  Given the title, it was hard to resist.  It was pretty easy to make, and came out well, except that the caramel ended up quite shiny and hard–more like a toffee than a caramel.  Hence, Derek dubbed the dish “Toffikomen”, a play on toffee and afikomen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan Cabbage Noodle Kugel

March 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Jewish, My brain, Pasta, Starches, Tofu)

I was trying to decide what to make for dinner last night, and my friend Katrina suggested a casserole. I said I never really make casseroles, and asked for ideas. She rattled off a bunch of recipe ideas from The Passionate Vegetarian, including a recipe for a cabbage, apple, sauerkraut, noodle casserole, seasoned with applesauce and paprika. It reminded me of a dish my college roommate’s Hungarian grandma used to make for us all the time: “cabbage noodles,” which were spiral noodles and sauteed cabbage and lots of oil and salt. They were simple, greasy, and delicious. The casserole also sounded reminiscent of a traditional noodle kugel.

I used to love my grandma’s noodle kugel when I was a kid. Many noodle kugels are sweet, with cinnamon and sugar and raisins, but my grandma’s recipe stood squarely in the savory camp. Her recipe called for 3 cups egg noodles, 1 cup full fat sour cream, 3 eggs, 3 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup cream, 2 Tbs. butter and 1/2 pound full fat cottage cheese, and just a Tablespoon of sugar and touch of salt. All that dairy fat made it rich and delicious, and the sour cream made is just a tad sour, which I loved. Sadly, her recipe, and most traditional noodle kugels, have few redeeming features from a nutritional standpoint. Not only would her recipe appall the the very-low-fat Dean Ornish types, and the no-carb Atkins types, but it would also be a no-no to the more modern low-animal-fat-and-white carbs (but lots of veggies) types. I think the only one who might approve is Michael Pollan, as most of the ingredients do seem like “food” (although I haven’t read his most recent book yet so I’m not positive that these ingredients would qualify). I’ve been wanting to experiment with Isa’s technique of using pureed silken tofu in place of eggs in baked dishes, and decided this was the perfect opportunity: I would try to create a savory vegan cabbage noodle kugel using tofu in places of the dairy and eggs.

  • 11 ounces of whole wheat fusilli
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound red onions (about 2 medium or one very large)
  • 1.5 pounds shredded savoy cabbage (about 10 cups)
  • salt (maybe 1 tsp? I forgot to measure)
  • 2 twelve ounce packages of dry-packed silken tofu (or 1.5 packages water-packed soft tofu)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbs. paprika
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, slice the onions (I did both the onions and cabbage using the slicing blade on my food processor, but I had to do the cabbage in two batches as it wouldn’t all fit at once.)
  2. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a large 12-inch skillet or large dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute until softened. While the onions are cooking shred your cabbage, and add it in to the skillet in batches, along with a 1/2 tsp. of salt. You want to cook the cabbage and onions until they start to carmelize. Use a little water from the pasta pot if the veggies start to burn or stick.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375. When the water comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta. Cook until just al dente (remember that the noodles will cook more in the oven). Drain the pasta and add back to the large pot it was cooked in.
  4. While the cabbage and pasta cook, blend your tofu in a food processor, with the last Tbs. of oil, the cayenne, cinnamon, and paprika, and another 1/2 tsp. of salt.
  5. Add the cabbage and onions and the tofu puree with the noodles. Mix to combine. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 casserole pan, and bake for 40 minutes.

My Notes:

The kugel came out all right, but not great. It holds together pretty well, looks like noodle kugel, and the taste isn’t bad, but it’s a bit stinky from the cabbage. I was hoping that by carmelizing the cabbage and onions I’d avoid any sulfur odors, and bring out their sweet sides. It didn’t quite work. I think that a sweet version might be a better choice. The cabbage and onions already make it a little sweet, and the little bit of cinnamon I added reinforces the sweetness, but it’s not quite enough. Next time I would add the traditional raisins, use slightly less cabbage perhaps, and add some sweetener (and maybe copy Dragonwagon and add a bit of apples or applesauce as well). I added the paprika to give the pureed tofu more flavor, and to go with my Hungarian theme, but I suspect it just ended up muddying the flavors more than enhancing them. Next time I would just use more sweet spices like cinnamon.

The tofu didn’t work as well as I would like. In Isa’s potato omelette recipe the soy flavor is not detectable, and the tofu gets all puffy and egglike. That didn’t happen here, I’m not sure why. In the baked kugel the tofu has the texture and taste of raw blended tofu. Perhaps the tofu needs more room to expand, and my casserole was packed too tightly? I do think that the tofu was useful in helping the casserole hold together, and giving it a slight creaminess. However, next time I would try cutting back on the amount of tofu a bit, maybe try just 16 ounces, which would help reduce the soy flavor. Also, the kugel is not quite rich enough for my taste, so I would add another tablespoon of olive oil and possibly some nuts as well.

If you’re very efficient the prep work will take about 30 minutes, otherwise more like 45 minutes. There’s quite a bit of clean-up as well, as you’ll have a large pot, large skillet, strainer and food processor to wash. I recommend grating some extra cabbage in the food processor, as long as you’re dirtying it, and using it for another dish, perhaps cole slaw. (And that way you’ll get both the benefits of cooked and raw cabbage!)

Rating: B-

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Kasha Varnishkes

December 29, 2007 at 11:52 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Grains, Jewish, Mom’s recipes, Other, Quick weeknight recipe) ()

My first memory of this traditional Jewish dish is at Ratner’s Deli in Manhattan. I was maybe 16, and I have no idea why I ordered it. I guess it sounded good?

It didn’t taste good. In fact, it was inedible. Why, oh why, I asked myself, didn’t I order blintzes? After many years, the experience (and awful taste) had time to fade away, and I finally got up the nerve to try making kasha myself. I discovered that kasha is sweet and nutty, but subtle. Nothing like the terrible dish I had at Ratner’s.

Below is my current recipe (as of Jan 2018), based closely on my Mom’s vegan kasha and mushrooms recipe. But my mother only uses 8 ounces mushrooms. I like 1 pound or more, and I prefer to take the mushrooms out while the kasha cooks, so they don’t get too rubbery. This recipe is very quick to make. It will be done by the time the noodles are cooked. Or to make it even faster don’t bother with the noodles. The recipe is very good even without them.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tsimmes

November 30, 2007 at 6:03 pm (Jewish, Other, Root vegetables, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I’ve never been a big fan of Tsimmes. The carrots often seem completely extraneous. However, a friend of my mom’s brought this dish to a potluck and both my mom and my sister really enjoyed it. So my sister suggested making it for Thanksgiving. The recipes originally comes from a series called The Chosen Cookbook Series: More Best Recipes from Jewish Cookbooks. The title of the volume is Jewish Cooking Made Slim, The original recipe was published in Sharing our Best Canton Chapter of Hadassah, Canton, Ohio.

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 6 ounces pitted prunes (or 6 oz. dried fruit bits)
  • 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks in their own juice
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 300 F. Oil a 2 quart covered baking dish.

Peel carrots and sweet potatoes and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Bring 1 cup water to a boil and cook carrots fro 15 minutes. then add sweet potatoes and cotinue boiling for 10 minutes or until vegetables are barely tender. Drain vegetables, reserving liquid. Arrange carrots and sweet potatoes in baking dish.

Drain pineapple, reserving liquid. Add reserved vegetable cooking liquid to pineapple juice, to equal 1 1/2 cups. Cook prunes or dried fruit bits in this liquid, simmering 20 minutes for prunes or 10 minutes for dried fruit bits. Then add pineapple chunks and brown sugar. Dissolve cornstarch in lemon juice and add to fruit, stirring until fruit looks glazed.

Spoon fruit over carrots and sweet potatoes. COver and bake at 300 for about 1 hour, basting occasionally, if possible. Serve hot.

Serves 10.

My Notes:

My sister doubled the prunes because she said they’re the best part, and it wasn’t too many. I forgot to add the cornstarch, but I reduced the liquid so much it wasn’t all that soupy. The carrots took longer to bake than one hour. Overall this is a simple dish but I think people enjoyed it as a side for Thanksgiving. It has a lot of sugar in it but doesn’t actually taste that sweet.

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Cauliflower-leek kugel with almond-herb crust

July 31, 2007 at 5:49 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Isa C. Moskowitz, Jewish, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

Derek argued that this dish is not truly a kugel since it doesn’t have noodles. Apparently he’s never had potato kugel, and doesn’t know that (although literally a pudding in Yiddish) a kugel can be any sweet or savory casserole type dish. This recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, and the anecdote at the beginning of the recipe is quite amusing–I recommend you buy the cookbook and read it for yourself. Apparently it was adapted (switching eggs for tofu) from this Bon Appetit recipe. If you eat tofu on passover this would make a great passover dish.

Serves 8-12.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced cauliflower florets (about 1 medium-size head of cauliflower, or half a very large head)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 3 whole matzohs (2 in the filling, then 1 in the topping)
  • 1 (12-ounce) package silken tofu
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts from about 4 leeks)
  • 1 cup diced onion (1/2-inch dice, from 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

I’m going to re-write the instructions since I found the order and details of the instructions to be inefficient, and lacking in sufficient detail. My instructions look quite long but I assure you they will be easier, and faster than the original, shorter instruction set.

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan (with a lid) add an inch of water and a folding steaming basket. Bring the water to a boil while you prepare the cauliflower. When the water comes to a boil, add your sliced cauliflower, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Then remove from heat, uncover, and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry cast iron skillet or 12-inch stainless steel skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Watch the almonds carefully. Don’t burn them! When toasted, chop them in a food processor with a few pulses. Set aside in a small bowl (about the size of a cereal bowl) .
  3. Crumble two sheets of matzoh into the food processor. Grind the matzoh into large crumbs (coarser than matzoh meal) and pour into a large (4-6 quarts?) bowl.
  4. Now chop your onion and leeks into large pieces, and add them to the food processor and pulse a few more times. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet you toasted the almonds in, and raise to a medium-high heat. When hot, add the leeks and onions, and saute until the leeks are tender and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Meanwhile, chop the parsley and dill in the food processor. Add all but 1 Tbs. of each herb to the small bowl with the almonds. Add the remaining two Tablespoons to the large bowl with the matzoh. Next, crumble the tofu into the food processor, and puree until smooth.
  7. The cauliflower should be cool by now, and the leeks and onions cooked. Mash the cauliflower in the steaming basket with a fork. Add the tofu and leeks and onions and cauliflower (without the steaming water) to the large bowl, along with the salt and pepper, and mix well.
  8. Brush or spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with oil. Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly in the dish. Pour the almonds and herbs into the large bowl you just emptied, and crumble in the remaining matzoh with your fingers. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil and mix. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the kugel.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes, until browned on top. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

My Notes
Both Derek and I really enjoyed this recipe. We were worried it was going to be bland, but it wasn’t bland at all, it was quite tasty. We couldn’t taste the tofu at all, but it gave the dish an almost eggy consistency, that really reminded me of a traditional kugel. The fresh herbs were present, but not punchy. The leeks were delicious–I think with just onions this recipe wouldn’t be as good. The cauliflower didn’t add a huge amount of flavor, but with the tofu gave the kugel a great texture. I was worried it was going to be too salty so I only added 1 tsp. of salt, but in the end we added salt at the table so next time I’d add the full amount. This dish is quite rich, and Derek thought the oil could be cut in half without ill effect–just use 1 Tbs. to saute the onions and leeks, and 1 Tbs. for the topping. As is it’s about 47% fat, but with half the oil it would still be 40% fat, I guess due to the tofu and almonds. No wonder it’s so tasty! I really liked the cauliflower layer, but in my 9×13 pan it ended up quite thin. I think it could have used a slightly higher cauliflower to topping ratio. If I make it again I may try using 6 cups of cauliflower instead of 4, or maybe just doubling the whole base recipe (except for the topping). Also, I might increase the amounts of fresh herbs just a bit, maybe to 2/3 or 3/4 cup each.

Isa has you use the food processor for the matzoh and the tofu, but not for anything else. I say, why not chop your almonds and onions and herbs in the food processor as well? She also says to boil the cauliflower but I think it’s easier and healthier to steam it. Her instructions are to break the cauliflower into florets. Rather than spending time breaking the cauliflower into neat florets, I suggest just breaking the cauliflower into large pieces then slicing them–it saves time and you’re going to end up mashing the buggers in the end anyhow.

Even with my modifications, this still isn’t a quick and easy recipe. It’s not exactly difficult, but it does use a 4-qt pot, a steaming basket, a large skillet, a food processor, and a large and small bowl. So plan accordingly. To use one less pan, if your large skillet is oven-proof you may be able to bake the casserole directly in the skillet. I thought about baking it in my cast iron pan, but the casserole would have been much fatter than intended. It’s worth a shot, but since it was my first time I followed the instructions and used a 9×13 metal cake pan.

I cut my kugel into 8 large slices; each had about 240 calories. Two slices were quite filling and satisfying. With half the fat each slice would have about 200 calories.

Update Sept 1, 2007: On a second try I used about 6 cups of cauliflower, from one large head. I also used 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs. of each herb, and reduced the oil to only 2 Tbs. total. I had three quite large leeks, and only got 3 cups of chopped leek out of them. I used the food processor to chop the onion and leeks, which resulted in a much more rough, uneven chop than when I did it by hand. The whole recipe took me 45 minutes to make, plus about 15 minutes of clean up time (I don’t have a dishwasher).

Rating: B+

Derek:

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The Search for the Perfect Matzoh Ball

April 5, 2006 at 10:29 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Isa C. Moskowitz, Jewish, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Website / blog)

Matzoh balls are a simple combination of matzoh meal, eggs, and fat, and yet small differences in proportions and technique make the difference between golf ball “sinkers”, or huge, fluffy, and airy “floaters.” There are lots of theories out there about how to achieve each type, but I suspect many of them are urban myths. One suggestions I’ve read recently: to get denser matzoh balls make sure to let the dough sit in the fridge for a while, as it gives a chance for the liquid to hydrate the matzoh meal, which somehow leads to denser, firmer balls. I’d love it if Cook’s illustrated would weigh in on this topic, but I doubt they ever will as matzoh balls are not all-American enough for them. Perhaps someone else has done a scientific study of the matzoh ball? Anyone know? I have some notes below from a recipe taste test Epicurious did, but I think their results are bogus. Read the rest of this entry »

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