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April 7, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

And now for the Kugel


Sydney's great-Bubby's recipe for Potato Passover Kugel

Sydney and Henry comparing Passover recipes. The following is Sydney's great-Bubby's recipe for Potato Passover Kugel.


The kugel is what really scares me.  It’s my friend’s bubby’s recipe and she makes it so well.  Last year when I tried to make it, it just wasn’t quite right.  It might have been that I used the food processor or that I used the box grater (I don’t even remember what I did).  My mother had to search my friend’s kitchen just to find the recipe and copy it down, maybe she didn’t write something down, or maybe there’s information that’s just found between the lines.  This year, Samantha is only a phone call and barely one town away.  I am going to talk the recipe through with her before I attempt it.  Wish me luck.

Bubby Fanny’s Potato Kougal (Passover)

6 potatoes (I have to find out what she usually uses)*
1 onion (I assume it is a yellow onion, but I will check)

Grate in cuisinart, drain in sieve.

Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 3 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp matzoh meal

Grease and heat pan in the ove.

Cook 1 hour at 400°F

Cook in a 9×13 Pyrex.

I like it when the top is crunchy.  The smell of the kugel straight out of the oven is so good.  Let’s hope I get it right this year.

This recipe from the Boston Globe, suggests Russet potatoes, which is what I typically use for Kugel or Latkes.

April 2, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

My assignment: Charoset and Kugel

I have been assigned charoset and kugel for Passover.  We have hosted Passover for the last few years so it is kind of nice to just have two recipes to be responsible for.  The problem is, what if they’re not perfect?

The charoset I can handle.  I suppose you can go terribly wrong with anything, but it is pretty hard to ruin charoset.  It is actually one food I make without a recipe (I am a little obsessive compulsive about using a recipe for things).

When I make charoset, I use a good apple either a granny smith or if I want something a bit sweeter I use I slightly green golden delicious apple because their texture is pretty reliable.  Unless the apple is really old, the golden delicious don’t seem to get mealy as easily as other apples.  I use a little lemon juice, fresh squeezed of course.  Some local honey (it is supposed to help with allergies to have local honey).  I toast some walnuts.  Then my last ingredients are some sweet Manischewitz wine (if you can call it that) and some Port.  

I grate the apple on a box grater.  Then I toast the walnut halves.  I chop the walnuts but not too finely.  Then add a little honey, some lemon juice a splash of the Manischewitz and a bigger splash of Port.  Then just adjust to taste.  

Next, is the Kugel…that’s the one that worries me.

March 31, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Ham, eggs and hot cross buns


Sizzling, splattering, smoking and salty.

Sizzling, splattering, smoking and salty.

I really don’t like ham.  I love bacon and it seems that there are many bacon lovers out there too.  I really enjoy a good prosciutto with some cantaloupe or wrapped around something for an appetizer.  I ate ham and cheese sandwiches almost daily for lunch throughout my pregnancy with my daughter, but I just don’t like ham that’s warm or heated.  When it comes to Easter I love the eggs, I love the sweets, but please don’t make me sit down to an Easter ham.  Luckily, we don’t celebrate Easter ourselves so I can pick and choose which Easter foods I care to bring home and nosh on. 

The egg is a symbolic and central part of the “story” for both Easter and Passover.  I am particular about my eggs.  I like them fresh, cage-free, and organic.  If they’re beautiful that is even better in my book.  I love to learn new ways to prepare eggs, but my favourite way to eat them is slowly scrambled until they are creamy and warm with some fresh chives snipped in.  My uncle Georges makes the best scrambled eggs in a saucepan constantly stirred over low heat.  It is almost a savory custard.

As a child, we occasionally celebrated Easter with friends but it wasn’t a religious Easter.  It was more of an egg hunt, lots of candy, and chocolate kind of Easter.  

For me, Easter and Passover are just a way to signal the early days of spring.  The presence of fiddleheads, and rhubarb at the farm stand, matzoh in the grocery store aisles and hot cross buns in the bakery are all some of the cues that spring is here and warm weather is approaching.  

Tomorrow is the first day of April and I’m thinking about making some hot cross buns with my daughter after school.  Maybe we’ll even get to the butter tarts one day this week.

Hot Cross Bun Recipe
from Classic Canadian Cooking by Elizabeth Baird

1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp.)
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup minus 1 tbsp. milk, scalded
1 egg, well beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 cup currants (or raisins -I prefer currants)
1/3 cup candied mixed peel (as in lemon, orange, etc.)
1 egg white 
2 drops vanilla
icing sugar

Dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp sugar in the water.  Let stand 10 minutes.
Combine the butter and 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the scalded milk.
Add the yeast mixture and the egg to the milk mixture.
Sift together the flour, salt, and spices.  Reserve 2 tbsp to dredge the currants and peel.  Beat the rest into the batter mixture, first using an electric mixer and then, when that becomes too difficult a wooden spoon.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
Knead in the raisins and mixed peel and continue kneading for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball; place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down to original size.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Shape the dough into 18 buns and place 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet.  Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Cut a shallow cross on the top of each bun.  
Beat the egg white until frothy.  Brush lightly on each bun.  Keep the rest of the egg white.  
Bake at 375° for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until the buns are browned and sound hollow when tapped.
Combine the rest of the egg white with the vanilla and enough icing sugar to thicken.  Frost the crosses of the hot buns with this icing.  
Yield: 18 buns. 

 Classic Canadian Cooking: Menus for the Seasons, Elizabeth Baird
James Lorimer & Company, Publishers Toronto 1974

March 29, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Egg whites: A love story


The Earl Grey Martini made perfectly creamy with an egg white.

The Earl Grey Martini made perfectly creamy with an egg white.

I love egg whites.  Not in the “I’ll have the egg white omelette.” cholesterol counting, healthy kind of way, but in the fluffy, sweet, light “I’ll have a second helping. How bad can it be, it’s made with egg whites.” kind of way.

My kids both eat only the egg white of a hard boiled egg.  I kind of understand, because the yolk of the hard boiled egg is quite chalky in texture.  I have never been too fond of the white in a hard boiled egg.  As a child, we had soft boiled eggs that sat upon their egg-cup thrown.   Mom would make toast soldiers with her homemade bread or the really good whole grain German bread from the farmer’s market.  We would dip our soldiers into the rich golden yolk and then we’d scoop out the white, but I think I only enjoyed the white then because after the richness of the yolk a little white is refreshing.  

I have had an egg white frittata at Uncommon Grounds in Watertown that I actually really enjoyed.  I’m a bit of a skeptic if you’re going to take out my yolks.  I expect rubbery, one-dimensional, tasteless eggs without the yolk.  I have also had a good egg sandwich at Sarah’s Market made with egg whites, peppers, and onions (known as Sue’s sandwich if you’re in the know).  

But that’s not the egg white that I love.  Those are the egg-whites that I tolerate.  The egg whites I love are those that make a fluffy, slightly caramelized meringue, a base for my beloved Pavlova, a sticky chewy nougat, an île flottante, or a French macaron.   Whenever I think of lemon meringue pie I can’t help but think of the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish.  They are so silly, but there’s something about the power of that pie.  She is about to be fired from her job and then one mouthful of her pie turns everything around.  My daughter, after reading the books with me, was so excited to discover that lemon meringue pie was something real.  I took her to Hi Rise and bought a mini lemon meringue pie for us to share as a family after dinner one day and I relished the treat as much as, if not more than, she did.

None of the aforementioned treats are things are things I would cook on a regular day, but I think about such recipes especially this time of year because of Passover.  They definitely are not traditional passover desserts, but I have to admit that’s what I love about them.   Some of these just happen to be recipes that don’t use flour so they are perfect for Passover.

If you want to track some of these treats down locally, you can get lemon meringue pies at Hi Rise Bread Co. on Huron Ave. or in Harvard Square.  You can buy beautiful macarons at L.A. Burdick in Harvard Square or Formaggio Kitchen on Huron Ave.  You can buy some great nougat from Europe at Cardullo’s in Harvard Square or you can head to Formaggio Kitchen.  This week Formaggio Kitchen made some great in-house chewy nougat with walnuts and rum-soaked prunes dipped in dark chocolate.  I’m going to get one more this week before they sell out.