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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Jerusalem Kugel...Freeze-Dried Style

I know it’s already after Rosh Hashana but I really need to unload about my wonderful cooking experience with Kugel Yerushalmi (“Jerusalem Kugel”).

For those of you who don’t know what a ‘kugel’ is, it is a baked Jewish side dish or sometimes dessert generally made with noodles to which are added liquified sugar and oil and then a combo of beaten eggs, salt & pepper, after which it is baked.

It is sometimes translated as ‘pudding’ or ‘casserole.’


One of my favorite and more difficult kugels is Kugel Yerushalmi. It is a (very) sweet kugel, which satisfies Israelis’ sweet tooth, and is often made to be eaten on Shabbat, but is also especially appropriate for the holiday of Rosh Hashana, where most foods are sweet and a “sweet new year” is emphasized.



But, as I said above, it is more difficult to make than your average kugel; to make your average kugel, you have to cook the noodles—usually wide egg noodles-in a big pot of salted (or slightly oiled) water. Drain the noodles after they’re cooked and set aside in a bowl or other container. In varying amounts (according to the recipe) mix eggs, salt, pepper and other ingredients, such as pineapple or apple slices or vanilla and cinnamon, etc., and pour over the noodles, then bake. Simple, right?


Not so Kugel Yerushalmi; for this kugel, you use thin noodles or vermicelli (I used kloski; not thin enough), cook as above, drain and set aside.

Now comes the fun part: melting sugar. Sounds easy? It isn’t. You put oil and sugar (3/4 C. oil, 2/3 C. sugar, but amounts vary per recipe) into a saucepan or pot, and “cook” the sugar until brown and dissolved; until it liquefies.

Then, in the recipe I followed (from the Spice and Spirit Chabad cookbook, which I love, although this recipe left something to be desired), you are supposed to carefully pour the liquid oil/sugar mixture (key word there is “carefully”) over the noodles and thoroughly mix them. That’s when disaster struck.


I knew that when the hot sugar mixture touched the cold noodles it could clump together, so I intelligently first poured boiling water over the noodles in a colander which sat in the bowl, left it for a bit, and then emptied out the water and poured the noodles back into the bowl. Then, I smugly poured the boiling sugar liquid over the noodles in the bowl.


Have you ever carmelized your countertop? Serving spoon? Pasta ladle? Stainless steel bowl? I did.; and did a good job of it, too!


Not only did the boiling oil/sugar mixture still clump up in batches all over the noodles, but it spurted out all over the place as soon as it made contact with anything and everything that was 1 degree colder than it was: the spoon I spooned it out with; the pasta ladle that was in the stainless steel bowl. The bowl. The countertop. Oh, I said that already.


It was erev Shabbat before my brave husband was able to chisel—er, boil off—the carmelized sugar lumps, rock-hard, from everything except for the fleishig serving spoon. That is yet to be done.


I’m going back-to-the-lab to make it again a different way (I found some good recipes. Here is one) and get this right, if I have to make kugel Yerushalmi every week…I’m gonna make it again for Sukkot, and Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, and. . . Chanukah (well, maybe not for Chanukah. . . )

The kugel tasted great, though (at least, our guests said so. Do you think they were justt being polite?)




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5 comments:

DYS said...

I think I've heard that one should use a double-boiler for the sugar.

Really great yerushalmi kugel? Lots of sugar, health dose of black pepper, lots of oil and baking overnight.

Terrible for the body, but tastes heavenly.

Lady-Light said...

dys: I think I'll write about food more often (I'm getting hungry re-reading my post and reading your comment!); I don't do that a lot, because in this household, my husband is The Chef; his avocation has been cooking since before we were married! He even taught our sons how to cook, when he was Scoutmaster for our Jewish Boy Scout Troop for ten years.
But the advent of the chagim has gotten me interested in cooking again, so I think I'll dig up some recipes and write about them.
Yep, you're right: high-glycemic, saturated fats--the BEST kind of food! The pepper is good, though; I've never heard of baking kugel over night, however--although it could be done, like cholent I guess, at a low temperature.
(and, upon second thought, I should have named this post "how I carmelized my kitchen.")

rickismom said...

The trick is that just as the noodles are finishing cooking, you start the sugar, and while watching carefully that the suagar doesn't burn, you strain the noodles, and put them back into the still-hot pot. Stir the sugar in (use mits and a long-handled spoon to help avoid burns), stirring QUICKLY. Don't mind a few lumps of hardened sugar in the nooles, it melts as the kugel cooks/bakes.
To clean the sugar pot/spoon, fill the sugar pot with water, put in the spoon, and bring to a boil. If there are sugar clumps in the noodle-pot, just soak till motzai shabbas (which one can do with the sugar pot as an alternative way to clean that.

rickismom said...

PS I found that one does NOT need tons of oil for good kugel. Pepper, yes. I add raisens sometimes, but then I only cook it stove-top /blech , as baking tends to ruin the raisens.

Lady-Light said...

rickismom: I agree with no tons of oil. I thought about keeping the noodles in the original pot (still hot, as you say), after the disaster.
But you can't keep a good cook* down. I will try again, later. Much later...
(*my husband; not me)

 
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