Sunday, February 26, 2012

Noodle Kugel

"Kugel [Yiddish: קוגעל; also קוגל kugl, pronounced IPA: [ˈkʊɡl̩] is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles [Lokshen kugel] or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato. It is usually served as a side dish on Shabbat and Yom Tov."

"Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish [Jews of Eastern European descent] homes, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holidays or at a Tish. Some Hasidic Jews believe that eating kugel on the Jewish Sabbath brings special spiritual blessings, particularly if that kugel was served on the table of a Hasidic Rebbe."

"While noodle kugel, potato kugel, and other variations are dishes served on Jewish holiday meals, matzo kugel is a common alternative served at Passover seders which is adjusted to meet passover kosher requirements."

"The name of the dish comes from the German Kugel meaning "sphere, globe, ball"; thus the Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the round, puffed-up shape of the original dishes [compare to German Gugelhupf — a type of ring-shaped cake]."

"Nowadays, however, kugels are often baked in square pans. There is a common association of this word to the Hebrew k'iygul ["as a circle"], but this is a folk etymology."

"The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet.
Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese. About 800 years ago, cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common in today's dessert dishes."

"In Poland, Jewish homemakers added raisins, cinnamon and sweet farmer's cheese to noodle kugel recipes. In the late 19th century, Jerusalemites combined caramelized sugar and black pepper in a noodle kugel known as "Jerusalem kugel," which is a commonly served at Shabbat kiddushes and is a popular side dish served with cholent during Shabbat lunch."

Kugel Made From Noodles Photo by Stuart Spivak at Flickr
From The Settlement Cook Book

Noodle Kugel Recipe

3 cups of noodles
1/2 inch wide
4 Eggs
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
3/4 cup of fat*
[*chicken, goose, or butter fat]

Cook noodles in salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and add the fat and the eggs well beaten. Place in a well greased pudding dish and bake in a hot oven until top of the kugel is well browned. Serve hot.

Editor's note: my preference would be a variation on the Polish style kugel: add raisins and cinnamon but without cheese.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Free Google ebooks
Image Credit: wikimedia

Monday, February 20, 2012

Corned Beef And Cabbage

"In the U.S. and Canada, consumption of corned beef is often associated with Saint Patrick's Day. Corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish, and the connection with Saint Patrick's Day specifically originates as part of Irish-American culture, and is often part of their celebrations in North America."

"In Ireland, the closest traditional dish is bacon and cabbage [more akin to Canadian style bacon or ham]. Corned beef and cabbage became popular in the U.S. after Irish immigrants in the northeast used corned beef instead of pork in the dish. This substitution was likely due to the low cost of corned beef in the U.S."

"Corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish American immigrants in the late 19th century. A similar dish is the New England boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes, which is popular in New England and parts of Atlantic Canada."

"Corned beef is prepared before the actual cooking of the meal by seasoning a cut of beef with salt [large grains of salt were known as corns] and spices and the natural meat juices. "

"This meat is then placed whole, like a rump or pot roast into a crock pot, which in olden times was a ceramic pot over a fire, filled with cabbage and carrots, and, when available, red potatoes."

"However, after Luther Burbank's alteration of potatoes, the potatoes were chopped when placed in the pot. Rutabaga or turnips are also common ingredients. This meal can be left in a crock pot all day but must be kept in the naturally humid environment of cooking meat. Corned beef and cabbage is often served as a whole meal. Common condiments include horseradish, mustard, and cider vinegar."

"New England boiled dinner is the basis of a traditional New England meal, consisting of corned beef or a smoked "picnic ham" shoulder, with cabbage and added vegetable items, often including potato, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, white turnip and onion. When using a beef roast, this meal is often known simply as corned beef and cabbage even with the addition of other vegetables."

Corned Beef And Cabbage Photo by spackletoe at Flickr
From wikiHow
Corned Beef And Cabbage Recipe
5 lbs. [2.27 kg] corned beef brisket
6 peppercorns
Cold water
1/2 lb. [227 g] salt pork
3 parsnips
6 carrots
6 small turnips
8 small white onions
6 medium potatoes
4 to 6 wedges of green cabbage
Melted butter

Place the corned beef brisket in a large pot along with 6 peppercorns. Cover the corned beef and peppercorns with cold water, place the lid on the pot, place it over medium-high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Lower the heat once the water comes to a boil and simmer the beef for 4 to 5 hours, or until tender.

Skim the fat off the top of the water with a spoon occasionally. Rinse all of the produce in cold water. Cube the parsnips and carrots, peel the turnips and onions, quarter the potatoes, cut the cabbage into wedges and chop the parsley while the beef cooks. Remove the beef from the pot once it is cooked, and place it in a warm area to rest.

Place 1/2 lb. [227 g] of salt pork in the simmering pot along with the prepared parsnips, turnips, onions, carrots and potatoes and allow them to cook for 30 minutes. Put the cabbage wedges into the pot for the last 15 minutes of cooking, so that all of the vegetables will be ready at the same time. Make herb butter by mixing the chopped parsley into melted butter, while you wait for the vegetables to cook. Slice the corned beef against the grain with a sharp knife. Arrange the corned beef and vegetables on a platter, and discard the salt pork. Spoon the herb butter over the vegetables and serve with mustard and pickles.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Wikipedia || wikiHow || Image Credit: Flickr

Cherry Pie

In the U.S. today is Presidents Day. To celebrate the day and honor our nation's first President today's recipe is cherry pie.

Excerpt from A history of the life and death, virtues and exploits of General George Washington by Mason Locke Weems ~

As told to Mr Weems by an aged distant relative who referred to the youth George Washington as a 'cousin': "When George," said she, "was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet! of which, like most little boys, he was immoderately fond, and was constantly going about chopping everything that came in his way. One day, in the garden, where he often amused himself hacking his mother's pea-sticks, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it."

"The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house; and with much warmth asked for the mischievous author, declaring at the same time, that he would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance."

"George," said his father, "do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? " This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." "Run to my arms, you dearest boy," cried his father in transports, "run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."

From wikiHow

Cherry Pie Recipe

Double crust pie using pie crust mix
4 cups cooked, tart cherries
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Cherry Pie With Latticed Crust Photo at wikiHowPreheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a pie pan with an 8-inch round of pie pastry. Drain cherries well. Combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cherries to flour mixture and stir gently. Pour cherry mixture into pastry line pie plate. Dot cherry pie filling with butter. Moisten lower edge of pie crust. Press edges firmly to seal. Cut slits on top of pie crust. Bake about 40 minutes or until the pie is golden. The filling will be bubbling through the pie slits.

The image shown uses a latticed rather than fully covered top crust.

Text Credits: Google Free eBooks || wikiHow Image Credit: wikiHOW

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mardi Gras King Cake

"The first week of January in New Orleans starts the King cake season. King cakes first appeared after 1872, when the Rex Krewe selected the Mardi Gras colors [purple, green and gold]. The traditional King cake is a coffee cake, and is oblong and braided. It is iced with a simple icing and covered with purple, green and gold sugar."

"Each cake contains a hidden bean or small plastic baby, and custom tells that whoever finds it must either buy the next King cake or throw the next King cake party. One Mardi Gras organization uses the King cake tradition to choose the queen of its annual ball. Hundreds of King cake parties are thrown every year and hundreds of thousands of cakes are made, bought and eaten every year."

"A king cake [sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings' cake, king's cake, or three kings cake] is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival."

"In the United States, Carnival is traditionally observed in the Southeastern region of the country, particularly in Mobile, Alabama, the towns and cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, southern Louisiana and New Orleans. In this region, the king cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras traditions and is served throughout the Carnival season, which lasts from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday."

"The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple[for justice], green [for faith], and gold [for power]. These colors are said to have been chosen by Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during a visit to New Orleans in 1872. This doctrine was reaffirmed in 1892, when the Rex Parade theme "Symbolism of Colors" gave the colors their meanings."

Some believe the significance of the cake's decorative colors are purple for royalty [hence the name king cake] gold for wealth [this in connection to king cake also being served during the Christmas holidays; symbolic of the 3 wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus], and green for good luck and monetary fortune.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

sookie's King Cake
From Foodista

King Cake Recipe

For The Cake:
1/4 cup of butter
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces sour cream
2 packages
dry yeast
2 eggs
6 cups to 6 1/2 of all purpose flour divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
For The Frosting:
3 cups of sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops of food coloring.
Colored Sugars:
1 1/2 cups sugar divided
2 drops of green, yellow, red and blue food coloring.

Combine 1/4 cup of butter, salt, and sour cream in saucepan. Heat until all has melted, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water as according to directions on package. Let yeast stand for 10 minutes.

Add butter/ sour cream mixture, eggs, and 2 cups of flour in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed of an electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining 4 cups of flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until elastic. Place dough in a well greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees) for one hour. Dough will double in bulk.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Turn one portion of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll onto a 28x10 rectangle. Spread softened butter and cinnamon mixture on dough. Roll dough in jellyroll fashion, starting at one end and roll towards other end. Halfway down the roll, add filling of choice [cream cheese, chocolate, Bavarian cream, fruit filling, etc.]

Finish rolling to end and gently place dough roll seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of dough together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching the edges together to seal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place 20 minutes.

Bake a 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining dough, butter, and cinnamon mixture.

Combine powdered sugar and butter. Add milk (at room temperature) to desired consistency for drizzling. Stir in vanilla. Divide frosting into three batches, tinting one green, one yellow, one combining red and blue for purple. Yields about 1 1/2 cups.

Place divided sugar in three jars or bowls. Place a drop of green in one container and mix well. Repeat for yellow and purple colored sugar.

Decorate each cake with batches of colored frosting and sprinkle with colored sugar.

In the recipe above, the time needed to allow the yeast to rise does not permit a quick prep or bake time. my time saving tweak for a king cake recipe is substitute a basic scratch cake recipe using flour, milk, whole eggs and egg whites, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt. A bundt pan makes a decorative shape. For the frosting dilute Karo syrup pour over the cake and then sprinkle colored sugar crystals.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikipedia || || Image Credit: sookie's King Cake

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ossobuco alla Milanese ~ Cross-cut Braised Veal Shanks With Vegetables

"Ossobuco or osso buco is Italian for "bone with a hole" [osso: bone, buco: hole], a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank. In the local Western Lombard Milanese dialect, it is oss bus."

"Ossobuco, when loosely translated from Italian, means hollowed bone; a reference to the large piece of marrow in the center of the veal shank bone. It's a Milanese specialty of veal shanks cooked in meat broth and flavored with white wine. Slowly braised, this relatively tough, yet flavorful cut of meat becomes meltingly tender, and the connective tissues and marrow dissolve into the sauce, making it rich and creamy."

"The shank is a relatively cheap cut of veal which is readily available in most good supermarkets and butcher shops. Look for meaty hind-shanks cut from the top of the thigh with a high proportion of meat to bone. Each piece should be about five inches across and one-inch to one-and-a-half inches thick."

"This dish probably had its origins in a Milanese farmhouse during the late nineteenth century and most likely did not originally include tomatoes, a New World vegetable. Ossobuco first became popular in the osterie of Milan, which were neighborhood restaurants of Italy's large cities. These catered to the neighborhood's local residents but rarely if ever to tourists and foreigners."

"Traditional ossobuco was prepared with cinnamon, allspice, bay leaf and gremolata and today is called ossobuco in bianco [ossobuco in white sauce]. The modern version has, by and large, replaced the older one. This new version includes tomatoes and mirepoix: carrot, celery and onion, flavored with herbs but no gremolata [although hybrid versions exist which include both tomato and gremolata]."

"Risotto alla milanese is traditionally served with ossobuco, but goes well with polenta or mashed potatoes. The following recipe is for the modern version."

Ossobuco alla Milanese Photo by Mogens Engelund
From WikiCookbooks
Ossobuco Alla Milanese Recipe

4 slices veal hind shank, about 2.5 to 4 centimeters [1 to 1½ inches] thick
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
240 millilitres [1 cup] dry white wine or white vermouth
about 480 millilitres [2 cups] meat broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
6 anchovy fillets, mashed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 strips lemon peel
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). If the butcher has not done so, tie the shanks around the middle with kitchen twine; this will keep them from falling apart during cooking.
Choose a heavy, covered roasting pan or Dutch oven which will just accommodate the veal shanks in one layer. Put the butter, two tablespoons of the oil, the onions, celery and carrots in the pan and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables have wilted--about eight minutes. Add the garlic and lemon peel and sweat until they're fragrant, about two minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet until it is near the smoking point. Lightly flour the veal shanks and slip them into the oil. Richly brown the shanks on both of the cut sides, then place them in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.
Place the wine in the skillet and boil until reduced by one-half, deglazing the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the veal shanks.

Heat the beef broth to a boil in the skillet, whisking in the tomato paste and anchovies. Add this to the veal shanks, along with the herbs, several grindings of pepper, and a large pinch of salt. The liquid should cover three quarters of the shanks. If not, add extra water. Bring the pot to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for approximately two hours, turning and basting the shanks every half hour. If you notice that the cooking liquids have nearly evaporated, add hot water, about one half cup at a time. The veal is done when it is fork tender and falling from the bone.

Transfer the shanks to a platter, remove the strings, and cover to keep warm. If the sauce seems watery, as is probable, place the pan on the stove top over high heat and reduce the cooking liquid until the sauce has a thick, creamy consistency. Pour the sauce over the shanks and serve.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || WikiCookbooks
Image Credit:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hearts Of Palm Salad

Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. It is costly because harvesting kills the tree. It is eaten raw, usually in salads, and has a mild, slightly sweet nutty flavor and a pleasant texture. In appearance it is off-white and usually sold as round stalks about an inch in diameter and 4-5 inches long, in jars or cans with salt water.

Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees notably the coconut [Cocos nucifera], Palmito Juçara [Euterpe edulis], Açaí palm [Euterpe oleracea], sabal [Sabal spp.] and pejibaye [Bactris gasipaes palms].

Harvesting of many non-cultivated or wild single-stemmed palms results in palm tree death [e.g. Geonoma edulis]. However, other palm species are clonal or multi-stemmed plants [e.g. Prestoea acuminata, Euterpe oleracea] and moderate harvesting will not kill the entire clonal palm. Heart of palm may be eaten on its own, and often it is eaten in a salad.

An alternative to wild heart of palm are palm varieties which have undergone a process of adaptation to become a domesticated farm species. The main variety that has been domesticated is the botanical species Bactris gasipaes, known in Ecuador as chontaduro, in Costa Rica as palmito, and in English as the peach palm. This variety is the most widely used for canning.

Peach palms are self-suckering and produce multiple stems, up to 40 on one plant, so harvesting several stems from a plant is not so expensive because the plant can live on. Another advantage it has over other palms is that it has been selectively bred to eliminate the vicious thorns of its wild cousins. Since harvesting is still a labor intensive task, palm hearts are regarded as a delicacy.

As of 2008, Costa Rica is the primary source of fresh palm hearts in the US. Peach palm is also cultivated in Hawaii, and now has limited distribution on the mainland, primarily to the restaurant trade. Florida's wild Sabal palmetto or cabbage palm was once a source of hearts of palm but is now protected by conservation law.

Brazil was the highest producer of uncultivated hearts of palm, but in the 1990s its quality went down - mostly because of unsustainable poaching for stems [called colete, Portuguese for "vest"] of the main producing species, Euterpe edulis - which is now considered as threatened with extinction in the wild. This left the market open for Ecuador to export its cultivated hearts of palm. Ecuador is now one of the main producers of hearts of palm. France is the largest importer of hearts of palm.

Hearts Of Palm Salad photo by Rebecca of

Hearts Of Palm Salad

For The Vinaigrette:
1/2 lime or lemon juiced
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
For The Hearts Of Palm Salad:
1 can palm hearts - (14 to 15 oz) drained, and
sliced crosswise
2 ripe mangoes peeled, sliced thin
2 ripe avocados (or 1 large) peeled, stoned,
and thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber peeled, sliced thin
1/2 Scotch bonnet seeded, chopped fine
(or other hot chile pepper)
1/2 lime or lemon to be squeezed on
avocado to prevent discolouring

To make the dressing: Mix the first 4 ingredients and then drizzle olive oil in slowly while stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl and serve the dressing on the side.

Editor's Note: The photo illustration differs from the recipe in that the photo includes hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato and beets and does not have avocado or peppers. my tweak of the recipe would be to eliminate the hard boiled egg and have mixed greens of frisee and radicchio and a vidalia onion.

Text Credit: Heart Of Palm || Heart Of Palm ||
Photo Credit: