Challah Kugel

Challah Kugel 


ואל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

It is written in Perkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): Do not say, “When I have leisure time, I will study,” for you may never have leisure. (2:4)

According to the commentaries, this means that “one must consciously set aside time for study and spiritual growth.”

Now, I would not like to imply that blogging is on the same spiritual level as learning Torah.

But, with respect to blogging, I have extrapolated the above quote to mean: If I wait for things to calm down to blog, I will never blog.

As I shared in May, I am a big believer in the importance of rigorous self-care. As the primary caregiver for my family, I find blogging to be a fun and wonderfully creative outlet. Since blogging helps me cope, it’s time to post!

Challah kugel is a great way to use up leftover challah. Kugel in general is one of Yaffa’s favorite dishes, and this kugel in particular is especially yummy.

Challah Kugel

Ingredients:

16 oz challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½  cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use apple or orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

4 eggs

1/2 – 1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oil

Optional: ½ to 1 cup raisins, crushed pineapple or sliced apples

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl. Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Variations: This recipe is really my basic formula for any sweet kugel. During Passover, I used crushed matzah instead of bread. To make it gluten free, I use rice, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

All the ingredients mixed in the pot.

 

In the pan, ready to bake.

Final outcome.

 

I consider this to be one of my signature kugel recipes. It is always a hit!

Enjoy!

 

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Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts 

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Every year we go to visit my sister for Chanukah. My sister, Raizel, is really a lot of fun. Aside from my mother, and my Aunt Perel (A”H), my sister is also one of the best cooks I know.

By training, Raizel is actually a chef. However, once she got married, she transferred her cooking skills to being a “Baal Chessed.” For those who may not already know, “chessed” translates as “loving kindness.” It is an action, as well as a character trait. So, if someone is a “Baal Chessed,” they are a charitable person who is constantly engaged in acts of kindness.  That is my sister, to a “T.”

In addition, my sister is also a Baal Hachnasat Orchim.”  “Hachnasat Orchim,” is the Hebrew word for “hospitality” or “welcoming guests.”  This mitzvah, in its purest form, consists of hosting and serving the needs of those who are destitute and have no place to eat or sleep.

My sister and her husband used to host up to 20 people per meal for Shabbat and holiday meals. All of their guests were treated to homemade, all natural, healthy, kosher food. Many of them  were people who genuinely needed a place to eat.

It was a delicate balancing act. Yet, my sister and her husband excelled at this mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), all while raising 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom are now married. One of my wonderful nieces, Eli, shared this recipe for doughnuts.

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

Alternative: use water, coconut or nut milk instead

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Alternative: use coconut oil or palm shortening instead

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoons salt

2 3/4 cup flour

Instructions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water. Add the milk (or substitute), butter, egg, sugar and salt. Blend this until its smooth.

Add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise, until the dough has doubled, about 1/2 – 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and roll out a half inch thick.

Using a cup or biscuit cutter (or even a dry empty can to cut out the doughnuts. If you want to make the doughnuts with the traditional hole in the middle, use a shot glass or similar sized object to cut out the holes. (The holes will later become doughnut holes)

Place these on cookie sheets and let them rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.

Heat oil in a pot, and then fry the doughnuts, approximately, 30 seconds on each side. Once the oil becomes hot, this process is very quick.

The trick is to have the oil hot, but not too hot. Our friend, Judith, said that in the days before there were thermometers, you knew the oil was hot enough when it would take 1 minute to cook a piece of bread. I thought that was a nice trick!

My sister simply put in one of the doughnut holes, and waited until it started to brown nicely.

Regulating the temperature correctly is critical to making doughnuts successfully. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn but the inside will be too raw. If that happens, bake the doughnuts in the oven so that they will cook nicely.

Remove from oil and place in pot of sugar syrup and coat on each side.

Sugar Glaze

The trick to making doughnuts taste completely awesome is to dip the doughnuts into the glaze right after they have been fried. Unfortunately, my sister is an intuitive cook, and she does not need to follow recipes. So, this an approximation of what she did.

Ingredients

Equal amounts of water and sugar, i.e. ½ water and ½ cup sugar.

Instructions:

To make a glaze using granulated sugar, place equal amounts of sugar and water to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.

If you want a thicker glaze, continue to cook the glaze and stir occasionally until it reduces to a thicker consistency, or add more sugar.

Once the doughnuts are cooked, quickly drop them into the simmering glaze, and turn to coat both sides and then remove and place on plate.

Decorate as desired.

Here are the pictures. My sister laughs at me that I need things explained so exactly. But, that is why I am writing this blog in the first place.  I am so grateful that I have her and my mother to learn from.

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First step.


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Kneaded into dough and read to rise.


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Cut into doughnut shape. The secret is to roll thin and use a good cookie cutter shape.


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First side cooking


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Flipping them over.


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Dipping into sugar glaze syrup.


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Final product. A work of art!

The final outcome was a work of art. The downside of doughnuts is that they are only good fresh. So, make sure you invite lots of people over to share them with you! You can tell them it’s a mitzvah.

My sister tells me that the reason why she is able to make these so well is that she is not afraid of making a mistake, and every year she keeps on trying to improve. So, now you know why she is not only an awesome cook, but an awesome person as well. She is truly our family tzedakis (righteous soul).

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Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

This year, I thought I would try to make taiglach for the first time with Raizel. 

The word “taiglach” is Yiddish for “little pieces of dough” which are cooked in honey. 

Growing up, this was a very special holiday treat that we only enjoyed on Sukkot. Taiglach are traditionally served on holidays which emphasize sweetness and joy. Some people have the custom of eating them on Purim as well.

I have very fond memories of eating taiglach in the sukkah as a child. I looked forward to them every year! 

Raizel was very excited to try this. 

I was excited that she was excited. 

Aside from Mommy time, making this also gave Raizel an opportunity to practice using her hands and develop her fine finger dexterity. 

Since my oven is still not working well, there was the added incentive that taiglach can be made on top of the stove. No oven required! So, it’s a win-win!

Dolly from koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com graciously made this recipe at my request. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until after I made the version below. Happily, our versions are slightly different. Experiment with which one you like best.

According to Dolly, her family made them with raisins and almonds and piled the taiglach up in a mound. However, growing up, our taiglach were made in a single layer and made without raisins or nuts. Instead, they were sprinkled with coconut.

Please check out her blog and wonderful explanation on this delicious treat.

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/silver-chair-polygamy-and-mount-sinai/

Ingredients

Dough

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons oil

About 1 ¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla

Syrup

1 cup honey. (I think that this is 1 lbs of honey, but I only had 12 oz so I added more sugar instead.)

1 ½ cups sugar.

2 teaspoons ginger

Optional: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons boiling water. This is critical, because otherwise the syrup will become too stiff and hard when it cools.

Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, blanched almonds or hazelnuts

Optional: ½ cup coarsely raisins or minced candied fruit.

Optional: shredded coconut to sprinkle as desired.

Instructions:

To make the dough: Combine the eggs, vanilla (if using) and oil together until smooth. Add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and the salt. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft, workable dough. If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of cold water. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be soft, and not sticky.

Traditionally, the dough is divided into 4 and rolled into a rope until it is approximately .5 inches thick. Then the dough is cut into .5 inch pieces. Some people then tie them into loose knots and tuck the ends underneath. 

This dough, however, is very flexible. It can be cut into squares, or rolled into balls instead of twists. The pieces can even be baked or fried first for added crunch.

Since I am time challenged, I cut the dough into 36-40 pieces and then rolled them into balls. Some people like to add a few raisins inside the balls. Feel free to experiment. 

Syrup: Combine honey, sugar and spices in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.

To assemble: Drop the pieces of dough into the syrup one at a time. Reduce the heat to low, and let them rise for 2 minutes. Cover and simmer for 15-30 minutes, without stirring. Then, stir the dough pieces occasionally so that all the pieces will cook evenly. Simmer (up to 45 minutes) until golden brown and the dough sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

Add boiling water and remove from heat. Spoon onto lined cookie sheet or pan in a single layer to cool. If desired, roll in chopped nuts or sprinkle with coconut. Pour some of the honey syrup over the taiglach if you would like them to stick together.

Save the rest of the sauce for a recipe that calls for honey. I am planning on using it to make chicken.

When cool, place in a sealed container. Do not refrigerate. 

The taiglach can remain at room temperature for several weeks, but hopefully they will be gone before then.

I was only able to take a few pictures:

A few left in the saucepan.

Raizel rolling them in nuts.

All done and ready to eat.

 

Raizel and Yaffa LOVED them!

I was particularly overjoyed when Raizel said, “the only reason why these taste so good is because we davened (prayed) while we made them.”

That was the first time that she validated my beliefs that prayer and love are critical to successful cooking!

It was “Yiddishe nachas!”  For those who may not know, Yiddishe nachas is a term which refers to the inner warmth and pride one feels when one observes the transmission from one generation to the next of one’s spiritual values and traditions.

True bliss on so many levels.

Enjoy!

 

 

Charoset Two Ways

Charoset Two Ways

Passover is a time of year steeped in traditions. During this time of year, many people have recipes that are passed down through the family and only served during the holiday. Memories of certain foods thus become embedded in the memories of the Passover celebration.

Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that we eat during the Passover Seder. 

Charoset made by my mother is a work of art. I used to love to eat the leftovers the next day. Assuming, of course that anything was left! 

For Ashkenazi Jews (from Eastern Europe) charoset is traditionally made with apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon. Its color and texture are meant to recall the mortar that the Jews used during slavery to bond the bricks with each other. 

During the Seder, the charoset is eaten with the bitter herbs as a type of sandwich with matzah.

Apparently, it is now possible to buy charoset in a jar. However, I cannot imagine anything in a jar tasting as good as homemade. 

The date orange charoset was inspired from the comments by Dr. Jonathan in my  roasted chicken and hamentashen filling recipe. 

During our discussion, it occurred to me that the hamentashen filling, with extra nuts added would make a great charoset.

So, thank you Jonathan! 

Jonathan also has a wonderful blog on healthy lifestyles and nutrition. 

Please check out his blog:

 All About Healthy Choices

https://allabouthealthychoices.wordpress.com/about/

This year, I made our traditional charoset with apples, wine, cinnamon and roasted pecans. In addition, I also made charoset with dates, a whole orange, almonds, wine and cinnamon. 

All the measurements are flexible, as it depends on individual preferences

Traditional Charoset

Ingredients

2 apples, peeled and quartered

Optional: to make Feingold diet friendly, use pears instead.

¼ cup red wine (sweet is preferred)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup toasted pecans

Optional: sugar (I did not add any)

Instructions

Place apples and nuts in food processor. Pulse together until slightly chopped. Add cinnamon and wine and blend together until desired texture.

Date and Orange Charoset

Ingredients

1 cup pitted dates

1 orange: quartered, including the peel

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup toasted almonds

¼ cup red wine (sweet is preferred)

Instructions

Place dates and nuts in food processor. Pulse together until slightly chopped. Add cinnamon and wine and blend together until desired texture.

This is my only picture:

Date Orange Charoset


 

There is none left of the traditional charoset with apples and pecans left to photograph.

Overall, they were both a success!

Enjoy!
 

 

 

Lazy Hamantaschen – Not

This year, in honor of this food blog, I made hamentashen for the first time. This is a recipe that I found on line. The title naturally appealed to me. 

It reminds me of my sugar cookies and I liked the fact that I didn’t need to roll out the dough. Other than that, hamentashen are not for the time challenged and best shared as a fun group and not solo activity.

Lazy Hamantaschen – Not

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

4 cups flour

Instructions 

Using food processor:

Mix eggs, sugar in a food processor until blended. Slowly add oil through the feed tube and then add the vanilla.

Add flour and pulse until just blended.

I use plastic wrap to shape dough into 3 logs. I then wrapped them in parchment paper and foil and froze them until ready I was ready to assemble and bake them.

Before assembling the hamentashen, thaw slightly and slice dough approximately 1/4 inches thick.

I flattened the dough, placed the filling in center of dough and then pinched it together to create a triangle.

Bake at 350°F until done, about 20 minutes.

Source: “The Jewish Holiday Do-book”

This is my own recipe that I made up as a filling for the hamentashen.

Raisin-Date- Apricot Filling for Hamantaschen

2 cups pitted dates (approximately)

1 box (15 oz.) sultana raisins

1 cup dried apricots (approximately)

1 lemon zested and juiced

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 

1/2 cup water (approximately)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional, but I thought it made it taste better)

Instructions 

Boil all ingredients in a pot until soft. Be careful not to add too much water.

Blend using an immersion blender until smooth. The mixture should be quite thick.

Mixture can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for several days, or frozen.

Here are the pictures: 

Preparing the dough:

 

Shaping the dough into logs:

  

Slicing the dough:
  

This is the filling:

  

Et voilà! The final outcome:

  

Outcome: my husband’s response to the cookies was pretty funny. 

He said, “they may not look good, but they taste great!” 

Raizel said: “they are hard, but they taste great!”

In particular, Jay loved the filling. Any leftovers can be used as jam. 

Jay also thought that the filling would make a great glaze for chicken.

I was very happy that the cookies held their shape. I guess that’s why the dough is so stiff. Plus, since it was homemade, the ingredients were all natural with no dyes, additives or preservatives. 

Hopefully, others will enjoy them too.

Basic Roasted Chicken

Basic Roasted Chicken

I realized as I was preparing to post a new recipe, that I have never posted on how I make my basic roasted chicken. 

This is my go-to recipe, that I make almost weekly.

Ingredients

1 chicken, cut up

Mom’s Chicken Spice Rub.

Spice Blend

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, ginger, mustard powder

Variations:

Optional: 2 onions, sliced

Optional: 16 oz. mushrooms

Optional: vegetables of your choice. I often use zucchini, or carrots and parsnips

Optional: 3-4 potatoes, cubed

Optional: my grandmother used to squeeze a lemon on the chicken to “get rid of the barnyard smell.” When she was growing up, they bought their chickens from the meat market.

Instructions 

Slice onions and place chicken over onions in large pan. Season chicken with Mom’s Spice Rub and if possible, let marinate prior to cooking.

Preheat oven to 425*F.

Roast in oven for 1.5 hours, or until cooked, turning over for last 30 minutes.

My husband likes me to sometimes finish off the chicken by broiling it for 2 minutes on each side to give it a nice color and slightly drier texture.

Alternatively: broil for 20-25 minutes/side

This is the basic recipe that I follow, and then I make variations, as desired.

This could also be made in the crockpot or the pressure cooker.

Crockpot:

Skin chicken and place over onions and added vegetables as desired in crockpot. Season and add 1/2 cup liquid –either water, broth or wine. Cook on low.

Pressure cooker:

Follow directions for the crockpot and cook 7 minutes to pressure, using quick release method.

OR: Season chicken and brown in pressure cooker with onions and vegetables, if using. Cook for 7 minutes to pressure, using quick release method.

This also can be made on top of the stove. 

Fast and easy and everyone’s favorite.

Here are the pictures:

All dressed up and ready to go:

   
  

Final product:

 

Enjoy!

Kugel Kronicles: Mashed Potato Kugel I

I am experimenting with different techniques to make potato kugel. My friend Devorah told me that when she wants a change of pace, she makes potato kugel using mashed potatoes rather than grated.

I thought that it could be a good way to use up leftover potatoes and make something a little different. Then I thought that this could be an opportunity to raise the humble potato kugel to a whole new level, by adding different spices and layering different vegetables in.

The basic recipe is as follows:

2 1⁄2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled, about 8, cook with salt, if desired

3 tablespoons olive oil, enough to sauté the onions and also add to the top before cooking

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

1⁄4 cup chicken broth or water, just enough to make the mashed potatoes smooth.

(optional: 2 large eggs, beaten. Add eggs if adding other vegetables that have more liquid)

1⁄2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

Boil potatoes. Drain very well, and mash until smooth. I cook them in my pressure cooker, 10 minutes to pressure.

Sauté onions in oil, until brown, but not burnt.

Mix the onions and remaining oil to the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put mixture into a greased pan. Sprinkle paprika on top.

Brush with enough oil so that the potatoes will brown. If you want the kugel to be shiny, brush with a beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Put in oven at 350°, and bake uncovered for one hour or until top is firm and light golden at edges.

Alternatives

8 oz. small mushroom, sliced

Sauté with onions. Mix half the sautéed mushrooms and onions with the potatoes.

Or

1 carrot

1/2 t. white pepper

1/4 t. turmeric

1 c. peas

1/3 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Sauté with onions. Mix half the vegetables with the potatoes.

Or

Use leeks instead of onions and add nutmeg

1/3 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Or 

add sautéed zucchini with tomatoes, garlic and basil.

To assemble:

Mix half of the sautéed onions and vegetables with the mashed potatoes. If you notice that it is too liquidly, add 2 beaten eggs.

Place half the mashed potatoes into a greased pan. Layer the rest of the sautéed vegetables on top. Then layer the remaining mashed potato mixture on top.

Smooth top of potatoes and sprinkle with paprika.

Brush with enough oil so that the potatoes will brown. If you want the kugel to be shiny, brush with a beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Put in oven at 350°, and bake uncovered for one hour or until top is firm and light golden at edges.

This is not for the time challenged, but it also works:

I have made a tricolor vegetable kugel, using mashed sweet potatoes or butternut squash and sautéed kale with garlic as the middle layer. It is beautiful and delicious, but too time consuming!

This simple recipe can become an opportunity to be creative and make something delicious and unique.

This week’s kulinary kugel kronicle:

So this week I made the kugel with the onions that were cooked with the chicken and added fresh sliced mushrooms.

I only made this with a 5 potatoes, since I wasn’t sure that it would work out. Since I used so small an amount, I used 1 egg only.

I felt inspired to take pictures of the process, since I have never done this before.

Then I mixed some of the vegetables with the mashed potatoes. I put half the potatoes in the pan. I added some more of the vegetables on top and then put the rest of the mashed potatoes on top. I covered it with some oil and then sprinkled paprika on top.

This was the final product:

Raizel liked it so much, that she ate it right out of the pan. It was a good thing that I took the pictures, because it was gone by Friday night.

  
Raizel said: “This is soooooooo good!….Yum!”