Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A New Year Feast: Challah & Noodle Kugel


This post is my first entry in the Project Food Blog contest. It represents who I am as a food blogger: a snarky storyteller with a penchant for both traditional and unique food (and a little food knowledge). Voting starts on Monday, September 20th. Sign up for my RSS feed, Facebook page or follow me on Google Friend Connect or Twitter if you'd like to be kept in the voting loop. Thanks!

L'Shanah Tova, minions. That means Happy New Year for all you unchosen people out there. I'm here to talk to you about Jew food, a topic near and dear to my heart. Growing up, I suffered through seven long years of Sunday school, three horrendous years of Hebrew school, and a Bat Mitzvah that unfortunately did not net me the rumored thousands in gifts. I know, right? Disappointed with my religious coming-of-age, I swore off religion, clinging to the belief that one day I would make my promised Jewish fortune through worshiping at the altar of The Law. And we all know how well that's going.

I'm primarily a cultural Jew, with an emphasis in Food Studies and Holidays with Presents. Much of my love of food and cooking comes from my Jewish heritage and its emphasis on food as a means of celebration, family and knowledge. Growing up, my family often had large holiday meals at my Grandma Mary's house amongst the overpriced porcelain and crystal tchotchkes. Dinner usually consisted of matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and either chicken or brisket and potatoes. Dessert? Sponge cake, baby. Delicious, delicious sponge cake with strawberry topping. I grew up, of course, with the other usual Jewish fare. I dig bagels with cream cheese; matzo is purchased in bulk during Passover and eaten year-round (toast some cheddar on it or spread with cream cheese); mandelbrodt and rugelach are the best cookies ever; corned beef on rye is to die for; jelly donuts make Hanukkah awesome; knishes, blintzes and other stuffed things are always welcome on my plate; and latkes are pretty damn delicious (even if no one can replicate my Grandma's). The list is endless, and as long as it doesn’t contain ground up fish or liver, I’m down.

If your crumb does not look like this when pulled apart, it is not challah. It is merely bread.

Now that I’ve made you hungry, let’s talk about the two Jew foods I have chosen to feature from my holiday cooking: challah and kugel. You should all know what challah is, and if you don’t, please go find your local Jew(s) and ask for a tutorial. Every holiday meal begins with the blessing of two loaves, their shape and design symbolizing the feast’s purpose and origin. During Rosh Hashanah, challah is typically formed into a round shape to represent the cycle of the year, hence the shape of my challah. More important than shape is taste and texture. Challah is not challah unless it is rich, chewy, moist, dense yet tender, and slightly sweet. Challah is never to be sliced—it is to be pulled apart. To do otherwise is blasphemous (exceptions will be made for French toast and sandwiches). I am completely serious.

Moving on, people tend to be more familiar with potato kugel, but my family exclusively eats noodle kugel. Think of it as a Jewish bread pudding: noodles surrounded by a thick custard. It can be sweet with either apples or raisins, but like my mom, I strongly believe that raisins should be limited to the realm of oatmeal cookies. My dad’s kugel falls into the space between sweet and savory—it is creamy and slightly sweet, with cinnamon and rich egg noodles, but is decidedly not a dessert. It's also really delicious cold. And for some reason it meshes well with poultry, meaning we always have it during Thanksgiving. It’s definitely a year round kind of dish.


So, if you want to impress your friendly neighborhood Jew(s) or someone special with some uh, ethnic, cooking, make challah or kugel. I promise you’ll get rave reviews.




Challah Tips

Recipe brought to you by Fine Cooking.

Add ingredients in amounts and order instructed or you will end up with tiny little flour pebbles in your challah. If you can't braid 6 strands, braid 3. Or shape it into a loaf and use it as sandwich bread. This is also a great recipe for new bread bakers. It requires you to knead until it is very difficult to further do so, meaning you do not need to evaluate whether the gluten is developed or not. However, you do not want your dough to be dry. It should be a little tacky to the touch, but not wet. This is also the truest challah recipe I have made, so it will also be featured on my table this upcoming week for Yom Kippur.









Savory Noodle Kugel

1 lb. extra wide egg noodles
3 cups 2% cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
6 eggs
1 stick salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cinnamon








Preheat oven 350F.

1. Soften butter. Place all ingredients except the noodles in your mixer bowl and mix for 3-4 minutes until thoroughly combined. You can do this by hand, but use a whisk and do so thoroughly--it changes the texture of the kugel.

2. Cook noodles until they are almost done. Most packages will tell you how long to cook if using in a casserole, usually 7-8 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

3. While still warm, add noodles to cottage cheese mixture. Turn mixer on low and mix until well combined. Heat from the noodles will melt any chunks of butter. Taste a noodle and determine if you'd like it sweeter or with more cinnamon.

4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until top is brown. Kugel will bubble in a few places, but will mostly be settled. It will set completely when cool.

5. Cool slightly and serve. Kugel can be rewarmed or served cold the next day. Also freezes well in pre-cut squares.



59 comments:

The Cilantropist said...

Definitely love this post. :) And, I am also really really really wanting that challah, the photos are so good! The inside especially looks just perfect. If we have have a meet up you must bring this.

ravienomnoms said...

How gorgeous are those! Love the Challah!

sara @ CaffeIna said...

LOVE IT! I really love the post, the food and the humor. Congrats on posting the first challenge...I'm still very behind!

The Enchanted Cook said...

Love your sense of humor! The challah and kugel both look delicious! Great job on the challenge and best wishes!

Susi said...

This post had me LOL several times. I love your writing style and the challah looks to die for! I've never had a kugel but it's making my mouth water as well along with the big list of food in your post.

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Fun post! I've been meaning to make challah! This looks like a marvelous recipe!

Kim Kelly said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I love challah and make it frequently. I've never had kugel, didn't really know what it was until I read your post. I'm intrigued! I'll bet my kids would love this as much as the bread. Loved your post, good luck in the challenge!!

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

The challah looks amazing! Good luck with PFB, and yes, I know you are being snarky! He He
-Gina-

The Duo Dishes said...

Great first post for the challenge. (It's going to be fun reading everyone's as they decide how to answer the question.) Can you cook all of these foods and invite us over? Because that would be awesome. Made challah once in college, and it was one of the best breads ever in life. Pulled it apart, eating it all the way back to the dorm room. :)

Kim said...

That challah looks amazing. Damn, now I want some. I'd ask neighborhood Jews for help but to my knowledge we only have the Mexicans and black folk around here with a few white people mixed in.

Lucky for me I can be ghetto and also speak white girl Spanish. My fiance calls me a white beaner because by nationality alone I am half Mexican, half English. You can imagine the hell I've grown up with. Then again, it is quite hilarious when I speak Spanish (and do so well) and the nearby Mexicans give me a look of astonishment:

"Aye dios mio! La gringa puedes hablar Espanol...y bien tambien!"

En ingles: "Oh my gosh! The white girl can speak Spanish...and well too!"

Yea, it can be a real riot.

Excuse me while I go make some tacos and serve it with some tea. (Yes, I'm being a smartass)

Kim said...

BTW - I should note that the black community in my apartment complex fit much of the ghetto stereotype unfortunately. My comment was not meant to be insulting or racist. We live in a decent neighborhood but the few uh, not so savory types, tend to lurk around here.

Shelly Borrell said...

You're funny -- Good luck with all!!

Shulie said...

Well written and drew few chuckles out of me...what a gorgeous challa and kugel, not your ordinary ones. Job well done my friend. Shulie

Liren said...

You've managed to make me hungry and homesick for NYC all in one post. In some ways, I definitely grew up with Jewish food so it really makes me miss home! And I love your humor, I can't help but chuckle, you write like an old friend. Good luck!

FOODalogue said...

A thoroughly enjoyable read...and nice photos too! Good luck in the challenge.

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Heh, I loved this post! It totally captured your food blogger personality (even though we've never met. So I guess it captured what imagine your food blogger personality to be). I'm totally voting for ya when voting opens! And um, so jealous of your challah making skills!

Sippity Sup said...

Just checkin' out the competition. You look strong! Good Luck.

PS Watch youself. Snarky is my word and I own it. GREG

Jo Lynne
@ Carpe Cupcakes!
said...

my favorite line...emphasis in Food Studies and Holidays with Presents!

maybelles mom said...

right on entry. I have made challah a couple of times (it tastes great with chicken curry.) my daughter goes to a jewish school, so we did a passover seder last year, and this year we celebrated Rosh Hoshanna--I had hoped to make challah with her, but the time got away from us. Maybe next year.

Victoria K. said...

I'm not Jewish, but these are two things I really do enjoy! My personal favorite though is Matzo ball soup, mmmmmm :)

Monet said...

You are so funny...and I so wish that I was Jewish so that I could enjoy more of these delicious foods and traditions. I make challah all the time now, and I never slice it (I promise!) I am wanting to try that kugel now too! Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo said...

I'm not Jewish, BUT, my mom made noodle kugel a lot when I was a kid (her parents had good Jewish friends that taught her how to make it). I'm not sure how close it is to your recipe, but just the thought of kugel is making my mouth water at this very moment. I'm going to have to try your recipe just to see how close my mom's is.

My Man's Belly said...

Love the challah bread and what a gorgeous picture.

Not being one of the chosen people but of the set that killed the son of the top guy (Catholic), my mom made noodle kugel quite frequently. It wasn't the sweet kugel but the savory and was so delicious.

Whitney said...

BHAHAH omg I could have used you a few days ago when I was making an apple honey cake for Rosh. Oh dear what a mess. Love the comedic take on staying true to your heritage, I really hope you move forward in the contest!

Whitney

Ms. WhitePlates said...

I love Challah. A lot. My lovely mother-in-law is a cultural Jew (kinda- we celebrate the most messed up Hanukah ever and I know more about the story from my overly Protestant upbringing) but a terrible cook. Her latkes are good but for challah we have to rely on a cousin who sometimes overbakes his, not cool. So, I'm going to knock everyone's socks off with this recipe. Thanks!

Oh, and your photographs are stunning for this post.

Oh, and yet another thing, I'm trying to reply to your comments but Blogger is being a total bitch to me about comments. I've been getting them, loving them and thank you!

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

I didn't know you were Jewish. Good to know! Somehow I thought you were Asian. I know I know..haha. You're like a bread queen. All the bread you made looks wonderful. If I ever have an urge to make my own bread, I will be sure to look for recipes here. Good luck with the challenge!

Evan @swEEts said...

Love the post! I had a few giggles and a few stomach growls as well! That bread is seriously gorgeous.. I could totally go for a nice pull-off piece right about now!! :) Good luck in the challenge!!

delaney @ heartbreakpie said...

Oooooh soft chewy pull apart challah - you got me! I'm doing it. Yum! and good luck!

A Thought For Food said...

This is the real deal! This is the stuff you lather with butter and dunk in matzo ball soup. Love it!

Anna said...

Very funny, the bread looks fantastic, I love challah bread, the texture, everything actually. Good luck with the challenges.

Jan @ I Love. Therefore, I Cook. said...

love your humor! i wish every lawyer has that :D i love the post, it's so reflective of you and your blog :) the bread is also fantastic. i can only wish you all the best for the forthcoming challenges :)

Jason Phelps said...

Loved getting to know to you better. And I am hungry now like so many others already said.

Good luck!!

Jason

lindentea said...

Confession: I have never had kugel, we just never made it at home (we are Sephardic). I'll try your recipe though. The challah looks so good! I love your blog and writing style.

Julie M. said...

That a beautiful Challah bread! I'll be rooting for you for the Foodbuzz contest. Hope you have a great weekend!

HotPolkaDot's Mom said...

Love your dry sense of humour. Your first entry? It is sponge cake baby! Mazel Tov!

Savory Sweet Living said...

I love your personal story and the food look amazing especially the challah bread. It looks like the ones you can find in a really good bakery. It's making me hungry just looking at it. Good luck with the competition!

Butter said...

I can't take it sometimes...you are way too funny. I just loved this entry so much I read it twice - ha-ha!
-Butter

Za said...

Love the glimpse into a Jewish meal. And the bread looks goood!...All the best with PFB.

Jun Belen said...

At some point in my life I was Jewish, too. Matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, rugelachs and passovers, the whole nine yards. My former partner of six years was Jewish and I loved the food, loved the traditions, loved the culture. Thank you for sharing this post and recipes on how to make challah. It brings back good memories.

Best of luck in PFB.

Jun

Jean said...

One of the things I love about your blog is that you're so genuine. I love your humor and wit. The food component is just icing on the cake. Keep doing what you're doing and much luck to you on PFB! I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful challah. :-)

Joshua Burgin - New Day, New Way said...

Bahaha, I absolutely adore your writing! Snarky people are my favorite, being one myself. Never even heard of kugel! Definitely will have to give it a try! Bonne chance in the competition!

Jen@Twenty-Something and Starving said...

My heavens you are so silly and I love it! I was raised a food Jew, too. My grandmother made a mean Matzo Ball Soup and rugelachs are my favorite part of the holiday season!! You've definitely got something great going here. Much luck in PFB!!

Brilynn said...

That challah looks absolutely amazing! Good luck in the competition, it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun!

Nirmala said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm obsessed with baking bread too. Must have smelled so great!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

You got my vote! Cheers and aloha.

Andra@FrenchPressMemos said...

Love the post, your writing tone, and that challah. I may have married the wrong Jew- he is NOT a baker.

Megan@foodalution said...

Hey girl... you got my vote... just clicked the heart! - Good luck! Meg

danasfoodforthought said...

Loved this post... I voted for you!

Amanda H. said...

Hello fellow lawyer foodie! Just voted for you. Good luck! (P.S. I left a link to the tomato cupcake recipe on my blog under your comment :) Let me know how it goes.)

Food o' del Mundo said...

Sent a HAPPY ♥ vote your way. See you in round two!

Lindsey @ FRESH AIR + FRESH FOOD said...

Hilarious! You have my vote!http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/351

Anna said...

I'm not a huge fan of kugel, but your halah looks fantastic! I love freshly baked bread and I love halah. Plus if you have leftovers it makes the best baked french toast ever. Yum! You get my vote :D

Oh, and if you like you can stop by my blog and if you like what you see, vote for me too?
http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/197

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Beautiful post. Good luck with the contest...you have my votes all the way through!

Amy K. said...

love this post and your sense of humor! best of luck!

Lick My Spoon said...

L'Shana Tova! So often I hear something along the lines of "Jew food is gross, they only like gefilte fish." It's good to hear that someone is representing Jewish delicacies.

Also, props for noodle kugel with no raisins.

onlinepastrychef said...

I do enjoy a good Jew food post! ;) Beautiful challah, beautiful kugel. I love how you're letting your post show who you are, not writing a "special post" to convince us. Nicely done. Gonna go vote now:)

Magic of Spice said...

This is such a great post...I already voted, but had to come back and say hi :) Good luck with the contest and have fun...

daphne said...

You have my vote. . .Good luck!=)

Rumana Rawat said...

Fabulous:)

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