I can tell the Jewish High Holidays are approaching by the phone calls.
I seem to have a hot line, and the most often asked question is: “Can I make the kugel ahead and freeze it?” with “can I freeze the brisket” a close second.
Happily the answer is “yes” to both.
Whoever invented the freezer should get the Nobel Prize. Imagine expecting a houseful of company and having to make everything at the last minute. The freezer is your friend. Here’s your game plan: Cook. Freeze. Relax.
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, began this year at sunset on Wednesday Sept. 20, with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, starting at sunset on Friday, Sept. 29.
Yom Kippur is a day to atone, repent and make amends. It is also a day of fasting, and if that were all I had to say about it, this would be a really short column. But fortunately all good fasts must come to an end, and the lovely tradition of break-the-fast is our chance to gather with friends for a holiday feast.
Usually the meal is dairy, as befits ending a day of fasting, and the menu might include bagels, lox and fixings; salads; fish and vegetarian dishes; quiches, stratas and/or various cheese casseroles; and I’ll bet you’d be hard pressed to find a break-the-fast without a kugel.
For the uninitiated, a kugel is a baked pudding with a starchy base – potatoes or noodles are most common – bound with eggs, enriched with fat (butter, margarine, chicken fat or oil), and peppered with an endless variety of colorful and tasty additions, such as vegetables, fruit and/or cheese. While today a kugel is usually served as a side dish, in the villages of Eastern Europe, where meat was rare and expensive, a starchy kugel might become a filling meal.
Some assembly is required – true for swing sets and true for kugels — but for the most part, kugels are a snap to prepare. Once you’ve cooked and drained the noodles, you simply stir in the other ingredients and bake.
According to tradition, the kugel is Sabbath fare, imbuing it with almost mystical qualities. Its origins can be traced to the Middle Ages, when it was cooked along with the Sabbath stew.
The recipe provided here is one of my favorites, contributed to my cookbook by Rita Miller, my cousin Phyllis’ daughter’s mother-in-law, a retired kosher caterer in New Jersey.
There’s no contest: this is the king of kugels. It is sinfully rich, yet lighter in texture than others we have tried.
“I created this recipe about 30 years ago,…