Kugel comes in many forms, not just noodles. Liz and I both love savory vegetable kugels, and this cauliflower-mushroom version is lighter and more refined than the ever-popular potato kugel. If youre lucky enough to live in a place where foraged mushrooms are accessible, get the best you can find. They will only enhance the dish. In Seattle, we made this dish with hedgehog and black trumpet mushrooms foraged from a nearby forest, and it was the best version of this kugel weve ever created.
Part of what made mushroomsone of the primary flavoring agents of Ashkenazi cuisineso popular was the fact that they could be foraged from the forests, free of charge. They also possess a meaty, umami character. The best foragers, often peasant women, would gather extras after a rain spell and sell them at markets.
Hanukkah is the time of year I feel the most Jewish. While the rest of New York is feverishly buying gifts and planning big family meals, Im quietly grating potatoes by the light of the menorah. In contrast to so many other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah celebrations are relaxed and loose. It feels like all I need to do is fry up some latkes, and Im in the perfect holiday spirit. The latke as we know it took quite a culinary journey, beginning centuries ago in Italy as a cheese fritter fried in olive oil, then moving northeast, where it morphed into a buckwheat and rye pancake, and then a turnip fritter fried in schmaltz. Finally, in the mid-nineteenth century, the potato took over. This latke includes root vegetables alongside the classic potatoes, which lend extra color and flavor to the mix. Note that if you prefer a pure potato latke, simply substitute 6 small russet potatoes (about 3 pounds) for the veggies in this recipe. The root vegetable version is a bit lighter and more fragile than the purely potato version, so take care when forming into latkes for frying.
Tsimmes is a sweet Ashkenazi stew in which the ingredients vary depending on family origin and tradition. The dish is often eaten during the Jewish High Holidays to symbolically usher in a sweet new year. This sweet-and-savory chicken tsimmes is an easy dish with a built-in side. The juices of the chicken enhance the flavors of the carrots and prunes. Its filling when paired with rice or kasha, and its colorful and complex enough to serve for the holidays.