Savory Noodle Kugel

The noodle kugel of my dreams is not studded with rum-soaked raisins (blech), or crushed  canned pineapple (double blech), or synthetic apple pie filling (the blechiest of all the blechs). It is not sweetened with sugar, or topped with crumbled cornflakes, or scented with vanilla or cinnamon any other member of the pumpkin spice family. And you’ll never be confused about when to eat it, because it’s not some unholy combination of side dish and desert—it’s savory, damnit. It’s a kugel for adults. And whenever it appears on a buffet (or, you know, the stovetop, because there’s only so much room on a kitchen counter), it’s also the center of attention.

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Apple-Honey Crisp

There will come a time, not too many months from now, when I will be convinced I’d rather voluntarily watch football than eat another apple. (As I write this, the man I married is watching one football game on mute while listening to the play-by-play of a different football game. No jury would convict me, right?) Currently, farmer’s markets are bursting with end-of-summer produce as well as the first Honeycrisps and Macouns of the season. But before long, the tomatoes and eggplants and berries will fade into memory, and the only decent produce around will be the sort of stuff I associate with my shtetl-bound ancestors: potatoes, cabbage, and, yes, pile upon pile of apples, the only fruit around these parts that makes it through the winter intact.

So yeah, I know I’m going to get sick of apples at some point. But my friends, that day is not yet here. Continue reading

Key Lime Pie

Pro tip: don’t declare that your blogging delinquent streak is over right before you move. Sure, we only had to lug all of our possessions about two miles, from one segment of stroller Brooklyn to another—but the ensuing weeks have been so filled with unpacking, organizing, and arguments regarding things I never in my life thought I’d even have an opinion about (paint colors! Lighting fixtures! Are you miming shooting yourself in the head with your index finger yet?) that I’ve hardly had any time to cook, let alone write about that cooking on the internet.

Before we left the old place, though, I did mark the occasion—and a certain long-suffering spouse’s birthday—by baking something special. Did all of our wine glasses make it to the new apartment unscathed? No. Did this pie? Yes.

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Shrimp Sauté au Citron

Oo la la!

What, exactly, is “shrimp sauté au citron”? Is it a rustic French classic, a recipe passed from peasant housewife to peasant housewife to cartoon food critic to, improbably, my Jewish, Pittsburgh-born grandmother? Is it a home cook’s approximation of a fancy restaurant entree, something you might find in Chapter V of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1? Or is it, perhaps, a made-up name meant to gussy up a dish that might better be described as “shrimp in a frying pan”?

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Tamale Pie

Almost a year ago, I proposed that there’s nothing more American than snarfing down monstrous amounts of fat as you criticize the bodies and outfits of people infinitely more athletic than you. Upon further reflection, however, I’ve come up with something that surpasses even that: there is in fact nothing more American than appropriating another nation’s cuisine to make a globular casserole that nixes any authentic seasoning, ups the fat, and treats vegetables as a necessary evil at best—employing only the most basic produce in the most perfunctory way possible. Continue reading

Devil’s Food Cake (and Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting)

This spring, I became the last person in America—the last person in the world?—to fall head over heels for The Great British Bake-Off, an utterly charming reality competition about very nice people crafting elaborate pastries in the English countryside. Whoever wins gets nothing more than a quiet sense of self-satisfaction and a tacky glass cake stand. It’s comforting; it’s soothing; it’s an endless font of baking jargon I’d never heard before, and binging it over the course of a few months has given my husband and me an insatiable need to bring up frangipane and choux pastry and Victoria sponges (to say nothing of  joconde or genoise!!) as frequently as possible. But only when we’re alone, I promise.

I won’t say that the series inspired this cake, although there is, apparently, a recipe for devil’s food cake in a cookbook associated with the show. But I will say that our binge gave me a renewed appreciation for idiosyncratic pastries with silly names, the Bakewell tarts and charlotte russes and baba au rhums of the world. Continue reading