Kugel. What is it? It seems like there’s every flavor of kugel imaginable. There are sweet kugels and there are savory kugels. For all account farfel was introduced about 800 years ago to the mix by the Germans; then eventually eggs were added. From there it continued to grow and evolve. Essentially kugel is an bake egg casserole or pudding. Heck even that can leave the definition seeming ambiguous. So sticking with what I knew about kugel and trying to stick to the spirit of the farfel kugel I grew up with I set out on trying to resolve some of my issues when it comes to farfel kugel.
First off the kugel can be a bit dense. If it is over cooked it can even get a little rubbery. When thinking about the texture I wanted something light and fluffy. During the winter I made Cauliflower Kugel which was a recipe from The Gefilte Manifesto and this was more like a soufflé. I knew there had to be a way to meat in the middle.
I started with Googling kugel and it was just too overwhelming. I then pulled out these two small paperback cookbooks about Jewish cooking. (These little books were something my mom has and were her go to books. Yet again my husband paying attention to how much these cookbooks meant to me tracked down copies and gave them to me one year as birthday presents.) The book that offered the most help when trying to find new ideas for kugel was one called The Art of Jewish Cooking. In it they had a recipe for Tzibbele Kugel. The idea was simple enough. Separate the eggs, whip the whites, add the veggie, matzo, schmaltz, salt and pepper, and fold it all together. This was perfect!
Then I turned my attention to the veggies. My mom’s kugel uses a bunch of veggies but even with the I wanted some way to enhance the flavor. I turned to The Spice Companion for ideas. I looked up carrots. This lead me to a spice blend that used things like: Marjoram, Espelette Pepper, Anise, Dried Orange Peel, and Caraway Seeds. I thought about just mixing this in but wonder about the other veggies. The recipes I was coming across in The Spice Companion kept referring to being used when roasting vegetables. This gave me the idea to roast the veggies before adding them to the kugel. This would make their over all texture and flavor even better.
As I thought about the veggies I was thinking about my mom’s recipe and that she uses celery. Over the holiday season I discovered the joys of celeriac. I love the texture because it behaves like a root vegetable but tastes so much like celery! I looked it up and sure enough there was a spice blend that used things like: Dried Limes, Dried Tarragon, Dried Dill, and Fennel Seeds. This then took me down the inspiration of doing all root vegetables and because I couldn’t decide on a spice blend I chose three. By doing this I was able to make each kugel focus on making one vegetable the star with a host of spices to make it really pop.
To pull the whole thing together my husband helped me out by making two types of matzo that he then crushed and mixed together to be the “farfel” in my kugel. The result far surpassed my hopes and inspiration. What makes this even more exciting is that platting it with a piece of lamb and then a piece of kugel and each piece of kugel being a different flavor you get this progression of flavors as you it keeping you engaged on the experience.
- 6 large Eggs, separated
- 1 ½ pounds Vegetable
- 20 grams Spice Blend
- 128 grams Matzo, broken into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons Schmaltz
- 78 grams Gribennes
- Flor De Sel (Flaky Salt)
- 1 ½ pounds Carrots, diced
BASQUE SPICE BLEND:
- 5 grams Dried Marjoram
- 15 grams Espelette Pepper Flakes
- 3 grams Anise Seeds
- 3 grams Dried Orange Peel
- 2 grams Caraway Seeds
- 1 ½ pounds Parsnip, diced
CEPA SPICE BLEND:
- 15 grams Dried Chopped Chives
- 15 grams Dried Tarragon
- 2 grams Dried Dill
- 2 grams Dried Mint
- 4 grams Nigella Seeds
- 1 ½ pounds Celeriac, diced
JOON SPICE BLEND:
- 20 grams Omani Limes, Ground
- 3 grams Dried Tarragon
- 5 grams Dried Dill
- 3 grams Fennel Seeds, toasted
Start with making the spice blend for the vegetable you are going to prepare. (I went ahead and made all three blends then set them aside. Just make sure you label them some how to know which goes with what.) Add the spices to your spice blender and pulse to a fine powder. Brush out thoroughly before making a new spice blend.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Dice the vegetable into a ¼ inch cubes and place in a bowl, add 1 ounce of the schmaltz and 10 grams of the chosen spice blend, and toss well to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet. Roast just until soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven pour back into the bowl you tossed them in.
Add the remaining 3 ounces of schmaltz, 78 grams gribenes, and another 10 grams of spice blend. Toss well to throughly coat. Let cool. Add 128 grams crushed matzo or farfel (don’t toss), cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit over night.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment.
Separate your eggs. Place the whites in a bowl of an electric mixer filter with the whisk attachment and beat to stiff peeks. In a large bowl beat the egg yolks until thick (I did this with an immersion blender fitted with the whisk attachment) stir in the vegetable matzo mixture. Once well mixed, fold in the egg whites until there are no more white streaks.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and gently smooth out doing your best not to squash out any more air bubbles from the whites. Sprinkle with some corse salt like Flor De Sel.
Bake until set, about 22 minutes. Repeat for each flavor. Let cool in the pan unless you need it to start the next flavor.
Once cooled slice into 16 equal pieces by making four slices across and four slices perpendicular to the first four. Each of those pieces will make two portions. Cut them in half making a 1×2-inch rectangle.