Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Matzo Kugel


Preheat oven to 350. Have on hand a 9x13 baking dish or two 8x8 ones. Grease now, or if you want to use the same 9x13 for wetting the matzo (step 1) as you do for baking, remember to grease the dish after emptying and drying it after step 5. For greasing, I use a Passover-suitable oil, such as canola or peanut oil, ~ 1T.
      When I was a kid, everyone used peanut oil at Passover
      so I do, too. Canola oil (not even under its old name,
      rapeseed oil) was not available as far as I know.

1. Use the perforations to break into 4-5 strips each
     * 4 matzos
but don't worry if the breaks aren't clean. Put all the matzo into a large flat dish that lets the strips lie flat in 2 layers.
      I usually use a Corningware roasting pan but, in a small
      hotel suites kitchen, I used the same 9x13 dish (ungreased
      at this point) that I later used for baking.
Pour on top
     * 2 1/2 c. hot tap water
Leave MATZO to soften while you do the other steps. Baba said to squeeze out excess water, see step 5, but I find that if I use 2 1/2 c. (she said 2-3 cups) all the water is absorbed and there's no liquid left in the dish. Check on the MATZO as you do the next steps: if any top pieces are still dry, look to see if there is any water at the bottom of the dish. If there is, move the dry pieces into the water. If not, leave them on top and wet them with a tablespoon or so more water.

2. Use the chopping blade in your food processor to chop
     * 1/2 c. slivered almonds
so that they are in small pieces. Today's food processors are so strong they make some of the almonds into powder, but don't worry: a little almond powder is OK, too. If you don't have a food processor or just prefer chopping by hand, chop the slivers into pieces ~ 1/8" long. Place those ALMONDS in a small bowl along with
     * 1/2 c. seedless raisins
and set the bowl aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat (I use a manual egg beater)
     * 6 eggs
Then beat in
     * 1/2 c. sugar
     * 1/2 tsp. salt
     * 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

4. Peel core, Cuisinart-shred or julienne by hand into ~1/8" wide strips, and put into the egg mixture (no need to stir yet)
     * about 1 3/4 to 2 lbs apples (4 large)
[What kind of apples? Baba's recipe said "tart" but Phil sometimes used sweet apples. Recently I used half Honey Crisp and half Granny Smith and the result was delicious. But then it always is.] Then grate directly onto the top of the apple/egg mixture (and still no need to stir yet) the peel of
     * 1 orange (I usually use a large one, maybe 1/2 lb)

5. Squeeze out any excess water (but it certainly doesn't have to be dry)
     * that MATZO
and put it in the large bowl by handfuls. Gently fold it into the egg mixture. This will also incorporate the APPLE and ORANGE PEEL. Then fold in
     * those ALMONDS and RAISINS

6. Put pudding into the greased baking dish. Top with
     * 1/2 T sugar (Baba said 1T but I use less)
     * cinnamon (Baba said 1/2 tsp but I just sprinkle on
         a light covering)
and then pour gently on top, zigzagging for good coverage,
     * 1/4 c peanut (or canola) oil.

7. Bake 45 minutes. Top should brown, but that's mostly the cinnamon. If edges get a little black, it's done, but I try to avoid that. A toothpick should come out clean.

MAKE AHEAD: It's fine - and maybe even better - to make ahead, freeze and then reheat at any convenient temperature, whether thawed or, if the baking dish can take it, frozen. I like the firmer texture that you get with rich desserts, such as chocolate cheesecake, when made ahead and then frozen and thawed. Matzo Kugel is the same. It's wonderful straight from the oven but it will be softer and looser that way.

Leftovers, if any, are delicious cold, room temperature or reheated.
Servings: 16
Prep time: 45? minutes
Baking: 45 minutes

1. I think Baba may have invented this recipe. Making a sweet pudding with matzo instead of bread or noodles is something I've never seen elsewhere. I haven't done a search though. And pouring the oil on top of the pudding so it browns and stays moist inside: genius!

2. I call matzo kugel 'the dessert that masquerades as a side dish.' Charoses, of course, is 'the dessert that masquerades as a required ceremonial dish before the meal.' (Baba's Charoses will be added to the blog some day.) No wonder everyone loves Passover: there's dessert before, during, and after the meal. Baba's star dessert was angel food cake (12 eggs) with lemon sauce (more eggs). I make things with far less, or no, eggs: Passover Macaroons, Matzo Crunch or Dried Fruit Compote .

First typed 20030413 rjm, rev 20180410