Sunday, February 27, 2011

A block of Potatoes - The One about the Kugel

You may remember my post from yesterday about Gribenes. Well, one of the byproducts of making Gribenes is the rendered chicken fat, a.k.a. schmaltz. If you didn't know, that stuff is also darn tasty and gives a fine, fine flavor to whatever it's used in. So, since we had some schmaltz left over we're going to use it to add some flavor to the potato kugel. A bit of a historical note on the term, in Yiddish it means square, though the original German is more like ball. The dish, at one time was round, but these days, with some exceptions, are mostly made in square/rectangular pans. On a side note, the game Knucklebones in Yiddish is called Kugelach, and is played with 5 bronze cubes. Well, enough with the history and on to the food.

You'll need:
6 good sized potatoes
1 large onion
1/2 cup oil
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon crushed black pepper
2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C)

Peel them!

Then grate them. I do it with a hand grater and half on the thick grate and half on the thin.
Now, the trick to making a good potato kugel, and latkes for that matter is to squeeze out all the liquid from the grated potatoes. This is a bit messy, so do it over the sink.

Now, chop your onion, not to finely and saute it in the schmaltz from the gribenes. I told you we'd be using it, now's your chance to kick this up a notch. If you haven't got spare schmaltz, use olive oil, or if you want to make it dairy some butter.

When the onions are translucent and starting to brown dump them into the grated potatoes and mix in the oil.

Add the salt.
And the pepper. I'd personally add more, since I like mine really sharp, but I've been out voted.
Now, add the eggs.
Make sure to remove the shells before doing so, beating and then adding to the mix.
Make sure it's well incorporated and dump into an oiled casserole dish and into the oven. It should be about two inches thick.
Let it cook about 50 minutes at 375F (190C) uncovered until deep golden brown.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gribenes - Cracklings for Jews

This recipe is an old school Ashkenazi Jewish treat. Growing up I think we might have had it once or twice, mostly because it's not considered particularly healthy. It's basically chicken skin and fat rendered down. We have chicken soup every Friday night to start the Shabbos meal, so we take the skin and fat from it to make this treat. It's a bit messy and you need a very sharp knife otherwise it's way too much work.

You'll need:
The skin of a chicken, including all the fat
A small onion

We don't really need to add salt without our chicken, since our chickens are salted to remove all the blood as required by Jewish law. 

One kosher chicken...

I'm sure there is more than one way to skin a chicken. Happily I didn't wound myself doing so this week.

The skin! Stretched out on a cutting board. I cut it into 5 chunks for easier working.

You want to basically shred it, cutting it into pieces that are about half an inch on a side. 

And the final product, about a cup of shredded skin and fat.

It's pretty slimy and gross at this point, but it's worth it.
All of that goes into a small pot on high heat.
You need to stir it every a few minutes, but you can mostly leave it to its own devices. Meanwhile chop up the onion. You should cut it pretty finely. I'd suggest a pair of Onion Goggles if you're the sensitive eye type. When the chicken skin has started to get to the dark brown stage, dump in the onions, it should fry easily in the rendered fat, a.k.a. Schmaltz. Speaking of which, my Grandfather of blessed memory, used to spread schmaltz on his toast instead of butter. Now that's old school.

Now you just let it cook down. Another 20 minutes at least, the longer you let it cook the better it is, just don't burn it. When it's a dark brown it should be nice and chewy/crispy. There should be a lot of liquidized chicken fat there, that'd be schmaltz. Save it! We're going to use it for some recipes later in the week.

It's not healthy. But it's darn tasty! Live a little people!

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Real Jew Food Week!

Ok, I'm getting back to blogging food and for the next few weeks I'm going to concentrate on real Jewish food. Mostly food from the Ashkenazic/Eastern European tradition will show up. I'll give you recipes from Gribenes and Schmaltz, to kugels and Gehakte Leber with Tzibele Kichel. You'll have to wait to find out what all these wonderful Yiddishe treats are!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Great MST3K Tweetup of 2011 Part II: The Revenge

Following the success of the first Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tweetup in January it's time for the next one. The event is called for Sunday, February the 20th at 2PM EST (11AM PST, 10AM AST, 9PM IST).
We'll be watching the Giant Gila Monster, available on Hulu for those in the US. If you're not and want to watch, contact me and I'll help you find another way to watch.
I suggest opening your browser and getting set up buffering at about 10 minutes before we start. The hashtag we'll use is #MST3KGilaMonster.
For more info and ongoing discussions you can check out the Facebook event where you can RSVP and also join the FB group for ongoing events and MST3K talk.
I'd suggest making some Sweet Kettle Corn to watch with!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins a.ka. Cupcakes for Dinner

Yes, it's been a while since I've blogged some tasty foodie goodness. Mostly because of other things going on in life, as mentioned in a previous post, but also because a rash of flu attacks in the family have kept us from getting all the necessary sleep. Anyway, I'm back and I've brought muffins. These aren't your regular sweet muffins, no they're all sorts of savory. These are the kind of muffins you can bring home to mom and serve as a side with your main. They're actually pretty quick and easy and decidedly dairy.

1/2 cup of crushed cooked pumpkin (you can cheat and use puree)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese.

Preheat the oven to 380F (190C). Mix the wet ingredients, pumpkin, sour cream, eggs, oil, honey and milk.

 Mix the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and grated cheese.

 Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix quickly with a fork. It should still be lumpy.

And then put it in your muffin tin and into the oven for 20 minutes.

Wait and you'll be rewarded with golden muffiny goodness.