Tempting Tuesday: Noodle Kugel

Warm, creamy, sweet noodle kugel is the stuff of dreams. With all the fuss about macaroni and cheese nowadays, noodles are becoming chic again. I’ll take kugel though, any day, any way, anyhow.  Cinnamon, butter, sugar – what’s not to love?

Usually kugel is baked either in a deep casserole baking dish or a standard 9×13 baking pan. The deeper dish makes the custard in which the noodles are put to bed, makes it creamier. This recipe is the result of a most happy accident. My grandma Ninny, of which I have previously written, was putting together baked dishes for a huge family get-together. She mixed up the kugel and realized…oops. The suitable baking dishes are taken. But, the bundt pan was free and clear. She decided to add the brown sugar and pecans just to give it a little extra bling and by golly, history was made in the kitchen that day.

Hanukah and other holidays need kugel. So does Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the third Sunday in January or February – whenever you want the kitchen to be warm and filled with the aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, and butter. I have sometimes not unmolded this and just served it for people to scoop into with the serving spoon, surprising them with the pecans and praline-y crust. However you decide to serve, enjoy and please, try not to eat too much.

Praline Noodle Kugel
3/4 C (1-1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted and divided
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 C pecans coarsely chopped
1 pound egg noodles
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C white sugar
½ c. golden raisins or craisins
2 tsp salt

Start a large pot of water boiling. Preheat oven to 350.
Pour half the melted butter into a 12 cup mold, tube pan, or bundt pan, and swirl around the bottom and up the sides. Mix brown sugar and pecans and press into the sides of the pan into the butter.
Cook the noodles in boiling water, al dente. Drain. In a large bowl, mix hot noodles with a few pats of butter. Mix the noodles with the eggs, the remaining melted butter, raisons, cinnamon, vanilla, white sugar and salt.
Gently spoon noodles into the prepared mold, taking care not to dislodge brown sugar and pecans. Bake at 350 for 1-1/4 hours or until top is brown. Let stand 15 minutes before unmolding. Top will be slightly hard, like a praline.
Serve warm, cold or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.  NOTE: This can be baked in a regular baking dish or casserole. Butter dish and spoon in noodle mixture. Press brown sugar mixture on top of kugel and adjust baking times, until custard Is set, but still jiggely and creamy.  Makes 12 servings.

free clip art photo

free clip art photo

Twofer Twosday – Karaage Chicken and Sunomono

East meets South in this Japanese version of fried chicken and a kinda sorta cole slaw – actually an easy pickled vegetable dish which is a perfect side dish.

Karaage fried chicken is a very popular food in Japan – it is served in restaurants similar to tapas restaurants, as a street food, a snack with beer in local bars, picked up and taken home for dinner – but it is an easy and different take on fried chicken. Recipes call for chicken thighs but I use similarly sized strips or chunks of chicken breast meat. it can also be made with firm fish, but usually when the term karaage is mentioned, it refers to chicken.

Tebasaki Karaage – is a variation. Disjointed chicken wings are used and are my favorite. Use the standard recipe using 10 wings and deep frying for – 10 minutes.

I have posted sunomono before. it is a wonderful cooling dish as a side, salad, accompaniement to fried foods, grilled foods, baked foods. Usually made with thinly sliced cucumbers, it can also be made with thinly sliced celery, radishes, and/or sweet onion. I feel like the more the merrier so I add different veggies to mine.

So enjoy your un-Southern Fried chicken and Japanese un-slaw. Good eating for parties, lunch, bento lunches, TV watching food. I have often been asked to bring my fried chicken to get-togethers. “Some ask for the regular and others ask for the Japanese. I always take half and half. It all disappears.

public domain picture

public domain picture

Kaarage Chicken
4 chicken thighs or equivalent of chicken breast
2 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp garlic, grated
1-2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn starch
salt and pepper
oil for deep frying (Unless you have allergies or family with allergies, peanut oil is the best oil for deep frying having a higher flash point. A pure vegetable oil such as Crisco is second best.)

Instructions
Cut a chicken thigh into 3-4 pieces (or breast into more pieces/strips).  In a medium size bowl, mix Sake, soy sauce, salt, garlic and ginger with chicken.  Let it sit for 1/2-1 hour. The longer it sits, the more salty the chicken will become.
Mix flour, corn starch and some salt and pepper in another bowl.  Coat marinated chicken pieces with flour mixture.
Heat oil at medium high heat (350F).  Deep fry for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of meat. Drain on paper towels, serve while hot with a few squirts of fresh lemon juice.

public domain images

public domain images

Sunomono
3 Japanese or 4 Persian cucumbers *English cukes can be used. Also thinly sliced celery and/or radishes and/or sweet onion can be added
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
Instructions

Instructions
Slice cucumbers/veggies as thin as you can. Stir in salt, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze water out from cucumbers.
In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together until sugar dissolves.
Add vinegar mixture and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and mix well. Chill for about 1 hour for flavors to marry and veggies to chill.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Cooking: Yorkshire Pudding

Since I have managed to toss off my holiday blues (thank you for all your kind words, prayers, hugs. and positive vibes!) I am beginning to plan our Christmas dinner. I’ve not decided on turkey or a lovely beef roast. But I have already decided on the side dishes and as usual, this includes Yorkshire or, Batter Pudding.

When visiting England several times and years ago, I fell in love with this deceptively simple dish. Made with beef drippings and served hot alongside the meat with gravy ladled on, it is a savory dish that makes the meal, just in its humble simplicity. I’m happy just with the pudding and the gravy! If I serve with poultry or pork, I add a nice pinch of either rosemary, thyme, or sage. Not a lot, just a tad to enhance the compatibility to the meat. I rarely eat meat but will do a few times of year. This is a good dish with roasted vegetables as well as meat/poultry/pork.

Leftover puddings with melted butter and a tart orange marmalade is an excellent breakfast or, a smear of butter for a good out of hand gaming snack. This is not a snobbish dish. It is friendly and a combination of “hey y’all, Ay up, and hello love”. If you haven’t tried Yorkshire pudding, do give it a go. You may find it as easy and useful as a potato dish and may even end up using it as often.

Yorkshire Pudding

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef (or duck fat, vegetable shortening, vegetable oil)

NOTE: If I get a roast from the butcher that has a lot of external fat, I trim that off, render and clarify and use with this recipe. If I don’t have quite enough, I add some melted vegetable shortening. This can cook while your meat is resting. I let my batter rest about 15 minutes, but you really don’t have to.  DO NOT USE a glass baking dish – the batter going into smoking hot grease can cause the baking dish to explode.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Pour the drippings into a 9-inch pie pan, cast iron skillet, or square baking dish or into muffin tin holes. Put the pan in oven and get the drippings smoking hot. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and pour in the batter. Put the pan back in oven and cook until puffed and dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6 (or more puddings if you use a muffin tin)

from Nigella's How to Eat

from Nigella’s How to Eat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrast this pudding with those cooked in bak...

Contrast this pudding with those cooked in bakeware of tin and glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simple Saturday – Sunomono and Miso Baked Chicken

300px-Sunomono[1]

I buy white miso paste in a tube so I can always have it on hand and keep in the fridge after opening.  This is a yummy dish and tasty any time of year.  In the summer, to avoid oven heat, I will prepare in a well seasoned, oiled cast iron skillet.  I start on medium heat and after about 3 minutes, turn heat to low.  Because of the mirin and sugar content, be aware of food burning easily.  You know your stove so cook accordingly and keep an eye out.  This is also good room temperature.  I slice the chicken and add over mixed greens, julienned carrots and celery, green onion,with a zipper ginger vinaigrette.  This Japanese home cooking at its best.  Something you may not find in a restaurant, but certainly in someone’s home.  You can grill of course, but again, beware of the burn factor.

Sunomono is kept in my fridge all summer for a cool snack or quick cool addition to a meal of anything!  The little Persian cukes, Japanese cukes, or the English cukes work well. If not available, use regular pickling cukes or use standard ones, as thin as possible, with the seeds taken out.  You can also use celery, snow peas, edamame, spinach, or mix a couple of veggies together.  I like with cucumbers best!  Photo courtesy of Wiki Images.

douzo meshiagare, y’all

Sunomono – Cucumber Salad
4 Japanese cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4  – 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
small sprinkle of chopped cilantro and green onion

Slice cucumbers as thin as you can or use a mandolin or similar slicer. Put in large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt, mixing with your hands. Let sit for about 5 minutes then, using your hands again, squeeze water out of cucumbers (I use my handy dandy Japanese pickle maker for this – you can also view my post on Quickles). Rinse well and squeeze out water.  Discard water. To the rice vinegar,  add soy sauce and  sugar, mixing well. Pour over cucumbers and mix. Let sit in fridge to blend flavors about 30 minutes. Add sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onion. Great small side dish any time of the year.

Miso Baked Chicken/Fish

1/4 cup white Miso paste
3 Tbsp Mirin
2 Tbsp Sake
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
4 chicken thighs (or nice chunk of salmon or other firm fish)

Mix Miso, Mirin, Sake, and sugar (almost kind of sounds like a recipe rap, hey?) in a non-reactive bowl. Marinade chicken thighs (or fish) in marinade for 30 minutes to one hour. You can put the marinade and meat in a plastic bag to marinate as well.
Preheat oven to 425F. take chicken/fish from bag and place on a plate and use a paper towel to wipe excess marinade liquid well from chicken/fish. Place chicken/fish on oiled aluminum foil spread over a sheet pan. Bake for 15 (8 minutes or so for fish). Turn chicken over and bake 10-15 minutes until cooked through.  I like to use chicken wings or chicken breast fillet and garnish with sliced scallion and sesame seeds.  Serve with steamed sticky rice and sunomono.

Quick Pickles – Quickles

I have been promising (and I know you all have just been waiting in deep anticipation) a treatise on quick pickles – quickles I call them. Some factoids: Cucumbers have been around forever and go back as far as Mesopotamia 2030 BC. Quickles are not marinated vegetables. They are brined or salted the same as long process (slowckles) are. The word pickle comes from the Dutch pekel which means salt or brine.

Quickles are a great way to use up some excess summer veggies, brighten up winter veggies, add a quick bit of zing to a dull meal, be a unique appetizer, or in some cases, add an authentic bit to an ethnic meal. Seasonings and vegetables themselves can give a local or ethnic flair. Add daikon to cucumbers and onion. Or add some curry to cucumber, onion, celery, red radish. Crushed mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, and sugar make the ubiquitous onion and cucumber mixture quick bread and butter pickles (recipe in a previous Keep It Simple Saturday) post.

Quickles give much satisfaction with little effort.  They are great with sandwiches, sides for meat, rice….on their own.

Equipment is as simple or exotic as you choose: a colander, plate, weight or a specialized pickle press. I bought a dandy one at a local Japanese food store for $4.99. Ingredients are the same way: salt (uniodized or sea salt), spices, herbs, veggies. The process may take a few hours but you don’t have to babysit and can do other things. Once made, they will last for several weeks in the refrigerator. I do hope you all will experiment with quickles. They’ve been a part of my life since I was born. On a hot summer day, cucumber quickles from the fridge cooled and refreshed a hot little girl. Other kids could have a Koolaid freezer pop – I wanted quickles!! They are a regular feature now in my bento.

QUICKLE BASICS

Cucumbers (English, Kirby, Persian, Japanese) Peeled (if waxed) and very thinly sliced
Onion red or white, thinly sliced
Carrot thinly sliced
Radish red or daikon, thinly sliced
Cabbage – thinly shredded

Seasoning: bay leaf, mustard seed, turmeric, srirachi pepper, split Thai pepper, cilantro, garlic, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, fresh cayenne, fresh jalapeno pepper, sesame seeds, toasted seaweed bits, ginger
Vinegar: cider, white, rice
Extra vegetables: turnip, celery, napa cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower

One Method: The above is my go to veggies for quickles. Add or subtract. It’s up to you to determine how many you want to make. I usually use a standard size cuke, a small or medium onion, a rib of celery, a carrot, several red radishes, about ½ c. sliced daikon, about ½ cup shredded cabbage. In a colander, toss well with several tablespoons of uniodized salt. Place sauce or plate, depending on size of colander and add weight to the plate. A half gallon empty clean milk jug or gallon jug of water works well. Place in sink or on another plate to catch liquid from vegetables. Vegetables will end up being limp but still crispy due to this process. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to thinly slice vegetables. Add seasonings of choice. ALWAYS use non-reactive pots, pans, bowls for vinegar/acid based foods.

Obviously, the vinegar and seasonings will determine the “flavor” of the pickle. I like a Japanese quickle to use with everything.

Recipe – Japanese Sunomono (sweet)

english cucumber

½ small onion

1 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp kosher salt

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp minced ginger

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cucumber. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Wash the cucumber and slice it very thin using a mandoline. Add it to the bowl of liquid, give it a good stir, and then take care to submerge all the cucumber slices. Refrigerate for at least half an hour (but no more than a couple hours) before eating. Drain before serving. Garnish with toasted seaweed and sesame seeds. To add another layer of flavor to this simple pickle, add about ¼ – ½ tsp. dashi soup granules and/or seeded and slivered chili pepper (not much for this amount of cucumber).
Japanese Sour Pickles
1/2 cucumber
1/6 carrots
7 oz. water
1 1/3 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 oz. (dried bonito)
5 oz. daikon radish
2 2/3 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Sliced ginger
Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Add bonito and sliced ginger and stir slowly until sugar is dissolved. Cut cucumber, daikon and carrot into strips. Put vegetables in a jar and pour the mixture over them. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of days for flavors to blend. Keeps about 10 days.

Thai Quickles a friend gave me this recipe and she uses pounds for measurement
2 ¼ rice vinegar
½ pound onion sliced
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound cucumbers, sliced
4 green chilies sliced
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. sugar
Put the vinegar in a non-reactive pan and heat. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool. Put vegetables in a bowl and cover with vinegar mixture. Let sit for one half hour. Keeps in fridge for several days.

Quick Indian Carrot Pickle
5 medium carrots
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard oil or olive oil
sliced green chili, sliced the long way

Peel the carrots and thinly slice them about 2 inches long (should be about two cups). Wrap the sliced carrots in a dry towel, ensuring the carrots don’t have any excess water. Mix all the ingredients together with the carrots and put in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Pickle is ready the next day. Pickle can be refrigerated for about two weeks.

Quick Bread and Butter Pickle
(recipe posted in Keep it Simple Saturday Recipe post)

quick bread and butter pickles

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