Sunday, September 27, 2009

If It Comes From Arthur, It Has to Be Good

Here is Arthur Schwartz' recipe for noodle kugel. Who's Arthur Schwartz? The Food Maven, of course, who for years had a wonderful food talk show on WOR Radio in New York. If that weren't enough to make me a fan, he also loves Italy and Italian food and has written a number of Italian cookbooks, which I use religiously. I was thrilled to meet him earlier this year at a conference on exploring our Italian-Jewish roots in Grammercy Park. I had a chance to chat with him and hear him correct speaker on the precise number of seeds in a pomegranate, more proof of his vast knowledge about food.

So, for my Jewish friends and family, have an easy fast and a sweet new year! Here's Arthur's recipe for the Yom Kippur holiday feast. And for those of you who need a visual, here's a photo of noodle kugel from the iconic Katz' Deli in New York.

My Grandmother's Yom Kippur Noodle Pudding

Elise Sonkin, my maternal grandmother, was, as I have said many times on the radio, a very glamorous woman. Despite the appearance she gave of a pampered lady of leisure who never prepared a meal or washed a dish, her cooking was the despair and envy of the neighborhood. Everyone in our circles knew she was the best around. Elise loved doing it and she loved the reputation, knowing full well it was at odds with her appearance and demeanor.

This is the noodle pudding she made to break the fast on Yom Kippur. It is extremely rich, a buttery custard shot through with noodles. It is certainly not the best thing to eat after an entire day of not eating. But we did and still do. We precede this with platters of smoked fish, bagels and other breads, cheeses, egg salad, tuna salad, and whitefish salad, a platter of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers – basically what used to be considered the quintessential New York Jewish Sunday breakfast, the festive family breakfast that my family did indeed indulge in when we all lived together in one house in Brooklyn.

My Grandmother's Noodle Pudding
Makes about 12 luncheon servings

1 pound very wide egg noodles
8 eggs
3 cups sour cream
1 1/2 pounds pot cheese (preferably fresh bulk)
1 1/2 cups melted butter (3 sticks)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, in a very large mixing bowl, beat eggs lightly. Stir in sour cream, cheese and most of the butter, reserving some butter to grease the baking pan.

Add the cooked and drained noodles, mix, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture in a 10- by 16- by 2-inch baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until top is lightly browned. Let cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve hot or warm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cooking With Wolfgang and Alyson

Originally uploaded by Another Pint Please...

One of my joys of the holiday season is cooking for friends and family. Although I wasn't cooking in my own kitchen this year, I helped my sister-in-law Alyson prepare dinner for 15 in her Harlem apartment. Chopping, dicing and stirring with her in her bright and sunny kitchen with city views of brownstones and pre-war apartment buildings gave me such pleasure. Together we re-created Wolfgang Puck's recipe for beef brisket, which was slow cooked in the oven for 6 hours, sliced thin, and garnished with a sauce flavored with pearl onions and slivers of dried apricots. She cooked it the day before and reheated it, which intensified the flavor. It was simply delicious.

Here's the slightly revised recipe from


* 5 pounds beef brisket
* 2 tablespoons kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 bottle red wine
* All-purpose flour
* 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
* 6 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
* 2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
* 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch chunks
* 1 medium leek, white part only, cut into 1-inch chunks
* 1 cup dried apricots
* 6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 sprigs fresh thyme
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 2 quarts plus 1/4 cup homemade beef stock or good-quality canned beef broth
* 1 cup pearl onions
* Minced parsley, for garnish


1. Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the wine to a boil and continue boiling until it reduces to half its original volume, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Evenly sprinkle the brisket all over with flour, shaking off excess. Heat a heavy Dutch oven over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it is almost smoking, turn the heat to medium-high, carefully add the brisket, and sear until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a platter. Pour off the fat from the Dutch oven and add another 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic, shallots, carrots, celery, and leek, and sauté until glossy and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add half of the apricots and all the parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and tomato paste, and continue to cook 1 minute more.

3. Return the browned brisket to the Dutch oven and add the reduced wine and 2 quarts stock or broth. If the brisket is not completely covered with liquid, add enough extra stock, broth, or water to cover. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot and carefully place it in the oven. Cook until the brisket is fork-tender, approximately 5+ hours. Meanwhile, blanch the onions in boiling water for 30 seconds, cool in an ice water bath, trim the ends, and peel the onions, leaving them whole. Cut the remaining apricots into 1/4-inch strips.

4. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and sauté the pearl onions until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the apricot strips and pour in the remaining 1/4 cup stock or broth, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until tender, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

5. When the meat is done, carefully transfer it to a heated platter, cover with aluminum foil, and keep warm. Boil the liquid in the Dutch oven until it thickens and reduces to about 1 quart, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary with more salt and pepper.

6. To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the brisket across the grain into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on heated serving plates or on a heated platter, spoon half the sauce over it, and garnish with the pearl onions and apricots. Sprinkle with minced parsley and pass the remaining sauce on the side. For neater slices, let the brisket cool before cutting it across the grain. Reheat the slices in the sauce for about half an hour at 300°F before serving.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm A Stereotype

That's what I was thinking the other day as I drove my Prius to the recycling center, and went shopping with my eco-friendly grocery bags. Then, I had a good laugh at myself for feeling so ecologically holier-than-thou...

Until last Thursday night when I was driving home from Boston. Tired from a day of meetings and hours of driving, I decided to stop at a Dunkin Donuts on the way home. But having limited empty cup holders, I had to ditch the warm bottle of water sitting in my car all day, but couldn't toss it into the back because it had no cap. So, as I was idling a stoplight at a busy intersection, I lowered the window and poured out the water. In my tired state, I hit the remote window button too soon and the window started closing on my fingers, still clutching the empty water bottle. As I frantically tried to pull the bottle back inside the car, I realized I had to choose between saving my fingers and letting go. The bottle bounced in the road as cars rushed by, followed by a hushed silence and then a roar as the car behind me started honking. When the light changed, the driver zoomed past, giving me the finger. "Hey, wait," I wanted to say. "You don't understand. I don't litter. Really. See, I drive a Prius."