The external chaos is reflective of the scattered nature of my current thoughts. I think its called confusion and I pretty much expected this to be the case after a yearlong absence from reality. The best place to realign my thoughts and balance is in the kitchen, and thankfully there are plenty opportunities to do so.
With time to spare and a pending dinner for 8 I headed to Jerusalem’s Mahne Yehuda market on Friday morning. Friday is the busiest day of the week packed with frantic shoppers racing against time to prepare the pending Shabbat dinner.
Slowly my bag began to weigh me down filled with herbs, baby eggplants, beetroots, shallots, figs and pears, sheep’s milk feta, Gorgonzola, nuts and seeds. There were freshly baked bagels I had to buy and wine, too. I spent the next two days preparing what are now quite a lot of leftovers in the fridge reflecting the confusion of my past, present and future. My Italian past seeped through the pasta fagioli soup, a nostalgic Jerusalem Kugel slowly caramelized for seven hours and a French Far Breton was served with cream. In between there were raw beetroots, feta and pears, shallots prunes and chestnuts, figs and gorgonzola, buttered almonds and fresh herbs, roasted eggplants, pomegranate and pine nuts, yogurt garlic and tahini. A confused collage of me, my adventures and culinary DNA.
Jerusalem style Kugel encapsulates what Friday afternoon is in Jerusalem; caramelized noodles spiced with black pepper and baked on a low heat overnight this is a sweet and spicy accompaniment to hearty winter stews. Traditionally served with pickled gherkins.
Jerusalem style Kugel
Based on a recipe by Sherry Ansky
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unrefined sugar
250g egg noodles, like vermicelli
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Sliced pickled gherkins
1. In a pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add noodles and cook for about 3 minutes. Strain the pasta.
2. Place sugar and oil in a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
3. Very carefully pour the caramel over the noodles and stir until blended. Some of the caramel may harden up but that’s ok.
4. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs. Mix in the salt and black pepper.
5. Stir in the egg mixture to the noodles.
6. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
7. Heat a little oil in a heavy duty skillet. Add the noodles.
8. Cut out circle of parchment paper and cover the noodles. Brush the top with a little oil. This prevents the top from drying out and burning. Wrap the pan tightly in foil.
9. Bake for 7-10 hours. Flip the Kugel to a plate, cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with the gherkins.