Judy, a longtime reader who lives in the Philadelphia area, sent me a favorite recipe for her grandmother's noodle kugel, a casserole my own grandmother used to make. I loved the note Judy wrote with the recipe, and she graciously allowed me to share it, and the recipe, with you. In the year of the Thanksgiving and Chanukah convergence, this noodle dish is a perfect addition to the holiday table, no matter which holiday you're celebrating this week:
My grandmother Sophie, who lived to be 98 years old, was an amazing cook. She spent a number of years in the 1930s and 1940s running the kitchen of a "resort" for union workers, and she never really adjusted her recipes to cook for just a few people (a tradition I seem to have continued). Grandma didn't wrote down her recipes, so I would cook with her and write down the ingredients and measurements as best I could.
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Do You Know?
Let's talk about garlic, one of the absolutely fundamental ingredients in The Perfect Pantry. Which of the following are real cocktails made with garlic?
2. Pig's Tail Caesar.
3. Garli Mary.
4. Bloody Bulldog.
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In any selection of offerings on the holiday menu, a cook should always sneak in a couple of no-stress side dishes. Sautéed escarole with garlic and parmesan cheese is easy on the cook, yet absolutely worthy of a place at the table. One of the antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens, escarole plays a starring role in Italian vegetable soups and stews, but here it's the star of its own show. Cooking in olive oil softens the leaves and mellows the bitterness that's common to many dark greens. Add garlic and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a few red pepper flakes for fun, and you have a simple, yet stunning, side dish. Make this at the very last minute, before you're ready to serve.
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I've never been good at fancy appetizers. I try and try, and I get so excited when I find a recipe I can manage, like these lentil and goat cheese stuffed baby potatoes. The filling is a little like a souffle, which means that when you take the potatoes out of the oven, some of them will collapse. I thought I'd show you that, and tell you it's okay, and that the caved-in potatoes taste every bit as wonderful as the puffy ones. Red lentils (so good for you) add body, but not an obvious legume flavor. What melts in your mouth are the goat cheese, mashed potato and garlic in the filling. My friend Pat, who helped me test this recipe for Meatless Holidays, suggested we bump up the flavor with a bit of Sriracha; you can leave it out, but why would you? Cook the lentils ahead of time, according to the package directions; it will take just a few minutes. Serve these potatoes as soon as they come out of the oven.
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