Just Like Ari’s Grandmother Made!
You may not have a Bubbe to whip up these sweet traditional Jewish treats, but we can teach you how we make them like we do at Zingerman’s Delicatessen! Read on for recipes adapted by Ari, and don’t forget, you can stop into the Deli for noodle kugel and cheese blintz, available all year long!
We’ve been making noodle kugel since we opened the Deli back in 1982. It was delicious then, and it’s equally as delicious now. It’s basically my grandmother’s recipe, but we make it with much better ingredients. Although there’s no replacement for family memories and emotional connections, when it comes to flavor, the truth is that ours actually tastes far better than what she made for us when I was a kid. Egg noodles from Al Dente in Whitmore Lake, farm cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery, plenty of plump Red Flame raisins, and a generous does of vanilla, all blended and then baked ‘til it’s a nice golden brown. Great for breakfast, lunch, dessert or really any time you just want something good to eat. And now that I think about it, since it holds up nicely wrapped, it’s a great bag lunch or afternoon snack as well. I was considering calling 2012 the Year of the Noodle Kugel. I’ll start the trend now so you can get out in front of things.
- 12 ounces fettuccine egg noodles
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 9 large eggs
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups raisins
- 1-1/2 cups farmer’s cheese
- 1-1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus additional for boiling the noodles
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, according to the package instructions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, combine the vanilla bean seeds and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well blended.
When the noodles are ready, drain them well and gently stir them into the sauce.
Pour into a 9x13x2-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden on top.
CHEESE BLINTZES AT THE DELI
This is another classic that slipped off my list for far too long. They’re so, so, so good, that blintzes really shouldn’t be off anyone’s list for any length of time. Like the noodle kugel, we make these pretty much as my grandmother did, but, again, the ingredients we use are about eighteen times more flavorful. Thin handmade blintzes (Jewish crepes would be the standard description) folded around a filling of farm cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery, plenty of real vanilla (from beans, not extract), and a generous dose of chestnut honey to sweeten them. It’s an impressive line up of ingredients, but the honey, for me, is what takes them over the top. Chestnut honey has a pretty remarkable, sweet, deep, almost slightly bitter flavor that brings a big round bass note to an otherwise mostly sweet dish. Served with sour cream or preserves, blintzes, like the kugel, are great for almost any setting—breakfast, lunch or a light dinner.
We’ve been making this simple and delicious “noodle pudding” since we opened the Deli back in 1982. It’s based on one my grandmother used to make, and probably not unlike what Emma Goldman would have been eating back in her day. Noodle kugel is good hot out of the oven, but also a few hours later when it’s cooled down to room temperature. If you’re not into raisins you can sub in pretty much any dried fruit, cut into small pieces.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs and milk to the well and stir, slowly mixing in the flour until it is well blended. There will be a few lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you are making the filling.
- 8 ounces farmer’s cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese (preferably natural—without vegetable gum), softened
- 2 tablespoons chestnut honey
- 1/2 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Additional butter for greasing pan
Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and using the tip of a spoon, gently scrape out the seeds. Reserve the pods for future use. Set the seeds in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the farmer’s cheese, cream cheese, honey and butter and mix until well blended. Gently stir in the egg yolk and salt. Mix well again and set aside.
To make the blintzes, heat a 7″ crêpe pan over medium heat. When a little water splashed onto the skillet dances and evaporates, the pan is ready. Grease it lightly with butter, regulating the heat so it does not burn.
Lift the pan from the heat and ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan, then tilt the pan in a circular motion to coat the cooking surface with an even thin layer of the batter. Cook ’til bubbles disappear and the underside is golden—about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a clean dishtowel and keep covered. Repeat until all crêpes are done, lightly buttering the pan before starting each. You will end up with about 12 to 13 crêpes.
To assemble the blintzes, take a crêpe and place 2 slightly rounded tablespoons of filling onto the uncooked side of the crêpe and fold it closed to make a rectangular package, folding in the top and bottom first, then the sides. Each blintz will look like a bit like a nicely folded envelope.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the blintzes—working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan—seam-side down until underside is golden. Flip and cook a minute more or until both sides are golden brown. Serve immediately. —