There’s nothing that Jews like to talk about more than the terrors of disease and who in the community is dying. Death is both our greatest fear and our favorite dinner party topic. Cancer, heart failure, diabetes...if it can’t kill, it’s really not that interesting to us. And yet, at every traditional function we serve overflowing buffet tables of food that promotes these very diseases. It’s as if we’re secretly baiting the weak of will-power so we will have someone to talk about at the next high holidays.
“Did you hear about Sadie Moskowitz?...I saw her last year at the Steinberg's breakfast. Three pieces of kugel. That’s right. Three. We all stood there in disbelief as she did it. Next morning she woke up with a huge hematoma on her neck. They cut it open and found hair, bits of teeth and the eyeball of her labradoodle. A week later we were all at her funeral. And what did they serve at the shiva lunch to follow? Kugel. Let me tell you, it was delicious.”
Jewish food is not for the faint of heart. Literally. We know of the dangers of brisket, but kugel is the silent killer. Kugel lures you in. It's served on the side of the main course so psychologically you convince yourself it's a vegetable. Each delicious sweet forkful beckons another bite. And since you know the tempting evils of the dessert table is still another 15 minutes away, another piece of kugel doesn’t seem so bad.
That is because most well-meaning Jews do not have any idea of what goes into a kugel. Well I do. Sour cream. Heavy cream. Cups of sugar. But to NOT eat kugel is like not kissing your grandmother hello. To not eat kugel is to not partake in tradition. It is to dismember from the tribe. To insult Moses. To go home hungry.
Finally, here's an indulgent kugel that won't kill you.
(* denotes gluten-free option)
1 lb. flat wide egg noodles or Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles*
¼ cup Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil, found in my shop or at most Whole Foods and health food stores (or use a half stick of melted butter...though will no longer be dairy free)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While water is boiling...add wine, raisins and spices to a pan and cook over a low flame for about 7 minutes. Remove from flame when most wine has evaporated and any liquid remaining is syrupy. If you taste the raisins, they will be quite bitter from the spices...that is ok.
If using the rice pasta lasagna, break it apart into large pieces...aim to quarter the sheets, but they will splinter into different sizes. This is ok.
When water has boiled, throw in a handful of salt and the pasta. Cook until just before al dente...or a minute or so before instruction cooking time...even less if using brown rice pasta.
Drain when finished.
In a mixing bowl, add the eggs, coconut milk, extract if using and a generous ¼ cup of the raw honey.
Use an electric mixer to beat for a minute or two.
Add the raisins and the noodles to the egg mixture. Pour into a 9x13” casserole dish.
Add the cereal, coconut oil, ¼ cup raw honey and a pinch of cinnamon if you like into a food processor. Pulse into well mixed.
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