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Jul 2, 2006 10:25 PM

Other Jewish Cooking Controversies

The thread about latkes vs hamentaschen got me thinking about other differences between jewish ways of cooking.

In my family, when we make latkes, or matzo-bri, blintzes, matzo meal pancakes, etc. it was always considered a savory dish and was served with sourcream, or nothing at all - just salted (such as the matzo-bri). Maybe applesauce in a pinch of there was no sourcream in the house (which I bet never happened).

But, I know other jewish families serve these items with sweet things, such as applesauce or jam. I know people who put cottage cheese in their kugels, which is just odd to me - a kugel to me is a fried noodle pie, with eggs and onions, not a baked casserole with cheese.

Or, there are different preparation methods such as matzo-bri. I personally make it into 1 large omelet like shape, where others keep the matzo in broken up pieces and scramble it up in the pan so the pieces are kept separate, more or less. Also, with kugels, we always fried ours in a pan, again, like a large omelet (for lack of a better way to describe it) but other families would put it into a baking pan and do it in an oven. Then of course you have the noodle kugel vs. the potato kugel.

Does this have to do maybe with the origins of various families, perhaps where they came from in Europe, or what foods were available in the areas they were from? Or, is the serving of sweets or the combining of sweet items in these foods a bastardization of the foods themselves once immigrants came to the states?

Any thoughts?


And just to vent: There's a restaurant in NYC that charges like $8 for matzo-bri with a tablespoon of their "homemade confiture" at passover which freaking galls me to no end. $8. for a matzo-bri! What does a piece of matzo actually cost? #.10 cents? Unbelievable.

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  1. I've always made kugel with cottage cheese and then baked it in the oven. And I serve latkes with applesauce ... just how it was always done when I grew up.

    1. my family is of polish-jewish origin and we always had a sweet matzoh brie, either pancake style or scrambled, but in any event it had to be cooked in peanut oil. whether or not there was cheese in a noodle kugel depended upon if it was going to be served with meat or dairy. ditto on the sour cream vs. applesauce for latkes. kugels were always baked and potatoniks were always cooked in a large frying pan. stuffed cabbage was always sweet and sour. yet if my mom was making oatmeal or farina, then she always made that with sweetening at all.

      1. My family is mostly of russian-jewish origin, with one grandmother austrian-jewish. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Too bad everyone's pretty much gone now, I have only my grandmother to ask and at 100, she pretty much can't remember much of anything anymore (tho it is funny to try and get her to remember). However, her apple cake, was not served with sour cream :-)


        1. My family is mostly Austrian-Jewish and most of the items described were always savory. Potato kugel was served with cottage cheese on the side, and noodle kugel was always made without any cheese at all, but never sweet. I made a sweet noodle kugel (w/ raisins inside and corn flakes on top) last year for Yom Kippur, along with a savory one. The sweet was untouched.

          As for matzoh brie, we sautee that in a little butter in the frying pan and leave it fairly unstructured. That was my father's style, but my grandmother used to soak the whole sheets of matzoh in egg, placing cream cheese pieces b/w 2 slices of matzoh, almost more like a sandwich of matzoh brie or 'stuffed french toast'.

          And I agree $8 for matzoh brie would annoy me, too. We have matzoh in my house year-round and matzoh brie is one of my favorite comfort foods to make when I'm not feeling like cooking and my husband isn't home for dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: diablita FL

            Could you post your recipe for matzoh brie? I'd love to give it a try....i've tried one recipe but don't think I got it right.

          2. i definitely think that sweet/sweet and sour thing is very polish-jewish. i think they even like a sweeter gefilte fish although we never had that type of sweet fish at home.