A Brick by Any Other Name — Mastering Matzo Farfel Kugel for Passover

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What is Kugel?

Kugel is a Yiddish term referring to a sweet or savory pudding prepared with noodles or potatoes. On Passover, when we traditionally remove all products made with flour from our diet, other than unleavened matzo, matzo farfel kugel often finds its way to the table instead of a noodle-based kugel. Matzo farfel is just matzo broken up into small pieces.

matzo farfel kugel

When I offered to bring kugel to the first night seder, the traditional meal eaten on the first two nights of Passover, I realized I didn’t have a tried-and-true recipe for a matzo farfel kugel. So I started searching my Jewish cookbooks, the Internet, and my recipe files. And into the kitchen I went for some testing. I had hoped to find the perfect recipe on the first try so I could post a tested, perfected recipe for you. Well, that’s not exactly how it turned out, but I can share what I did and how I plan to modify it when I bake it again on Monday.

I will also share a few links to some other Passover recipes to inspire you for the flourless week ahead, if you celebrate!

Sweet or Savory? Matzo or Potato?

matzo farfel kugelMy daughter requested a sweet kugel, rather than a savory one, which is how I chose the matzo farfel route over potato. Apples, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar are natural accompaniments in a matzo or noodle-based kugel. I turned to my well-used copy of The Jewish American Kitchen by Raymond Sokolov for one recipe and then found an interesting apricot-based recipe on the website BakeSpace. There were no reviews or comments but I was intrigued by the use of apricot instead of apple.

50% Success Rate

I halved both recipes and proceeded to prepare each one. I had high hopes for the apricot version but was very concerned by the lack of moisture in the mixture. I should have followed my instincts and added more liquid and egg. The flavor was a hit with my kids but not the texture — it was dense as a brick. On the Passover table – it is the charoset (a fruit and nut mixture) that is supposed to represent the mortar used to make bricks, not the kugel!!

The Winner is…

matzo farfel kugelmatzo farfel kugelThe apple kugel from The Jewish-American Kitchen was much more promising. When I halved the recipe, the volume of kugel was so minimal that I transferred it to a small pie pan to bake. Several elements of the recipe stood out to me. The layer of apples on the bottom and top lighten it up and provide a nice texture balance to the crunchy farfel. The farfel is initially coated with egg and browned in a sauté pan – a nice extra step that could be enhanced further with some flavoring at this stage. I was also intrigued by the nut topping which I enhanced by toasting the nuts first. The verdict was that it is a winning recipe but needed a bit more flavor throughout. I already added cinnamon, which the recipe didn’t call for and my son suggested a hint of nutmeg would be nice too. If each element – the apples, the farfel, and the nut topping – is flavored on their own before combining, the kugel will really shine.matzo farfel kugel

Three Notes:

  1. I use real butter when I make kugels because I don’t keep kosher and will mix meat and dairy. But if you are keeping kosher, the recipe does call for margarine, not butter and you should substitute accordingly. Below is the recipe as I plan to make it on Monday. If I modify it even further, I will pop back into the post and edit it again.
  2. I used to buy matzo farfel in a box. DON’T. It couldn’t be easier to crush up yourself and it will be much cheaper and fresher. Just put the boards in a ziploc and roll over them with a rolling pin. I found that two standard size matzo boards equal about one cup of matzo farfel.
  3. I plan to add 1/2 – 1 cup of raisins to the farfel mixture. I will heat the raisins (perhaps some diced apricots as well) with some orange juice or sweet red kosher wine – just enough to cover them to help soften them up. Then let them cool and add the liquid and raisins to the farfel mixture. I will see how that turns out and modify the recipe accordingly.

More Passover Recipe Inspiration:

Here are some delightful new recipes this year on other blogs and a few recipes I have posted in previous years.

Cheryl Sternman Rule’s Orange Sephardic Charoset via The Shiksa’s Passover Potluck

Cheryl Sternman Rule’s C Cups (Coconut Cups with filling instead of traditional macaroons) on her blog 5SecondRule

Blue Kale Road’s version of sephardic charoset

Mezze and Dolce Rose Water and Pistachio Meringues

Bubbe’s Bubula – my grandmother’s matzo meal pancake

Chocolate-covered Matzo with Toasted Pecans and Sea Salt

And of course – Brisket!

And if you have any beloved favorites that always find their way to your Passover table, please share them in the comments below! Chag Sameach and Happy Easter!

Apple Matzo Farfel Kugel
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 - 8
 
A traditional kugel recipe for Passover where the matzo farfel (small pieces of matzo) stand in for the usual noodles. The key is enough liquid to offset the delicious but dry matzo farfel.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups matzo farfel (about 4 boards of matzo)
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 medium or 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup toasted ground walnuts or pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 X 8 baking dish or pie pan equivalent to a 1 quart pan.
  2. Instead of buying pre-made farfel, simply place a few boards in a ziploc bag and use your rolling pin to break them up into little pieces. 2 boards will yield 1 cup of farfel.
  3. Mix the farfel with 2 of the eggs and a teaspoon of the salt and then toast the mixture over low heat in a heavy skillet, mixing frequently to be sure the pieces brown and separate. I found medium low heat worked better than low. Set the pieces aside while you:
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons of the melted and cooled butter or margarine. Add in the toasted farfel mixture and ½ cup of water.
  5. In your greased baking dish, layer ½ the apple slices and sprinkle them with the lemon juice and a dusting of cinnamon, then add the matzo farfel mixture and then top with the remaining apples. Then sprinkle with the toasted ground nuts and dust it with a bit more cinnamon and pour over the remaining melted butter or margarine.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

 

 

 

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6 Responses to A Brick by Any Other Name — Mastering Matzo Farfel Kugel for Passover

  1. Hannah March 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Mmm, Beth, this apple kugel sounds divine! I definitely want to try this method of cooking the farfel with egg first. I appreciate you doing some kugel recipe testing for all of us! Your photo is very tempting, too. One of our favorite weeknight dinners during Passover is farfel and cheese (a riff on mac and cheese from a Joan Nathan book). I hope all your preparation is going well – everyone will be very fortunate to enjoy your creative cooking! Chag sameach! xx

    • Beth Lee March 25, 2013 at 8:03 am #

      I am taking many shortcuts this year but always try to put a little extra effort into a couple of things to keep the yum factor high :-) Hmmm – farfel and cheese – do tell the secret please!

  2. Hannah March 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you for sharing my haroset, too! I’m checking out the other links, as well – always fun to get some new inspiration! :)

  3. Renee March 25, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Sounds Yummy, Beth. I make one I found years ago on Epicurious.com. It doesn’t have nuts, but has lots of dried apricots and raisins. The boys eat it every morning for breakfast so I always have to make 2 to carry us through Passover.

    • Beth Lee March 25, 2013 at 8:03 am #

      Sounds terrific Renee – I’m going to check my inbox now for that link!

  4. @yumivore April 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Even though the holiday has passed, I’d still love a bite of that kugel, it looks delicious! Hope you had a fantastic and delicious holiday Beth. Lovely links for inspiration and a recipe to try next year!

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