Cook: Memories lost and found in family recipes

As the Jewish year ends, I like to think about all the emails I’ve received from you, my readers. Most have been complimentary, some argumentative and others have been cute. I recently received this one: “Dear Ms. Fiszer, I am having trouble with your recipe. I can’t stop eating it.”

My favorite queries are about your beloved recipes that got lost in time, hidden away or just misplaced. It has surprised and delighted me to find my readers are in search of traditional recipes either in their original form or updated to fit today’s fast and fresh lifestyle. Many inquiries begin with “My mother (or grandmother) used to make a delicious (fill in the blank) but I can’t find the recipe.” I thank all of you who have inspired me to research these recipes for their rich past and to recreate them in a healthy, easy-to-execute fashion. Please keep those questions coming, as sharing my recipes is my joy of Jewish cooking.

The following recipes try to reproduce those nostalgic dishes, with one immeasurable ingredient missing — memories. Only you can supply those.


Applesauce Noodle Kugel

Serves 12

12 oz. wide egg noodles

4 eggs

2 Tbs. sugar

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil or melted margarine

1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups applesauce

1⁄2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cook noodles according to package directions and drain.

Beat eggs with sugar, salt, oil, vanilla and applesauce. In a large bowl combine noodles with egg mixture and dried fruit. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake about 50 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Note: For a richer, dairy version of the above, substitute 1 cup sour cream and

1 cup cottage cheese for the 2 cups applesauce and stir in 2 diced large apples.


Kasha Varnishkes

Serves 6-8

11⁄2 cups kasha

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄4 cup vegetable oil or chicken fat

2 large onions, chopped

3⁄4 pound bow-tie noodles (varnishkes), cooked and drained

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix kasha and eggs thoroughly, spread egg-covered kasha in a shallow pan and bake 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet and cook onions until brown. Remove to a bowl.

In a large pot, cook baked kasha mixture in 6 cups boiling water for 15 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Break up kasha lumps with a fork. Combine kasha with bow-tie noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Tomato and Onion Braised Brisket

Serves 10-12

1 piece brisket, 4 to 5 lbs.

salt and pepper

1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano

1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme

2 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes

Trim almost all of the excess fat from the brisket and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make a paste of the oregano, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Spread over both sides of brisket. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place brisket in a roasting pan. Cover with onions and then with tomatoes. Cover pan tightly with foil.

Bake 31⁄2 to 4 hours, basting every hour with accumulated juices. Remove brisket and tomato mixture to a platter. Degrease pan juices and pour over meat. Refrigerate overnight for easy slicing. Slice and reheat with tomato mixture and pan juices and serve.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to

Louise Fiszer