Before Israel, There Was Schalet

There are two rather interesting pages in ’Round the World Cook Book: 200 Favorite Recipes from Thirty Foreign Lands—the pages on Palestine. Because this cookbook was printed pre-World War II, the recipes for Palestine are all traditional Jewish dishes. And, the opening text is a window into a time before Israel:

Palestine has come to be known as the Fatherland of the Jews. Although largely Moslem in its population, we have devoted this discussion of food habits to traditional Jewish cookery, which stands out as being unique and interesting in this Mohammedan country … Just recently they have successfully grown oranges and olives … Generally, the typical Jewish dish contains a large amount of fat which, when combined with other foodstuffs such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, sugar, honey and nuts, will form a nourishing and well balanced meal.

I really want to go back to the day when fat wasn’t a bad word, but rather part of a well-balanced meal. We grilled a few steaks and ate outdoors last night, so what better side dish than a baked noodle schalet? What the heck’s a schalet, you ask? I believe my sister put it best as she was watching me make this recipe, “Oh, hey, are we having kugel?” Yes, this is kugel. And, no, my sister is not Jewish. She just loves Jewish food.

Baked Noodle Schalet (aka Kugel)

  • ½ lb broad noodles (I used wide egg noodles)
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 12 prunes, chopped
  • 2 T raisins, seeded (Seriously? Did raisins ever come with seeds?)

Boil the noodles in salted water for 10 minutes. (Actually, I boiled them according to the package instructions, about 8 minutes.) When cooked pour cold water over them and drain. Mix the melted butter with the beaten egg yolks, sour cream, brown sugar, prunes, and raisins. Add the noodles, mix well; fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

This is what my folding in looked like:

Schalet: Folding in Egg Whites

Put into a buttered baking dish and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) for 30 minutes or until brown. (After 20 minutes, I went in and sprinkled a bit more brown sugar on the top.) Serve hot.

Results

The whipped egg whites give this recipe a very light, airy quality that I have not had with other kugels. I have also made kugels using cottage cheese, which often lends a creaminess to the dish. This version is creamy, and the fruit/sugar offsets the sour cream nicely so there really is no need for cottage cheese. I think my only adaptation would be to add a bit of cinnamon.

Baked Noodle Schalet

And, then so Paul won’t feel bad, I’m going to include a marvelous picture of his steaks. (He does the single grill marks rather than the cross grill marks because he didn’t go to culinary school. And, therefore has no way of knowing about cross grill marks. If you think I’m kidding, I had a class where one whole session was spent grilling meat and perfecting grill marks. Guess what? Single or double, the steaks still taste the same.) Paul’s were awesome!

Steaks on a plate

Steaks on a plate. Kind of like snakes on a plane except not at all.

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