After a year of seriously dreadful over-work, I finally got time to be in the kitchen and use more than just the microwave. Oddly, I felt a bit lost. I had ingredients and tools and time, but also felt like I was intruding. Both the place and the work were unfamiliar due to long neglect.
Luckily, around the same time we took a great vacation to visit relatives. Buzz’s grandmother gave me a beautiful cookbook that had belonged to her mother: Tempting Kosher Dishes, by the B. Manischewitz Co.
She didn’t expect it would be all that interesting, she was just doing her usual “since you drove here, your car needs to be crammed full of things I don’t want anymore” routine. But I was entranced. It’s in wonderful condition, it even has pictures, and it’s half in Hebrew. (I found that slightly surprising. Despite the fact that it’s a Kosher cookbook and therefore clearly targeted to a Jewish audience, I would have expected Yiddish to be more prevalent in the 1930’s. Radio programs were in Yiddish, not Hebrew, for example — why the cookbook?)
While the recipes are indeed all kosher, they are clearly selected with Manischewitz products in mind. Also, there is no apparent attempt to be elegant or fancy in the majority of the dishes. If you’ve got a random leftover vegetable and need to make it more edible, Tempting Kosher Dishes will save the day. (Basically, the vegetable recipes tend to follow this pattern: boil the vegetable into mush, puree it, add some matzo crumbs for body, serve.)
Upon returning from vacation, and after our weekly sojourn to the farmers market, we did, indeed, find ourselves with a random leftover vegetable. This massive thing isn’t a watermelon like we thought from a distance; turns out it’s a cushaw squash, a huge squash that tastes like a pumpkin and zucchini had a love child. Sweet and light, it seemed like a good candidate to contribute to a Retro Recipe.
And that’s how we selected Squash Souffle.
1-1/2 lbs. Summer squash
2 tbsp. Manischewitz’s Matzo Meal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Wash and thinly peel squash, grate on coarse grater, then add meal, seasonings, and egg (well beaten). Place in well-buttered casserole, sprinkle meal on top and dot with butter. Bake in oven (350°) for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Despite the Souffle name, this is really easy — mostly because it’s not actually a souffle so much as a baked casserole. First get out all your ingredients.
If you pick a smaller squash, it won’t require trimming or your biggest kitchen knife.
Grate the squash. (I think pumpkin, most squashes, zucchini, and possibly even parsnips could work for this recipe.)
Mix it up with eggs and matzo meal. (Bread crumbs would work.)
Squoosh it into a casserole dish, and top with butter and more crumbs. Bake! Serve!
See? Not a souffle!
The topping was a little bit dry; next time, I’ll vary the recipe slightly by mixing melted butter into the matzo meal before spreading it all over the top. Feel free to liberally salt and season the squash to add some extra flavor; cushaw is delicious, but not a very strong-flavored vegetable. (I added some cumin to mine.) Getting to play with a lovely cookbook, an interesting squash, and an unusual-but-simple recipe was a great reintroduction to the kitchen.