She is the queen of good quality vanilla and all things delicious: We love Ina Garten and all her fantastic recipes. And it turns out, she has some pretty amazing tips for all your favorite Jewish foods, too. After all, Ina describes herself and husband Jeffrey as old-fashioned, Eastern European Jews. After watching a lot of episodes of Barefoot Contessa, we found five fabulous tips to take some of your favorite Jewish foods to the next level.
Mash Up Your Latkes
In Ina’s most recent book Cooking for Jeffrey, she includes a recipe for latkes (Jeffrey’s favorite, of course). And to our surprise, it includes both shredded potato and cooked mashed potatoes! So for those of you who debate between a course shred and a fine shred: You don’t have to choose. Ina’s latkes are creamy and crispy.
Give Your Kugel a Bath
Baking custard-based desserts like creme caramel or bread pudding in a bain marie, or water bath, is a common technique to ensure a gentle, even bake. But a bain marie for kugel? Not exactly how bubbe makes it, but that’s exactly how Ina suggests making the creamiest sweet noodle kugel. Which makes sense, since the base of eggs, milk, cheese, and vanilla is essentially a custard. Just add noodles.
Prep First for the Easiest Stuffed Cabbage
Stuffed cabbage is the ultimate Eastern European comfort food, and Ina thinks it’s the perfect thing to serve on a cozy, winter day. What’s her secret? Prep all the steps ahead of time: prep the cabbage leaves, prep the filling, and prep the sauce. Then assembly is much easier. Her other secret: adding some of the tomato sauce into the filling itself. Genius!
Don’t Overmix the Rugelach
Ina sticks to the classics with her rugelach recipe, sharing in her Food Network video: “This is just how my grandmother used to make them.” She does caution not to over-mix the dough after you add the flour — that’s actually how the dough gets tough and less flaky. She also suggests pressing the filling into the dough lightly using a roll pin before cutting into triangles, which makes the cutting process easier.
Whip Those Matzah Balls
What does Ina cook for Jeffrey’s birthday? Chicken soup with matzah balls, of course. And even the Barefoot Contessa herself wants to make matzah balls just like bubbe, or perhaps even better. To keep them light and fluffy, Ina whips the egg whites until they are not quite stiff and then folds in a small amount of matzah meal, spices, and schmaltz. She scoops and refrigerates them, then cooks them directly in homemade chicken stock.