Tasty Tuesday — Kugel or Sweet Noodle Pudding

Snow again in the Big Apple deserves a great comfort food. I thought pasta and sugar are part of comfort foods. This is why I made this sweet noodle recipe. Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, most commonly made from egg noodles or potato. The name of the dish comes from Germany and was made as a round cake. Nowadays, kugels are baked in square or rectangle pans. The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles. Enjoy!

Recipe by Isabelle lapin

Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 30 min plus 6 minKugel2
10-12 portions

1 pound large egg noodles (can be gluten free)
6 large eggs
1 stick (1/2-cup) butter
½ -cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 pound small curd cottage cheese
1-pound (2 cups) sour cream
3 big apples (1pound) peeled, cut in small pieces (can be canned pineapple, fresh pears, fresh peaches or cherries)
1-cup dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots, currants…)
Cinnamon and brown sugar for topping.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 13-by-9 inch dish. Bring a large pot of salted water. Cook the noodles al dente. Drain them and add the butter. Mix well and set aside.  Whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, cottage cheese and sour cream. Stir in the noodles and add the fruits. Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake until the custard is set.

Tips and Info:
You can use different pasta and any fruits of your choice.  You can make savory by using spinach and ricotta cheese.
Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, most commonly made from egg noodles or potato. The name of the dish comes from the German and was made as a round cake. Nowadays, kugels are baked in square or rectangle pans. The first kugel was made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet.  About 800 years ago, cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. In Poland, home bakers added raisins and sweet curd cheese. Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese. Some Jews believe that eating kugel on the Jewish Sabbath brings special spiritual blessings.


Back in the old days, bakers used to only make breads.  This is why I wanted to begin this new baking class by teaching you how to bake all kind of different breads. Challah is a yeast bread that takes a long time to make because of the waiting during the two rising periods, while Irish soda bread rises fast due to the use of baking soda.

Challah Bread:
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin


Preparation: 15 min
Cook: 20 min
Rest: 1h and 1h
Makes 5x1Lb. Challah

1.400g. Bread flour (high gluten) 

1 cube fresh yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
120g. sugar
40g. salt
2/3-cup vegetable oil
6 large eggs room temperature
Egg wash: 1 egg+1 yolk+1 pinch salt

Pre-heat the oven to 420F. Proof the yeast (Dissolve one package of yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/4 cup warm water with a temperature between 110° to 115°. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.) Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand-up mixer. Add the oil, the eggs, and the yeast mixture. Mix for 10 minutes with the dough hook. The dough should come off the walls of the bowl. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles. Punch it down to expel the air.  Scale and braid the challah breads. Brush with the egg-wash and let it double in size. Bake it for 20 minutes or until it is dark brown. Take it out off the oven and cover with a damp towel to have a soft crust.


Soda Bread:
Preparation: 15min
Cook:20 min
Makes: 2 breads

2Lb8oz (1200g.) pastry flour
2oz (60g.) baking powder
0.5oz. (15g.) baking soda
0.5oz. (15g.) salt
2oz. (60g.) shortening or butter
8oz. (240g.) currants or raisins
0.5oz. (15g.) caraway seeds
1Lb12oz. (840g.) Buttermilk

Sift all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Combine all the liquid ingredients and add them to the dry ones. Mix until it has just combined and soft dough is formed. Do not over mix.  Form the breads and bake.

Tips and info:
Over kneading toughens the soda bread. Using more fat and cutting it less (only until the pieces are pea-size) produces a flakier biscuit. Omitting the kneading step produces very tender crusty biscuits, but with less volume.
Yeast: Bakers’ and brewers’ yeast are living organisms that belong to the fungi family. Yeast is used to make bread, beer, and wine. Sugar is food for the yeast. But too much sugar can kill it, as can too much salt. It grows at around 90F, but it dies off at temperatures around 100F. It helps raise bread and bakery products, where it converts the fermentable sugars present in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol. It is why you can see holes in the breadcrumbs.
Challah is usually non-dairy and can have eggs. Each Sabbath meals begin with two loaves to commemorate the Manna that fell from heaven to feed the Jews who wandered in the desert for 40 years. Despite the rich history and origins of the Challah bread, it has gained popularity all over the world. Nowadays, Challah is eaten by everyone and is often used for it’s ability to make really good French toast.
Irish soda bread takes its name from the fact that it uses baking soda for leavening. It is usually made with buttermilk and baked on a griddle or in the oven. It has sometimes raisins (currants) and caraway seeds.

Tasty Tuesdays — Bourguignon Style Mushroom Soup

With snow and cold comes good, delicious, and comforting food. Stews are just the ticket. Mushrooms considered to be the “meat” of the vegetable world, often replacing beef in this classic French recipe. Like every stew, it is braised. Braiser is a culinary technique that consists of simmering the food for a long time on low heat in a covered pot in liquid. Enjoy!


Recipe by Isabelle Lapin


Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 30 min
Makes 12 servings

3 Lbs. assorted mushrooms (Portobello, white button) cut in half or quarteredIMG_5550
12 oz. (2 cups) pearl onions, shallots or yellow onions diced
3 large carrots cut in big pieces
6 celery stalks cut in big pieces
6 potatoes quartered
6 garlic cloves crushed
4 to 6 fresh thyme prigs
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Enough chicken-no-chicken broth to barely cover the vegetables 

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat enough oil to almost cover the bottom of the pot. Add the onions or shallots. Sear until they begin to have a little color. Proceed to mushrooms. Mix constantly and sear the mushrooms. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add some oil, add the carrots and celery once the oil is hot. Sauté until they are slightly brown. Add the garlic and the tomato paste. Stir well and cook until it is well mixed. Add the flour and then mix well then. Add the broth slowly until it almost covers the vegetables while mixing. Add the seared mushrooms and pearl onions. Add the potatoes and the thyme, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the carrots and the potatoes are cooked.

Info and tips:
“Le bœuf Bourguignon” is a dish from the Bourgogne region. It is usually made with bœuf and Bourgogne wine. It is a dish eaten by the peasants on holy days and it become a traditional French dish. It is usually served with garlic bread but can be served with potatoes, or tagliatelles pasta.  Like every stew, it is braised. Braiser is a culinary technique that consists of simmering the food for a long time on low heat in a covered pot in some liquid.
Mushrooms are a fungus, and unlike plants they do not require sunlight to make energy for themselves. Traditional Chinese medicine has utilized the medicinal properties of mushrooms for centuries. A single Portobella mushroom can contain more potassium than a banana. They are made up of around 90% water.The most popular type representing 90% of mushrooms consumed in the US is the White button mushroom. Crimini is the brown version and Portobello is the mature version. China is the biggest producer and produces about half of all cultivated mushrooms. They are 30 species of mushroom that glow in the dark. This glowing light is known as foxfire. Mushroom were widely used for dyeing wool and other natural fibers. Mushroom dyes are organic compounds and produce strong, vivid colors.

Baker’s Blog — Birthday Cake Decorations

This is the last class of the semester and we are going to decorate the cake we covered with fondant last week. It takes a long time to make gum paste flowers, but most of the time a few decorations well placed on a cake are more appealing and will be the highlight. The decoration, whether it is flowers, fruits or  animals will enhance the cake. We will also write on the cake a few words also strategically placed. For that ganache, royal icing or butter cream can be used.
Gum Paste is made with vegetable gum. It dries slowly and is very pliable. So it can be rolled very thin and used for delicate decorations.


1/2 dark chocolate
6 oz. heavy creamIMG_5011 Bring the cream to a boil. Add the chocolate. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. Stir again until the chocolate is completely melted. At this point the ganache can be pour over a cake to be covered. Ti write let the ganache cool enough to be handled. Practice the writing on parchment paper before writing on the cake.

Royal Icing
1 Lb. confectioner sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3 oz. egg whites
Sift the cream of tartar and the sugar into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the egg whites. Continue mixing till all ingredients are well blended and the icing stands in soft peaks. It is ready to be put in paper cones. Practice on parchment paper before to write on the cake.

Tasty Tuesdays — Celery Root, two ways

Celery root is also called celeriac. It is a knobby, pitted root vegetable related to celery and parsley and is Mediterranean in origin.  It was first introduced to the United States in the early 19th century but has only recently become commonly available in the States. Here are two ways to use this winter vegetable. As a bonus you will learn how to make home-made mayonnaise. Enjoy!

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin


Preparation: 30 min
Cook: 40 min
10 adult big portions




1 celery root peeled and shredded
½ butternut squash peeled and shredded
1 to 2 cups of mayonnaise (to taste)
1 to 2 garlic cloves minced
1/3-cup apple vinegar (more or less to taste)

Mix all ingredients taste and adjust salt, pepper and vinegar.

Mix 1 yolk with 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp. vinegar (or lemon juice) and ½ tsp. salt.  Stir very slowly enough oil (olive or vegetable) to make the mayonnaise.

3 1/4 Lbs. Yukon Gold or Russet, peeled, cut into 2” pieces
1 1/2 Lbs. celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into ½ “pieces
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
8 oz. mascarpone cheese room temp or cream cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter


In a large pot, place the potatoes, celery root and whole garlic cloves.  Cover with cold water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Cover partially and boil until vegetables are very tender, around 40 minutes.  Drain.  Mix with hand mixer until almost smooth.  Add minced garlic and mascarpone and butter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tips and info:
Celery root is also called celeriac.  It is a knobby, pitted root vegetable related to celery and parsley and is Mediterranean in origin.  It was first introduced to the United States in the early 19th century but has only recently become commonly available here.  The leaves have a stronger taste and smell than the celery stalks but celeriac can be used in recipes that call for celery.  Julius Cesar believed celery root brought good luck and would always bring some on his campaigns.  It is high in phosphorus and potassium and a good source of fiber and iron.
is a thick creamy sauce used as a condiment.  It is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolks and either vinegar or lemon juice. French add Dijon mustard to the mayonnaise.   The lecithin in the egg yolk is the emulsifier.  It is what helps acid and oil to mix together. It is why we call mayonnaise an emulsion.  Homemade mayonnaise does not have preservatives and has eggs so it can be kept refrigerated for only a week. Commercial mayonnaise does not have eggs and has preservatives. In 1756, mayonnaise was invented in France by Duke de Richelieu’s chief.  In 1905, the first ready-made mayonnaise was sold at Richard Hellman’s New York deli.  In 1912, mayonnaise was mass marketed and called “Hellman’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise”.  The US now consumes around $2 billion worth of mayonnaise each year which is much more than the ketchup market which is worth less than half that around $800 million.

Baker’s Blog — Cake Decoration: Marzipan Roses and Writing Icing

Last week we made buttercream icing and frosted our cake. We put them in the freezer. This week, it’s time to cover the cakes with fondant (an edible icing used to sculpt and decorate cakes and pastries) and begin to make the decorations that we will finish next week.
The three commonly used rolled cake coatings are called fondant, marzipan and modeling chocolate. Rather than being spread or poured to be applied, they are rolled into thin sheets using a rolling pin. Then, they are draped over the cake to cover it. We iced the cakes with a thin layer of buttercream. This step will help the rolled fondant to adhere to the cake. Marzipan is a paste made with ground almonds and sugar. Modeling chocolate is a stiff paste made of melted chocolate and corn syrup. Rolled fondant is essentially a form of fondant that is firm and stiff enough to be kneaded. Have fun!

Recipe by Isabelle LapinCakeDecoration2

I. Marzipan roses and leaves:

1 Lb. Almond paste (500g.)
3 oz. Corn syrup (90g.)
1 Lb. Confectioner sugar sifted (500g.)

Blend the almond paste and the syrup using the paddle attachment, until smooth. Add sifted sugar a little at a time, just as fast as it is absorbed. Stop adding sugar when the right consistency is reached. The marzipan should be stiff but workable and not too dry. Add coloring and work it in.

When making fruits, let them dry before coloring them. You can make the marzipan with pumpkin seeds instead of almonds.

Homemade Almond Paste: Put the same amount of blenched and peeled almonds and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor with a blade. Mix very well. Add powdered coloring and mix well again. You can replace the almonds by any type of seeds. Transfer the mixture in a stand up mixer with a paddle attachment and add one egg white from a large egg. Mix well.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Work the paste by hand like you would for bread dough. Finally, refrigerate again for 15 minutes before using.

II. Modeling chocolate:
Combine melted chocolate with ½ its weight of corn syrup of glucose that has been warmed to the temperature of chocolate. Mix well. Place in an airtight container and let stand for an hour or more. Knead until it forms a workable paste.CakeDecoration1 Use it like marzipan.

III. Royal icing:

1Lb. Confectioner sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (for whiteness)
3 oz. pasteurized egg whites

With a mixer, whisk the ingredients until icing stands in soft peaks. Keep unused icing covered with a damp cloth or plastic film at all times to prevent hardening. If a crust forms take it off or it will clog you pastry tip.
Make a softer icing to write than for designs. The amount of egg whites depends of the desired consistency. This icing is also called “decorator icing”.

Ganache (same amount of chocolate and heavy cream) can be also used for writing on cakes and cookies.

Tasty Tuesdays — Beetroot Cupcakes w/Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

A lot of vegetables, like potatoes, carrots and zucchini, are used in cakes and breads. But I have not seen a lot of cakes made with beets. I love the taste and the color of this purple root. I decided to use it in this simple cake recipe. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin


Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 20 min
12 to 14 cupcakes or one 9” round cake pan

10 oz. (2cup, 275g.) All-purpose flour
½ oz. (11g, 2 heaping tsp.) baking powder
2 tsp. ground nutmeg (ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom)
1-cup (7oz, 200g) sugar
5 floz. (2/3 cup, 150ml) vegetable oil
4 large eggs
14 oz. (400g) raw beetroots (10 oz. grated, keep 4oz for decoration or to add to the frosting)IMG_4372

Preheat the oven to 355F. Peel and wash the beets and grate 10 ounces. In a big bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and spice. Mix the oil with the eggs,and pour into the flour mixture. Add the grated beets. Mix well but do not over mix. Pour the batter into muffin tins lined with paper cake cups. Bake for around 25 minutes. Check with a toothpick or a knife. It should come out clean. Cool before frosting.

8oz. cream cheese (can be goat cheese or mascarpone)
2 Tbsp. confectioner sugar
1 to 2 tsp. Orange zest
2 to 4  Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream with 2 Tbsp. confectioner sugar
Mix all the ingredients but the heavy cream until smooth. Whip the cream with the confectioner sugar. Add the whipped cream to make a lighter frosting and add some until a light consistency.

Info and tips:
The frosting can be flavored with basil, tarragon, lemon or any kind of herbs you like. You can make a chocolate frosting instead of the cream cheese frosting. You can add chocolate pieces to the beet cake. You can also mix carrots with the beets, but the color of the cake will change.
The beet plant originated from India, Mediterranean areas and the Atlantic coast of Europe, but today it can be found all over the world. In the past, beetroot was used as an ornamental plant. The root is usually red or purple, and it is cultivated mostly because of its high sugar content. In Europe beets are used to produce sugar. Beetroot can be used raw, cooked, or pickled. It is often used in salads, soups and stews. It can also be used for making wine.  Leaves of beetroot are also edible and taste like spinach.  In the past, beetroot juice was frequently used as  a dye. In the 19th century, women used it to dye their hair. The substance responsible for the purple color is called betanin. It is used in the food industry to improve the color and taste of desserts, jams, ice creams, jellies, tomatoes sauces, and cereals. You can also use beet juice to measure acidity. When added to an acidic solution it turns pink, but when added to an alkali it turns yellow. Betanin, in other forms, is also used to help treat depression.

Baker’s Blog: Swiss Butter Cream Icing

Much of the appeal of cakes is their appearance. Cakes are a perfect way for bakers to express artistry and imagination. A cake does not need to be elaborate or complex to be pleasing. A simple but neatly finished cake is better than an overdecorated cake that is done carelessly or without planning for a harmonious overall design. This is why we have taken the time to think and write down all the steps for the decoration of our birthday cakes. But before the decoration can begin, you have to assemble and ice your cake. So that’s just what we are going to do now with this buttercream and its flavors.

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin


Swiss Vanilla butter cream:
Preparation: 20 minSweetButterCream2
Cooking: 10 min
Yield: 2x9” cakes

5 oz. (2/3 cup) sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (340g.) butter cut in pieces
1 Tsp. Pure vanilla extract
1tsp. salt

Put the egg whites, the sugar and the salt in a heatproof bowl.  Put the bowl on a pot half-filled with simmering water.  Whisk constantly until the egg mixture is hot to the touch and foamy.  Take the bowl off the pot of the water and whisk with a hand mixer or with a stand up mixer with whisk attachment until it cools and becomes meringue consistency.  Add the pieces of butter little by little until all is incorporated and it looks smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and mix until combine. Increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy.

Chocolate: add 6oz. of melted bittersweet chocolate.
Butterscotch: substitute sugar with dark brown sugar.
Coffee: For 1 pound of Butter cream add: 2/3floz. Coffee flavoring or 1 ½ Tbsp. of instant coffee dissolved in ½ oz. (15ml) hot water.
Nutella or peanut butter: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of Nutella to the vanilla butter cream. Taste and add more if needed. Do the same with peanut butter or any other seed butter.
Extracts: (lemon, orange…) Add according to taste.

Cream cheese frosting:
Preparation: 15 min
Cooking: 0 min
Makes: 2x9” cakes

4 oz. soft butter
4 oz. soft cream cheese
2½ cups confectioner sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and the cream cheese until well combined.  Reduce the speed and add the confectioner sugar and beat until all is incorporated.  Then add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is fluffy.

You can add cocoa or powder coloring to the frosting. Adjust the consistency by adding some vanilla extract or some confectioner sugar.

Tasty Tuesdays — Creamy Green Soup

December was too warm to have snow for Christmas, but finally the cold weather is upon us. And what better to warm yourself than eating a hot, comforting soup. This is why I created this soup, which will give you plenty of vitamins and satisfy your tastebuds. Enjoy!

Recipe by Isabelle LapinGreenSoup1

Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 25 minGreenSoup2 12 adults portions

2 onions diced
2 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp. olive oil2 ½ liter (10-12 cups) chicken No chicken stock
4 cups celery sliced (1 cup= 2-3 stalks)
4 cups fresh spinach (12oz. bag= 5 cups)
4 cups zucchini sliced (1 cup= 1 zucchini)
2 cups fresh green peas (1pd peas in pod= 1 cup)
Salt and pepper
Basil for decoration

In a soup pot, sauté the onions with the olive oil, add the garlic. Let cook a few minutes until the onions look transparent, then add the stock. Put the spinach aside and add all the other vegetables in the pot. Let cook for 20 minutes uncovered and then add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes.  Blend the soup with a hand mixer or a blender.  Serve decorated with basil leaves.

Tips and info:
You can sift the soup if you don’t like the texture. You can serve it with a sprinkle of feta cheese and/or croutons. You can replace the zucchini with kale (2-3 leaves= 1 cup) and the peas with asparagus (2 cups= 5-6 spears). You can replace the stock with cubes and water.
The pea is thought to have originated from Middle Asia. The Romans grew over 37 varieties of peas. They are best grown in late spring. They grow on vines and farmers use bamboo cane to hold it. Field peas are used in factories for freezing.
England is the largest producer of peas that are used for freezing in Europe. One serving of peas has more vitamin C than 2 large apples. Hans Christian Handersen wrote the story of The Princess and the Pea in the mid to late 1800’s. Pea leaves are considered a delicacy in China. The pea is only green because it is picked when it is immature.  A ripe pea is more yellow in color.  Eating peas that are green became in fashion in the 1600’s and 1700’s but was described by the French as “madness.”
Dried peas are used to make mushy peas, which are famous as a side dish along side fish and chips in England. Peas can be eaten straight out of the pod.  It is estimated that over 9000 peas are eaten per person, per year in Britain.  The proper etiquette for eating peas is to smash them on the back of your fork.

Baker’s Blog — Birthday Cake: Yellow Butter Cake

During this last month of the semester, we are going to learn how to make from scratch a birthday cake and the flavored home-made French buttercream to the decorations that each student will create for their own cake. So, let’s begin the workshop!

Recipe by Isabelle LapinBirthdayCake2

Yellow butter cake:
Preparation: 20 minBirthday-cake1
Cooking: 25 to 30 min
Yield: 2x 9” cakes

1-3/4 cup sugar
2/3-cup butter
3 cups All-purpose flour
3-½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1-¼ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line two 9” pans with parchment paper, grease again and dust with a little flour. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl often. Add the eggs one by one. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the buttermilk and the vanilla. Beginning by the dry ingredients, add alternately the flour mixture and the buttermilk-vanilla mixture. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the liquid in 2 additions. Do not over-mix, but mix well between each addition. Bake until the top spring back when slightly pressed. Cool 15 minutes, and then flip over on a cooling rack.

Chocolate cake:
Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 25 to 30 min
Yield: 2x 9” cakes

6oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
2 oz. (2/3 cup) Dutch processed cocoa
1 ½ cup hot coffee
8-¼ oz. (1-1/2 cup) All-purpose flour
10-½   oz. (1 ½ cup) sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
4 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line two 9” pans with parchment paper, grease again and dust with a little flour.  Put the chocolate and the cocoa powder in a bowl.  Pour the hot coffee on it and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then whisk the mixture until smooth.  Put it in the refrigerator until cold.  Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. In another bowl whisk oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract.  Mix the egg mixture and the chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture and mix until smooth.  Pour in the pans and bake around 25 minutes, until the top is firm to the touch. Let it cool until completely cold before frosting.