I worked with a brilliant art director, Howard Greenberg, when I was a food editor for TimeInc. Howard was always ready with a witty remark and obscure facts about French New Wave cinema; he was as well-versed in TinTin adventures as he was in contemporary American poetry. And he could sit in my office or on photo shoots and talk for hours about good home-cooked food, particularly his mother Helen's during Passover and Hanukkah.
One Passover, he shared Helen's recipe for matzo farfel pudding. It was old-school with canned mushrooms and condensed chicken soup. We tried it in the test kitchens with a few updates -- using fresh mushrooms and homemade chicken stock. As one test kitchen chef put it: "It ain't pretty but it's addictive!" I've made it often, and here in Alaska I like to add in some grated zucchini and lots of fresh chopped parsley to the mix. It's good as a snack, side dish, or a meal with a green salad.
Here's a lightened-up version that's great for any time of the year. (Make sure to buy kosher matzo if you're making this for Passover.)
Matzo farfel pudding
3 tablespoons vegetable or avocado oil
1 cup white or yellow onion, minced (1 small onion)
3/4 cup diced celery (about 2 ribs)
1 small zucchini, grated (optional)
4 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces matzo farfel, broken up with your hands
2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade (or low-sodium store-bought)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
For serving: chopped fresh parsley and hot sauce (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 11-by-7-inch baking dish; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onion and celery about 8 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and sauté until just golden; stir in zucchini, if using. Let mixture cool slightly and stir in matzo farfel.
2. In a medium bowl, combine chicken stock and next four ingredients. Add to matzo mixture and blend thoroughly. Pour into lightly greased baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving with fresh herbs and hot sauce, if desired.
Kim Sunée ate and lived in Europe for 10 years before working as a food editor for Southern Living magazine and Cottage Living magazine. Her writing has appeared in Food & Wine, The Oxford American and Asian American Poetry and Writing. She is currently based in Anchorage. Her most recent cookbook is "A Mouthful of Stars." For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com.