Slovenian American cooks were practical. They didn't waste food.
In that spirit, I decided to put together a dessert for my Week 41 Dinner, using leftovers.
The leftover in question: An opened box of chocolate-covered matzo. Languishing in my pantry since Passover. Six months old. Begging to be used.
Granted, the key element in this dessert did not exactly qualify as Slovenian.
Chocolate-covered matzo is a Passover novelty, probably designed with Jewish children in mind. It is an amusing way of circumventing the austerity of unleavened bread, without violating the dietary laws.
For six months, a box of the stuff had been sitting in our pantry. It had quite a pedigree.
According to the package, the matzo itself had been baked in Israel. The dark chocolate mint coating was added in New Jersey. I purchased it in California, just before Passover. I planned to send it to our journalist son in Kosovo, along with some homemade mandelbrot.
But the package never arrived in Kosovo.
Eventually, the lost package re-appeared on our doorstep, looking much the worse for wear.
Inside, my homemade Passover mandelbrot had survived intact. But when when I opened up the commercially made box of chocolate matzo, it was a sorry sight.
Unfortunately, I had failed to address the package properly. I should have sent it “via Albania” or with the address written like this: Pristina (Kosovo), Serbia.
Kosovo as an independent country still has a murky status, at least in some quarters. So the package was intercepted in Serbia, where the post office folks sent it back to California, with a stamp that referred to "an unexpected situation.”
It gives “the politics of food” a whole new meaning.
Meanwhile, I had a box of matzo crumbs and minty dark chocolate flakes. But I hated to throw it away. So there it sat, growing stale in a drawer.
On Week 41, I was seized by a peculiar inspiration. I would turn that aging chocolate matzo into an impromptu dessert. I had in mind a sweet kugel, a traditional Jewish pudding that is made with noodles or, at Passover, with crumbled matzo. You can crush the matzo yourself or purchase the prepared variety, called matzo farfel.
A sweet kugel is something like a dense bread pudding. So I figured it would be easy to inprovise a recipe. How could I go wrong?
Lost Kosovo Kugel
1-¾ c. crumbled chocolate covered matzo
2 c. lowfat milk
½ c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
pinch of salt
butter for dish
Soak the crumbled matzo in milk for 10 minutes to soften. Stir in the sugar, a pinch of salt, and the beaten eggs. Bake in a buttered 6x9 ceramic dish at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
I don't know what went wrong with this.
My husband was blunt. He did not like it. “It takes so eggy.”
So? It was supposed to be a sort of eggy custard. Nothing wrong with that.
But he was right. Something was amiss. The kugel was watery. The egg seemed to have coagulated in a strange way. Maybe it was the mint flavoring.
But we dutifully ate it in small portions, over the next week. On that final night, I agreed: it had developed a strange eggy taste.
This is one Slovenian-Jewish fusion dish that won't be repeated.