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I can remember passing through the Hasidic neighborhood of Me'a She'arim in Jerusalem as a teenager and first seeing the mahogany-brown wedges of Yerushalmi (Jerusalem) Kugel. Curious, I bought a slice of the still-warm Sabbath delicacy, and was hooked. Unlike any noodle pudding I had tasted before, this one featured a sophisticated interplay of sweetness and peppery bite, with a subtle toasty flavor thrown in for good measure. The taste is surprisingly easy to recreate at home; all you need is a sure hand and the confidence to make a quick caramel of oil and sugar. Just when you think you've got your sugar dark enough, cook it a minute longer--you'll see and taste the difference in the results. If you burn the caramel, start over--the second time's often the charm. Although many American adaptations call for baking the kugel in a regular casserole dish, I prefer to bake mine in a soup pot or Dutch oven with less surface area, which creates a higher, denser end result. Continue reading for recipe.
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