It’s Country Comfort food for the Cohns of Carroll County
Written By Amy Landsman Photography by David Stuck
When Stephanie Cohn wants to fill her home with the aromas and memories of traditional Jewish comfort food she knows just where to turn: She has a whole notebook of family favorites collected by her mother.
“They’re always the ones we’ve had at family get-togethers,” Cohn explains. “They’re so good!”
Three years ago Cohn and her husband, Jeremy, settled in the Carroll County community of Hampstead. They’ve since added to their family; they’re the parents of Jonah, 2.
Stephanie, who is from South Florida, works in Columbia for Enterprise Community Investments; Jeremy, a Reisterstown native, works for the Social Security Administration.
“I’m not a snow person,” says Cohn, laughing, but she’ll take quaint Carroll County over hot and crowded South Florida any day.
When the Cohns are in “good planning mode” they prepare meals the night before, so everything is ready to go when they get home from work. But most of the time, major cooking waits for weekends.
“I have a whole book of recipes that my mom labeled ‘Tavss Family Favorites,’” says Cohn. (Tavss is Steph- anie’s maiden name.) Cohn’s mother gave similar notebooks to her two sisters as well.
“A lot of (the recipes) are desserts. We like desserts!”
When her grandmother died three years ago, Cohn’s mother found many of the original hand-written recipes among her possessions. Her mother still has the originals and gave copies to her daughters. That’s “really special too,” Cohn notes.
On cold, winter days, the Cohn family can warm up with these hearty old-time favorites.
Challah Cheese Strata (Dairy)
This is a great brunch dish. Cohn uses a glass baking dish, but any 9-by-13 casserole dish or pan will work.
1 1/2 loaves of rectangular challah, sliced
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
butter or margarine, melted
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the crust from the bread. Spread butter or margarine on both sides of the bread. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with the bread. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bread. Add another layer of bread. Spread vegetables over the bread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until browned.
Tavss Family Noodle Kugel (Dairy)
This classic is rich and soothing. The mixture may seem soupy before baking, but it cooks up nice and firm.
8 oz. egg noodles
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 lb. margarine or butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups milk
1 cup corn flakes
1 cup raisins, yellow
Cook the egg noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Put the raisins in a small bowl; pour a little boiling water over them to plump them up. Drain after a couple of minutes.
Warm the milk in a microwave. Do not boil. In a large pot, over low/medium heat, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla. (An immersion blender works well.)
Beat the eggs, add to the cream mixture and stir. Return the noodles to the original pot and add the cream/egg mixture, the milk and the raisins. Carefully pour mixture into a greased 9-by-13 glass dish. Sprinkle corn flakes over the top. Push them down a little so that the liquid comes over the corn flakes a bit.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes.