Whenever she came to visit us in Palo Alto, my grandma Mildred would make her incredibly delicious potato kugel. It served as a powerful magnet for my friends, who were on “kugel alert,” especially on Fridays, when she would make a fresh batch. My dear friend Heather Henriksen had a particularly close relationship with my grandmother, who would summon her to our house with just a few words: “Heather, I made kugel, come over, I saved you a corner.” The two of them would sometimes sit in the backyard kibitzing for hours, and later Heather would recount stories that some of us in the family had never heard ourselves.

One in particular has become the stuff of family legend. Mildred and my grandfather Jack Sussman, who died before I was born, lived a modest, hardworking life. Jack was a printing “jobber,” serving as a middleman for anyone needing triplicate receipts and business cards, and my grandmother worked as a bookkeeper. Money was tight, and when they became engaged in 1933, an engagement ring was out of the question. As my grandma told Heather, on their twenty-fifth anniversary, they went out for dinner and, as he always did, Jack came around to help her out of the car on the passenger side. He opened the door, then promptly dropped to one knee, proffering a modest diamond ring. “Mildred,” he said. “It’s been twenty-five years since we got married. Isn’t it about time we got engaged?” My grandmother’s special gift was just that: She had a special story, an inside joke, and a somehow endless supply of crispy kugel corners for those who wanted—and needed—them the most.

From SHABBAT by Adeena Sussman, published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright @ 2023 by Adeena Sussman.


Serves 12
  • 8 medium russet potatoes (4½ pounds), peeled
  • 2 large onions, halved
  • 6 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or potato starch

  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cookware Used
Hot Dish
9 x 13-Inch Ceramic Casserole Dish
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Holy Sheet
Nonstick Half-Sheet Pan
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Stir Crazy
3-Piece Nested Mixing Bowl Set
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  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Grate the potatoes and onions on the large holes of a box grater or using the large shredding disc of a food processor. Place the grated potatoes and onions on a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Transfer the grated vegetables to a large bowl and mix with the eggs, 1/3 cup of the oil, the flour, salt, and pepper, ensuring the potatoes are evenly coated. If you don’t mind tasting raw egg, taste the batter to make sure the salt level is to your liking.
  3. Place a 9 × 13-inch or 10 × 14-inch ceramic or metal baking dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Add the remaining 1/3 cup oil to the baking dish, place it in the oven, and heat until the oil is very hot, 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven, stir the batter, gently spoon the batter into the dish, and spread it out evenly, making sure not to splash the hot oil. If some of the oil comes up the sides, use a spoon to carefully spread the hot oil over the top of the kugel. Return the kugel to the oven and bake until the exterior is very crisp and deep golden brown, 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. (It might seem like it’s taking forever for the top to brown, but it will!) Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and sprinkle with more salt, if desired. Serve hot, warm, or cold out of the fridge the next day, when it might remind you slightly of a piece of Spanish tortilla española.

From SHABBAT by Adeena Sussman, published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright @ 2023 by Adeena Sussman.