Many of my Polish grandmother’s recipes date from the time she was sent to Germany to live with an aunt and uncle after her parents died.
The German relatives forced her into a servitude out of the Brothers Grimm. Because of the extraordinary physical demands put on her body, Grandma Rebecca did not reach puberty until she arrived in America in 1911 at age 17, her passage paid for by older sister Anna.
But in Germany, she did learn to cook, and there developed an abiding passion for sweet-and-sour foods, often using gingersnaps as flavoring for dishes like carp, stuffed cabbage, and simple fruit desserts.
In this variation of one of her kugels, I combine tangy crystallized ginger with caramelized pears to mirror the sweet-and-sour gingersnap topping.