Sometime last week the kugel popped up on my Facebook. Seems someone didn’t know what it was. A day later, the daughter asked me for my kugel recipe. Shocker, that she would. After all, she never liked it as a child. I used to always tell my children that just a taste would do, so they would, taste that is. I also told them that their tastes can change and so it was always important to taste, to see if in fact, their tastes did change. This was viewed with skeptical eyes, but apparently tastes can change, as evidenced by this request.
So, who doesn’t know what a kugel is? This really isn’t that easy of a question to answer, because there are about a million ways to make it. A kugel is a pudding or casserole made from noodles. Unless it is made from potatoes. Ah, you see, that is the first question to ask when making a kugel. If one keeps kosher than a noodle kugel, which is made from dairy products, can’t be served with meat, where as a potato kugel which is made from potatoes, eggs and oil could. Unless it is my Omi’s potato kugel which does not contain eggs and is not for Passover. Do you see the mishegas (craziness in Yiddish), when it comes to explaining kugels? So… A noodle kugel can be savory or sweet. It can be served for dessert, or with the main course, and some eat it for breakfast.
My mom always made a savory kugel. It was a dairy kugel which she always served with roast beef. I know. BUT! We didn’t keep kosher. Savory kugels are made without sugar. They can contain everything from onion soup mix to mushrooms, to caramelized onions, to zucchini. They are good. But another but! I like mine better. I like them a little sweet. And though I would never serve a kugel for dessert, I do like them with a meal.
Often one finds sweet kugels with every variety of fruit. This year I saw a recipe for a caramel apple kugel. And my friend posted a pineapple kugel. And one year I made a Jerusalem kugel which is a caramelized sugar and black pepper kugel, that is unique and outstanding. But this isn’t what I often do. I make a semisweet kugel and serve it with dinner. In this case a roast chicken. Not kosher, I know! However, for breakfast, I heat a slice up and eat it with a dollop of my favorite jam. Total delish!
Kugel is comfort food in a Jewish home. Well, at least it was in my home. Their are a zillion ways to make it and they are all good. It is the perfect company dish because it makes a lot. Since there are just two of us, I did freeze quite a bit for future meals. You can Google kugel and find recipes out the yin yang. They are simple and quick to make. They are kind of like a Jewish mac and cheese, which my friend Shulie so eloquently mentioned.
So when to eat kugel? Well, Saturday which was was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, our day of atonement, is the perfect day. A serious day, spent sitting in temple atoning for our sins. Remember, I told you about Rosh Hashanah? Well, 10 days later is Yom Kippur. We fast from sun down to sun down, so it is common when breaking the fast, to serve breakfast type foods. Every year we get together with friends and eat lox and bagels, my frozen cheese souffle, tuna fish, fruit and plenty of dessert. One could also serve blintzes or a noodle kugel. Yes, we have brinner!
So there you have it. Noodle Kugel in a nutshell. Or not. But anyway you cut it, this is Jewish comfort food, at its best!
Time to Make: About 20 minutes
Time to Bake: About 1 hour
12 oz bag wide egg noodles
1 t salt for boiling water
6 T butter (divided)
4 oz cream cheese
1/3-1/2 c sugar
1 c sour cream
1 lb small curd cottage cheese
1 t vanilla
1/2 c raisins or other dried fruit, plumped in 1 c of hot water if fruit is dry
1/2 c to 1 c cereal, like cornflakes to crush for topping
Boil noodles in salted water for no more than 7 minutes, because you will be baking this and do not want them overcooked. Drain and return to pot and toss with 3 T of the butter. This should melt!
In a large bowl, by hand or with mixer, combine cream cheese, 3 T melted butter and sugar. Beat until somewhat smooth. Add eggs, sour cream,cottage cheese and vanilla and fruit if using. Stir well, until all is combined. Add noodles and mix well.
Generously butter a 13×9 pan. You could also bake this in a smaller pan and have a thicker kugel. Scoop noodle mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top. Crush cereal between hands over noodles, until the kugel has crushed cereal over the top of it. Dot with butter. Place in preheated 350 oven for about an hour or until it feels firm and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. A thicker kugel may take a few more minutes.