To celebrate my new (to me) oven and the first snow of the year, I wanted to bake a kugel. I’ve never taken a bite of kugel, but I’ve known for a long time that I was destined to love kugel. And, I was right.
Somewhere in early life, I must have heard of kugels, but it didn’t register. Upon reading Miriam’s Kitchen (one of my favorite food memoirs), I started to dream about the possibilities of making a kugel, as Ehrlich notes, they “can be sweet or savory, crisp or creamy” (241). She explains, “A kugel is baked and substantial, mixed in advance, then left to the heat” and “my grandmother’s kugel had autumn in it: chopped apples and raisins, and sometimes walnuts and other times lemon zest or a dollop of orange marmalade melting into the beaten egg. It was like a toothsome crustless apple pie with silken noodles sauced in apple spice” (241). See what I mean?
I took the basics of my kugel recipe from Ehrlich’s and the one from Smitten Kitchen (I’ve plugged this blog often, and that’s because it is amazing). And, the glory of the kugel is the diversity of the dish. For example, this time I made more of a dessert-y kugel, but I’m already thinking of a savory kugel with butternut squash, walnuts, and hints of feta.
1 lb egg noodles (I used extra wide–made by the Ohio Amish)
8 large eggs (though you might try just six for less eggy-ness, especially if adding something like squash)
2/3 cup sugar (for a savory, I’d leave out sugar)
20 oz cottage cheese (I used lowfat because that’s what was in the fridge)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup dried apricots, halved
Preheat oven to 350. Be sure your pan is deep enough so that when the butter bubbles, it doesn’t spill over and burn like mine did (thankfully, the kugel was okay).
Cook the noodles until just soft. Don’t let them get mushy. Rinse and drain.
In a big mixing bowl, beat the eggs. While beating the eggs, add sugar, both kinds of cheese, butter, and spices. As you can imagine, having them already measured and ready to dump in is more than helpful. Stir in the dried fruit. You might also add nuts, if you like.
Pour into a large cake pan (no need to grease). Is is good if there are some noodles floating on the top, as they will crisp and become as irresistible as the peaks on a meringue.