Mom’s Noodle Kugel

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power and need for tactile comforts, especially at a time when hugs and even handshakes are beyond arm’s reach. Words are wonderful, but there is an irreplaceable power of physical, tactile, body-centred comforts that I imagine we are all craving right now, no matter our circumstances.

Perhaps its why we’ve been so keen to stick our hands into dough or dirt these last several months. The need to squeeze things. Hold things. Feel something within our hands that equally ignites and soothes our senses with its steady solid presence.

Kugel is steeped in tactile comforts; the creamy custard, soft egg noodles, crispy edges and crunchy bits of noodles on the top layer. Rather than a google search, I thumb through my grandmother’s old recipe collection, the box I inherited from her when she passed, to find what I was looking for; fishing out the recipe my mother hastily wrote down for me on her first solo trip to London, some twelve years ago.

The paper itself is crinkled from water stains and food splashes, having sat on my kitchen counter in our old flat for months after she left before I finally decided to tuck it away for safe keeping. A reminder of her presence that I can hold between my fingers. It is here. Just as she was. And will be once again. Another tactile soother.

Lokshen (meaning ‘noodle’) kugel (meaning ‘ball’) is a traditional Ashkenazi dish – its name and origins from Germanic roots. Variations of this particular dairy version are often served around the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), where according kosher laws it would be served without the presence of meat on the table.

Whether religious or not, this dish, the smell, texture and taste, is the stuff of childhood nostalgia for many Ashkenazi Jews like myself. It’s associated comfort can stem from the ritualised eating during the early autumn holidays or just from the turn of the season as we begin craving more warming, belly-filling foods amidst the cooler, darker days. Its rich, creamy, butter-coloured mouthfuls of reassurance are scattered with explosive bursts of sweet joy.

Joy and reassurance are what we all need right now, and in as many ways as possible. Wishing you an abundance of both; enough to share with someone else who needs it.

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Mom’s Noodle Kugel

Author adriennekatzkennedy

Equipment

  • 1 9×13 inch or 22 x 33cm pyrex or glass pan

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (500g) wide, short, flat egg noodles (pappardelle or tagliatelle broken up works in a pinch if none else are available to you)
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or approx 113g) butter I prefer salted
  • 2 x 6oz tins (435g) pineapple rings, cut into chunks and reserve juice
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar *omit if using pineapple juice as sweetner instead*
  • 11/2 cups (240g) full fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup flour

Instructions

  • Cook noodles according to packet and drain.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/165C
  • Over a low heat, melt your butter, then add a tablespoon or so to the bottom and sides of your baking dish, to insure noodles don't stick.
  • In a large bowl, combine eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, melted butter and 1/2 cup of pineapple juice or the equivelant of sugar and stir to combine. This will be the custard for your dish. Add in pineapple chunks and flour and stir again. Then, stir in your drained noodles to create an evenly dispursed batter.
  • Tip the mixture into your greased pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until set and top noodles golden and crispy.
  • Rest for 15 – 20 minutes or so before cutting into squares and serving. This dish can be served warm, room temperature or cold but I prefer it warm.

Notes

*This is a slightly different version of my mother’s original recipe. I’ve tinkered with it to add in the sour cream and more pineapple to make it creamier than the original version, and include bites of sweetness from the fruit so the sugar could be eliminated if desired. Beware: like a lot of other Ashkenazi foods, this is a very rich dish, so this can easily feed 8 people if not more!
One of the wonderful things about kugels is their flexibility.
For her original version, simply halve the pineapple, remove the sour cream and use the 1/2 cup of sugar, omitting the pineapple juice.
It’s interesting to note the addition of flour in this dish, that I haven’t seen in other noodle kugel dishes. Again, something to be played with if you desire.
 

About The Author


adriennekatzkennedy

Eat. Drink. Wander. Think. Write.

3 Comments

  1. I’m going to try this. I know your mom from our group of women who lost their husbands in about 2017. Mom shared the recipe with the group.

    1. Nice to meet you, Marcia! I hope you enjoy making the kugel and it brings you warmth and comfort.

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