Today's recipe is for lokshen kugel, Yiddish for noodle pudding. I made it for the English as a Second Language class graduation potluck at my library on Tuesday, in honor of last week's Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Among other customs related to Shavuot, it is traditional for Ashkenazi Jews to eat dairy foods.
Ashkenazi means someone of Eastern European heritage. In my case, my roots are in Poland. My father was from Poland. My mother's father was born in England, but his parents were from Poland as well. This will be important in a minute.
Back to the lokshen kugel. A kugel is a sweet or savory pudding, usually with eggs and mostly with noodles. Savory kugels, such as onion or potato or broccoli, are made without dairy products in order to be served as a side to a meat main dish. Sweet kugels can be made with or without dairy products, and served for dessert. If you plan to serve a sweet kugel cold, I strongly suggest dusting with the optional cinnamon-sugar mixture since cold tends to dull the sweetness a bit.
The traditional Jewish-Polish-style sweet kugel, like today's version, is traditionally made with raisins, cinnamon and cottage cheese. The cardamom isn't a traditional Jewish spice, but I tossed some in because it is a sweet spice that enhances the taste of the apples.
|Diced apple, not tofu. Shoulda made tinier dice.|
Sometimes a sweet kugel also contains fruit. Mine has diced apple mixed in to make it healthy. It also contains sour cream, because the cottage cheese and stick o'butter didn't make it rich enough. But if you cut the kugel into 16 tiny squares, it magically becomes diet food and you can eat 3 or 4 servings without any guilt.
Yield: 8 hearty dessert or 16 polite party-size servings
1 (12-16 ounce) bag wide egg noodles (curly or flat)
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
1 cup (1/2 pt.) sour cream
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped or diced
1/2 cup dark or golden seedless raisins
optional topping: 1 tsp. cinnamon mixed with 1 Tbl. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large (up to 13x9-inch) baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions for a soup or casserole (about 7 minutes; do not overcook). Drain over sink; run cold water over noodles for a few seconds to stop the cooking, then drain again. Transfer noodles to prepared baking pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl stir together the cottage cheese, sour cream and melted butter with a wooden spoon. In a small mixing bowl lightly whisk eggs, then whisk in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (if using), salt and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into the cheese mixture with the wooden spoon, then stir egg-cheese mixture into noodles.
Add in the diced apples and raisins; gently mix with the wooden spoon until noodles are completely coated with the egg-cheese mixture and fruit is evenly distributed.
Cover pan loosely with foil. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve kugel hot, or cold evenly sprinkled with cinnamon sugar topping if desired.