Monday, January 17, 2011

The Great Kugel Debate of 2011

When I decided to throw a bagel and lox brunch I went to the source for a noodle pudding recipe or as it seems to be more commonly referred to amongst the goyem - kugel. By telephone, My Yiddishe Mama handed down to me the following recipe.

Now it is very large. You can freeze the leftovers. 16 ozs medium noodles. [Egg?] I don't know. They're medium noodles. It says on the package. One pint sour cream. A few years ago I started using low fat. I never told your father. 6 eggs. 3/4 of a pound cream cheese. Again, low fat. 1 cup of sugar. I use less than that. The original recipe says to hold back 1/4 cup of sugar for the topping but I still use less and I do something different with the topping. 1/2 lb butter or margarine. I use margarine for your father. You're going to melt this. So start boiling the water for the pasta and while doing this - beat the eggs and sour cream together. You can do this in a big pot or a big bowl but it has to be big enough for the noodles. Add the sugar and melted butter and mashed cream cheese. Oh, before you boil the water for the noodles take the cream cheese out of the fridge and let it soften so you can mash it. Then add the 3/4 cup sugar, melted butter and mashed cream cheese to the eggs and sour cream. The noodles should be ready now so drain them, splash them in some cool water and add them to the mixture. Coat the noodles and empty the bowl or pot into a 13 x 9 pan. You know the large square pans. They sell those tin foil ones at the supermarket. Make sure you grease the pan first. Butter or margarine. I use margarine for your father. Now, the topping. Crush 1/2 cup corn flakes and mix it with 1/4 cup of sugar that was saved from before and some butter or margarine. Spread this over the top of the noodles. Over the years, I realized Frosted Flakes works just as well so that is what you have been eating. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for about an hour.
As my brunch guests and I were enjoying the mildly sweet kugel we started wondering what the word meant. See, my mother called the dish we were now eating noodle pudding. There was another savory dish she had baked often that we referred to as potato kugel; that was served with pot roast. So was kugel a Yiddish word for a noodle dish? Was it a Yiddish word for a potato dish? Did it have to be sweet OR savory? Or was the word actually a more high-level word for a dish with a lot of carbohydrates - although I'm sure the Jews in the town of Anatevka didn't choose their foods based on the protein or carbohydrate count. We might never have known the answer had one of my guests not told us that he happened to have a Jewish cookbook in the car. Always prepared, he returned with the book and read:
Kugel is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole [Ed. a dish with a lot of carbohydrates!], similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles or potatoes. The name of the dish comes from the German kugel meaning "sphere, globe, ball"; the Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the round shape of the pot in which the food was baked. Nowadays, however, kugels are often baked in square pans.

Even Max got a bagel!

So, that was the pronouncement at the great kugel debate of 2011. And, in more traditional form, this is the recipe for my mother's noodle pudding now rechristened (although that might not be the right term for a Yiddish-themed blog entry) Noodle Kugel.

Large Noodle Kugel

freeze leftovers

16 ozs medium (egg) noodles
1 pint (low fat) sour cream
6 eggs
3/4 lb (low fat) cream cheese
1 cup of sugar (3/4 c and 1/4 c.)
1/2 lb butter melted
1/2 c. corn flakes
pat of butter

1. Take cream cheese out to soften
2. Boil noodles
3. Beat eggs and sour cream together
4. Mash softened cream cheese
5. Add 3/4 c. sugar and melted butter to mashed cream cheese
6. Mix everything together
7. When noodles are done mix them in
8. Pour mixture in a greased 13 x 9 pan
9. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and butter pat with crushed corn flakes and sprinkle on top (or use frosted flakes)
10. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for about an hour

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