Chasing the memory of a perfect noodle kugel
I have such nostalgia for noodle kugel, specifically the one my father’s mother used to make it. This is particularly notable because she wasn’t much of a cook, though her kugel was really quite good.
My grandfather loved to ask us about the kugel. “Can you guess what’s in here that makes it special?” “Orange,” we’d sigh. We had been down this road before. “Orange!” he’d say triumphantly, finger poking into the air. He never seemed to notice our lack of proper admiration for this smart addition to a plain old kugel. Now I get it.
For this recipe, I tested kugel after kugel for months, chasing the memory of my grandmother’s. And I finally got the kugel I was searching for. However, there is a punchline to this story of nostalgia and food. When I made it for my mother, after finally feeling like I had nailed it, she said to me: “You know your grandmother never made that kugel. Her housekeeper did.” Apparently I have nostalgia for my nana’s housekeeper’s kugel. I think I’m OK with that.
This kugel can be baked up to two days before serving; reheat it in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes or so. You also can make the kugel and refrigerate it unbaked for up to a day, then bake it just before serving.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for buttering the pan
1 cup raisins
Grated zest and strained juice of 1 orange
12-ounce package wide egg noodles
6 large eggs
6 ounces cottage cheese
2 cups sour cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch (or large round) baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine the raisins and orange juice, then set aside to soak.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the orange zest, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Add the plumped raisins and up to 1 tablespoon of any juice remaining in the bowl.
After the noodles have cooked and been returned to the pot, add the butter in pieces and toss until melted. Add the cottage cheese mixture and stir gently until well combined. Transfer the noodles to the prepared pan. Bake until a bit bubbly around the edges, well set and pretty well browned, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
If desired, increase the oven to broil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and crunchy on top. Transfer the kugel to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. It is great warm or at room temperature. Serves 16.
Per serving: 300 calories; 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat; 43 percent calories from fat); 31 g carbohydrates; 16 g sugar; 145 mg cholesterol; 150 mg sodium; 9 g protein; 1 g fiber.
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