Rosh Hashanah: Discovering the World of Kugel

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My stepfather Mark is Jewish and since joining our family, my dad has basically become Charlotte from Sex and the City (when she marries Harry, a Jewish man and converts). And I totally mean this in the best sense, don’t get me wrong!

But anyway, this is all to say that my dad has embraced Jewish holidays… Or at least the cuisine of Jewish holidays.  And I may be an atheist but I am intrigued by other religious traditions (especially when it comes to food). Over the past year +, we’ve made some great Jewish classics including chicken liver, potato latkes, and matzoh ball soup!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Jewish Classics

But besides those dishes, I’m not well versed in Jewish food culture (especially during High Holy days like Rosh Hashanah). Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year is this week (it ends tomorrow) and I thought I’d take this opportunity to learn more! I am not very knowledgable about Judaism and have tried to learn about the food traditions of this holiday from friends and reliable internet sources, but please, correct me if I’m wrong on anything! I’d love to hear your own Rosh Hashanah meal traditions as well!

In the Fisher-Kamchi household, my dad and stepdad made brisket, potatoes and matzoh ball soup with an apple honey cake for dessert. These are traditional dishes served during this holiday — dates; pomegranates; black-eyed peas; leeks and spinach (along with apples and honey, which I’ll discuss another day) are symbolic and common foods. I’m still very intrigued with all these foods and meals! Someone teach me more.

Now, originally I was just planning on making a dessert (which I’ll bring you in a few days), but in my scouring of information, I came across Kugel… a dish that I’ve heard about but never knew what it was! It sounded so interesting I had to make it. And in typical Kati fashion, I could not just make one Kugel… I had to make two!

Traditional kugel is an egg noodle casserole that can either be made sweet or savory. Many recipes I was seeing were adding not only sugar to a noodle/egg/dairy mixture, but also crushed pineapple or cherry pie filling on top… frankly, this whole sweet pasta thing seemed odd at first. I can understand adding raisins and spices (like cinnamon and nutmeg), but not some of these other wackier additions… but to each his own (maybe one day I’ll have some awesome homemade kugel like this). Anyway, I wanted to try this sweet noodle based kugel! By the way, I am loving the Shiska in the Kitchen’s blog! She has a great history on kugel.

Interestingly something I learned — if you’re keeping kosher you’re not supposed to eat diary and meat at the same table, so serving a noodle kugel like this beside a brisket would be a no-no… again, intrigued!

I followed Ms. Shiska’s recipe and used a mixture of cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream along with eggs and sugar, but I added a little applesauce, raisins and some nutmeg and cinnamon, which I thought would be good compliments. I added this to my cooked egg noodles and popped it in the oven. Simple enough!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Kugel for Rosh Hashanah

And you know what? I’m a fan! It’s really good. It’s a little like a bread pudding to me (my only reference point ha!), which I love and the sweetness was just right! I’m a convert!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Kugel for Rosh Hashanah

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Kugel for Rosh Hashanah

And just for good measure, I also made a potato kugel, equally delicious!

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Kugel for Rosh Hashanah

I love learning about new foods and traditions and his little trip into the food world of Jewish High Holy days, while brief has been very fulfilling… but there’s still so much to learn! What are your Rosh Hashanah meal traditions? Potato or noodle kugel? Sweet or savory? I’d love to know! L’Shana Tovah

Rosh Hashanah: Discovering the World of Kugel
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raisins (optional) - you may substitute other fruits like craisins, dried chopped apricots, or chopped drained pineapple
  • 12 oz wide egg noodles
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 lb sour cream (2 cups)
  • 8 oz cottage cheese (1 cup)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (1 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Cinnamon and sugar for dusting
  • Nonstick cooking oil spray
Instructions
  1. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Cover the raisins with hot water and let them soak to plump while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles to the pot, bring back to a boil, and let them cook till tender (not overly soft), about 5 minutes. Drain and return the cooked noodles to the pot.
  3. In a food processor or blender, mix together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar, melted butter, and salt.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the cooked noodles in the pot and stir till well combined.
  5. Drain the raisins and pat dry. Stir them into the noodles.
  6. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking oil. Pour the noodle mixture into the dish.
  7. Top the kugel by sprinkling generously with sugar and lightly with cinnamon. Alternatively, you can use your favorite kugel topping (streusel, crushed graham crackers, cornflakes, etc.).
  8. Bake the kugel for about 60 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, till the center of the kugel is set and the tips of the noodles turn golden brown. Remove from the oven.
  9. Let the kugel rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Kugel can be served warm or cold.

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