When I decide to cook, I often tend to go big. Really big. Big batches to use for quick pick up dinners or to snack on. Generous portions to freeze for a lazy supper or to make for my Dad so he has one less meal to prepare. The phrase, "cooking for an army", comes to mind. I like to look at it another way: as practice for when my boys turn into teenage always-hungry-eating-machines!
Kugel is one of those meals where it really does pay off to make a big batch, because if you don't, there might not be any left over for you to eat! Noodle kugels are usually a home-cooked specialty, but seem to be a staple in any Jewish deli menu or restaurant around the world. Kugels can be made using a variety of ingredients including potatoes, cabbage, matzah, root vegetables, and my personal favorite, egg noodles.
I am a huge fan of sweet dairy noodle kugel, preferably studded with apples or dried fruit. The noodles create a solid and toothsome texture to what is essentially a pudding, but the blend of dairy products with egg is the star. Eggy, custardy, and sweetened with sugar, this is a dish that can be eaten for any meal at any time. The addition of sweet golden raisins and tart cranberries provide a delicious counterpoint to the rich filling.
This recipe is very flexible. Add the dried fruit, or leave it out. Swirl in cinnamon and chopped nuts or leave it plain with just the brown sugar and butter topping, as my own Mum would make it. This is one of my family's favorite recipes and a variation on the one that I grew up eating. Sweet Noodle Kugel with Cranberries & Golden Raisins will not fail to tempt you!
Sweet Noodle Kugel with Cranberries & Golden Raisins
Recipe from the secret vaults of my Mum!
Makes a very (very) generous 16 portions, or 1 large lasagna pan
1/2 pound of medium sized egg noodles, cooked according to the bag's instructions
2 cups milk
16 ounces cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces farmer's cheese
1 package of block cream cheese (8 ounces)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
For the Topping
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat your oven to 350F. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs and white sugar until well combined, about 3-5 minutes. In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the eggs and sugar are beaten, add the farmer's cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, 4 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla, salt, and cream cheese. Mix well. Add the milk and stir to combine.
Combine the cooked egg noodles and the dairy mixture in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the dried fruit, if using. Carefully pour the noodle mixture into a large lasagna pan.
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar into a thick paste. Dot the noodle mixture with the brown sugar paste and swirl to slightly combine.
Cover the lasagna pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan for the last 30-40 minutes of baking, watching carefully for over browning. You want to see crispy bits, but not any blackened bits!
The kugel will be done when the custard has set and the surface is lightly browned.
Allow to stand for 20 minutes before serving. This dish is delicious whether served warm, room temperature, or cold.