My mother was famous for her noodle kugels, a dish requested for every family gathering to either break the Yom Kippur fast, gather for a birthday brunch, or, heaven forbid, contribute to the buffet table after a funeral. Her kugels were exceptionally light and fluffy, owing to her use of little o-shaped egg noodles about the circumference of a dime, instead of the more traditional wide egg noodles. Her description of their fluffiness was a Yiddish word I’ll try to transliterate – “poochkie” – with the “oo” pronounced like the “oo” in “look”, and the “ch” pronounced like the “ch” in “l’chaim”. Try saying that a few times and you’ll make it your own, or at least clear your throat.
The noodle kugel I’ve been making since the original recipe first appeared in Gourmet in 1994 is also poochkie, as a good kugel should be. It should never be weighed down by the filling holding the egg noodles together. Like a great lasagna or mac & cheese, it should be soft in the mouth and bursting with flavor.
The original recipe was called “Orange Current Noodle Kugel” and was described as a traditional part of Jewish sabbath and holiday meals. Sabbath I would question, since a traditional meal would be meat or chicken, not be be served with a dairy side dish. Gourmet also suggested this would “work well as a dessert.” No way! This is a combination of sweet and savory elements – a side dish I love to serve with the salmon croquettes we’re having tonight.
ORANGE-SCENTED NOODLE KUGEL
(adapted from Gourmet, February 1994)
ready for the oven
8 ounces wide egg noodles cooked al dente and drained
1-1/3 cups light sour cream
1-1/3 cups Breakstone 2% fat cottage cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar divided
5 Tbsp unsalted butter melted and divided
1 T grated orange zest (or 1-1/2 t dried orange zest, which I like to keep on hand)
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t cinnamon divided
1/4 t kosher salt
1 large crisp apple such as Gala, Granny Smith, or Macoun, peeled and coarsley grated
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional for those who dislike raisins)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 2-quart square baking dish.
Put drained noodles in a large bowl. Add the grated apple and raisins, if using. Combine sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs, 6 T of the sugar, 4 T of the butter, orange zest, vanilla, 1/2 t of cinnamon, and the salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over the noodles and combine well. Pour into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. Combine remaining 2 T sugar and 1/4 t cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle with reamining 2 T butter. Bake in center of oven 40-45 minutes until cooked through and golden.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares for serving. Can be made in advance, chilled overnight, and reheated. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.