Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dave Lieberman's Noodle Kugel

Dave Lieberman's Noodle Kugel
(photo from The Food Network)
When I visit the home of my friend Catherine Golden, she often serves traditional Jewish foods for holidays and celebrations.  I laugh when I consider myself her "token Irish Catholic friend" - realizing that is not, at all, the case.  Catherine has friends of all denominations, and many, many of them!  Her home is one with doors open to everyone, and she is always a gracious hostess whether it is a party of fifty or one person knocking on her door.  Anyway, the one dish Catherine always insists I try (in addition to anything with her prize-winning jam!) is kugel, a pudding of sorts with noodles in an egg custard.  It is delicious!  In researching on-line recipes for noodle kugel (Dave Lieberman's recipe from The Food Network follows - gorgeous photo above, to the left), I learned quite a bit.  I went to that unofficial replacement for the now almost-defunct Encyclopedia Brittanica (sad), Wikipedia, and learned:

"The name of the dish comes from the German Kugel meaning "sphere, globe, ball"; thus the Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the round, puffed-up shape of the original dishes (compare to German Gugelhupf — a type of ring-shaped cake). Nowadays, however, kugels are often baked in square pans. There is a common association of this word to the Hebrew k'iygul ("as a circle"), but this is a folk etymology.
The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel.  Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common in today's dessert dishes. In Poland, Jewish homemakers added raisins, cinnamon and sweet farmer's cheese to noodle kugel recipes. In the late 19th century, Jerusalemites combined caramelized sugar and black pepper in a noodle kugel known as "Jerusalem kugel," which is a commonly served at Shabbat kiddushes and is a popular side dish served with cholent during Shabbat lunch.

In Romania, this dish is called Budinca de Macaroane/Paste Fainoase(Maccaroni/Pasta Pudding), and it is a traditional Romanian dish. In certain villages throughout the country it is known as "Baba Acolo". It is made with with or without cheese, but it most always includes raisins.  Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese.

Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish (Jews of Eastern European descent) homes, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holidays or at a Tish. Some Hasidic Jews believe that eating kugel on the Jewish Sabbath brings special spiritual blessings, particularly if that kugel was served on the table of a Hasidic Rebbe.

While noodle kugel, potato kugel, and other variations are dishes served on Jewish holiday meals, matzo kugel is a common alternative served at Passover seders which is adjusted to meet passover kosher requirements.

A similar Belarusian dish is potato babka.Amongst South African Jews, the word "kugel" was used by the elder generation as a term for a young Jewish woman who forsook traditional Jewish dress values in favor of those of the ostentatiously wealthy, becoming overly materialistic and over groomed, the kugel being a plain pudding garnished as a delicacy. The women thus described made light of the term and it has since become an amusing rather than derogatory slang term in South African English, referring to a materialistic young woman."
This may be more than you ever wanted to know about noodle kugel, but I believe knowing the history of a dish informs our perception.  It provides respect for tradition and gratitude for the passing-down from one generation to the next those things that define a culture.  With the world becoming smaller and smaller, and cultures expanding to incorporate each others' food traditions, the world has become a more delicious place!  This recipe is the highest rated of any I found on the Web, so expand your horizons, or revisit your Bubbie's kitchen, and give it a try!

from the Food Network Kitchens

1/2 pound wide kosher for Passover egg noodles
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 pound cottage cheese
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
*my friend Jane suggests sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on top before baking - says it helps give a nice, sweet, crunchy crust!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil the noodles in salted water for about 4 minutes. Strain noodles from water. In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles with remaining ingredients and pour into a greased, approximately 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Bake until custard is set and top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.


Recipe and Photo:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dave-lieberman/noodle-kugel-recipe/index.html

History of kugel:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel


  1. Looks Yummy! I have never tried Kugel, I will definately have to some day soon.

  2. I am going to try it for Passover! Thanks for mentioning me in this lovely article. Your pal, Catherine

  3. Noodles are not eaten during Passover, unless labeled "kosher for Passover" and made without flour.

    1. Yes, that's why this recipe uses "noodles for Passover." Thank you for your comment!

  4. I made this for our Easter brunch and it was terrific! I'll be making it again, that's for sure!

  5. Passover kugel can be made with matzoh soaked to soften and then drained, pressing the water out. I learned this recipe years ago at a recipe swap ( quantities of fruit, cinnamon and eggs can be adjusted to taste):

    8 sheets matzoh, soaked and drained
    4 apples, grated or sliced thin
    4 oz raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
    4 eggs, beaten (can separate or beat all together if in a hurry)
    1 Tbl ground cinnamon
    1/2 to 1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup melted margarine

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg yolks with sugar. Mix in (mixing well after each addition) margarine, then cinnamon, then matzoh, then apples with raisins. In clean bowl beat egg whites to soft peaks, fold into matzoh mixture. Bake in greased 1 and 1/2 qt casserole or 2 8-inch square foil pans,for 45 minutes.

    1. Thanks so much Elitza! Very happy to add your recipe to my collection! I'll be sure to try it next year! And thank you for taking the time to comment - very much appreciated!