|Dave Lieberman's Noodle Kugel|
(photo from The Food Network)
"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!
DAVE LIEBERMAN'S NOODLE KUGEL
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
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