Embarrassingly, I know very little about the Festival of Lights, other than what I learned from Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song". But, being pretty food-focused in my life, I do know about kugel and that it is traditionally served at Hannukah.
I had only tasted kugel once, in college, courtesy of my part Catholic, part Jewish roommate. (This is a great denominiation combination; for example, while she was married in a traditional Catholic church ceremony, we also got to dance the Hora at the reception!). And I loved the kugel ... and remembered it after 25 years ... and then managed to remember to ask the roommate for a recipe before Hannukah arrived so I could share it with you.
My roomie shared two different kugel recipes with me: one sweeter, more of brunch casserole, made by her aunt, and one less sweet, more of a side dish, made by her grandmother. (Wheeeee! Family recipes!) I asked her which she liked better and she chose the sweeter one, telling me, "It tastes a bit like French toast."
Done and done. Mr. Ninj loves French toast.
As with many recipes that get handed down, sometimes the ingredients can be challenging to find, unless you can make a common substitution (I have a great vintage recipe that calls for Oleo, so I just use butter). This particular kugel recipe calls for "two small boxes of egg custard."
After four different grocery stores and a handful of "do-you-think-this-one-would-work?" text messages to said roommate, I ended up using Jell-O brand custard pie filling mix. Whether or not that is "egg custard" no longer matters to me; it worked.
Result? The roomie was right. The kugel is very reminiscent, taste-wise, of French toast. It is a very sweet, filling casserole -- but oh so delicious, a dense custard shot with buttery noodles and a crunchy, cinnamony top.
|Right out of the oven!|
Not to mention that it is easy to make: boil up some noodles and then mix them with all the rest of the ingredients, pout it all into an 9 x 13 casserole dish and bake for an hour.
We debated about whether or not the kugel would freeze well; she told me she had no idea about the freezing because she always managed to eat it all, picking at it for breakfast every day for a week. I assumed I would have a lot left over, given the size of the recipe.
Let's just say it does reheat well every single day! But do let me know if you're a stronger person than I (and the roomie) and are able to not eat it all and freeze some.
Hannukah time or not, I think noodle kugel is going to become my new go-to breakfast casserole recipe for feeding a crowd.
Thanks, Auntie Nanci.
Auntie Nanci's Noodle Kugel
8 ounces egg noodles
8 tablespoons butter, melted (I put the butter in an oven-safe bowl and melt in the oven while it preheats)
1/2 cup sugar
16 ounces cottage cheese (I used low-fat)
3 eggs, beaten
2 boxes egg custard (I used 2 2.9-ounces boxes of Jell-O Cook & Serve Custard Pie Filing)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup golden raisins
2 cups milk (I used skim)
cinnamon sugar, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Put the noodles back into the same cooking pot and add the remaining ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar). Stir until combined and pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish; top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for one hour.