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Now That's Usin' Your Noodle: A Short Course in Kugels

September 21, 2011
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Wikipedia defines a kugel as a baked pudding or casserole -- its roots are Ashkenazi -- similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen kugel) or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry or sweet potato.

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."

Here are two sweet kugels for you to try.

Raisin Farfel Kugel

2 cups farfel 
6 eggs, beaten 
1/2 cup raisins 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 cup white sugar 
2 Tbsps. ground cinnamon 
4 Tbsps. margarine

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

Soak farfel in water 10 minutes. Drain.

Add beaten eggs into the bowl of farfel, and let stand 10 minutes.

Stir in raisins, salt, sugar, cinnamon and margarine. Transfer mixture to prepared dish.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Serves 6.

Individual Peach Noodle Kugels

Everyone likes a good sweet noodle kugel at Rosh Hashanah time. Serving it in individual portions makes for an elegant presentation and helps with portion control for the dieters at the table.

nonstick cooking spray 
1 Tbsp. sea salt 
1 bag (12 oz.) yolk-free wide noodles 
6 eggs 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 can (8 oz.) pineapple chunks, with juice 
1 can (15 oz.) diced peaches, with juice 
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries 
4 Tbsps. margarine 
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon 
2 Tbsps. sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Fill a large pot with water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt.

When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook, as per directions on the package until al dente.

If using ramekins, spray each one with nonstick cooking spray.

While the noodles cook, crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and the juices from the cans of pineapple and peaches.

With an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Add the pineapple chunks, diced peaches and cranberries. Stir with a wooden spoon.

When the noodles are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Add the margarine and allow the heat from the noodles to melt it; stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the pot and toss to combine.

Ladle the noodle mixture into the ramekins or parchment cups. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon with 2 tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the top of each kugel. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes.

Makes 9 individual kugels.

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