My grandmother had a kugel for every occasion. It seemed that she never went anywhere without a kugel. Every time she arrived with a kugel, my dad would quip, “Have Kugel, Will Travel," after the TV show, "Have Gun, Will Travel."
Shabbat dinner before a Bar Mitzvah? Grandma brought a kugel. A bris? There’s a kugel for that. A bridal shower? One for that also. Surgery or measles, mumps or chicken pox. Yup — a kugel that soothed a sick tummy or sore throat.
Kugels were there for any and every event in our lives and I remember many of them with love and some sadness that my grandmother never wrote down a recipe for anything. If someone asked her how she made one of her kugels, she always said, “A bissel this, a bissel that.”
Mostly, I remember the sweet kugels Grandma Minnie made for Rosh Hashanah. Some with wide, homemade ribbons of lochshen, others with tiny thin, threads of noodles. Some were dairy, others were savory and salty, all were heavenly.
It’s true that our memories are often colored by the passing of time, so I wonder if I have raised those kugels to a standard that they may not have met. And then I talk to my cousins. All of them, near and far react the same way. “No one made kugels like Grandma. Remember the one she made…” for this holiday or that holiday?
Perhaps it was her homemade noodles, or her bissel this, bissel that method, or the eggs that came straight from the chicken man or the love she felt for all of us. Or, maybe, they really were just that delicious.
Cinnamon Apple Kugel (Parve)
12 ox. medium egg noodles
1 stick trans-fat-free, pareve margarine
7 extra-large eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, to taste
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1 generous tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or rice milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Optional: 1/2 to 1 tsp. apple pie spice; 3-4 cups peeled, chopped apples, Cortland, Granny Smith or your choice
2 to 3 cups cornflake crumbs, gently crumbled
1/2 stick trans-fat-free pareve margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
OPTIONAL: 1 cup raisins
Cook the noodles according to instructions until just barely al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and mix with the melted margarine.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugars, cinnamon, almond milk, vanilla and salt. Add the apples and mix well. Pour the egg mixture over the noodles and mix well. Pour into a well-greased 3 to 4 quart Pyrex-type or ceramic baking dish.
Place the cornflake crumbs in a bowl. Crush gently with your hand. Add the melted margarine, sugar and cinnamon and toss gently to mix well. Sprinkle evenly over the noodles place in the oven. Rest a piece of aluminum on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 25 to 35 minutes or until golden and a knife, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. Serves 12 easily.
Apricot Kugel with Ginger and Almonds (Pareve or Dairy)
12 oz. medium egg noodles cooked al dente and drained
6 Tbsp. trans-fat-free, pareve margarine, melted
2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
4 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
2 cans (15 oz. each) apricots in syrup, not water, drained, sliced
4 cups corn flakes slightly crushed
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 stick, pareve, non-hydrogenated margarine or butter
3/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350.
Cook the noodles until al dente, drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and add the melted margarine. Mix thoroughly.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and add the ginger, almond milk, sugar, extracts and mix well. Add the apricot slices and mix. Pour into a well-greased, 9x13 glass casserole dish. Set aside.
Place the cornflakes in a bowl and crush lightly. Add the margarine and sugar and mix. Add the almonds and toss to mix. Spread evenly over the noodles.
Place in the oven and place a piece of aluminum very lightly on top. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Watch closely. If the cornflakes begin to burn, recover with the foil. Serves 10 to 12.
Mushroom, Leek and Onion Kugel (Dairy)
For a decadent taste, add a bit of schmaltz to the onions as they caramelize.
12 oz. medium egg noodles
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 stick trans-fat-free, pareve margarine, cut in half
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 red onion cut into quarters and then into thin slices
4 to 8 garlic cloves
2 to 3 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 pound assorted mushrooms, white button, baby Portobello, Cremini, etc.
4 extra large eggs
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley minced
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced
1 to 2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp. black pepper
1 to 1-1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 stick trans-fat-free pareve margarine
Cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Set aside.
Melt half of the margarine in a large frying pan. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When melted, add the onions. Cook until the onions are golden. Reduce heat and cook until mahogany colored. Watch closely and stir often with a wooden spoon. If the onions stick, add a tablespoon of water and scrape up the browned bits. When the onions are done, transfer to a bowl.
Add the rest of the margarine and oil to the pan and add the red onion and the leeks. Cook until softened and lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and stir until they begin to give off their juices. Cover and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Add the noodles and mix well. Add the onion and mushroom mixtures and mix until completely blended.
Grease a 3- or 4- quart oblong glass baking dish. Pour in the noodle mixture.
Melt the margarine and mix it into the bread crumbs. Add the parsley and spices and mix well. Pour evenly over the noodles and bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, 50 to 75 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
VARIATIONS: Add one-half cup of dry red or white wine to the mushroom mixture while cooking. Reduce the liquid by half before adding to the noodles.