Believe it or not, I remember my bris. I know I was less than a week old when it happened, but it seems strange that any man would forget the day a complete stranger comes along and slices off a bit his schmeckle. I guarantee there were tears, a little blood, some prayers, bagels, wine, and I probably screamed like a little girl. Besides, I can still smell the kugel my mother made that special day; anyone ask for a side of kugel with their foreskin? That day I sacrificed a little bit of myself—would have been more if we had the older mohel; you know, the one with shaky hands— and in return, I got my first whiff of the best kugel I’ve ever had.
It doesn’t matter if we were mourning the death of a loved one and sitting shiva, or celebrating Thanksgiving with friends; my mother’s noodle kugel is so good, it always finds it’s way into the lineup.
In addition to the occasional snip of the tip, I make her kugel at Rosh Hashanah, for birthdays, with potato latkes on Hanukah, for breaking the Yom Kippur fast, school graduations, piano recitals, work potlucks, Summer Solstice, or just because– whether we were happy or sad, in large groups or small, the event is Jewish or secular; her sweet creamy noodle kugel is an edible delight that can’t be beat.
What’s so special about this kugel, and why does it always have a cameo at every memorable occasion? Because it’s just that awesome! It can be served hot or cold, and can be prepared in advance until you’re ready to serve. It’s easy to transport too. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, like an Eastern European cheese Danish, thanks to the tangy sour cream and tart citrus soaked raisins inside, making it the perfect dish to pair with a “light” bagel and schmear buffet, or heavy beef brisket bonanza.
A Pyrex of her infamous sweet noodle kugel is the perfect anchor to any food spread, and the best part is….it’s super simple to make! Why else has she been making it for over 40 years? It’s straightforward and full of eggs, sugar and butter without the frilly accouterments like corn flake toppings, canned fruit cocktails, or shredded zucchini. Yuck!
The only earth shattering thing about it is that it’s not actually my mother’s original recipe. I know! Shame on me. Recently I asked her for the recipe, and she informed me that it’s actually from Renny Darling’s Joy of Eating cook book and she’s been using Renny’s recipe for decades! No matter where it originated from, it will always be my mother’s kugel.
The Best Noodle Kugel Recipe
- 8 oz (½ lbs) medium egg noodles cooked and drained
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- 1 pt sour cream
- ½ cup of whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup yellow raisins soaked in orange juice over night until plump and drained
- 2 tbslp cinnamon & sugar mix (50/50 of each)
Preheat the oven to 350°
Melt the butter in a 9×13 inch Pyrex or glass pan and then add the cooked and drained noodles. Gently massage the noodles around in the pan until they’re all coated in the butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, and salt until well combined. Pour this liquid over the buttered noodles.
Sprinkle the plumped up orange juice soaked raisins on top of the noodle and eggs. Then dust the top with sugar and cinnamon mixture.
With a spatula, gently press everything down until you have an even layer across the top. This will help ensure everything bakes at the same rate and cooks all the way through.
The noodle kugel should bake for 1 hour and when it’s done, the top should be golden brown. Some of the noodles sticking up will be a little crispy, which is okay, because that’s the best part.
Let it cool completely so it can stiffen before you cut into it and serve. Can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.