Classic Cheese Kugel
If your bubbe didn't make the best noodle kugel, now you will!
In Jewish cooking in America, lokshen kugel (noodle pudding) is typically made as sweet dairy casserole with a combination of cheeses, sour cream, sugar, and eggs. It is often eaten during the Days of Awe, the ten days from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, to Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. But there is no reason this delicious casserole could not be enjoyed any time of year, at any meal, at any temperature. It's perfect for breakfast with some fresh fruit, lovely for a crowd at brunch, satisfying with a salad at lunch or for a light dinner, and it's sweet enough that it works as a dessert. If you've never had kugel and you want to give it a try, this is the one to make. Other options: a savory Caramelized Onion & Poppy Seed Kugel or a perfectly modern mashup "Carrot Cake" Kugel!
Equipment: large saucepan, stockpot, or Dutch oven; colander; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; food processor; large mixing bowl; fork; rubber spatula; casserole
1, 12-oz. package medium egg noodles
1 cup sugar, minus 2 tablespoons (reserve the 2 tablespoons for the topping)
¼ cup melted unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the casserole
6 large eggs
1½ cups sour cream
½ pound (8 ounces) cottage cheese
½ pound (8 ounces) farmer cheese
1 pound cream cheese, softened (at room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the baking dish thoroughly with butter and set aside.
2. Cook the egg noodles in a pot of boiling water until just tender, then drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent them from sticking together, and drain again. Set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine the scant cup of sugar, eggs, sour cream, cottage or farmer cheese, cream cheese, optional vanilla, and salt. Blend the custard for at least 1 minute until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
ILOC tip: if you can't find farmer cheese, just do a full pound of cottage cheese instead. If you prefer farmer cheese to cottage cheese, then skip the cottage cheese altogether. Don't really want to use cream cheese? No problem, just use 1 pound each of cottage cheese and farmer cheese. The bottom line: you need two pounds total of any combination of cottage, farmer, and cream cheeses, using all three or only two of the three cheeses. It's your kugel, so you make the call.
4. In a large bowl, combine the noodles with the custard mixture, tossing to coat well.
5. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish.
6. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the crushed corn flakes. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the kugel.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes, or until the corn flake crumbs are golden brown and the kugel has set.
ILOC tip: wiggle the casserole back and forth to see if the kugel jiggles. If it does, the kugel is done. If the kugel is a little runny and doesn't jiggle, then it needs more baking time.
8. Remove the kugel from the oven and allow to cool slightly - or thoroughly - before serving, depending on preference.
Makes 12-16 servings.