New England Noodle Kugel

 noodle kugel with cranberries

Tinkering with my grandmother’s recipes feels a bit like suggesting to Mozart that he might have been off a note or two. 

But even when I follow her recipes to the letter, the dishes never come out quite like Nannie’s.  And it’s more than the ambiguity of her pinches and dashes, I swear there was some kind of alchemy in her little kitchen. What is lost in translation from generation to generation is a long-standing mystery.  Even my Nannie had trouble, she could never quite manage her mother’s babka and it plagued her for decades!  

noodle kugelWhich is why it’s perhaps not really sacrilege to mess around with Nannie’s noodle kugel.  Although Nannie’s kugel was the iconic holiday dish of my childhood, who’s to say it can’t be just as tasty with a twist? I’ve certainly messed with the recipe before. The year we studied in France, my college friends and I endeavored to treat our host families to our American classics. Sasha’s mom sent her a packet of Old Elpaso seasoning so that she could make tacos, and Bonnie’s dad mailed a bag of Tollhouse morsels for chocolate chip cookies.  But for my host family, I attempted my Nannie’s noodle kugel. No easy task, let me assure you.  As I tried to explain the concept of cottage cheese to the woman at the fromagerie, I began to understand what I was in for.  And when I found that there was no translation for kugel or for casserole in my French-English dictionary, I did my best in calling the dish a pudding, confusing my host mother to no end. But after a few tentative glances, my host mother took a bite and was entranced; and better than that, my little host sisters gobbled up the kugel.  Maybe it was the creme fraiche or the tangy cheese, but Nannie’s kugel had morphed into something distinctly French, and a hit with French toddlers.

noodlesAnd with a bit of spice and berries, this kugel has once again been transformed. Nannie’s version was heavy on the butter, sugar and raisins.  But the hint of spice and the brightness of the dried berries makes this kugel not just a side-dish but a perfect brunch star all on its own. And when we devoured this kugel after a day of fasting for the Yom Kippur holiday, even my picky brother and nostalgic mother agreed, everything (even kugel) tastes better with a bit of rum!

This recipe marks my first entry into FoodBuzz’s Project Food Blog.  New England Noodle Kugel epitomizes me and Cozy, Delicious… a bit nostalgic, a bit funky, and 100% tasty.  The voting starts on Monday the 20th so please head over to FoodBuzz to vote for me!

noodle pudding

New England Noodle Kugel

Serves 12-15

18 ounces (about 1 1/2 packages) wide egg noodles

2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/4 cup dried blueberries (optional)

1 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons spiced rum

2 cups reduced fat cottage cheese

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

3 tablespoons milk

6 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

pinch of ground cloves

3 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the noodles in boiling water until almost tender (you want them slightly undercooked).  Drain and rinse the noodles in cool water.  Meanwhile, soak the cranberries and blueberries (if using) in the hot water and the rum for at least 15 minutes, then drain.  Stir together the cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, and eggs.  Add in the cinnamon, ginger and cloves and mix well.  Toss the noodles with the cottage cheese mixture. Spread into a buttered 9 by 11 inch baking pan.  Dot the top of the kugel with bits of butter. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the kugel is set.

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm  Comments (24)  
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24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Really interesting flavors in this kugel. And the rum too? A twist on the traditional for sure, but it makes sense.

  2. Send this to Ocean Spray. It was certainly very yummy!

  3. What a wonderful way to break your fast. It is also a perfect entry for Project Food Blog competition. You will do well if this post is any indication. I hope you are haing a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  4. I loved reading this post; I am picturing your grandma (it would be have been nice to include a photo too); this kugel sounds wonderful with the fruits included! It reminds me a bit of the Armenian fresh noodle dishes, except a lot more festive.
    I will vote for you Katy.

    • What a great idea! I will have to scan some old photos – I have no digital pictures of Nannie.

  5. Love this kugel version. I made one last night and it is SO hard to photograph but the recipe is SO good! love connecting w/you!

  6. I can’t wait to make this! I’ve never had kugel before and it looks fabulous, kind of like a bread pudding but with noodles instead. Good luck on FoodBuzz. You’ve certainly got my vote.

    • Funny, I never thought of it that way, but that is exactly what kugel is – bread pudding but with noodles! Which makes me wonder if banana chocoalate chip noodle kugel could work, since I adore banana chocolate chip bread pudding!

  7. I loved reading the story about your French kugel. 🙂 This recipe sounds delicious, I really love the dried fruit in it. Best of luck in the competition!

  8. mmmm, such a taste of fall and New England! I love the texture and smoothness of egg noodles, delicious!

  9. Not an easy task for sure, however, what’s for sure is that your Nannie must be very proud of you to be honouring her this way ;o)

    Good luck in the competition 😉

    Ciao for now,

  10. That looks so delicious, and very comforting too.

  11. I’m a huge fan of this recipe! Thanks for the post–definitely bookmarking it

  12. […] Is Open! In my last post I talked about an updated version of my grandmother’s traditional noodle kugel. This simple […]

  13. What a beautiful, classic blog. I love the line about tinkering with your grandmother’s recipes. What a healthy respect for food! You have my vote, good luck!

  14. Thanks to PFB for leading me to your blog! Your story about introducing your host family to kugel is super cute and I can only imagine the confusion on their faces until they finally tasted the result. You definitely have my vote and good luck to you in the competition!

  15. Great recipe and family tradition. Thanks for sharing.

    Plan B

  16. I love noodle kugel for a variety of reasons–but it cleverly straddles being both a sweet and savory dish. Dried berries are a nice addition. Best wishes for success in the competition–I’ll head over there now to vote.

  17. hey ya! you have a lovely blog here. Stumble upon your blog through foodbuzz. 🙂 I voted for your blog. hope that helps. feel free to drop by!!

    have a lovely weekend
    jen @

  18. wonderful kugel dish you got here 🙂 i think i might have missed voting out for you for round 1 but will definitely make it this time. congrats for making it to round 2 and here’s hoping we both get to the third 🙂 cheers!

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  22. […] Kugel is, of course, a holiday tradition. And New England Noodle Kugel with drunken cranberries is even more […]

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