I doubt my husband is unique in this, but food is a big deal to him. And few things seem to make him happier than serving him his favorite meals. So, to please him, I try to make his favorites as often as possible. But one particular favorite has been my nemesis from day one of our marriage.
When I first met him, he introduced me to his favorite food: kugel. This gentile had no idea what it was, and he was all to happy to introduce me to it.
Kugel is a kind of noodle casserole, but unlike our typical American potluck types. Some call it a pudding (in the British sense). It’s a dairy meal for Jews, with lots of eggs, cream, and butter. There are a few different versions out there, but Dan’s family serves an Ashkenazi variety. It includes raisins, cinnamon, and apples. This is all combined and baked into a casserole dish and served as either a savory dish or dessert (oddly enough, it works for both).
When we got married, Dan’s mom gave me the recipe, which I’ve faithfully tried to reproduce for years, only to end up with an oily noodle glop that doesn’t stick together. It’s been a serious embarrassment, given that this is his favorite Jewish dish, and I, the gentile, can’t seem to figure it out. But it hasn’t stopped me trying, for nearly 10 years of marriage.
Dan has been very patient and supportive as I put various incarnations of kugel before him. He never knows what it will turn out like, but he’s always enthusiastic to try it. Most don’t stick together. Some congeal in odd ways. Some drip with oil.
Not only have I been serving him bad kugel, I also have issues with the healthiness of this meal (which is only an issue because we eat it so often). Egg noodles, eggs, sugar, sour cream, and butter make up its main components. Not exactly a recipe for health.
So, over the past few years I’ve been tinkering with ways to make it healthier. With the advent of whole wheat egg noodles, I use those. And I cut back on the butter and use plain yogurt instead of cream.
And go figure, but a few short months after we have Lizzy and my cooking generally goes to pot, my kugel miraculously firms up and tastes good. And I reproduced it last weekend!
I have finally conquered the kugel. And I’m happy to share my recipe, to all three of you interested in making it. But really, it’s quite good. And you don’t have to feel too bad about eating it anymore, with this version.
Amy’s Kind of Healthy Kugel
6 eggs (can use egg whites if you lack taste buds and think it’s healthier)
1/3 cup sugar + 1 tbsp (divided)
½ cup plain yogurt (I prefer a little fat, but it’s fine with nonfat…once again, a taste bud issue)
¼ cup butter melted (can substitute fake butter but I have serious issues with that stuff)
1 bag whole wheat egg noodles (usually around 12 oz)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins
1 medium to large apple chopped fine
Heat oven to 350.
Boil noodles until cooked al dente. Mix eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, yogurt, and butter. Add to drained noodles. Fold in raisins and apples.
Pour in 8×8 casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Cook covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 10-15 minutes until top is lightly browned. Let cool a bit before serving (firms up a bit more).