Hanukkah at Home (Kugel)
The origin of this kugel recipe comes from a cookbook my family has had for so long, cooking from it is one of my earliest memories. Open to the very first page and you’ll find a stunning illustration of a Star of David and a cross sitting together atop coiling leaves and trumpets doubling as cornucopias. Scribbled over the ornate design are intentional but erratic strokes of purple crayon, my own contribution to the 1977 publication. The next page is free of childhood scrawlings but it’s yellowed and frayed at the edges, the first of many pages coming loose from the binding. This page reads, “Let Us Break Bread Together: A Recipe Collection Presented by Members of Faith United Methodist Church and Temple Sinai.”
While the religious institutions now have their own homes, they shared a single roof when this collection was published in 1977, just steps from the house I grew up in. The house where one holiday season, as we lit our menorah under the light of the Christmas tree while my Chinese sister sat at the head of the dining room table reading aloud the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa she’d learned in school that day, we laughed at what archaeologists a thousand years from now might think if the moment were frozen in Pompeii-like time. Hardly a pluralist place of worship or a progressive religious commune, but rather, a cozy Vermont homestead where parents with divergent heritages share their favorite traditions, stories, and foods, and allow their offspring to iterate however comes naturally.
The kugel recipe my family makes today strays significantly from the original. We’ve tinkered and toyed with it for years now, adjusting it to the fam's preferences--more custardy than noodle-y, a little less sweet, a frosted flake crust, and a totally streamlined process. It's to the point now that anyone who has ever expressed doubt when I've presented "sweet noodle pudding" with dinner, has promptly considered converting to Judaism after taking a bite.
We still pull out the ramshackle cookbook every time, knowing precisely the changes we'll be making, but always giving a nod to the recipe’s heritage.
Kugel (serves 5-7)
8 oz. egg noodles
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ block (4 oz.) cream cheese
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups Frosted Flakes
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook egg noodles in salted water until very al dente. Drain.
3. Beat all other ingredients together until combined, then fold in cooked egg noodles.
4. Bake covered with tin foil for 30 minutes in a round casserole dish.
5. Remove from oven and top with Frosted Flakes, crushing them slightly with your hands. Return to oven for another 20 minutes, uncovered.
6. Allow to sit at least 20 minutes before serving. Delicious warm or cold!