L’shana tova! It is once again Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year. We celebrated on Sunday night with our usual Big Dinner. I tend to make the same foods each year- mashed potatoes, brisket, roasted chicken, steamed green beans and squash soup. This year I also made honey-ginger glazed carrots, spinach with pine nuts and raisins and noodle kugel. More on the kugel later.
We had many of our regulars and a few new faces. Some came from the next town over, one came from across the ocean. One person announced a pregnancy (not me, thank goodness! I’m all set for now!), another reflected on family bonds. One of my dear friends from high school arrived with a notebook full of memories that made us laugh and miss another friend who is no longer with us. Overall, it was a wonderful night, full of laughter, wine, love and yummy food.
I spent all day cooking. Plus juggling the two kids. It was not the easiest meal I’ve made. Usually my husband helps a bit but he was otherwise occupied this year. I have some pride that I got it all done! I even remembered to provide after naptime snacks.
I can’t believe it, but I did remember to take some photos.
Carrots, peeled and waiting for slicing.
Potatoes. They look so healthy. Just wait until I boil them and then add gobs of butter and cream. The result? Delicious and decidedly not healthy. At least for the body. I’ve been told that my mashed potatoes heal the heart and soul.
Chocolate, at the ready for….
…these strawberries, washed and waiting. When they meet? Heaven.
The main course wasn’t pretty but, oh, it was tasty. Every year I buy a bigger and bigger brisket and every year, I am left with nothing but the sauce.
Not pretty at all. But so, so yummy.
Ok, so the kugel recipe. Kugel is a traditional Jewish dish. It’s a kind of noodle pudding. Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes savory. If you use dairy in it, it’s often served to break the fast on Yom Kippur. The thing about kugel is that is it deceptively heavy. As you eat it, you think, “hmm, ok, this seems to be noodles and some cheese or some sort of creamy something. It’s ok, kind of yummy. No biggie.” However, it sits in your stomach and later you are left with a fullness that can only come from kugel.
After my grandmother died we sat shiva for quite some time. People brought us food, as is the tradition. Someone brought kugel and one of my cousins liked this particular type. She ate some. Over the course of the day, she had a few more servings. That night, as we were getting ready for bed, she was overcome with the heaviness. The kugel had sort of expanded in her stomach, taking up more room than it should. All she could do was sit in one spot and sort of grunt/moan, “kuuuuuuuuuuu-guuuuuuuuullllllllllll” over and over until it had digested a bit and she could go to bed. This has become a family joke. Try it- saying “kuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-guuuuuuuuuullllllllllll” in a sort of low, moaning way- it really does embody that over-full feeling.
So I had to make kugel, of course. I morphed a few recipes to make mine this year. I went with sweet rather than savory. The Rosh Hashanah meal is associated with honey and other sweets, eaten in order to ensure a sweet year to come. I give you my sweet kugel. Eat it sparingly, lest you have the kugel moans later.
1 package of egg noodles
1 cup of dark brown sugar, with 1/4 cup set aside
1-1/2 sticks of butter, melted
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese (this is not the place for low fat)
1- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch or two of salt
Boil water and cook your noodles. The package suggests 8-9 minutes. You’ll want them to be on the less done side- al-dente. They’ll cook in the oven with the custard so they’ll get a bit of liquid there.
While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter. Pour about 1/3 of it into a baking dish. I used a 9×12 dish. Spread it around the bottom and sides. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the brown sugar on the bottom, covering evenly.
Press the pecans on top of the sugar, again, covering evenly. I may toast the pecans before I do this step the next time I make this, just for some added crunch.
Drain your noodles (did you forget about them?) and then mix them with the rest of the melted butter. I do this in the cooking pot since it’s big enough to hold everything.
Drained and waiting for butter bath.
In a medium bowl mix the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, cinnamon and vanilla. If you like that sort of thing, a bit of lemon or orange zest might be nice here.
Mix the diary into the noodles and make sure it’s all incorporated.
At this point, if you can stand it, you should taste (for those of you with an aversion to raw eggs, don’t taste this.) and adjust the seasoning. Mine needed a little bit more salt. It also needed a little bit more sweet so I added that last 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Once it’s all mixed, spread it into the pan, on top of the butter/sugar/nut mixture.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and fifteen minutes. You want it to be crispy on the edges but not overdone- if it gets too dry, it’s really gross.
Let this cool for about fifteen minutes before you cut into it. The sugar/butter/nut mixture will sort of harden and become sticky. If you know that everyone is going to eat it at once, you can flip it over onto a platter and have a very pretty dish. Otherwise, cut into squares and serve from the pan.
It was such a wonderful night. All the kids were really well-behaved and had a great time playing together. They didn’t want it to end- neither did I.
I went to bed feeling full of hope for the new year. I wish you all a wonderful year to come, filled with sweetness and… as a loyal reader is fond of saying…enough. Peace.