Don’t make bricks when you should be making kugel

Like many of us, I’ve eaten my share of gloppy, indiscriminately sweet noodle kugels at holiday lunches and bar mitzvah brunches. I’ve also had kugels that resembled bricks.

Then I had the kugels made by my friend Karen Bloom. Hers were light and fluffy, tasty and varied.

Her cousin Nina Yellin has written two kugel cookbooks and Bloom has based several of her creations on Yellin’s recipes. She recommends whipping the egg whites separately and folding them in last.

I took her advice with the first recipe below, which is adapted from Yellin’s latest cookbook, “Kugel, Knishes, and Other Tasty Dishes.”

The second recipe draws on Sephardic influences — including toasting the pasta to add extra flavor.

Cinnamon Bun Kugel

Serves 8-10

8 oz. medium wide egg noodles

3 eggs, separated

1⁄2 pint sour cream

1⁄2 lb. cottage cheese

1⁄2 cup milk

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 cup chunky applesauce

11⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

4 Tbs. butter

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

heaping 1⁄3 cup roughly chopped pecans

1⁄3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain noodles. Beat yolks and mix with sour cream, cottage cheese, milk and sugar. Combine applesauce with 1⁄4 tsp of cinnamon, add to egg yolk mixture. Mix in noodles and combine. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into noodles. Melt butter and pour into 8×8 baking pan, coating the sides as well. Scatter remaining cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans and raisins on bottom of pan. Stir. Pour noodle mixture into pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until kugel is firm to the touch. Invert on platter to serve immediately or serve out of pan.

Baked Fidellos Tostadas With Sephardic Flavors

Serves 10

oil spray

12 oz. angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch pieces

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin

1⁄2 tsp. ground oregano

1⁄2 tsp. ground thyme

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1⁄4 tsp. saffron threads

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp. lemon zest

1⁄2 cup chopped parsley plus extra for garnish

6 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 tsp. smoked or regular paprika

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking pan(s) with oil spray or grease with olive oil. Spread broken pasta pieces out in a single layer. Toast in hot oven until lightly browned, turning over often. Cook in boiling, salted water until just cooked. Drain.

Set oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, sauté onion until golden, add garlic, sauté 1 or 2 minutes, add cumin, oregano, thyme, salt, black pepper and pepper flakes. Sauté 1 minute and then add in carrots, celery, and red and yellow peppers. Sauté until vegetables are browned then add the tomatoes with liquid, chickpeas, stock and saffron threads. Simmer until vegetables are just cooked. Mix in lemon juice. Combine with cooked pasta. Add in lemon zest and 1⁄2 cup parsley. Taste and correct seasonings. Mix in eggs. Spray or grease a 10×14 baking pan. Pour pasta mixture into pan. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until lightly brown and firm to the touch. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Faith Kramer
is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].