Comfort Food - Kugel

Kugel is a dish that was introduced to me by my close and dear friend, Paul Goldstein. When I was a young man, we were roommates and shared a place together in the upper Bronx. I had just returned from Vietnam and, admittedly, my interests were in good drink, chasing the ladies, and having fun. Paul, on the other hand, apart from his many talents, was a good cook. See, Paul is the archetypical Renaissance man: he is a sculptor, writer, artist---and a damn good carpenter to boot. One of our culinary mainstays during those days was kugel.

For those unfamiliar with it, kugel is a Jewish casserole that may be served as a side dish or a dessert. The word itself comes from the German. It means "ball" or "round." The dish was given this name because of the small round pot in which it was cooked. As noted, it is of Eastern European Ashkenazi origin. It is normally eaten on the Jewish Sabbath, as well as other Jewish holidays.

Kugels began about 800 years ago; and they were made from bread and flour. Today the base ingredient for kugel may include potatoes, noodles, or matzo flour. There are fruit kugels, vegetable kugels, and even (I'm told) Rice Crispy kugel (no lie). So herein is Paul Goldstein's kugel, which is based on his aunt's original recipe (with modifications). Whip it up tonight (or whenever you wish), and have a great time. Note that the dish can be served hot or cold, by itself, or with apple sauce or sour cream. You can even try it with vanilla ice cream.


8 ounces egg noodles
2 eggs
2 golden delicious apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 pear, peeled and cut into large pieces
1/3 cup raisins
cinnamon (to taste---lots of it)
Margarine or butter

1. Cook egg noodles according to package directions, drain and put back into the pot or pan.
2. Add apples, raisins, eggs, and cinnamon.
3. Heavily apply either the margarine or butter to a large cast-iron frying pan, making sure the sides are well covered with the margarine. Pour noodle mixture into pan and press down with hand and fingers.
4. Cook on medium heat until bottom is either blackened or slightly burned. Turn the kugel over into a plate, grease the pan again and slip the kugel back into the pan. Cook until other side is done. Usually the pan is covered while the second side is cooking.
Yield: about 6 servings.

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