Considering that my parents will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first date this weekend, it seems only appropriate to use today shed light on a certain farce: my mother didn’t marry my father for his flamenco guitar, his ability to use a hammer and a nail or his promises to love her for the next hereafter. Nope, she married him because when she asked his aunt for the recipe to her delicious noodle kugel, she was told she couldn’t have it until she married my father. And so it was. And you might think this story cruel or careless, but really, mother has been telling me and my sister this our whole lives and my father seems not in the least offended. “I only married him for that noodle kugel recipe,” she says, and everyone nods and smiles because, well, they’ve heard it a zillion times before but also because the kugel is just that good. What’s to question?
So why haven’t I told you about it before? I mean, do we need to count how many Jewish holidays have passed in the last year during which I just failed to mention that, by the way, I have a recipe for noodle kugel so good, people will give up their singlehood just to have unfettered access to it? Well, I haven’t told you about it because–and I suspect that on this, if no other part of the story, that you’ll follow me–it’s mom’s recipe. It’s what mom makes. Why would I make it? It’s her thing.
Except this is the really shameful part. I’m not proud. I almost wish I could take it back, pretend it never happened, and we could have just continued the way things were, and yet: Two weeks ago, Alex and I went to Balducci’s to pick up some things for dinner and on the way out, tried a sample they were handing out of their noodle kugel from their High Holiday menu, and it was so good, I almost offered to marry the guy giving it out just for the recipe but I was torn because I already have a kick-ass kugel recipe and… oh right. I’m also already married.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about its cream-cheesiness and the tartness of the dried cherries. And while it was not “better” than what I know, because there are no “betters” just “differents,” when it comes to family heirloom recipes, I had to try to recreate it at home.
Thus, it is with a heavy and stereotypically guilt-ridden heart that I tell you that this adapted kugel recipe is awesome. Like, really really good. And though I feel like I have gone against the family or something, fixing what was not broken, I suspect that there are people out there whose existences did not come to pass because of the original kugel recipe that might enjoy this new-fangled one. You don’t even have to marry anyone to get it. Phew, right?
Update: So, huh, a lot of you guys are home during the day, aren’t you? Yes it’s true; myself and a few other bloggers were invited to attend the Martha Stewart show on Tuesday under the guise of spending the day seeing the offices and meeting and greeting with our new advertising partners. Little did we know! Well, there was a meeting, but we were also led into the front row and affixed with name tags (mine said “SMITTEN KITTEN” actually) while Martha talked about blogging and the camera focused on us I pretty much died of embarrassment. [Did I ever mention how much I hate being in front of the camera? Oh, so much.] Nonetheless, despite all this grousing, something really cool did happen: Martha Stewart called Smitten Kitchen “a very cute web site,” and as I think we already know how I feel about her, it’s pretty cool to know that the feeling is returned. Or the teleprompter returns the feeling. Hey, I’m not picky!
Thanks to MSLO for the fun day.
The truth is, I didn’t change that much. I used less butter, switched to the salted stuff, swapped cottage for cream cheese and added dried cherries. Fine, that’s a lot. But you see, even tradition is forgiving to adaptation. Who knew?
1 pound wide egg noodles
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 pound (16 ounces) creamed cottage cheese, full fat
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the baking dish
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.
Parboil the noodles (5 to 7 minutes) and drain them in a colander. In a very large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy, add cottage cheese and beat for another minute. Scrape bowl down well. Add sugar and combine, then melted butter, and scrape down the bowl another time. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between additions. Add cinnamon, vanilla and mix, then stir in dried cherries. Finally, carefully mix in the drained egg noodles.
Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for one hour before checking to see if the center is set. It may need up to 30 minutes more. (Yes, I know this range is crazy, but I’ve baked kugels that took either end of the range. They refuse to be predictable.)