What a day in the kitchen! I knew I wanted to do something Jewish for the challenge and kugel (pronounced koogel) proved to be perfect. This topped the entire meal that I prepared for my in-laws which included three major dishes that I had never prepared before. The first was a beef brisket which I prepared in the crock pot, accompanied by latkes. Thanks to Nikki, I had a new latke recipe to try and they were delicious (and not much work). The kugel was to provide the dessert.
I've only had kugel a couple of times, but my aunt makes it. She says she has a "to die for" recipe, so I emailed her last month when I knew about this and asked her for it. One month later, and I still don't have it. Thanks! Luckily I have the Internet and was able to dig up this recipe from the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/28/dining/211rrex.html):
½ pound medium-width noodles
1 pound cream cheese
½ pound plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 large eggs
½ cup crushed pineapple, canned or fresh, drained
4 ounces walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon.
(Note that this is supposed to feed TWENTY-FOUR people. Eat kugel in small doses!)
First you have to cook your noodles.
I combined the butter and cream cheese into the food processor to blend it smooth. At this point it really began to sink in that this kugel is really not a health food. We're talking some serious butter and sour cream here.
Next you have to add everything else including the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. This is also the point where you go "Oh crap, my food processor is too small." Time to transplant to the bowl and mix by hand. Luckily this wasn't too hard once the cream cheese and butter were blended and because I have huge muscles. When that was done, fold it into the noodles. Then it was poured into a pyrex bowl and covered.
At this point I kind of went into a panic because I made two mistakes. The first was that I was supposed to reserve 1/3 cup of sugar, and instead I had already dumped it in. Second, since I failed to read ahead properly, I failed to notice that this was supposed to set in the fridge overnight. Well, no time for that. I gave it about 3 hours in the fridge. Next, into a 350 oven for 50 minutes.
Next, take it out. I then made a mixture of the walnuts, cinnamon and a little bit of sugar. I didn't want to overdue the sugar since I had screwed up already. Sprinkled this on top along with a little more butter.
Then it went in for 20 more minutes like the directions said. After that time it still didn't look done. I ended up leaving it in for almost 20 mintues longer. I was freaked it wouldn't come out OK because I hadn't let it stand in the fridge. But when I took it out, it looked good.
After letting it set for a bit, we went into it. It was awesome! So pleased. It really looks like a coffee cake, but the noodles give it the texture of a custard. The pineapple gives it some sweetness and the cinnamon gives it that coffee cake aroma and spice. I think the final picture speaks for itself, which is my mother-in-law going into shock that I had cooked something so good. The paramedics were summoned shortly after this was snapped.