This year’s break-the-fast was a bit more eventful than usual with the first-ever kugel-off, a mostly friendly competition determined to see which kugel would trump the others. With eight entrants, the competition was stiff. However, despite all the different varieties of kugels available, these could be placed into just two categories: noodle dessert and noodle sweet-savory (meaning as savory as possible with a noodle pudding). Surprisingly, there were no potato kugel entrants.
Six of the eight were from family members who were present, the remaining two from generous friends who wanted to participate. One of them, Cheryl Adolph, was the winner with kugel #8. You can find her delectable winning recipe below.
How it worked
The kugels were each heated and then placed on paper plates numbered K1 to K8 (“K” for kugel, just because I felt like it). All guests, except those who entered the contest, were asked to sample all the kugels and then write the number of their first choice on a card and place it in a bowl. The results were then tabulated by an accountant (my sister Marci), just like the Oscars.
All-in-all the event went smoothly, the only disruption coming after a competitive aunt tried to help by removing the number cards from the now-empty plates. Unbeknownst to her, the baker’s names were taped to the bottom of the plates, resulting in a chaotic few minutes of trying to remember which kugel went with which number. Luckily, cousin Barry was there to break the tension by proclaiming: “let’s not let kugel divide the family.”
Not to worry, we consulted the photos I’d taken earlier and got everything sorted out before announcing Cheryl as the winner.
More about the kugels
My kugel (#3) was a take on a popular recipe featuring a toffee and pecan topping. I used the recipe of a family friend (who also submitted #2) but made the individual kugels in muffin tins. It was a delicious, extremely sweet dessert kugel that I think would have fared better in the competition had it been sampled at the end of the meal after the salty foods had been consumed.
My mom, Linda, submitted two kugels: the one that remains my all-time favorite (#1) and her grandmother’s kugel (#7). She used to make me kugel #1 when I was away at college, which I would eat as a cold snack (my sister would get chocolate chip cookies instead, but as I said when packing my goody bag last night – I REALLY love kugel).
Kugel #2 was submitted by our friends Barbara and Rebecca. Although I wasn’t eligible to vote, I was torn between this kugel and #1 as my favorites. This Yerushalmi kugel originates from Israel as is made from spaghetti-style noodles rather than the traditional egg noodles. It contains a lot of freshly ground black pepper, making it the most savory of the group.
I also have to tip my hat to two kugel newcomers – Carey and Lisa. Neither one had ever made a kugel before, but both embraced the competition and submitted delicious and well-received kugels. Another aunt, Jeri, proved that kugel does indeed freeze well. She was hesitant to make another kugel after making two for last week’s Rosh Hashana dinner. I convinced her to freeze the leftovers and must say it worked out beautifully.
Winning Noodle Kugel
Prepared by Cheryl Adolph, recipe from her sister-in-law Pam SteinKugel
8 ounces medium egg noodles, cooked
8 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
2/3 cup crushed Corn Flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
Beat the cream cheese with the eggs. Add the butter, sugar, salt and milk and mix until combined. Add the cooked noodles. Pour into a greased 13-inch by 9-inch pan.
Prepare the topping by mixing together the Corn Flakes, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon until well-combined. Sprinkle over the noodles. Dot the top of the casserole with butter. Bake at 350F for one hour.