by: Tori Avey, “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”
Nothing says "Jewish holiday" quite like a delicious slice of noodle kugel! Kugel is a quintessentially Jewish dish similar to a thick noodle casserole. Kugels can range from sweet to savory, dry to moist, dense to fluffy. Some people like it topped with cornflakes, some with graham crackers, some with cinnamon sugar. Some people like no topping at all, preferring to let the top noodle layer brown and harden to a crunchy texture.
No matter which way you like your kugel, a good basic recipe is important. This is my favorite go-to dairy noodle kugel recipe. It creates a sweet (but not cloying) kugel that is rich, creamy, moist and tasty. If you’ve never made kugel before, this is the recipe to start with. I encourage you to use this recipe as a guide. Experiment with it as much as you like. You can omit the raisins or pineapples, add dried fruit to the noodle mixture, add ricotta cheese in place of cottage cheese, change the topping or eliminate it completely. You can even substitute nonfat or sugar-free ingredients if you’re watching your waistline. The only limit is your imagination!
1 bag of wide egg noodles (16 oz.)
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
¾ cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¾ cup white sugar
2 packages of lowfat cream cheese (8 oz. each)
½ cup lowfat cottage cheese
¼ cup lowfat sour cream
1 can pineapple chunks (16 oz.)
6 egg whites
1 ½ cups honey graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add egg noodles, stir, and boil until tender. Drain. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the hot noodles and stir to coat.
Place raisins in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the raisins soak for 10 minutes. Drain.
In a food processor or blender, combine 4 eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream. Blend the ingredients until creamy. Add creamy mixture to the noodles in the pot along with the soaked raisins. Drain the pineapple chunks and dice them into small pieces, then add them to the pot. Stir all ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
In a separate bowl, whip 6 egg whites till white and frothy. Fold the egg whites into the noodle mixture. Pour the noodles into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl to form a crumbly topping. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the kugel. Cover dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake the kugel for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes more until the top is golden brown.
May be served warm or cold; refrigerate if you don’t plan on serving it the same day you make it. If you want to reheat your kugel, place it in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes; it will warm up more evenly if you cut it into individual pieces prior to reheating.
Tori Avey, “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”
Los Angeles-based writer Tori Avey found herself creatively “blocked” in the middle of a novel she was working on. Never one to sit idle and wait for inspiration to strike, Tori decided to switch gears and work on something just for fun. She combined two things she loves—Jewish food and writing—into an online “diary” of her cooking experiences. Tori had always adored Jewish food; in fact, she’d made it her hobby to collect authentic Jewish recipes from her Israeli family and friends. Her fascination with kosher cooking earned her a nickname:The Shiksa in the Kitchen and an idea was born.
From the very beginning, what captivated Tori about Jewish food was not only how delicious it was, but the stories and traditions attached to it. Tori's blog is as much about tradition as it is about recipes; she writes about the historical origins of every dish featured in her blog. She specializes in her own brand of “food anthropology,” digging into food’s role within Judaism and the evolution of kosher cuisine throughout the centuries.
Tori is a home-taught cook with no formal training. She learned everything she knows from generous friends and family members who have passed on their valuable cooking knowledge to her. Tori’s fans are drawn to her positive, spiritual personality and her unpretentious approach to food. Her recipes are presented step-by-step and clearly illustrated with photographs. Her attention to detail helps even the most amateur cooks achieve tasty results. She also interacts frequently with her blog followers, answering cooking questions and providing specific advice for anybody who needs help. Today, less than a year after its launch, The Shiksa in the Kitchen is one of the fastest growing fan pages on Facebook. Tori has gathered over 20,000 followers, adding new fans at a rate of over 1,000 per week.
Tori formally converted to Judaism in February, 2010. However, she'd be the first to tell you—once a shiksa, always a shiksa! Most Yiddish dictionaries describe "shiksa" as simply "a non-Jewish woman." Today, the word is often used to describe a non-Jewish woman who is in a relationship with a Jewish man. Rather than shy away from the word, Tori chooses to let her background empower her. She explores Judaism and Jewish food with an open mind and heart, encouraging people of all faiths to join her on the journey.
Tori feels that food is a way of communicating—that the energy passed on through cooking feeds the body as well as the soul. By recording the stories and recipes of Jewish family cooks, Tori hopes to help preserve and celebrate the food traditions of the Jewish people. For more information, log on to her website, http://www.theshiksa.com or her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/theshiksa.