An ode to kugel: The best Jewish comfort food ever –

Posted By on November 25, 2021

How to stay healthy during the holidays

Its hard to believe that its already the end of the year and with Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years fast approaching this is the time when we come face to face with our greatest temptations and potential environmental hazards. An endless array of sumptuous food, delicious drinks, and hours of holiday travel make this perhaps the hardest time of year for all of us to keep ourselves safe and healthy. So here are 10 holiday health tips to keep you on track:


Shannon Sarna, a South Orange resident and editor of The Nosher, a Jewish food website, was astounded the first time she ate a dairy kugel.

"I was like,'Where has this been?'It's so delicious."

American food lovers may adorelatkes, matzoh ball soup and pastrami sandwiches, but one dish that deserves their love,lots of their love,is kugel.

What, you ask, is kugel?

For those who did not grow up in a Jewish home or frequent Jewish delis, kugel is a headybaked pudding, often made with egg noodles called lokshen (therefore, lokshen kugel) or potatoes. It may be served on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays (Hello Hanukkah!). Or any time.

And while it maybe difficult to choose between the two what's not to love about a giant, moist, thick potato latke that the whole family can digintoor a custard-ypasta dish that tastes like dessert but can beserved as a side ormain course this article is about lokshen kugel, the more popular of the two and, truth be told, my favorite.

And my family's.

Whenever my mom, Lenka Davidowitz, would make lokshen kugel, a near fight would eruptaround her dining room table. Everyonewanted a nice-sized slice, and thenanother.If for some miraclethere were ever leftovers, you could be sure I'd take it home.

My momdiednearly three years ago. She was 92. For her 80th birthday, her grandkids self-published "Grandma's Kitchen," a cookbookofher recipes, which of course includes her belovedlokshen kugel (recipe below). In the book, my husbandis near verklempttalking aboutit:"Oh the noodle kugel. My problem is I have a son who also likes the noodle kugel. The leftovers disappear from the refrigerator at a truly disconcerting rate. So, my main complaint about the noodle kugel is that there's never quite enough of it."

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My sister and I don't know when or why she stopped making kugel, we just know that our father, who would only eat her food she'd bring along her chicken soup and baked chickenfor himto eat at my house whenever they'd come over would go to the kosher food market to buylokshen kugel.

"That just tells you how much he loved it," my sister said.

Many Jews do.

"Noodle kugel is sacred for American-Jewish families," Sarna said. "It is extreme comfort food that Jewish-American families really embraced. It's become its own icon."

Tomer Zilkah, chef and owner of Patisserie Florentine in Englewood, Closter and Hackensack, said his mom made the dish only once or twice. The reason? Noodle kugel is an Ashkenazidish and Zilkah is Sephardic. (Ashkenazi Jews descendedfrom Europe while Sephardic Jews from Spain.)

Zilkah, who grew up in Israel, enjoyed the dish at a Polish family's home with his family, who hails from Iraq and Syria. "They made it all the time," Zilkha recalled. "And I loved it."

The kugel was laced with ricotta cheese, which Zilkha said has more fat than farmer's cheese or pot cheese, the more traditional cheesesused. "It is a lot more flavorful and very creamy,"he said.

Natalie Lee, chef and owner of Jewish deli Mikki & Al's Noshery in Montclair, uses ricotta cheesein her savory kugel, which also features broccoli. She uses her mother-in-law's mother's recipe.

"My mother in law, Mikki, grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Union City," she said. "One day, when her mother ran out of cottage cheese, she went out to borrow cheese. All she could get was ricotta."

That turned out to be a blessing. "Her recipe is amazing," Leesaid. (I'm sharing itbelow.)

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Willing to giveit a try?

Lenka Davidowitz would have been honored to share her recipe with you.

poundmedium-wide egg noodles

Kosher salt

3 eggs

9 tablespoons sugar

3 large tart apples (Granny Smith or Greening)

cup raisins (optional)

3 tablespoons margarine, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles in lightly salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain well and pour cold water over them.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar until well combined.

Peel apples and cut them into thin slices.

Combine egg mixture with apples, noodles, raisins (if using), and 2 tablespoons of margarine.

Grease a 9-inch by 9-inch by 2-inchbaking pan with the remaining margarine and pour the mixture into it.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden.

Serves: 8 to 10as a side dish.

(Courtesy Natalie Lee of Mikki & Al's Noshery, Montclair)

12 ounces egg noodles

1 cup ricotta

3 eggs

6 cups steamed broccoli,chopped

1 small onion, diced and sauted

cup seasoned bread crumbs

3 tablespoonsmelted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodlesin salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together ricotta and eggs.

Add broccoli, onions, cooked noodles, salt and pepper and stir gently to combine.

Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

Add kugel mixture and sprinkle top with bread crumbs

Drizzle melted butter over the top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serves: 6 to 8 as a side dish.

EstherDavidowitzis thefood editor for For more on where to dine and drink, pleasesubscribe todayand sign up forourNorth Jersey Eats newsletter.


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An ode to kugel: The best Jewish comfort food ever -

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