Thursday, October 7, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Praline Noodle Kugel

Sorry I've been MIA!  We're in the middle of our living room redo, and I've been besieged by a/v people, boxes, extra furniture, boxes, and more boxes.  The visual chaos has made it totally impossible for me to think, let alone cook or blog.

Enough of the excuses, though.  Since with the exception of one very time consuming brisket, we've been mainly subsisting on take out, it's time to return to the dishes I made for our break the fast party a few weeks ago.

Somehow, I allowed my husband to convince me that despite the many sweets and baked goods we already had for the party, any good break fast must have a noodle kugel.  Rather than going all fusion with it, this time I decided to go as traditional as possible; in fact, I selected a recipe from probably the most classic Jewish cookbook available, Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America.  (Seriously, it's probably on your bubbe's cookbook rack gathering dust right now.  Or it's hiding under the pile of schmatas on her counter.  Go check.)

The recipe is elaborately titled "North Shore Chicago Hadassah's Lick-Your-Fingers Kugel," but I don't like finger-licking near any of the food I serve to guests, so I just call it a praline noodle kugel, because that's basically what it is: caramelized pecans atop a traditional noodle kugel base.

The perks about this kugel recipe is that it's easy and it's quite an elegant presentation: the sugared pecan base flips over to become the top of the kugel (sort of like a pineapple upside down cake), and if you bake it in a classic bundt pan, there's even a nice hole in the middle where you can place a little sumthin' extra, be it flowers, a ramekin of sour cream, or (in our case) some mini peanut butter cups (I needed something to stick the toothpick flag in).

The not-so-great aspect of this kugel is that it's SWEET.  It's good for the first two bites or so, but after that you begin to feel a little gross shoveling butter, oily noodles, and sugar into your mouth.  That said, I guess that's precisely what makes noodle kugel so rich and comforting and such a key component of the break fast table.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) salted butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, halved
  • 1 pound wide noodles (Tip: Avoid curly noodles, as they tend to make molding difficult.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

The recipe itself takes literally just four steps:

  1. Melt half the butter in a 12-cup mold or tube pan. Swirl it around the bottom and up the sides.
  2. Press the brown sugar into the bottom and press the pecans into the sugar.
  3. Boil the noodles according to the package directions and then drain. Mix with the eggs, the remaining butter, melted, cinnamon, sugar, and salt and pour into the mold.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the top is brown. Let sit for 15 minutes before unmolding. The top will become slightly hard like a praline. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Easy!  And it's one of those dishes you can make ahead of time, as well as keep for a day or two after the party.

What's the one dish your family has to have on the holiday table every year, even if it's not exactly finger licking good?


lavenderpug October 7, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

that looks delicious. sweetness noted.

BigAppleNosh October 11, 2010 at 3:16 PM  

Sounds delicious and easy! I really think the PB cups in the middle completes the presentation ;)

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