Cook-Off: The Best Kugel in the West

A mom in St. Louis had a say in the results of Hazon Colorado’s Best of the West Kugel contest. Nancy Green’s daughter, Hannah Green, a student at the University of Denver, was attending the Rocky Mountain Jewish Food Summit in Boulder on Sunday. And Hannah was so excited about being a kugel judge that she texted her mother — who quickly texted back what Hannah should look for. Nancy wrote that the “qualities of a good kugel” include moistness, holding together somewhat (but not too much), and good flavor and texture.

Taking her mom’s advice to heart, Hannah even re-tasted entries and changed some of her ratings. When the ratings of all 13 judges, chosen at random, were tallied, first place went to Sara Rachlin in the Sweet division, while Lindsay Gardner won top spot in the Savory category with a three cheese and spinach kugel. Shari Goldstein took the Sweet second place, and Benjamin Stuhl was second in Savory, with all four taking home prizes.

Read on for the winning kugel recipes and share your kugel recipes in the comment section below.

The winner of the Sweet division, Sara Rachlin, said she couldn’t wait to call her Grandma Pearl in Tarrytown, N.Y., to tell her the good news: the recipe she had entered was her grandma’s recipe, one Sara fondly remembers from childhood. Lindsay said she experimented with “all sorts of kugels” for weeks, using her family as tasters, before she settled on her winner, a spinach-rich adaptation of Joan Nathan’s classic recipe.

Three Cheese and Spinach Kugel
1st Place Winner: Savory Kugel by Lindsay Gardner (adapted from Joan Nathan)

8 ounces medium-wide egg noodles
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
12 ounces chopped frozen spinach
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
6 ounces (1 container) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup grated Swiss cheese
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated fresh nutmeg

1) Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablesoon butter.

2) Saute onions in 1 tablesoon of butter until transparent and soft, approximately 5 minutes.

3) Either defrost spinach and squeeze dry, or cook in a small skillet until liquid has evaporated.

4) Add the following ingredients to the noodles, mixing gently after each addition: onions, parsley, spinach, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, parmesan cheese, Swiss cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.

5) Add 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil to a 2-quart baking dish. Oil the bottom and sides of the dish well. Pour noodle mixture into dish and flatten top. Grate fresh nutmeg on top.

6) Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.

7) Remove foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until the top and edges are crusty.

Kugel may be served hot or at room temperature.

Grandma Pearl’s Noodle Kugel
1st Place Winner: Sweet Kugel by Sara Rachlin (via Grandma Pearl)

1 lb. broad egg noodles
1 pint sour cream
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 to 8 tablespoons sugar (the winning kugel had just 4)
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit salt in recipe)
Corn Flakes

1) Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse.

2) Combine all other ingredients in the warm pot in which the noodles were cooked. Stir until mixed together. Pour noodles back into pot and stir well. Pour into greased 9x13” baking dish. Sprinkle Corn Flakes over top and dot with additional butter.

3) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until evenly cooked through. Serve. Enjoy! This reheats well.

For more highlights and photos from the Rocky Mountain Jewish Food Summit, visit www.hazon.org/colorado.

Now a freelance editor in Denver, Lorrie Guttman is the former food editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Cook-Off: The Best Kugel in the West

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