Chef Alex Levin’s Savta’s Kugel
From Laura Kumin: Rich-tasting and not too sweet, this is the noodle pudding that chef Alex Levin’s grandmother made for several Jewish holidays as well as Sunday brunches. He tweaked the recipe and won Tzedek DC’s first celebrity chef kugel cook-off on Sept. 25.
Notes: This will fit in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (see the directions), the chef says, but if you wish to increase the yield, you can do so at 1 1/2 times or twice the amount of ingredients. The kugel can be cooled completely, covered and refrigerated a day in advance. Reheat, covered with aluminum foil, in a 300-degree oven until warmed through. This version does not include the blowtorch finishing that Chef Levin featured at the Celebrity Kugel Cook-Off, but it’s otherwise the same as his entry in that event.
- Salt, for the cooking water
- 1 pound dried wide or extra-wide egg noodles
- 1½ pounds cottage cheese, preferably full fat
- 8 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 cup sour cream
- 5 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon, for garnish
- Turbinado sugar, for garnish
- Noodles and filling: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a few generous pinches of salt, then the egg noodles. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pasta is barely tender (al dente). Drain in a colander in the sink.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some butter to grease a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish. A disposable aluminum pan works quite well; if you use one, place it on baking sheet.
- While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the cheeses, granulated sugar, eggs, melted butter and sour cream in a large mixing bowl. Add the drained noodles and toss to incorporate, then pour into the baking dish.
- Custard: Whisk the 5 eggs in the now-empty mixing bowl until well blended, then whisk in the granulated sugar, milk, heavy cream, sea salt and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture evenly over the noodles and filling in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon and then the turbinado sugar (both to taste). Bake (middle rack) for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until nicely browned on the top, and the kugel is just set. Serve right away, or cool completely before storing.
- Recipe reprinted with permission from Bonnie Benwick and the Washington Post. Photo credit: jdbaker photography.