Pete once listed his 3 favorite foods thus:
1. Bammy's kugel*
3. ice cream
*Bammy is what the kids call Andy's mom, and lokshen kugel—for anyone out there who has never been fed by a Jewish grandmother—is noodle pudding.
Pete has eaten Bammy's kugel for breakfast, for lunch, for snack, for dinner, and for dessert—not all in the same day, of course, although he would if we let him! He is such a string-bean that I am always thrilled to give him a big slab of this egg- and dairy-laden heaven. It's traditionally eaten as a side dish with chicken on Friday night.
As you can imagine, there are as many versions of this concoction as there are Jewish grandmothers—I've seen it with cream cheese or pineapple pieces in it or crushed corn flakes on top (someone on Twitter mentioned that his mom used to put Frosted Flakes on top!). My mother puts apple slices and raisins in hers.
What follows is my mother-in-law's recipe. You can probably vary the quantities dramatically without changing much about the final, scrumptious product. And I don't think it matters one whit whether you use fat-free or full-fat milk, sour cream, or cottage cheese. Speaking of which, before you recoil in horror at the amount of fat in it, just remember that 1/8 of the pan—which would be a pretty hefty serving—contains only 1 oz. each of cottage cheese and sour cream, 1 Tbsp butter, and less than 1 egg.
Bammy's Lokshen Kugel
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 (12-oz.) bag wide noodles
8 oz. cottage cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1½ cups milk
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar + about 2 Tbsp more for sprinkling
about ½ teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling
Heat the oven to 325°. Put the butter in a 9x13" Pyrex baking pan and put it in the oven as it heats. Take it out as soon as it melts.
Meanwhile, put on a big pot of water to boil for the noodles. Cook them until almost done, then drain them in a colander. Rinse them a little to keep them from sticking together too much.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients except the 2 Tbsp sugar and the cinnamon. (I used to first buzz the cottage cheese and sour cream quickly in the food processor so that the cottage cheese curds weren't so noticeable, but now I don't bother. Or you could use a blender or a mixer, but a big spoon works just fine, too.)
Add most of the melted butter from the baking pan to the bowl; leave just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the drained noodles. Mix it all together well and transfer the whole mixture to the baking pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tbsp sugar and the cinnamon, then sprinkle it all over the top. (Use more or less sugar and/or cinnamon, depending on how you like it.)
Bake for about 1 hour or until lightly browned and the noodles on top are just starting to threaten to get crunchy.
Let it cool a bit before trying to slice it. In fact, as tempting as it is to eat it immediately (just ask Pete!), it really improves if you let it cool a bit, refrigerate it, then slice it and reheat it (either individual slices or the whole pan). It also freezes great for those kugel emergencies.