She was a woman of crossword puzzles, world travel and she had a love of political debate like no one I’ve ever known. Too bad we were always on opposite sides of the political spectrum. She gave me the smack down more times than I care to recall.
Oh, and I can’t forget the marathon Scrabble sessions. My Grandmother never let me win. She strongly felt that letting me win would teach me nothing. It took years before I became a formidable opponent. My Grandmother is responsible for my all A’s in English that I received for most of my school years and it’s all due to those Scrabble games.
That woman made me think, but her strength was not in the kitchen.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Grandmother with all of my heart and soul. She believed that I would achieve great things and not once did she have an unkind word to say. She was encouraging and she was a wonderful Grandmother. But a cook she was not.
That said, she is the one who introduced me to kugel. One of the most comforting desserts I’ve ever tasted. I wish back then I had the presence of mind to jot her recipe down, but I daresay that she didn’t have one.
A kugel is not all that hard to throw together. Some noodles, cottage cheese, butter, eggs and sugar. A very simple recipe that yields sumptuous results. Yes, my Grandmother did well with her kugel. It certainly evokes happy memories.
Looking back, I don’t know if it was the recipe that evokes the happy memory or if it was the time we spent together in her tiny urban kitchen. What I wouldn’t do to jump in a time machine and go back to my Grandmother’s kitchen and share with her my version of her recipe.
While I’m not at all certain that I grew up to be what she expected I would be, a highly successful business woman with substantial wealth and status, I think she would be proud and slightly amused.
Because she was the one that always said that life never quite turns out how you expect it to. And she was right.
A little unconventional, just like my Grandmother but perfect in every way.
If the idea of kugel doesn’t turn you on, I totally dare you to try this recipe. You just might be pleasantly surprised.
- 12 oz wide egg noodles
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 24 oz cottage cheese, large curd
- 7 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Grease a 9×13 baker with butter or nonstick spray. (really though, use the butter)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Toss in the noodles and cook for four minutes. Drain. Toss stick of butter into the still hot pot. Dump the noodles back in over the butter. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, 1 cup of coconut, vanilla and salt. Mix to incorporate.
- Mix the noodles with the now melted butter. Once the noodles are evenly coated, dump the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Mix well.
- Pour into greased baker. Top with remaining coconut and almonds. Cover baker with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil after 35 minutes and continue to bake for another 25 minutes or until golden brown and set.