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As a main dish or a side, this noodle kugel is a sweet addition to any meal or celebration

Noodle pudding

Noodle kugel, also known as noodle pudding, is a sweet, creamy casserole made with egg noodles

On holidays and many Sundays, the family would gather in my grandmother’s apartment for dinner. There were too many of us to fit in her small dining room, so an assemblage of tables of varying heights, tablecloths, available chairs, and even a step stool were pressed into service to create one long table that spanned the length of the apartment’s living room. There were at least 10, though the numbers could and did rise with additional in-laws, nieces and nephews.

It was a convivial gathering. Everyone talked at once — loudly — and debated the news of the day, rehashed differences of opinion from previous gatherings, laughed and learned. I took it all in, wide-eyed. Especially the dishes my grandmother put on the table. There were old reliables like apple cake and potato kugel, pot roast with potatoes roasted in the meat juices, tsimmes, or chicken falling off the bone, too-soft broccoli and cookies. And then there was noodle kugel (or pudding to the uninitiated). To me, it was the star of the show.

When I went away to college, I missed the hurly-burly of those exchanges and the family-style dishes that lined the table. I tried to recreate these moments by preparing on-the-cheap dinner parties for my friends. My grandmother’s recipes made regular appearances.

I had an apartment in the Fan District in Richmond, Va. My place was up a flight of stairs in a gracious late 19th-century home turned student apartment house. I inhabited the second floor, with a bow window overlooking Monument Avenue in the front, and a large kitchen in the rear overlooking an alley, replete with gas light fixtures that still worked, a cannel coal-burning fireplace and yellow linoleum floor.

It was large enough for a dining table in the middle of it that sat six comfortably, although there were usually more than that crowded around it.

I was glad to bring some of my grandmother’s recipes to my guests. They were inexpensive to make, fed a lot of people, and required minimal dishes or utensils, which fit my student situation perfectly.

As graduation approached, I organized more and more of, at the time, what felt like very adult dinner parties — usually attended by several couples and my boyfriend of the moment. They invariably began with the student equivalent of hors d’oeuvres — salty snacks, like out-of-the-bag pretzels or chips with the cheapest wine imaginable, followed by a one-pot or one-baking dish entrée, and some kind of homemade dessert bake.

My grandmother’s noodle pudding was always a hit. Meant to be a side dish and served by her that way at those raucous family gatherings, we devoured it as a main dish. It is an interesting mix of sweet and savory, which suited our part-teen, part-adult palates at the time. Somebody usually brought a basic salad, which accompanied the pudding just fine.

To evoke the true college experience, it is best eaten on mismatched dishes accompanied by the most inexpensive wine you can find. A half-melted candle stuck in an empty rush-basketed bottle of Ruffino Chianti on the table would not be out of place. 



1 pound bag of wide egg noodles

7 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup sugar

1 pint sour cream

2 cups milk

16 ounces small curd cottage cheese

1 stick butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

Brown sugar

Additional butter to dot the top of the pudding



Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Place noodles in a large bowl. In another large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, sour cream, milk, cottage cheese, melted butter, salt, vanilla and raisins. Add to the noodles and stir to combine thoroughly. Pour into a 9-by-14-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. (Remember what I have said previously about patience.)

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Dot the pudding with butter and sprinkle with a little brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon. Bake for about 90 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown, and all liquid on top looks absorbed. Let sit for a few minutes before serving as a primary or side dish. It is as good at room temperature.

Ellen Spear is the chief philanthropy officer for Norman Rockwell Museum. When she’s not cooking, she’s hiking.

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