Monthly Archives: December 2011

Why My Family’s Hanukkah Recipes Are Better Than Yours


I really don’t mean to start some type of confrontation – especially after I’ve neglected my blog for so long – but the title of this post is true. My family really only makes two traditional Hanukkah dishes. We don’t enjoy fried sufganiyot (I’m not sure why…because who doesn’t like fried doughnuts?), and we haven’t munched on latkes since I was little. But my favorite two dishes we do exceptionally well.

For years my aunt made some truly remarkable rugelach cookies. They are crescent-shaped buttery cookies filled with, in this case, a cinnamon sugar mixture. It sounds pretty basic, yet they are anything but. Most rugelach I have tasted can be dry and not very flavorful. These are sweet with a rich and comforting flavor from the cinnamon. And I actually think I’m addicted. When I visited her recently, she baked me about 4 dozen of them even though (gasp!) it was not yet Hanukkah, and I housed at least a dozen as soon as I spotted them. They are small…and I think that’s my rationale for eating so many.

I decided to make them this year myself, and it was a major struggle. The recipe isn’t quite as easy as I thought considering I don’t own a stand mixer. I promised my aunt I wouldn’t share her recipe with anyone. So I’ll just shove this picture in your face. Anyways, I don’t think you want the recipe. There’s a lot of butter in these. And I don’t want anyone else commercializing on her baking success other than myself.

This year I also made my mom’s famous noodle kugel. It’s mostly just famous in my family because it is ridiculously good. It is sweet and almost cheesecake-like since there is so much cheese filling in the noodles.The graham cracker crumb and brown sugar topping adds that perfect crunch to the soft noodles.

Making my kugel and the cookies made me really realize that no matter how good someone else’s recipe is, you always think your family’s recipes are the best. Sweet or salty kugel, plain or filled rugelach. It depends on what you grew up eating. These holiday foods can’t be enjoyed just any time of year, so they are coveted even more than your favorite food truck that only comes once a month. I mean, isn’t eating what (America) holidays are all about?

Mom’s Noodle Kugel 

Bake in 8X8 pan (or double recipe for 9X13 inch pan)

8 oz. no yolk extra broad noodles
8 oz. cottage cheese
4 oz.  cream cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk (skim is fine)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp brown sugar (the original recipe calls for 3 tbsp so the topping has more of a crunch)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put the stick of butter in the 8X8 pan. Put the pan in your preheated oven until butter melts.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar with  a hand mixer.
  3. Then, add in eggs, vanilla, cottage cheese and salt.
  4. Finally mix in the milk. Make sure there are no chunks of cream cheese.
  5. When the butter has melted, remove from the oven and put noodles straight i
    nto the pan raw. Pour cheese mixture over the top, and bake for about one hour. Don’t worry all that much about the noodles being coated completely evenly.
    **To ensure that all noodles are cooked and coated properly: after 30 minutes in the oven, remove kugel and press down until the cheese mixture goes over the top of the noodles.
  6. Combine all topping ingredients when kugel is almost done. Sprinkle them over the top, and bake for an additional 35 mintes.

Take this dish to your holiday party and you’ll definitely upstage the Christmas cookies – maybe even the latkes, too.