From contest to cook-off, 10 kugel chefs, culled from a field of 46 entries, competed Sunday in the first annual St. Louis Jewish Light Cooking Contest. When all was said and digested, the winner (drum roll, please) was Gloria and Mark Roberts of Chesterfield with their Pecan Noodle Ring. The judges praised it as "unique and delicious."
The recipe, which is baked in a Bundt pan, looked and tasted more like a luscious cake than a traditional kugel. Yet the ingredients certainly are ones found in many sweet kugel recipes.
"We're so excited," said a smiling Gloria Roberts, adding that the recipe is a lot easier than it looks.
First runner-up was Harriette Kraus, whose savory spinach kugel also impressed the judges with its winning taste and solid consistency.
The judging took place at L'Ecole Culinaire in Ladue, which also furnished the prizes: the Roberts received an Indian cooking class for two at the school and Kraus got a $25 gift certificate for a meal there. Student chefs prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner on select days during the week.
In all, about 35 people attended the cook-off, including the 10 cooks, their family and friends and the four judges: Margi Lenga Kahn, who writes the monthly Passionate Palette column for the Light; Robin Rickerman, director of food services and events manager at the JCC; Robyn LeVan, director of marketing for L'Ecole Culinare and Judith Evans, food editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
After the judges had their tastes and went off to a private room to evaluate each kugel, those in attendance sampled the fare. As you might imagine given the crowd, there was much kibbitzing and deal making. For example, one finalist angled to set up her son with the daughter of another finalist, who was shepherding her mother's kugel because the mom was in Florida. A match made over kugel? Perhaps.
The day after the competition, a kind note arrived from Evans, who best described the sentiments: "Glad to take part. The judging was fun, but I must admit it will be awhile before I want to eat kugel again!"
Winning Recipe: Pecan Noodle Ring - by Gloria and Mark Roberts
1 cup chopped pecans
cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
cup margarine, melted
1 16-ounce package extra wide noodles
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine pecans, brown sugar, and margarine and spoon into Bundt pan heavily coated with cooking spray.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer into large bowl.
Add eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon, stirring well. Pour into noodles. Mix well with spoon. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a serving plate.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
Comments: You make this in a Bundt pan so it winds up looking like a cake. It is easy and delicious. Recipe from "The Kosher Palette" cookbook.
Runner Up: Spinach Noodle Pudding by Harriette Kraus
1 lb. Greenfield fine noodles
2 packages frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
2 envelopes onion soup
lb melted margarine
2 cups Coffee Rich or Original Coffee Mate
6 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cook and drain noodles according to package directions.
Mix remaining ingredients and add to noodles. Mix thoroughly.
Bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes in a greased 9" x 13" pan.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
The other finalists:
SAVORY KUGEL WITH MUSHROOMS, ONIONS AND GOLDEN RAISINS
Submitted by Amy Peck Abraham
1 and 1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 medium yellow onions, diced
2 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground rosemary
1 tbsp ground marjoram
2 cups golden raisins
Zest of one orange
6 plain matzos
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) margarine, melted, plus
4 tablespoons margarine, for topping and to prepare the casserole dish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Butter 2 and 1/2 quart casserole and set aside.
2) In small pan, saut é onions in 1 tbsp oil until translucent,
stir in ground herbs
3) In larger pan, melt 1 tbsp margarine until foam subsides,
then add mushrooms,
DON'T STIR for a minute or more, then turn w/spatula;
the goal is to get golden color.
4) Add raisins and the onions, to the mushrooms,
season with salt and pepper, stir well, take off heat and cover the pan.
5) In medium bowl, whisk one egg with the mustard, salt,
and sugar, then whisk in the remaining eggs, set aside.
6) In a large bowl, break the matzo into 2- to 3-inch pieces,
fill bowl with cold water, wait 30 seconds, then drain completely,
and set aside.
7) Melt the margarine in microwave in measuring cup.
8) Lift lid on mushrooms, tap condensation on lid into pan,
stir in the orange zest, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Pour on butter and stir well.
9) In large bowl, combine half mushroom mixture with half of the
softened matzo, then add all the eggs, then rest of matzo,
and last of the mushrooms, stir gently to combine;
try not to completely mush the matzo.
10) Pour into the prepared casserole dish,
dot top with margarine and sprinkle w/kosher salt.
11) Bake the kugel for 45 minutes. Cover the top with foil if the top
begins to become too brown early in the baking.
Remove the kugel from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Kugel can be made 2 days ahead.
Wrap when completely cooled and refrigerate.
Serve at room temperature or reheat in a 350 degree oven.
Yield: 12 servings
Submitted by Barb Levitt
2 Tbsp fat
1/4 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. hot fat
1 c. matzo meal
5 eggs, separated
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 large apple, grated
1/2 Tsp. salt
Soak matzos, and when soft, press dry. Heat fat in frying pan, add matzos,
and let dry further. Remove to a bowl when fairly well dried, add matzo
meal, stirring it in well. Beat yolks of eggs and add almonds, lemon rind,
salt, and grated apple. Beat whites of eggs stiff and fold in. Transfer
mixture to a greased pudding dish, and pour the hot fat over it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until brown.
SOL'S CARROT KUGEL
Submitted by Nikki Goldtsein
From cookbook "A Festival of Food" by St. Louis JCC
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 and 1/2 c. flour
1 lb. shredded carrots
6 oz. raisins
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients.
Bake 1 hour uncovered in an 8x8 inch pan.
Submitted by Eileen Mazva
l/2 lb. medium width noodles, cooked and drained
l lb. creamed cottage cheese
l stick melted margarine (I use butter)
1/2 pint sour cream
l t. vanilla
Handful of yellow raisins
Mix the above and refrigerate overnight in a greased 10x14
pan. The next day, pour on top:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
lg. dash cinnamon
Mix together and pour over the noodle mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours - until slightly brown on top.
Note: I always serve with strawberries (generally frozen and
defrosted) that can be spooned over the kugel if desired.
Submitted by Natalie Sukhodolsky
4 large eggs
1 lb wild mushrooms
2 onions, diced
3/4 cup matzo meal
1 t. spoon margarine, melted
1/2 t. spoon salt
In a skillet heat oil over medium heat and stir in diced onion.
Cook until golden. Add mushroom and continue to cook for about 5 min.
or until done.
Separate eggs, beat whites until think peaks. Add egg yolks.
Fold in other ingredients.
Bake in greased dish for 30 min. at 350 degrees.
Submitted by Tobie Hupert
grate or chop 8 apples
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup wine
3 pieces of broken matzo, or 2 cups farfel
Combine above ingredients.
Bake 1 hr. at 350 degrees in an uncovered pan size
(either square or round casserole).
GRANDMA KATE'S RICE KUGEL
Submitted by Carole Goggin
2 C. uncooked rice
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. sugar
1 stick butter (or margarine)
Cinnamon and sugar mixture- (for topping)
1/2 C. milk
1. Cook Rice [instant rice OK]
2. Put stick of butter in pan or casserole dish and place in oven while
pre-heating to 350 °.
3. In large bowl, whip 3 eggs. Then add vanilla, milk, & sugar. Mix in melted butter from pan or baking dish [after swirling butter around the bottom of the baking dish to coat.]
4. Add cooked rice and mix.
5. Pour back into greased pan or casserole dish [will be very runny].
Sprinkle top with cinnamon & sugar mixture.
6. Bake at 350 ° for about 1 hour or until top is lightly browned.
The size of the baking pan or casserole dish may vary. It will simply make a thicker or thinner kugel. [I like a 2 qt. baking dish]