Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aunt Bertha's Spinach Kugel


I love kugel. It's a very traditional Ashkenazi Jewish side dish but it comes in so many varieties that it's hard to generalize what it is. Let me try: a (usually) noodle pudding or casserole, made either dairy or non-dairy. Sometimes, it doesn't have noodles at all, but it's still baked in a casserole dish and is sort of "scoopable." I've had some that are really sweet and can practically pass for dessert, and I've had others that are completely savory. If I'm serving one at dinner, I'll typically serve it warm, but kugel is perfectly acceptable to eat at room temperature. My ancestors used to prepare and eat kugel, even when they lived in Eastern Europe centuries ago, and it's really neat that such a tradition continues today.

This spinach kugel is a dairy kugel, though it can be made pareve to serve with meat if you swap out the milk with Mocha Mix and the butter with margarine. The secret to the flavor is using a packet of onion soup mix (Lipton's makes one).


The recipe comes from Bertha Froomkin, who was my bubbe's best friend, and so close to my mom's family growing up that my mom called her "Aunt" Bertha. My mom's mom's (my bubbe's) first name was also Bertha. And in fact, both of their maiden names were Berman. So they were both Bertha Berman. And the story gets better. When Bertha Berman Froomkin went into labor in Youngstown, Ohio, to give birth to her son Michael, my own bubbe, Bertha Berman Aron went into labor in Youngstown, Ohio, with my mom Joyce ready to be born. Bertha and Bertha shared a hospital room and had their kids one day apart! I guess they were true BFFs, attached at the hip even during childbirth!

Aunt Bertha in 1968, visiting my mom's family in Los Altos, CA,
just after they relocated from Youngstown, Ohio


Spinach Kugel
Recipe from "Aunt" Bertha Froomkin

2 (10-oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained well
1 lb. medium egg noodles, cooked and slightly cooled
2 cups milk, or if making pareve, can use Mocha Mix
6 eggs, beaten
1 - 2 packages onion soup
1/2 lb. melted butter or margarine

Combine cooked noodles with the rest of the ingredients. Spray or grease a 3-quart pan and place noodle mixture in it. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Yum.


Step-by-Step in Pictures

Boil the noodles till soft...

Add the milk and melted butter...

Add the 6 eggs (I used Egg Beaters)...

Add the onion soup mix (the recipe says 1 or 2 packets; I used one)...

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze the water out of it...

Add the spinach to the noodle mixture...

Combine everything...

Spread the kugel mixture in the pan...

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes (I cooked mine longer because I prefer very crispy noodles on top)...

3 comments:

Mom said...

Of course, I've heard this story many times and I loved reading your retelling of the story. Aunt Bertha (and her whole family) are very special. What's also wonderful is that her husband was my dad's best friend, even before he met my mom. Your pictures are so colorful, too! Looks very delicious!

Ephraim said...

I make a very similar kugel. It is one of my favorite. A variation is to add sauteed onions and/or mushrooms.

Carolyn Jung said...

That looks so homespun wonderful! Aunt Bertha would be proud to see it spotlighted on your blog.

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