Robin Dorfman [of Houston, Texas] is the former director of food services at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi. This kugel is adapted from Robin’s recipe, but we made it even richer by stirring in sour cream and cottage cheese. Unmolding the kugel as Ms. Dorfman suggests makes for a show-stopping presentation.
Note: Recipes in Marcie Cohen Ferris’s book Matzoh Ball Gumbo were compiled from a diverse mix of Jewish Southerners who have blended religion and region through home cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Set out a 13 × 9 inch glass baking dish.
For the topping:
1Place the butter in the baking dish and melt in the oven while it is preheating. Remove from the oven and cool to lukewarm. Crumble the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the dish. With a tablespoon, press the sugar into an even layer. One at a time, arrange the pecan halves in rows, rounded side down, in the sugar. With the flat of your hand press down on the pecans to secure them.
For the kugel:
1Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt and the noodles and cook according to package directions, until tender. Drain in a colander. Return the noodles to the cooking pot. Add the butter and stir until melted. Cover the noodles so they don’t dry out.
2In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, beat the cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well blended. Add the noodles and toss with 2 spoons, mixing well.
3Pour the noodle mixture into the dish with the topping (which is on the bottom). Smooth with a rubber spatula. Cover with foil.
4Bake until the kugel is firm and set, about 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more, to lightly brown the surface. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes.
5To unmold, loosen the edges of the kugel and place a large rectangular platter, jelly-roll pan, or cutting board on top of the baking dish. Turn dish and platter both over together and lift off the baking dish to reveal the pecan-studded top. With a serrated knife, cut the kugel into small pieces and serve hot or warm.