Monday, October 6, 2014

Cheesy Apple Spice Noodle Kugel


CHEESY APPLE SPICE noodle KUGEL // a jewish fall casserole
Better late than never. That's what they say. And, I guess, sometimes they're wrong.  

In this case, they're very right.

The Jewish High Holidays may have come and gone, but there's always room for kugel on your Thanksgiving table, no matter your class or creed.  My mission is to make kugel a seasonal dish for the masses, and I declare it "Kugel Season." (And it's kuh-guhl, not koogle).  There's really no better way to celebrate the coming of the fall chill, and the dusting off of your post-holiday meal sweatpants.  I believe last year I fully explained how nonsensical and genius this "casserole" is, but let's do a recap: 

Mac & Cheese 
Graham Cracker Crust Cheesecake 
Amazing  

It's math.

Add to that formula the classic fall favorite, spiced apples, and you're going to be the Einstein of your holiday feasting. If you're just jumping on the pumpkin spiced everything bandwagon, you can check out last year's modification: Pumpkin Spice Noodle Kugel.  But, pumpkin spice is so 5774.

And, to be honest, I liked this apple spice version better than last year's pumpkin experiment.  If you're into apple pies that feature cheese, you're going to be into this.  Plus, I thought the apples did a great job of cutting the very rich and sweet cheesy noodle custard filling (whereas the pumpkin enhanced both).  Another modification to last year - and to my Aunt Bean's original recipe - was to cut out the center layer of graham cracker crust. I did this completely by accident, immediately thinking "YOM DISASTER 5775 IS GOING TO BE AWFUL THIS IS WORSE THAN THE FACT THAT I'M NOT EVEN TRYING TO FAST" but really preferred the end result.  It also cut back just a little on the immediate need for sweatpants after consuming.

May 5775 be the year of happy accidents, and many more kugels.  But, truly, if you're new to the kugel concept, or if you're just not from the South or Midwest, don't be turned off by the prospects of making this ten-pound dish of guilty pleasure.  Nothing rivals kugel, and you won't know it until you try it.  The point is to celebrate the sweetness of life from time to time, especially on holidays with family and friends.  


Main Ingredients:
(makes a 3 qt, or 9.25x13.25" glass baking dish)
  • 1 lb. extra wide egg noodles
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 lb. butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 lb. sliced American cheese

Spiced Apples:
  • 3-4 medium apples, thinly sliced (a soft, sweet variety)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Graham Cracker Topping:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
Process:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the egg noodles until al dente.  When done, drain well and set aside to cool a bit.
  2. While the noodles cooks, core and thinly slice the apples.  Toss in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.  Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, and spices together until smooth.  Then whisk in the melted butter and milk to finish the custard filling.  When the noodles are cool enough to add without cooking the egg, do so, and set aside.   
  4. In a smaller bowl, mix the graham cracker topping ingredients together with a fork to form a loose meal.
  5. Butter the surface of your baking dish and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Layer the kugel in the following order: half the noodle/custard mixture, evenly spaced dots of cream cheese, a layer of apple slices, and a layer of American cheese.  Repeat for a second layer using the remaining noodles, cream cheese, apples, and American cheese.
  7. Cover the top of the kugel with a even layer of graham cracker crust, pressing down on the layers to compact the dish.  The crust should be thick, completely covering the kugel.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cracking.
  9. When done, cool completely to set the custard (even better if you can refrigerate it overnight).  Reheat in the oven just prior to serving.  


For the visual learners:

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