Noodle Kugel with Cardamom and Apples

Hotdish : My Upper Midwest Fronds :: Kugel : Me. 

[Hotdish is to my upper Midwest fronds as kugel is to me.]

Not in the way that kugel was a dish that we ate on a regular basis for dinner growing up, but rather in the way that I just assumed that everybody grew up with it and took a nostalgic comfort in it. Like I literally thought that everyone knew kugel until last year, when Alana talked to me about her first experience about it. I was in shock that she’d never had it! It’s like a… sweet mac and cheese? It was… interesting! But in a good way! And then I met a dozen more people with the same reaction at the Fargo Hotdish Festival when Bernbaum’s brought an amazing kugel to compete with tater tot hotdishes of all sorts. It dawned on me then that not everyone knows this dish that was so central to my childhood holidays and I suddenly had to figure out a way to explain it and convince my fronds that it totally deserved to be classified as a hotdish.  

And seriously, if you bend the definition of a vegetable to mean, well, fruit then you’ve got it: the cottage cheese mixture is your sauce, the noodles are your starch, the nuts are your protein, and the raisins/cherries/apples are your produce. Hotdish. Sold. 

Flavor-wise, think of it as rice pudding made with noodles! And baked! Or, ok, a slightly sweet, a teensy bit sour, and kind of soufflé-like mac and cheese. And for all of the times I’ve made fun of Eggboy for having sweet cookie salad alongside the main course of his meal (as opposed to as dessert), I now owe him an apology because kugel, in all of its dessert-leaning glory, is part of the main course.

The kugel that my mom made growing up was based on Emeril’s recipe. It was such a great combination of richness and milkiness and it had the perfect touch of cinnamon and sugar, as well as a toasty nutty topping. It was, and continues to be, the only place that I will eat cottage cheese. For some reason it’d been a really really long time since we had it at holidays and it wasn’t until the Fargo Hotdish Festival that I was reminded of it because Bernbaum’s kugel was so similar. It brought me right back to kugel of my youth, but it had the one inspiring addition of granny smith apples. I LOVED this addition because it added color, crunch, and brightness to an otherwise super heavy dish. So I stole the idea. I added it to my family kugel, along with some cardamom and a bit of lemon for additional depth of flavor, and I fine tuned the sweetness to create the new and improved family kugel that Bernie is going to grow up with. 

And it’s of course only fitting that I’m using Our Family goodies to make Our Family Kugel! They make it easy to make this recipe since their cottage cheese and sour cream comes in big enough tubs that you end up using just a whole big tub of each. 

Make this for Rosh Hashanah or it’s also great prepped in advance, so make it for Yom Kippur break fast.

L’Shana Tovah, everyone! 


Noodle Kugel with Cardamom and Apples

Serves 8

ingredients

Kosher salt

1 lb Our Family wide egg noodles

6 tb (85g) unsalted butter, divided

5 large eggs

1 lb Our Family cottage cheese

1 lb Our Family sour cream

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1 c (236 mL) whole or 2% milk

2 tsp cinnamon, divided

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tb vanilla extract

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 granny smith apples, chopped

2 c (260g) pecans, chopped

1/2 c (100g) light brown sugar

clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish or similar (pictured is a deep 9” x 9” casserole) and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the egg noodles to al dente, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and toss with 4 tablespoons of butter.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, milk, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In a small bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Fold the noodles and apples into the cottage cheese mixture and then transfer to the casserole dish. 

In a small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add the pecans, brown sugar, remaining teaspoon of cinnamon, and a good pinch of salt. Sprinkle it all over the top of the noodles. Bake until set, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly and serve.

To prep it the day before, do everything up until the step where you top it with the nuts. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, top it with the nuts and bake as directed, but tack on another few minutes to the baking time. 


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

this recipe was created in partnership with our family!

Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

My concept of time right now is all thrown off, I’ve just gotten home from celebrating Hanukkah* (and I have the dreidels on my nails to show it), summer has decided to come back for a weird unwelcome encore (get away!!), and I spent all last week testing Christmas cookie recipes. And the tomatoes have finally decided to turn red. Have you ever had a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch followed by a piece of stollen for dessert? It’s so weird. I mean, ok, I can’t complain, it’s all good things except for the gross 80 degree heat but I am ready to truly immerse myself in the upcoming high holidays because I think Rosh Hashanah is my preferred new year out of the three new years that we do. I just feel like the fact that it happens at the beginning of the school year and the start of sweater weather makes it feel way more like the dawn of something exciting than the Gregorian New Year (which hasn’t really been fun since I was 22 and could drink a Red Bull and vodka together) and the Chinese New Year (which is delicious and great but January as a month is kinda a drag. And I’m too old to get envelopes of money now 🤷🏻‍♀️). 

*We just filmed the Hanukkah Cooking Championship for Food Network! It was a dream. I even got kinda emotional over the fact that there is actually going to be a Hanukkah show on Food Network!! The food was so delicious and the other people on it were the bee’s knees. Whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah, you guys are going to lurrrv this show. 

Speaking of celebrating Jewish holidays on the TV (!), this weekend is the Rosh Hashanah brunch episode of Girl Meets Farm! Both Stoopie and my silly Aunt Cathy came to town to film this episode and it was a blast. I cooked brisket with my mom, made a celery cocktail with Aunt Cathy, and introduced Bernie to her crazy family. The recipe I’m most excited about is these apple butter rolls, which look just like cinnamon rolls, but they’re better because they’re topped with honey marzipan frosting. If you’ve ever thought omg challah baking in the oven is the best smell evarrr, try filling little swirly rolls of challah with a very cinnamony apple butter and grated almond paste and, wow, your pumpkin spice candle didn’t stand a chance. And then they get topped with a frosting made of marzipan butter and honey which is thick, glossy, luxurious, parve, and perfect. So you’re checking all of the Rosh Hashanah boxes with these rolls: Round challah? Check. Apples? Check. Honey? Check. A make-ahead situation? Check check. And marzipan, because a few years back I started including marzipan with the apples and honey tradition since almonds go so well with both apples and honey, and it just decided to stick around. They are so soft and fluffy and decadent and good. Exactly the ticket for a sweet New Year!


Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

ingredients

1 c (236ml) almond milk, warm (105-110ºf)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp + 1/4 c (50g) sugar

4 1/2 c (585g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

a pinch of cardamom

2 large eggs

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

1/4 c (84g) honey

1 tsp vanilla

 

filling

3/4 c (204g) apple butter, store-bought or homemade

1 tsp cinnamon

6 oz (170g) almond paste, grated on the big holes of a box grater or finely chopped

Eggwash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

 

frosting

1 1/2 c (192g) blanched almonds

1/4 c (84g) honey

Zest from 1/2 a lemon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp almond extract

6 tb (89ml) almond milk

Toasted sliced almonds, for topping

clues

Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and swirl together. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy on top.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir the yeast mixture and the oil mixture into the dry mixture and then knead, either on a work surface or with the dough hook, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes. Place in an oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and roll it out into a large 18” x 12” rectangle. Spread it with the apple butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and almond paste. Roll it up tightly the long way, and pinch the edges to seal. Cut into 12 rolls and place evenly spaced in a 9” x 13” baking dish (3 rows of 4). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or let rise at room temperature for another hour and then go directly to the baking step.

When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until puffy. Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Remove the plastic wrap and brush with the egg wash. Bake until the rolls are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. 

To make the frosting: Blend the almonds in a food processor, scraping the sides occasionally, until creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes. Add the honey, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract and continue to blend (it may clump together at this point up that’s ok) as you drizzle in the milk. Blend until creamy. This can be made the day before and stored in the fridge.

When the rolls come out of the oven, spread them with the frosting, sprinkle with the almonds and serve.


Rainbow Cake with Strawberry Buttercream + My Blog is Ten!

10 years ago this week, this blog was born! I feel like I should make a speech?? I’m terrible at speeches (see: the time I officiated Stoop’s wedding and made the speech about farts), but I’ll give it a try anyway because I’ve been getting a little emotional reflecting on these past 10 years and thinking about how much fun and fulfilling it’s been to keep this blog. She’s been with me through so much! My bangs and eyeliner phase, my schnitzel eating phase, my lunch packing bike riding phase! The first layer cake I ever made is buried in these archives, as is the first recipe I ever wrote. I blogged about my first date with Eggboy, our move to the farm, our wedding, our Bernie... I’ve made so many of my closest friends through my blog and documented adventure after adventure after weeeeeeird adventure. And seriously now that I think of it, I really would have no friends here if I didn’t meet them through my blog haha. 

This blog has led to my book and my show and helped me cobble together a job that I wake up every day excited to go to and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I am also so extremely grateful for the connections I’ve made to you. I feel like I have pen pals all over the world! The internet and social media world has changed so much in the past 10 years (can you believe that this constituted a blog post back in the day?!) and it’ll continue to change but this blog is like a roach, it’ll never die because it’s my diary and since I was 7, I haven’t been able to *not* keep a diary. I just have always had this wild urge to document, no matter how normal my week was.

Thank you for being here and reading and following along and sending over your sweet comments. You really do make the world feel like a smaller warmer cozier place. 

Ok that’s the end of my speech, I’m done being mushy, let’s celebrate with cake!!!

This is my first layer cake postpartum! Making it was a journey. it took like three days! I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to, with all of my time now spent singing Baby Beluga and changing diapers, but finally I put Bernie in the sling and committed. We walked around the house collecting ingredients and remembering where I put the measuring spoons, and the stand mixer white noise sound was like music to her ears. I stuck some cake scraps under her nose so she could smell them and I think she liked it! I also tried to make the colors good and bright so that she could appreciate them. 

I am so happy with the end result, both aesthetically and texturally. I was admittedly nervous about the texture since adding food coloring to batter requires so much extra stirring (and an over-stirred batter can lead to a gummy weird cake) but I ended up basically saving the last stir until I divided the batter between the six bowls and added the food coloring, and that kept the texture just how I like it: fluffy, dense, and moist! This cake is sooo rich, delicious, buttery, and sweet. I like adding coconut oil in addition to butter to up the richness. I typically use refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have any coconutty flavor, but this time I went with unrefined and the tiny hint of coconut flavor was so good, almost almondy. The frosting is flavored with a plop of strawberry preserves which adds a hint of sourness that balances the sweetness quite nicely. I loved eating this cake! I would have eaten way too much of it if I didn’t have the Girl Meets Farm crew here to share it with. 

The colors that I used were all Americolor and in ROYGBV order, they are: chili pepper, pumpkin, dijon, moss, wedgewood, and eggplant. In another world I would have maybe tried to go the all-natural coloring route with matcha and freeze dried berries and turmeric but there was only so much Baby Beluga singing time that I was able to give up so I figured this was an OK compromise!

Obvi you can forego the food coloring all together and just make a hella good vanilla cake with strawberry frosting and maybe even add a layer of strawberry preserves between the cake layers, ooh that’d be good. 

Happy baking!


Rainbow Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

makes one 6-layer 6” cake

ingredients

3 1/2 c (450g) all-purpose flour

1 tb baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 c (300g) heavy cream, room temperature

1/2 c (120g) sour cream, room temperature

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c (100g) refined or unrefined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

food coloring (see notes above for specific colors that I used)

 

strawberry buttercream:

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 c (80g) strawberry preserves

5 c (600g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

6 tb (90g) heavy cream

a drop of pink food coloring, optional

clues

to make the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of six 6” cake pans with parchment and set aside (if you don’t have six pans, you can bake in batches).

in a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. in a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream and set aside. 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, stopping right after you add the last of the dry mixture and cream mixture- don’t mix them in completely because when you mix in the food coloring you’ll continue to mix and that’s when everything will get combined. (the reason for this is that you want to prevent over-mixing at all costs!) divide the batter between 6 medium bowls (using a scale is the most efficient way to do this) and stir in good big plops of food coloring until the batter is bright. distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread it out evenly.

bake until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it overbake. let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

to make the buttercream: 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and preserves until creamy. gradually add the powdered sugar, and then mix in the salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. mix until creamy.

to frost the cake, level the tops of the layers and then stack them up with a thin layer of frosting in between. frost all over and decorate as desired! enjoy!


Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Hello, I am so excited about this cake mix!!!! It’s everything I love in one tidy highly giftable package: cute jars, sprinkles, typewriter cards, string, peanut butter (!), a menorah candle disguised as a birthday wish, and the anticipation of cake! Developing this might have been my favorite part of meal prep especially because it’s the most fun and also, well, it’s for my birthday today! I just figured, who knows if Eggboy will have time to bake my annual yellow cake, and I’ll certainly be too busy to pipe a dang embroidery marzipan llama. So what’s the easiest next best option? A homemade peanut butter cake mix with chocolate glaze mix that I can whip up with a Bernie in one arm and a whisk in the other. I assembled the mix back in March and it’s been sitting in my pantry since. (I kind of feel like I should have half a dozen of these on hand for future cake emergencies, no?) I’d never made anything like it before but realized after looking at my peanut butter cake ingredients that most of the ingredients are easily available in powdered form. Powdered peanut butter and powdered milk were the only two things that I didn’t already have on hand but I bought some at the store and tried them out and they worked so well! So the only things that are required for assembly are an egg, oil, and water, just like a store-bought mix! The result is a really moist and fluffy cake with a shiny chocolatey glaze. I made a set of dala horse cakes, just enough for our little family, but this can be made in a round 8” cake pan or easily doubled and made into a sheet cake!


Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Makes 1 One-layer 8” Round Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

3/4 c + 2 tb (175g) sugar

1/2 c + 2 tb (81g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c (65g) cake flour, or more all-purpose flour

1/4 c (28g) powdered peanut butter (such as PB2)

2 tb (14g) milk powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/8 tsp baking powder

Glaze:

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/4 c (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I like dutch cocoa for the darker color)

2 tb (14g) powdered peanut butter

1 tb (7g) milk powder

Other bells and whistles:

A birthday candle

A card with directions (see below)

A packet of sprinkles and other colorful candy

Other decorations as desired

Clues

In a medium jar (I used a 1/2 L Weck jar), layer the sugar, flour, cake flour, peanut butter powder, milk powder, salt, and baking powder. In a separate smaller jar (I used a 1/4 L Weck jar), layer the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, peanut butter powder, and milk powder. Cover and wrap up cutely with a candle, directions card, a packet of sprinkles, and any other decorations. Go wild! Gift it to the birthday person! 

Directions To Bake (print this out or make a card on a typewriter if you’re into that)

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease an 8” round cake pan.

  2. Dump the large jar into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1 large egg, 1 cup water, and 1/4 cup oil and whisk to combine. 

  3. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan.

Glaze:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons water to the small jar and mix until spreadable, adding an additional tablespoon of water if it’s too thick to spread. Pour over cake.

  2. Decorate and enjoy!