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.


Homemade Snickers

We had a very big weekend! Bernie had her first solid food!!! Our apple trees were ready for their first little harvest, so we zipped up in our matching green hoodies, I strapped her in her carrier, and together we walked outside and picked a basket of apples. Then we peeled them, chopped them into pieces, and simmered them with a little cinnamon as we sang that we like to Oat Oat Oat Opples and Banonos. The apples were still a little tart (I’m pretty sure they’re Gala apples but they don’t get that sweet until the first frost) so I added a chopped Honeycrisp to the mix. Once they got very soft, I pureed them with a stick blender and then poured them into her cute baby blocks. Then we fed the apple cores to the chickens!

We also made squash puree! Peeling a butternut squash with a five-month-old takes half a day but we did it and steamed some for Bernie food to stick in the freezer and used the rest for grownup supper.

I’m inspired by Bringing Up Bébé to try to serve Bernie the same foods that Eggboy and I eat, so on Monday night we sat down for supper and all ate apples! Apple squash hotdish for us, applesauce for Bernie. Sitting down to our first real family dinner was a dream come true. And, ok, Bernie’s reaction to the applesauce wasn’t exactly the same excited reaction that she had after slurping up grape flavored Tylenol back when she got her four-month shots, but she went back for a second bite! And almost a third. And then made a face that said you overdid it on the acidity, mommy, you’re chopped. I’m pretty sure the apples were just too tart for her. Oops. I think I’ll add another Honeycrisp next time. Anyway, it’s all just going to get better from here and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she’s opining on my cake textures and soup seasoning! Wouldn’t it be funny if her first word was “moist.”

We have another very big weekend coming right up: Bernie’s TV debut along with the debut of season four of Girl Meets Farm on Sunday!! Not to give away any spoilers but the season premiere is hella cute. Because Bernie. And also because it features one of my new favorite dessert recipes, homemade Snickers!! Ugh they are so dangerously good and easy to make. Really surprisingly easy. When I think of Snickers bars, I think of nougat and caramel and when I think of nougat and caramel I think of candy thermometers and time-sensitive things and too many pots and then having to scrub too many pots of sticky stuff and it strikes fear! But it turns out that there’s a perfect hack for the nougat, which is marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow fluff + nut butter + sugar = Snickers nougat but better because you can use any nut or seed butter you want and you just mix it up in one bowl, no thermometer needed. And with the caramel thing, I’ve decided I’m probably only using store bought caramel from now until Bernie and any future younger siblings of hers go off to college. Another thing that’s fun with these is that you can change up the nuts, as long as they are salted and roasted since they need to balance out the sweetness of the nougat and caramel. Over the summer, my mom and I made tahini snickers with pistachios, almond butter snickers with macadamia nuts (that’s what’s pictured here), and the classic peanut butter with peanut scenario. It’s truly a Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. You could also theoretically use different types of chocolate with these but I’d recommend sticking with dark because, again, the nougat and caramel are indeed quite sweet. These little guys come together really quickly, they might be my new favorite no-bake dessert, and they keep really well in the fridge. So yeah, I can’t stress enough their element of danger because of how good they are, but if you learned anything from your halva bars, just keep them next to the carrots. Carrot, Snickers, carrot, Snickers, balance. 


Homemade Snickers:

Makes 16 Candy Bars

ingredients

3 c (720g) dark chocolate chips, divided

1 tb refined coconut oil, divided

½  c (128g) unsweetened nut or seed butter

2 c (192g) marshmallow fluff

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

2 tb whole milk or almond milk

3/4 c (84g) roasted salted nuts

11 oz (312g) caramels

2 tb heavy cream or almond milk

Flaky salt, for topping

clues

Spray the bottom and sides of an 8” x 8” square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper that hangs over the edge of the pan by an inch on two sides.  Add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips and 1 ½ tsp of coconut oil to a glass bowl and place the bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir the chocolate until it has melted completely, about 5 minutes.  Pour it into the pan and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly in a thin layer all over the bottom. Place in the freezer to set.

Meanwhile make the filling.  In a large bowl mix together the marshmallow fluff, nut or seed butter,  powdered sugar, and milk. Mix well until it becomes a soft dough-like consistency (this mixture is incredibly sticky and you may need to use your hands).  Remove the pan from the freezer, wet your finger tips and press the fluff filling down over the chocolate in an even layer. Sprinkle the nuts on top and press lightly into the fluff.  

Add the caramel and cream to a small sauce pot and cook over low heat, while stirring.  Cook until the caramels are melted, 5-8 minutes. Spread the caramel over the fluff and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil. Spread the chocolate over the top of the caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Place back in the refrigerator until chocolate is fully set and hardened, about an hour or up to overnight.

Using the parchment, pull the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Run a sharp knife until warm water and then cut 16 bars. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge. These should keep for a week or even longer, if they last that long.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in to Food Network this Sunday at 11a/10c for the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm! Here are some pics from this episode!

halva magic bars

Hello from my first week back to blogging life after seven weeks of filming and three months of maternity leave! Season 4 is officially in the bag (and scheduled to premiere on September 8th!), and after a one-day trip to New York earlier this week to make turkey on the Today Show, I am home and ready to figure out this whole test-noodle-kugel-recipes-while-Bernie-is-singing-Baby-Beluga-with-Grandma-in-the-living-room thing. It’s gonna be great! I’m gonna squish her cheeks anytime I want!

The Season 4 shoot was so much fun. It really was like summer camp: we had movie night under the stars, a wiener-fueled bonfire, bourekas in a wheat field, and a dance party with backstreet boys and a disco ball and everything. On the weekends we sat on the beach and invented new uses for the word gourmet. (“Are you wearing a Juicy velour robe? That is so gourmet!” “Did you just get very extravagant nail art? How gourmet!” Basically: fancy but not trendy, and nothing at all to do with food.) On the last day, I got Iced and that was that. I miss the crew so much already.

One of my faaaaavorite recipes from this season were the Halva magic bars that I made for an episode that’s an ode to Midwestern potlucks. Every potluck around here has to have a bar- a brownie, blondie, lemon square, cookie bar, etc. I grew up calling these desserts by their specific names but here they’re all just lumped into one big geometrically pleasing category that is the centerpiece for my go-to sample of a Midwest accent (“Are you going to bring the bars, Marge?” where the “ar” sounds a little pirate-y… aim for the back of your mouth and you’ll see what I mean.)

Magic bars, or 7-layer bars (tomato/tomahto), are one of the top three bars of all time. They are dangerously delicious and they’re magic because you make them by just piling everything into a pan. You don’t have to mix anything in a bowl or soften butter or commit any real effort, they’re so easy and the return is so great that it honestly feels like you’re cheating the world. 

The classic magic bar has butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut, but in a painfully predictable move, I’ve subbed out the butterscotch for crumbled halva and the pecans for pistachios. And of course the condensed milk was just begging for some rosewater (it gets topped with coconut, can you blame me?!). Listen, one day I’ll make something that doesn’t feature the holy combination of coconut + rosewater + pistachio + halvah but, like, today’s not that day. And neither is tomorrow. 

The result is a bar that’s just as chewy and gooey and amazing as the original, but with a little more color: nuttiness and flakiness from the halvah, greenery and saltiness from the pistachios, floral notes from the rosewater, and pretty pops of pink from the optional rose petals on top. It’s a Midwestern/Middle Eastern mashup that was bound to happen at some point because all of these flavors work so darn well together. Proceed with caution because you will want to eat the whole batch immediately. Luckily storing them in the fridge makes them even better because it makes them chewier, so hide them in the back behind the carrots and just eat a carrot every time you go in for a bar. They’ll cancel each other out.


Halva Magic Bars

makes 20

ingredients

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter

9 graham cracker rectangles (1 package)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (175g) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1 1/2 c (226g) crumbled halva

1 c (120g) roasted pistachios

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk

1 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 c (160g) sweetened shredded coconut

2 tb dried rose petals, optional

clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and line the bottom with parchment. Add the butter and stick it in the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers by putting them in a large ziploc bag and smashing with a rolling pin or blending in a food processor. When the butter’s melted, swirl it around the bottom of the pan and scatter the graham cracker crumbs evenly all over (you’re not actually making a full on graham cracker crust, don’t worry about packing it down or anything).  Sprinkle with salt, then sprinkle the chocolate chips, halva, and pistachios all over. Pour a little of the condensed milk on top and then add the rosewater and vanilla to the remaining condensed milk and mix it in. Pour it evenly all over the pan. Sprinkle the coconut on top and rose petals, if using. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool fully (ideally overnight or for a few hours in the fridge) before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a good few days.