My Mother’s Apple, Raisin, Noodle Kugel

Posted by hsimpsongrossman on February 18, 2014

You have been deprived of a great winter recipe, my dear invisible readers.

I was trying to write a post about a hearty Potato, Mushroom, Barley, Soup for over a week now.  It was a great success in France during our ski vacation.  The perfect answer to last week’s ferocious East Coast storm.

The draft was a piece of art.  I managed to capture, in those few paragraphs preceding the recipe (which most of you undoubtedly skip), my determination to wake up at 6 AM every morning despite the cold and darkness to prepare breakfast for my ski buddies, the spirit of comradeship among my crew of sous-chefs and I, the warmth and coziness in my tiny kitchen in contrast to “the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance” (some Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain for you Dada).  Yadi yadi yada.

Apple Raisin noodle Kugel Crack of Dawn?
Crack of Dawn?

Yet every time I sat down trying to finalize that post, the little Woody Wood Pecker inside my head kept on pestering me, bobbing his head up and down, squeaking: “Noodle Kugel”, “What about the Noodle Kugel?”, “Hey, remember that Apple, Raisin, Noodle Kugel?”, and infinite variations thereof.

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel Risking It All On The Ledge
Risking It All On The Ledge

I tried to ignore him, but he, knowing me so well, began pushing all the right buttons: “remember the hot chocolate we had with it?”

How could I forget-made with Swiss chocolate! But I can’t post it!  That kugel doesn’t fall into any of the parameters of a blog worthy recipe! Why would anyone, in this day and age, want to read about an old-fashioned Ashkenazi Jewish baked pudding?”

You have a point there. Aha! But, wait! What about the children?”

“Which Children?”

The ones in your ski group who gobbled up piece after piece thinking it was cake?”

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel Please Sir Can I Have Some More
Please Sir, Can I Have Some… More?

Hmmm.  One shouldn’t forget the children, though I doubt they or their parents read my blog.” “Very unlikely indeed. Wait! I’ve got it! What about Mama? Isn’t it time you brought a recipe of hers in your blog? After everything she’s done for you all these years?”

And he had me, point blank, yet again.  You see, after 40-odd years, we learned to co-exist, my alter ego and I.  I know what’s expected of me (keeping a facade of self composure, strictness, martyrdom).   He knows what the frivolous, capricious, exciting real me wants, and tempts me to make the wrong (right?) choice. Sometimes I manage to resist, but quite often I help him find a way around for me to do the irresponsible, fun thing.

He knew all along I preferred this warm, spicy, mildly sweet yet with a kick of tartness from the apples, crunch from the nuts, studded with plumped up raisins (sorry guys, I used some of your best whisky for that.  And for the apple-date cake.  Oh, and for the onion soup too), over the more responsible, appropriate, hearty soup.  I just needed the extra push from that other me.  And mentioning my mother did it.  Smitten Kitchen made it to my blog and my own mother did not?! What will the invisible readers say?! And the Forum ladies, what will they think?!

Seriously now. My mother has perfected this kugel over the years, taking the best from a few traditional versions of the dish.  She serves it mainly around Tu B’shvat (the day which marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees according to Jewish tradition) and Purim (a fun and joyous Jewish holiday (why the surprised face?!  We too have fun holidays!), and other festive occasions.

My mother reminded me of this kugel before our trip to France, when I was looking for something appropriate to serve on Tu B’svat, which happened to occur during our vacation.  That’s when I discovered that it’s a great brunch dish or stand alone afternoon snack, just as much as it is a dressy side dish.

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel Winter Is Coming
Winter Is Coming..

As with most pictures from our week in France, these where taken by Jack all mighty (except for the less pretty ones).

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel Dark Mysterious Stranger
Dark Mysterious Stranger

The kugel is best served the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to mingle, which makes it a great dish to prepare ahead of a busy day.

Try to remember to plump up the raisins with some wine or brandy – it makes a hell of a difference.

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel Playing Hard to Get
Playing Hard to Get

Apple, Raisin, Noodle Kugel on the Spot: Soak raisins.  Cook Noodles.  Mix everything together.  Bake til golden and crisp on top.  Voilà!

My Mother’s Apple, Raisin, Noodle Kugel

Ingredients, for about 8 servings:

1/2 cup raisins (optional, but please do not omit)

1/4 cup brandy or whisky (skip if omitting raisins)

12 oz. /about 400 grams, medium-sized egg noodle

3 large eggs

4 tablespoons of  vegetable or canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

A pinch of salt

Lemon zest from one lemon

3 Granny Smith apples

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Method:

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Grease or line with parchment paper a 9*13 or similarly sized baking dish.

Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour brandy, wine or whisky over them.  Add enough hot water to cover the raisins.  Let them soak and plump while you tend to the other ingredients.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the noodles, bring the water back to a boil and cook the noodles until al-dente, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles well and place in a large bowl . Add oil and mix into the noodles so that they do not lump together. Add eggs, sugar, lemon zest and spices and mix again.

Apple Raisin noodle Kugel Makeshift Kitchen
Makeshift Kitchen

Coarsely grate the apples (no need to peel), either on the large holes of a box grater, or if you don’t mind taking it out, washing its parts, drying them and putting everything back, using the grating attachment of a food processor.

Drain the plumped up raisins.

Mix the grated apples, raisins and nuts (if using) gently into the noodle mix.

Apple Raisin noodle Kugel All Set
All Set

Transfer mixture into prepared baking dish and cover lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 40 minutes covered, rotating once in the middle. Uncover and bake for anohter half hour, rotating once in the middle, until golden-brown and crunchy, and a knife/toothpick inserted in the middle comes out nice and clean. Serve warm.

The kugel keeps well in the fridge, tightly covered, for about 5 days.  It also freezes extremely well.

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