Holiday meals are sacred stuff and it's the rare family that likes to change tradition. Passover is certainly one of those meals. In our family, it means chicken soup with matzoh balls (floaters, not sinkers), doctored gefilte fish (Mom adds cooked carrots and onions to the jelly), brisket, matzoh meal popovers, and usually asparagus as our vegetable side. And, of course, all the delights of the Seder table.
Where we tend to fail each year is with kugel. The problem is they tend to be dry and chewy, especially potato kugel.
My mom and I attended our temple's Women's Seder a couple of weeks ago and both did double takes when we took bites of the matzoh kugel served. We could taste apples. It was moist and not too heavy. We kind of liked it. So when my mom found the recipe of the temple's website, she decided to make it for our little Seder and I decided to make it for the Seder with friends I was invited to the night before Passover began.
But Mom did, of course, change it up. She rarely sticks to an actual recipe but instead adds her unique stamp to it. To this she added a couple more matzohs, plus lemon zest and juice, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans to top it. She chose tart Granny Smiths to keep it from becoming overly sweet.
And then she made a mistake, which actually improved the kugel. She'd put it all together and poured about half of the melted butter on top just before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar and nuts--and then realized she'd forgotten to add the dried cranberries. So she folded them in and the melted butter went with them, adding another layer of flavor. She finished it off with the rest of the butter and the topping and in it went into the oven, where it puffed up like a souffle and came out moist and just a little sweet.
I loved the sound of it so much, I made it for my "pre-Passover" Seder. It's as silky as a noodle kugel--one of my favorite dishes. I think this is going to be a new insert into our family tradition.
Passover Apple-Matzoh Kugel
From Congregation Beth Israel, Adapted by Evie Golden
12 eggs, 2 separated
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled
½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
½ cup melted butter
½ cup lightly toasted, chopped pecans
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Break up matzoh and pour boiling water over the pieces in a bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess moisture if necessary.
- Grate apples and add lemon juice and zest.
- Beat 10 eggs, plus 2 yolks, and the vanilla. Set the whites aside.
- Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and add to the eggs. Stir in the matzoh and apple mixture. Blend well.
- Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until thick. Fold into the egg/matzoh mixture. Add the cranberries and half of the melted butter.
- Pour into a 9 X 13 greased casserole dish. Pour the rest of the melted butter over the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mix and pecan pieces.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.
And, here's a wish for a happy, healthy Pesach to my Jewish friends! Gut Yontiff!