Friday, March 29, 2013

Apple Matzah Kugel

I promised you another Passover recipe, and while the brownies were good (have you tried them yet?), this one is my absolute favorite.  Before I get into it, though, I want to make something very clear:  this IS a gebrochts recipe, so if you generally abstain from eating anything where the matzah comes into contact with the water, then unfortunately, this is not the recipe for you.

If gebrochts isn't an issue for you and you want some more information, I'll give you a crash course:

Many Asheknazic and Chasidic Jews avoid putting matzah and its derivatives into water or any other liquid.  If a clump of flour is not kneaded into the dough, it can still be susceptible to leavening.  If this flour came into contact with water, it would become chametz, which is not allowed on Passover.  For those of us living in the Diaspora (outside of Israel), Passover is 8 days, not 7.  This 8th day is more of a celebratory day, connected with the future redemption and a time when no evil will befall us.  As such, those who are normally only non-gebrochts during Passover make it a point to eat gebrochts on this last day of Passover, without worrying that it will turn into chametz.

Now that I have made my Jewish friends and Rabbis proud for remembering all of this information, let me tell you a little bit about this recipe.

First, we have to go into the way-back machine to about 12 years ago, when I first learned how to make this.  You see, at the time, my aunt was really sick with ALS and was confined to a wheelchair, but goddamnit, she was going to cook Passover dinner one way or the other.  The way to do it was to get my cousin, Jillian, and I to do the handiwork while she did the directing and instructing.  Truthfully, I first learned how to cook and bake in pretty much this exact same way: Auntie sitting across the table from me, directing me and walking me through each recipe, step by step.  When I was 14, I learned how to make a full Passover and Thanksgiving dinner.  Pretty much the only thing we weren't responsible for was the turkey, and that's because my uncle put it in the oven in the morning before he went to work.
Blast from the past! L-R; Me, mom, my cousin Josh, my auntie, my cousin Jill, circa 1992

The main thing that I remember about first making this recipe is my aunt laughing at me, hysterically.  She used to have to get extra apples (and potatoes) when we were cooking, because for some unknown reason, I was notorious for dropping them into the trash can.  You'll be happy to know that I made it this time around, I only had ONE casualty... and that's because the apple was rotten, not because I dropped it.

So.  My aunt passed away when I was 16, and I've had this recipe since the first time I made it.  I had it at my mom's house, but then I couldn't remember where I tucked it away.  Then, I had my cousin text it to me, but never actually wrote it out.  Then I moved and if I did indeed write it out, it had gotten lost in the shuffle.  When Joe and I moved in here almost 2 years ago, the first thing I had my cousin do when she came over was write this recipe down for me.  I remembered that this was really easy to make and that even though it's a Passover recipe, everyone enjoyed it and gobbled it up in like 2 seconds flat.  I knew that this was the year and that I HAD to make it.

So, I did.  In fact, I made two of them.  And it's everything I remembered.  Basically, this is like a Passover version of an apple crisp/apple pie hybrid.  I used Granny Smith apples, so they still maintain some of their tartness and some of their crunch, but the sugar and spices makes it taste more like a fall dish, while the matzah adds something a little filling and actually works with the apples to create a nice contrast in texture and taste. 

Apple Matzah Kugel
To print this recipe, click here

 4 squares of matzah
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9" x 13" pan.

Place sliced apples in a large bowl and set aside.  In another large bowl, break matzah into pieces.  Cover with water and let soak until soft but not soggy, about 5-8 minutes.  Drain.  Matzah will be wet - do not press dry!

Combine eggs, sugar, butter and spices.  Pour over apples.  Mix in matzah, stirring until everything is coated with the egg mixture.
Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with extra cinnamon, if desired.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top looks dry.

Let cool in pan.  Serve warm.  Store covered leftovers in the fridge.

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