Thursday, October 3, 2013
Noodle Casserole with Apples and Cheese
I found the bones of this recipe in "Hometown Cooking in New England", a collection of recipes from community cookbooks compiled by Sandra Taylor and published by Yankee magazine twenty years ago. I was looking for some ideas about using apples, and if one wants apple recipes New England cookbooks are the place to find them-
I bought the apples at a farm market store called The Green Door Gourmet which is out on the River Road that follows the Cumberland as it flows north to Ashland City. They are good non-synthetic apples that taste like apples, and they did not have that creepy, shiny look of the lacquered supermarket kinds.
I had to adapt the recipe, which came out of the "Poker Hill Cookbook" from Underhill, Vermont. I had to substitute because I had no cheddar cheese and no mace spice. I had everything thing else, which is a good thing since without the apples the recipe would have been a non starter-
I used Buttermilk Farmhouse cheese I had also bought at the "Green Door", and I topped the casserole with crushed up toasted breadcrumbs. I substituted cinnamon for mace and added a pinch or two of ground fenugreek to add a little maple sugar taste. I also added 3 tbs. of Ricotta cheese for no reason other than I felt like it. When I cook the tinkering never stops-
Here are the ingredients:
7 ounces of cooked noodles. The cookbook did not specify what noodle, so I used fideo, which are nothing other than vermicelli broken into inch long pieces. I think egg noodles or orzo would work as well.
1/2 cup cheddar cheese or Buttermilk farmhouse cheese,grated.
3 tbs Ricotta cheese.
3 tbs butter,melted.
2 cups of peeled, diced apples.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, plus a tablespoon or two to sprinkle on top.
A few pinches of cinnamon, to taste. A pinch or two of ground fenugreek, though this is optional.
1/4 cup panko crumbs or toasted bread crumbs.
Pour the noodles into a 2 quart greased casserole. Add the butter and cheese and toss and mix well. Then add the apples, the seasonings and the sugar and mix again. Sprinkle the Panko crumbs over the top, and then the extra brown sugar.
Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.
This should serve 4-6 people and is an obvious brunch dish.
I found this cookbook at an estate sale, and I would bet that someone bought it on a trip to New England, perhaps in autumn when they drove north to see the leaves turn. This is just the book one would find in a gift shop or at the welcome desk at a country inn.
Just looking through it takes me back four decades to my life in New Hampshire and Vermont. To the Saturday night buffets at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont. To the all day bike trips through the Kedron Valley. To the farm stands along the Connecticut River in towns like Orford and Norwich.
Cookbooks are a lot more than just recipes.