Please welcome our guest today: Shelley Costa is a good friend, an Edgar-nominated author and the creator of the new Italian Restaurant mystery series. We can’t wait to get our hands on the first book You Cannoli Die Once. Not just for the recipes either, although that's part of the appeal. You can find out more about Shelley and her new book at the end of this post. Careful though, this recipe nearly made us swoon!
Apricot Noodle Kugel
There’s my recipe for delicious cannoli in You Cannoli Die Once, Book One in my Italian Restaurant Mystery Series, available in retail stores and online at the end of this month. And in Book Two, you’ll find a recipe for Granita, the icy dessert my head chef/sleuth Eve Angelotta serves at a very special dinner party for a two hundred year old secret (and possibly homicidal) cooking society. But for Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen I wanted to do something different, something outside the world of pomodoro and pizzelle. . .
And then I remembered a scene in Book Two, where Eve, immersed in trying to solve the murder, suddenly finds she’s cooked up a big stock pot full of of ziti and has no idea what to do about it – which, at that point in the story, is also true for the murder. Fortunately, she’s at home and doesn’t have to think Italian and please her hovering grandmother. What she comes up with as a way of saving all that cooked pasta is. . .a sweet noodle kugel. Many sweet noodle kugels.
Here’s a version of noodle kugel I love, thanks to my mother-in-law, who’s an excellent cook. You’ll notice that the rogue ziti Eve cooked up is nowhere on the scene – let’s go traditional with the time-honored egg noodle. This kugel makes a sweet side dish counterpoint to beef and chicken dishes. And for leftovers, if you’re tight on time for lunch the next day, a delectable square of reheated Apricot Noodle Kugel will taste like lunch and dessert all rolled into one. Be careful not to overbake or overzap the next day or the noodles will get too crunchy – you’ve got the corn flake topping for crunch!
APRICOT NOODLE KUGEL
8 oz. broad noodles
6 T butter or margarine, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c sugar
1 c milk
1 c apricot nectar
3 c corn flakes, crushed
¼ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 T butter
Cook the noodles in salted water until tender. Drain and rinse in hot water. Pour the noodles into an ungreased 8x12” pan. Add butter, mix thoroughly, and set aside.
Beat until foamy and pour over the noodes. This filling becomes custard-like and gives the kugel its final shape.
Combine the crushed corn flakes, sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the kugel. Dot with butter.
Bake for 1 hour in 350 ⁰ oven. Turn the oven off and let the kugel remain there for an additional 20 minutes.
Just for a change, sometimes I substitute papaya nectar for the apricot. Papaya’s a bit more understated, and figuring out that flavor will provide your guests with a mystery that has no dead body at the heart of it (always a nice choice at the dinner table). But that unmistakable tang of apricot is really great with the egg/cheese/milk blend in this recipe and is still my favorite. I think it might be interesting to try mango nectar – let me know if you do!
Delicious apricot kugel anyone?
A 2004 Edgar nominee for Best Short Story, Shelley Costa is the author of the new Italian Restaurant Mystery Series, which debuts this month with You Cannoli Die Once (Simon and Schuster Pocket Books, 2013). Her stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Blood on Their Hands,The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and Crimewave (UK), and she’s the author ofThe Everything Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. Shelley is on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she teaches creative writing. She enjoys time with family and friends, reading, plotting (which usually accounts for that faraway look in her eye), and good coffee. No, really good coffee. Find her at www.shelleycosta.com.