What is an Auflauf? “German hotdish” is probably the quickest (if not the most elegant and precise) way to sum up the concept — warm, comforting, carb-laden casseroles that perfectly match chilly fall (and frigid winter) weather. Thus the Twin Cities German Immersion School Second Annual Auflauf Cook-Off, held in Northeast Minneapolis at precisely the point in the calendar year where the temperature tends to begin its slide from temperate to polar.
A panel of six judges (including this writer) evaluated roughly thirty entries in three broad categories: German Traditional (Auflauf), American Traditional (Hotdish), and Non-Traditional / Other. From the exotic (Erntedank Auflauf or Zigeunerauflauf, for example) to the highly familiar (a black bean casserole or a tater tot hot dish), the entries were generally well executed, savory, soothingly heavy celebrations of starch and cream.
And if you’re reading this, and think it sounds a little similar to another Northeast home-cooking showdown, you’re absolutely right.
“I shamelessly stole the idea from the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association in NE Minneapolis and its highly successful, annual Hot Dish Revolution,” writes event creator and TCGIS parent Leslie Watson. “I’m a longtime Northeaster and have always loved the HD Revolution, and I thought it might be kind of funny if our school’s PTO staged a German equivalent.”
“We actually sold out this year, and I guess it’s possible that we’ll keep expanding, especially since our school is still growing every year. That decision will be up to next year’s crew of organizers.”
Without further fuss, the results:
1st Place – Non-Traditional: Wayne Schneider with “Vegetarian Moussaka”
Comforting, well balanced, authentic to the form — if you’re going to leave the auflauf world for exotic destinations it’s hard to top moussaka.
1st Place – American Traditional: Michelle Sheire with “Tater Tot Hot Dish”
What’s not to love about a well-executed classic tater tot hotdish like this one? In a nutshell: It’s homespun Upper Midwestern soul food.
1st Place – Auflauf: Lisa Friedman with “Kugel” (see recipe below)
The kugel really caught the judges’ attention for two reasons; first, the German judges were struck by its authenticity; second, the non-German judges were struck by how it stood out from the overall pack, combining a cinnamon sweetness with creamy noodles.
Best in Show: Lisa Friedman
People’s Choice: Lisa Friedman
The Ultimate Noodle Kugel
from Beyond Chicken Soup: A Collection of Contemporary and Traditional Food Favorites
Jewish Home Auxiliary Rochester, NY
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cooking time: 40 minutes
13 x 9 x 2 inch pan, greased
8 oz medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
2 apples, peeled and chopped
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 T butter, melted
1 cup milk
8 oz creamed cottage cheese
½ pint sour cream
3 oz cream cheese
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup cornflake crumbs
½ cup sugar
6 T melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ) Combine noodles and apple
2 ) In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter, and milk
3 ) Add cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese, mixing until well blended
4 ) Fold in noodle and apple mixture
5 ) Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle topping over noodle mixture
6 ) Bake until knife inserted into center of kugel comes out clean
Can be made ahead and frozen. To reheat, defrost and warm in microwave oven, covered.
If you don’t have sour cream, you can use one of these as a substitution. For 1 cup, use 1 cup plain yogurt or 1 cup evaporated milk plus 1 T vinegar, or use 1 cup cottage cheese mixed in a blender with 2 T milk and 1 tsp lemon juice.