I have a fabulous friend Chloe who is that friend that you would love to hate because she does everything better than you, but she’s so damn nice you can’t. Seriously: crafting, make up, food, clothing, mothering… you name it, she does it better than 90% of the people I know. (And that’s only because I know some famous people in their genre.) To prove my point, I will show you a picture of Chloe and I from one of the rare nights out that she was able to escape the confines of motherhood and join us at a concert…
So yesterday during my shopping spree I went and got E.L.F make up, which is something that Chloe turned me on to, so of course I sent her a message about my purchases. While we were talking she sent me the following email:
I read the recipe, and discovered the most amazing dish I have ever read – and immediately wrote a list on how I could make this. Then, I asked her if I could share it with you. She said yes – so here it is!!!
Hobbiton Harvest Kugel
Inspired by the collected works of J.J.R. Tolkien
Adapted for the modern human by Chloe Adler
Here is a savory, satisfying baked pasta dish which showcases the very best of the Shire’s autumn bounty. A mix of earthy, meaty wild mushrooms—beloved by Hobbits and readily available for fall foraging in the woods surrounding Hobbiton– lend substance to the delicate flavors of roasted pumpkin and winter squash punctuated by creamy, nutty Dwarf-made cheese (which enjoyed a modest spike in popularity upon Bilbo’s return from his adventure with the dwarves, but was probably introduced earlier by the occasional traveling peddler. The closest modern-human equivalent would be a cave-aged Gruyère) and finished with fragrant local herbs. The noodles used were probably homemade using a method very similar to modern-day German drop spaetzle, but in this version, store-bought egg noodles work very well.
As accomplished growers and farmers, the people of the Shire took a great deal of pride in their nutritional self-sufficiency, and it is easy to imagine them growing and storing sturdy pumpkins, squash and other winter vegetables as well as simple cheeses and salted meats. Herb-lore was important to Hobbits, and it is likely that they also cultivated ancestors of modern-day sage, thyme, and parsley growing in their kitchen gardens for drying. Rosemary might have thrived also, but as it is considered Mediterranean in origin, may have been another import whose introduction could be attributed tothe rare visitor from the South. There is also mention of coffee and tea consumption which, given the local climate, suggests that the importation of consumables was not unheard of. With few exceptions, however, the Hobbit way was generally to keep it simple and resist the influence of foreign cuisines; indeed, opportunities to experience foreign fare were few and far between as world-traveling Hobbits were rare. That said, the Hobbit community was a small one and if eating was a major source of entertainment, cooking was probably a source of good-natured competition, with secret recipes revered and passed down through generations.
This recipe can be easily multiplied and made ahead for large gatherings. It can even be frozen and kept on hand for unexpected parties. It pairs nicely with a dry, aromatic white wine such as Argentinean Torrontes and is hearty enough to be served on its own; however, it plays well with mustard-baked ham or roast pork if you’ve really got something to celebrate. Namárië, Chloe
(1) 12 oz. package egg noodles
Approximately 1 lb of roasted, mashed flesh from a winter squash such as butternut, acorn, or a small pie pumpkin. Pure canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling; the only ingredient should be pumpkin, no spices) may be substituted.
1 lb of ricotta cheese
3 cups finely shredded Swiss (my favorites are Gruyère or Jarlsberg) or Gouda cheese, or a mix
1 lb cremini or wild mushrooms (porcini, morels, chanterelles), or a mix
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
A splash of heavy cream
Fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary, about two teaspoons finely chopped
Two tablespoons of olive oil, plus one tablespoon of butter to flavor it
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. In a large pasta pot, begin heating water with a handful of salt and a splash of olive oil for egg noodles.
Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in your biggest skillet over medium-low heat. When butter is completely melted and foaming has stopped, add onion.
Slice or chop mushrooms according to your preference, and sauté with the onions until browned and soft. Season with salt and black pepper, remove from heat and set aside.
When water boils, add egg noodles and cook according to package directions for al dente. While the noodles cook, beat the eggs and heavy cream together with the herbs, a pinch of salt and plenty of black
When the noodles are done, drain them and add it to the pan with the mushrooms and onions. Add the squash, ricotta, and half of the shredded cheese, and carefully fold together just until mixed. Turn this mixture into a buttered heavy earthenware dish, spreading it evenly.
Pour the egg mixture over the noodle mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until egg mixture is set and top begins to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with herb sprigs.