Forgive the day's delay, but I've been busy cooking. We celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Sunday night and Monday and of course, the observance involved considerable amounts of food.
We were honored to be included in the family dinner of some very close friends. This family has lots of extended family in the area, and approximately 30 of them get together for almost every holiday. Needless to say, I wanted to make sure whatever I brought to their party would pass muster! As the only unrelated guests, our little family of four needed to make an understated, but valuable contribution.
One Rosh Hashanah tradition is to serve apples and honey, for a sweet new year. So, I wanted to make an apple dessert, but something different from the crisp which I make all the time and serves about six.
I turned to my shelf of cook books and found a recipe in Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food. The recipe below is her Apple Strudel. As a strudel novice, I found it very easy, as did my sous-chef, my 14-year-old daughter, who did much of the work.
Roden says this recipe makes four strudel rolls, but we produced eight! Either her filo dough sheets are larger than the ones I bought (frozen foods section), or she puts more filling into each roll, or both. But the way we did it worked very well.The strudel is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature, so it's a good thing to prepare in advance. In fact, because this recipe produced eight rolls of strudel, we kept half for the lunch we hosted yesterday for 15 people.
I love the two birds with one stone thing!
One note is that filo dough is tricky to work with; it is paper-thin and tears very easily, so be gentle! Also, I changed the recipe directions and proportions a bit to simplify them and explain the method in a way that made more sense to us.
From The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
20 sheets of filo (defrosted, if using frozen dough)
6 oz melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle on
For the filling
2 lbs tart apples, such as Granny Smiths (I used Macoun and they were delicious)
Juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons of sugar, or to taste
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dry fine bread crumbs or ground almonds (I used bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the filling. Peel and core the apples. Squeeze the lemon juice in a bowl and turn the apples around in it so that they do not brown. Then coarsely chop or finely dice them (I reversed these two steps, thinking lemon juice-y apples would be hard to chop and it was fine. Chop them first and then toss them in the lemon juice.) Return the apples to the bowl and mix with the rest of the filling ingredients.
Open the package of filo just before using. Unroll or unfold the sheets (gently!) and leave them in a pile. Brush the top one lightly with melted butter and put it to one side. Brush four more with melted butter and layer them one by one on top of the first.
Put an eighth or so of the filling along one long edge of the dough about 2 1/2 inches from the edge and 1 inch from the sides. Roll and tuck the dough around the filling, as if you were making a wrap or a burrito. It should be sealed up with one seam down the center on the bottom.
Lift the roll carefully and place on a greased baking dish (I use parchment paper on a baking sheet). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until crisp and golden and puffed up. Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.