(Not My Grandma’s) Matzo Ball Soup

April 14, 2009 § 2 Comments

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This isn’t your standard matzo ball, or at least, it’s not my standard matzo ball.  Growing up, whenever my mom or Grandma whipped up a batch of this “Jewish Penicillin,” they used chicken broth with big hunks of carrot and chicken, and the matzo balls didn’t have any green stuff stuck in them.  This time, I decided to try a new matzo ball, inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit.

Ingredients for the Balls:
olive oil, enough to coat bottom of the pan
2 leeks, finely chopped

1 cup matzo meal (unsalted)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 eggs
pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons ginger ale (or seltzer)

Ingredients for simple veggie broth:
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
12+ cups of water (I added a few veggie bullion cubes, too.)
1 heaping tablespoon dried dill (if using fresh, add 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
sea salt, pepper

1/3 cup chives, chopped (for garnish)

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Methods:

1.  Begin dough preparation: First, we start with leeks. Heat a little oil in a skillet and when hot, add diced leeks.  (Note: to wash leeks, cut first, then place in a bowl of cold water and let the dirt sink to the bottom.  Then scoop leeks out with a slotted spoon.)  Cook leeks for 2-3 minutes until they turn translucent and goldeny-brown.  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix matzo meal, salt, pepper, seltzer, and egg.  Add cooked leek.  Mix with a large spoon until incorporated.  Chill for at least 3 hours (over night is great).

3.  Meanwhile, prepare vegetable broth.  In a large pot, saute onion, carrot, garlic and celery until the onion turns translucent and vegetables have crisped slightly around the edges.  Add water (and bullion cubes, if using) and bring to a boil.  Add herbs and simmer for at least an hour.

4.  Once the matzo balls have chilled, roll into uniform-sized balls, about the size of a golf-ball.  Place back in the refrigerator and fill a large pot with water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, take matzo balls out of the fridge and drop one-by-one into the water and cook for 30-40 minutes, until done.  (The only way to test it to slice one in half; it’s cooked when the outside looks the same as the inside and it’s not any tougher in the middle of the ball.)

6.  Once the matzo balls have finished cooking, scoop out of the boiling water and add to vegetable broth.  Before serving, reheat.  Garnish each bowl with chopped chives.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

Matzoh Toffee

April 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

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Guys, beware!  This matzoh toffee is addictive.  One blogger called this “matzoh crack,” and while I think that was supposed to be a pun on “cracker,” I can attest that the name is fitting. I found this recipe in the back of an Everyday Food magazine.  I varied the recipe a teeny bit, but the gist of it is the same.  There’s a lot of butter, a lot of sugar, a lot of chocolate, and it is just fabulous.

Ingredients:
4 planks matzoh
1 cup slivered almonds
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons water
2 cups dark chocolate, chopped

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Methods:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil.

2.  Break matzoh into varying shapes — some coarser crumbles, some larger pieces.  Mix with slivered almonds.

3.  In a small sauce pan, melt butter, sugar, water and salt until incorporated.  Quickly pour mixture over matzoh/almond pieces and toss with a heat-proof spoon.

4.  Spread sugar-covered matzoh onto covered baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown.

5.  Take out of the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips and let melt for about five minutes.  Then, with a knife, spread chocolate.

6.  Cool in the refrigerator until chocolate hardens; then break apart and store in an air-tight container.

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Matzoh Brie

April 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Happy Passover!

To celebrate and test out a new recipe, I decided to make matzoh brie (rhymes with “sky”).  Matzoh, for those of you who haven’t eaten that 10″-long square of cracker-like flat bread, is unleavened bread.

To provide a bit of history: Matzoh is eaten during the eight days of Passover (seven if you’re in Israel) as a way of commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery.  In Exodus, the biblical story, God inflicts ten plagues upon the Egyptians before the Pharaoh releases Israeli slaves.  The tenth plague is the killing of all firstborn sons.  The Hebrews are told to mark their doors with lamb blood; upon seeing this, the Angel of Death passes over (“Passover”) their homes and leaves the Hebrew firstborns unharmed.  This incident pushes Pharaoh over the edge and he frees the slaves.  The Hebrews leave quickly before he can change his mind (which, incidentally, he does, but he’s too late).

The Hebrews didn’t have time to wait for bread to rise; they fled Egypt carrying the flat bread on their backs.  So during Passover today, as a way of commemoration, we don’t eat any leavened bread.  We stick with matzoh.

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Up until yesterday afternoon, my exploration of matzoh went no further than the box in the cupboard and the meal (ground up matzoh) that I mix with eggs to make matzoh ball soup.  But I’ve heard good things about matzoh brie from a few friends.  I also read this hilarious short essay by Melissa Clark and she convinced me I had to give this recipe a shot.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to making matzoh brie.  If you tell a brie aficionado that you’ve tasted this dish, their first question will invariably be: was it savory?  Or was it sweet?  Matzo brie is essentially soaked matzo and egg (either set or scrambled).  But what you choose to put in the dish changes the whole picture.  Did you add apples and honey?  Or mushrooms and onions?  The sky’s the limit for matzoh brie variations.  Feel free to toss in your favorite ingredients and dabble.  We’ve got eight days of matzoh ahead of us; frankly, we could try a slew of different combos!

Ingredients (for one):
1 matzoh
1 egg
1 leek
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves
2 leafy greens (chard, collard green)
basil, chopped
sea salt, pepper

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Methods:

1.  Wash and chop vegetable/fruit ingredients.  (If using leeks, chop first, then separate rings in a bowl of cool water and let dirt settle to the bottom before cooking.)  Whip egg and set aside.

2.  In a small pot, boil a few cups of water.  This water will be used to pour over the matzoh.  There are two schools of thought about this: Some soak the matzoh until soggy; others pour boiling water over the matzoh to soften slightly.  I chose the later method.  But if you choose to soak the matzo, you’ll probably want to soak in hot water for about 1 minute.  Then, before transferring to the skillet, make sure you squeeze all the water from the matzoh so it’s very dry.

3.  Meanwhile, back at the skillet, add garlic and leafy greens.  Cook another minute or two.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.

4.  Add matzo to the pan (with a bit more butter, if desired) and cook until slightly crisped.  Then add egg.  I chose to scramble because I think that’s easier; alternatively, you could take more of an omelet route.  At the last minute, stir in coarsely chopped basil leaves.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

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