Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Fun Playing With Passover Food Memories

As my feet continue to recover from four days of non-stop action on my ceramic-tile floored kitchen, I offer another Passover re-run from 2008; one which I need to review, since I wasn't happy with my Matzoh Balls this year.

Please enjoy!

Fun Playing with Matzo Balls

Growing up, the Master of the Matzo Balls was my sister, Chaya. To this day, she makes the lightest, most ethereal Matzo Balls, always perfectly round (and they stay that way). I've gotten pretty good at making them too, but I owe it all to Chaya!

The base recipe our family always uses is from the quintessential Jewish Cookbook from 1956, Love and Knishes by Sara Kasdan, which I am pleased to see is back in print. It is a very simple recipe. I will never understand the concept of "matzo ball mix." What's the point?

There is also a bit of debate as to the preferred texture - sinkers or floaters? Dense or fluffy? My research indicates that the way your mother made them probably influences your taste in this regard more than anything (as explained brilliantly by Ms. Kasdan at pps. 113-115 of the 1957 printing). We prefer the fluffy, floating kind in my family.

I begin by setting up the mise:

For every 6 eggs, Chaya uses 1 cup of matzo meal. The recipe also calls for 2 TB schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), but since no one in my family ever used it, I do not. Here, I did a double batch, 12 eggs, 2 cups matzo meal. Since these were the fabulous Blue Eggs, which vary in size, I added a 13th egg. A little salt (2 tsp for 12 eggs, according the recipe, reduced a bit to account for the strength of Kosher Salt) and fresh ground white pepper (1/4 tsp), and that's all there is to it, though you can gussy it up with seasonings like nutmeg or parsley, or whatever else you want. But I am a purist with my Passover cooking. And I always wind up glad I didn't mess with the recipe!

First step - separate the eggs. Not so easy when they've only been out of the chickens for about a week! But worth it - look at the yellow of those beautiful yolks!

Next - beat the yolks until light, then add the salt and pepper. In the Kitchen Aid, beat the egg whites until stiff. Then, add the yolk mixture on top, and gently fold in.

Next - add the matzo meal a little at a time and gently fold in.

Once the ingredients are folded together, cover with a dishtowel and refrigerate for at least an hour. This allows the matzo meal to absorb the liquid, which is essential.

Prior to removing from the fridge, I put my biggest pot (the 20 quarter) on the stove, with water up to about the 15 quart hash mark. I want the matzo balls to have plenty of room to expand, which they will. Since my stove only gets about 9,000 BTU's on a good day, I give the pot a little help to get it to the boil:

This commercial bucket warmer does wonders.

After about 3 hours in the fridge, the batter looked like this:

When forming the balls (and forgive the lack of photos - that operation requires two hands and makes a mess of them!), it is necessary to lubricate the hands to keep the batter from sticking too much. Until this year, I always used a little bowl of water. This time, I tried coating my hands with oil instead - and I think that is why, for the first time, my Matzo Balls held their shape so well. So - everybody in the pool!

I cook them for about an hour, then scoop them out to cool.

And here it is - served in the chicken soup I blogged about here:

Passover is in many ways the ultimate "play with your food" holiday - even though the ingredients are simple and limited - the final products are simply wonderful.

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