Posts Tagged “Jewish food”

My wife is pregnant and has been craving homemade chicken salad. So I promised that I would endeavor to make some today. Not only that, but I'd make the good kind where you poach the chicken on the bone in stock with onions, celery, and carrots (as opposed to diced boneless, skinless chicken breast). But what to do with the chicken skin? Fry it, of course. Read the rest of this entry »

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So, with Passover coming up and my son just having turned three, I've been trying to figure out an eggless matzoh ball that could compare to the egg-laden ones I recall as a kid, so we can have a seder with my favorite traditional Jewish foods, but keep his egg allergy in mind. I don't mind losing the hard boiled egg from the ceremony. Never liked those anyway. But potato latkes and matzoh balls are traditionally made with eggs, and you can take my latkes when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

I perfected my eggless latke recipe back when my son was old enough to eat solid foods. Cooled down, latkes are a wonderful finger food. But soup requires more control, so I hadn't really made an effort to conquer the eggless matzoh ball until now. I made a half-hearted attempt with potato starch for the binder and some baking powder to help keep it light, but that didn't work. I ended up with matzoh rocks. Dense little balls that, while possible to choke down, were very far from ideal.

Still, they were more tender than when my dad tried to make low-cal matzoh balls without oil and produced something akin to a superball. Hard, rubbery, and actually required a fork and knife to cut. Trying with a spoon led to splashed soup and chipped bowls.

Then I came upon this vegetarian matzoh ball recipe that uses firm silken tofu as the protein binder. Amazingly, there's some controversy over whether tofu is allowed on Passover. The fact this controversy exists is just one of those things about Judiasm that makes me shake my head and wonder how we survived nearly 6,000 years. In my opinion, if God even sees tofu on Passover as a sin, it's one of those ones he lets slide, like taking his name in vain when you stub your toe.

Anyhoo, I wanted to discuss that matzoh ball recipe, because as presented on that page, it just didn't hit the right notes for me, but did seem on the road to rightness. I did some experimenting and got a version that's much like the comfort in a bowl I recall from my childhood.

Here's my modified list of ingredients...

1 1/2 cups matzoh meal
12 oz package firm silken tofu
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (depending on your taste)
2 teaspoons garlic powder or granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder or granulated onion
10-12 bullion cubes

Put the tofu and broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then add the oil and blend again.

Mix your dry ingredients (matzoh meal, salt, pepper, and spices) in a mixing bowl or a large tupperware container (I use a two-quart Gladware container since it's easy to seal and pop in the fridge). Add the tofu/broth/oil mixture to the matzoh meal and mix until combined. Seal the tupperware or cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Now, the original recipe said to make tightly-packed, walnut-sized balls and boil them in water for 40 minutes, covered. Then you could leave them in another hour if you wanted them to absorb more water and become fluffier. I tried that and found the result to be too bland and fluffy for my tastes. I like a bigger, more flavorful, and dense matzoh ball. So...

Dissolve your bullion in 3-4 quarts of boiling water in a large stock pot. Make sure the liquid is at least 5-6 inches deep. Boiling in bullion will add flavor to the matzoh balls. In another pot, make some chicken soup however you like to make chicken soup.

Wait until you've got your bullion boiling or very close to a boil and pull the matzoh ball mixture out of the fridge. Roll it into well-packed balls a little smaller than a tennis ball. Once all the balls are rolled, lower them into the pot, one at a time, and make sure they have a half inch to an inch all around them so they can expand without touching the other balls. So you might be able to get 6-8 in a large stock pot.

Cover the pot, lower the heat, and cook at a low boil for 30 minutes.

At the end of the 30 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon, put one in a bowl, and ladle chicken soup over it. You've got a big, steaming bowl of comfort.

If you want to make this for a sick child and can't refrigerate overnight, try to refrigerate at least 2-3 hours (i.e. make the mix at breakfast and refrigerate until lunch). The longer you can refrigerate them, the happier you'll be with the overall texture.

Keywords: matzoh, matzoh balls, eggless, alergy, egg, Jewish food, Passover

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This is a traditional recipe for potato latkes, a Jewish potato pancake that is a favorite at holiday times, but substitutes sweet potatoes for regular potatoes.

Besides the generally sweeter flavor, which balances very well against the savory flavors like the salt and garlic, the additional sugars in the sweet potatoes (as opposed to the greater levels of starch in regular white potatoes) creates a light carmelization while browning which adds a little more crunch to the latkes.

Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes
1 large white onion
3 eggs
1/3 cup matzoh meal (crushed matzoh crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 bottle peanut oil
Cheesecloth

Preparation

Peel and grate the potatoes and onion. I use a hand grater because I'm a traditionalist and a massochist, but you can also use a food processor.

Take the potato and onion mixture, wrap in cheesecloth, and squeeze out all the excess liquid you can. Run some water over it, then squeeze again.

Beat the three eggs with a stick blender until good and frothy. If you can get them to thicken a bit, that's good, but not necessary.

Combine the potato and onion mixture in a large mixing bowl with the eggs and dry ingredients (matzoh meal, garlic powder, baking powder, salt, and pepper) and mix well.

It's important to use peanut oil when frying these. While canola might do the job, the cooking temperature and flavor of the peanut oil help make these perfect. While peanut oil is a bit more expensive, it's worth it.

Fill a pan to about 1/3 inch high with peanut oil, and bring the temperature up over medium-to-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, drop in heaping spoonfulls of the latke batter. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until browned, then transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream, or if you're feeling adventurous, serve with my cilantro pear sauce.

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