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Need a new matzo ball...
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Knifethrower



Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:26 am    Post subject: Need a new matzo ball... Reply with quote

Hi All,

'tis that time of year when I make that annual migration eastward to help cook for Passover. This year, its gonna be different. This year, its a full on assault.

My brother has been hosting and cooking for unappreciative extended relatives for five years running. Its gonna be their "last supper" (excuse the pun) with him at the helm and we two want to go out with a bang.

We know what weight, texture and density of gut-bomb we like- the usual structural details, but we want to bring a little flair to the table. We found two contenders at Bon Appetit with saffron and green herbs, but its just not hitting me as raptly as I'd like.

I want a matzo ball worthy of the season and all it has to offer culinarily, not what it offers as an ad for Lipitor. Yes, chicken or duck fat is a go, so don't be thinking any calorie will be spared, but I hope for more flavor, texture, excitement.

I want a matzo ball to go down in history, by golly!

Can you help me?
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, knifethrower you know I've never formed even one matzo ball, but I found this
http://www.recipelink.com/cookbooks/2000/0688155901_1.html
from the New York Times Passover Cookbook,
and I have Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America which offers
1. Fluffy Matzah Balls (her son David's favorite)
2. Mississippi Baked Stuffed Matzah Balls
3. Dallas Matzah Balls with Pecans
Let me know if any of these interest you! Though I think maybe a dumpling is a dumpling and should not try to be a sassafras and salsify sphere...
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Zoe



Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Haifa, Israel

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never bought into the concept of dense and heavy matzo balls. By nature they're not the lightest thing, so why make it worse?

I haven't made them in years and no longer remember any recipes by heart, but I do have one tip: separate the egg whites and beat them rather than adding your eggs to the mixture whole. It's a much nicer texture. Also, add any herbs you like to mixture (in moderation). And don't use chicken or duck fat if there are any vegetarians - but that's a given Smile In my family we always used vegetable oil, which worked really well.
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suzy



Joined: 20 Mar 2005
Posts: 80

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. It never crossed my mind to fold in beaten egg whites. I'm really curious about what that does to the texture. I personally like mine kind of dense, but this might be worth trying for those who like them fluffy, if that's how they come out.
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srk



Joined: 09 Apr 2005
Posts: 85
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a fluffy girl myself (as far as matzah balls, and, lamentably, my hair, are concerned!), and beating the egg whites a bit does help. I tend to follow the recipe on the back of the box of matzah meal (oil for fat, and chicken broth for liquid), and I generally get rave reviews. I think the real secret is to have seriously delicious soup, which I strive for by using lots and lots of chicken thighs with most of the skin and meat trimmed off. I add back a lot of the meat after the stock has simmered for a while, so it isn't stringy and tasteless. But if anyone has a Passover-friendly suggestion for what to do with piles of extra, oddly-sized chunks of chicken thighs, please share!

Extra: if you're celebrating Passover in the East Bay, Masse's (my absolute favorite Berkeley bakery) is doing Passover baking this year. I'm terribly excited Smile.
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Knifethrower



Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miss Gingerpale, you have, as usual, tickled my curiosity for a baked, stuffed matzo balls... I sit and ponder- what can be the treasure inside such an orb?? I did see a recipe for liver stuffed ones- reminded me of a grandmother's Kartoffelklosse (potato dumplings that would have been dynamite with a liver dish, actually), but methinks the Passover Patrons would be less than amused (I'd certainly go for it myself, actually). I'd like to see what Joan offers, if you don't mind.

Zoe- You know, I guess it comes down to what one's Bubbie put in front of you that becomes tradition. I confess, I like them both ways. I am shameless, I know... typical Libra! I'd had no idea that egg whites beaten separately were such a great idea! So simple, yet so fantastic... might try it in the comfort of my own kitchen when I have a lot of time to kill on the back of a bicycle...my Kitchenaid would totally tear it up! I'm partial to a very, very light olive oil with a touch of schmaltz in it for a bit of that old timey aroma, but not too much. I get guilt pangs!

Suzy- I wonder if that egg white technique would do well for gefilte fish as well? Whatchu think? Any more luck on your recipe needs?

srk- Ain't we all a little fluffy somewhere? Smile I like the good stock concept- I believe in throwing in as much aromatic material and thigh meat into my stock as well. Turnip, onion, leek, shallot, garlic, parsnip, celery, carrot, parsley, dill, even rutabaga. I do like to partially roast the chicken first sometimes, to get a more caramel colored, tasty broth. As far as the meat goes, Grandma used to make "croquettes" out of it. I make chicken salad with curry, raisins, apples and sunflower seeds. RE: Masse's- are they making matzo, too???

I sent my brother ideas- minced asparagus, dill and lemon zest... sundried tomato, parsley and lemon zest (gremolata)... grated sweet potato with a little turmeric, some cayenne and a little ginger. All very adventurous, I admit, but I fear he may not stray too far outside the box...

Thank you all for the ideas, please keep them coming!!!
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Zoe



Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Haifa, Israel

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Knifethrower wrote:
Zoe- You know, I guess it comes down to what one's Bubbie put in front of you that becomes tradition. I confess, I like them both ways. I am shameless, I know...

My grandmother's matzo balls are awful. My dad, on the other hand, makes really good ones! Of course, he has to contend with my fondness for fluffy matzo balls against my brother's inexplicable preference for the dense version. Anyway, the quality of the soup/broth is crucial, as others have noted.
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My MIL was, without question, the worst cook in the entire history of the world.

Contrary cuss that I am, however, I loved her matzoh balls because they were dense and heavy. In other words, she made them wrong. And I loved her for it.

Now we jump ahead. Friend Wife has never learned to cook, having little inclination and no in-house mentor. Besides which, she was raised up believing that the only thing I lady makes for dinner is reservations.

Comes her first sedar, and she has no idea how to make matzoh balls. But she can read. So she gets a book on Jewish cooking, and follows the recipe.

Unfortunately, she is unaware that they swell as they cook. So she shapes them the size she expects them to be when she serves them.

Need I say any more? Beautiful, fluffy knaidlach, the size of softballs.

For those interested, here's the recipe she used:

2 eggs, separated
3 tbls chicken fat
1/2 cup hot water or soup
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup matzoh meal

Beat yolks with the chicken fat until thick and well blended. Pour over the hot water and heat well. Fold in the matzoh meal mixed with the salt and then fold in the egg whites that have been beaten until stiff but not dry. Chill for about 1/2 hour. Wet hands with cold water and shape into small balls. Drop gently into 2 quarts of boiling soup; recice the heat, cover, and cook gently for 20-25 minutes. [/i]
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suzy



Joined: 20 Mar 2005
Posts: 80

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yikes, even the culinary novices are separating their eggs! I'm struggling with coming terms with the idea that all these people beat their egg whites for their matzoh balls and it's never occurred to me! How could I have been so blind! What else am I missing in the world that I can't see?
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes! The big ones that are taller than the soup plate they're in (two's a crowd for sure) they're beautiful!

knifethrower, Mississippi Baked Stuffed Matzah Balls

4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable shortening
1 cup matzo meal
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 tablespoons chicken soup or water
4 quarts salted water
Oil for greasing


Filling:
1 onion, chopped extra fine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or chicken fat
2 tablespoons matzo meal
1 egg yolk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Dash of cinnamon
Water
Oil
12 cups chicken soup


To make balls, the eggs should be beaten with the oil, stir in meal, salt, parsley, then add liquid. Let sit in fridge (meal will absorb liquid) for about an hour.
To make filling, fry chopped onions until very crisp, mix in the 2 tablespoons meal, yolk, salt, pepper, cinnamon.
With wet (cold water) hands, form balls about 1 1/4 inches (30.50 mm approx.) in diameter. Then spoon about a teaspoonful of the filling into the ball and close well.
Boil 6 quarts of salted water, reduce to simmer, drop in balls, cover, simmer 'til plump--about 1/2 hour.
Remove (& drain) balls to greased muffin pans, coat each with a little oil, and bake at (preheated) 350 F until golden brown. To serve, put 1 ball in the center of a bowl and ladle perfect soup on top!

From the recipe notes: "My mother baked them in a wooden stove. She took a piece of paper and put it in the oven to calculate how hot it was by the amount of time it took to scorch the paper."
I love this book ("Jewish Cooking in America")-- there's a fascinating paragraph or two (or 10 !) on every page, as well as the food, of course. The recipes (all kosher) are from Jews all over the world who came to the USA and found new ingredients as well as a new culture to adapt to.

I also found some neat-sounding matzah balls on the Food Network site.
Truffled Shiitake Matzo Ball Soup! Probably more modern (and they spell "matzo" like you do.)
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>Yikes, even the culinary novices are separating their eggs<

I hate to rub it in, Suzy, but that first sedar was 42 years ago. So there's nothing new about separating the whites and yolks.
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srk



Joined: 09 Apr 2005
Posts: 85
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Knifethrower - Masse's isn't doing matzah, but they are doing 6 different kinds of French macaroons (lovely, crispy-outside-chewy-inside sandwich cookies), as well as I believe 2 of the coconut-based variety, and a bunch of cakes that sound divine. In a shocking departure from the competitive shopping approach from the East Coast, the guy at Masse's (and the good folks at Vintage Berkeley around the corner, which has the best Passover wines I've ever found) were surprised/amused when I inquired about pre-ordering.
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Knifethrower



Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know of one family who can claim not to be related to a fabricator of either an awful brisket or awful matzo balls... The issue really boils down to the love that went into them and who slaved over a steaming pot- shayna or shiksa, old or young. Its all in the ritual. I'll eat and enjoy anyone's offering and the fact that its once a year- something that we somehow look forward to in a way, makes it more special. I applaud everyone's matzo ball, and softball sized ones just get a bigger ovation!

Thanks all for the recipes. It will be a challenge to get my brother away from the safe side of the stove, but I can always make a few little ones, with separated eggs, schmaltz and my add-ins of choice at home afterward. They freeze well, and a springtime soup with fresh Oregon bounty alongside it (fiddlehead ferns and baby nettles are in!) will be my private celebration.

I'd like to go to the local patisserie, Pix, to get some merengue lovelies, but I know darn well they'd never make the flight, three days of NJ humidity and my brother's eager mouth. Please enjoy them for us!

When we all get back, it will certainly be matzo ball weekend. I will post the outcomes for sure.. Thank you all for helping me out!
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Zoe



Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Haifa, Israel

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Knifethrower wrote:
They freeze well, and a springtime soup with fresh Oregon bounty alongside it (fiddlehead ferns and baby nettles are in!) will be my private celebration.

You're from Oregon? I used to be, and it is much closer to being heaven than Iowa ever was Wink .
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Knifethrower



Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miss Zoe,

I am one of them that are hated- I made myself from Oregon. Moved here for the second time just six months ago and may never leave...unless there is a horrible drought, the seas dry up and the cool hipsters move out.

It'd be hard to admit to many people outside of a foodie circle (where I am a dead giveaway with old cravings and tastes from NY coursing through my blood) that I am from anywhere else...
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