A while ago, I was having a chat with a colleague at the office of one of my clients in Tel Aviv. We were talking about food and I mentioned that I keep kosher and have a kosher kitchen at home. He looked at me in shock. “But you’re so into good food!” he spluttered. “How can you be a ‘foodie’ and keep kosher as well?”
I was as shocked as he was. For me, being kosher and loving good food are far from mutually exclusive. So I decided that it’s time for me to start writing about one of the things I really love – (kosher) food.
When I told one of my good friends that I was planning on starting this blog, she told me I was crazy. “If you give away all your recipes, you’ll find yourself eating your food wherever you go for a meal,” she said. Well, I’m taking that chance and hoping that this blog will inspire and offer some new takes on old favorites as well as some old takes on
old classics and more.
Every blog I publish will have at least one recipe in it. They will only be those I have used frequently, so I know I’m not giving out defective recipes. And of course, I’m hoping to hear from all of you – post your own versions, give your comments, tips and ideas.
Some notes: Because I live in Israel, I will be using ingredients that can be bought here. Also, in some recipes, which aren’t baked, my quantities may be approximate.
Opening with Chicken Soup
I figure that no kosher recipe collection can begin without the queen of kosher Ashkenazi food – chicken soup and matza balls (kneidlach). After struggling for years with huge quantities of chicken to get some flavor in the soup, I was given a tip to add some turkey necks to the mix. It worked so well that I slowly increased the quantities of turkey and reduced the chicken. And, you guessed it: Today my chicken soup is made with turkey only.
Advantages: Far less fat and a much stronger flavor. Disadvantage: Turkey’s a little more expensive than chicken, but I think it’s worth it even if only for the fact that you won’t ever find yourself adding chicken soup powder to get the flavor you need. And overall, you will need less turkey for the equivalent flavor, so it probably evens itself out in the end.
CHICKEN SOUP (serves about 8 – depending on how hungry they are)
1.5-2 kg of turkey necks (or wings)
4 large carrots peeled and cut into large sections (about 4 per carrot)
One large leek cut into chunks (only the while parts)
2 parsley roots (Petroselinum crispum – really!) You can also use parsnip or celery root – make sure they are peeled and cleaned very well
1 large red pepper cut into large chunks
1 very small sweet potato peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium zucchini cut into chunks (optional)
3-5 bay leaves
Half a bunch of fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
How to do it
Place the turkey in a very large pot and add boiling water till covered. When the water comes to the boil, pour it off (this cleans all the icky bits off the turkey that you don’t want in your soup)
Chop up all your veggies (you can do this while the turkey is getting its first boil) and add to the pot after you’ve drained the first lot of water.
Add about 3 liters (pints) of boiling water to the pot.
Bring to the boil and turn it down to a simmer.
Cook for about 1.5 hours.
Drain the cooked soup through a strainer into a clean pot, setting aside the turkey, carrots and zucchini and any other vegetables you’d like to cut up to serve in the soup.
Using the back of a large spoon, squeeze as many of the remaining vegetables through the sieve as you can – the red pepper and the sweet potato will give the soup great color and flavor, as will the roots, leeks and carrot (I usually take a few pieces of carrot to kvetch through into the soup for the flavor).
Add about 1 cup of the turkey meat.
You can freeze this soup in air tight containers for several weeks – perfect for entertaining and planning ahead.
MATZA BALLS (KNEIDLACH)
My late bobba and my late mother used to use schmaltz to make these kneidlach. I used to make my own vegetarian schmaltz to make them, but when I figured out how to use margarine and achieve the same results I stopped.
This recipe makes about 5 matza balls, so multiply as needed. For 8 people, I use 4 eggs.
1 tablespoon margarine
3 tablespoons boiling water
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground ginger
Salt and pepper
Matza meal (no set quantity – this is the tricky bit…)
How to do it
In a bowl, beat the egg well with a whisk
Add the margarine and beat it in as well as you can (it will stay lumpy but try to separate it as much as possible at this stage)
Add the boiling water and whisk till the margarine has melted.
Add the seasoning
Slowly add the matza meal, stirring the mixture with a spoon. You need to do this slowly and in stages, as the matza meal hardens the egg mixture quite quickly and you don’t want your mixture to get hard.
Once the mixture starts to be less liquidy (I know it’s not a word…) start testing the consistency by dropping spoonfuls into the bowl. As soon as it stops being runny and starts for fall from the spoon in a blob, then you are done. You will always use a slightly different quantity of matza meal because the size of the eggs varies.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour (not too much longer because you want the mixture to set but not too much.)
The marriage of soup and kneidel (or cooking the matza balls)
You can cook your matza balls in your soup – this gives them great flavor. If your soup pot is too full and you are making a very large quantity, you can also cook them in water. I recommend adding a few ladles of the chicken soup to the water or a tablespoon of chicken soup powder so that the matza balls don’t come out too watery.
How to do it
Bring the soup (or water) to the boil.
With wet hands (keep a bowl of water next to you) make balls about the size of gold of ping pong balls. The mixture should be quite soft and not extremely easy to work with, which is why you need to have wet hands. If the mixture is too hard, your matza balls will be hard too.
Drop them into the boiling liquid.
When they are all in the pot, continue cooking them for about 10-15 minutes.