Matzah Balls

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All right, so it’s that time of the month when I come out of hiding to contribute to the kosher food blogging world, in this month’s version of the Kosher Connection- Link up. If you’re new to the program, every month there’s a theme, and a bunch of reputable food bloggers, and myself, get together to give their version of that theme. This month’s theme is “Get well Gil.” For the uninitiated, Gil Marks is one of the foremost experts on kosher food, and it’s long history. In fact he even wrote a freaking encyclopedia on it! I happen to love the book, and it only weighs in at a whopping 650ish pages, so you know, it’s typical light reading fare. But in all honesty, the book is incredible, and it literally covers everything imaginable related to kosher food, from Adafina to Zwetschgenkuchen (“a cross between a cake and tart made with Italian prune plums”), I highly recommend taking a gander.

Anyway, I was trying to think what would be an appropriate recipe, and it dawned on me – Matzah Balls! Think about it – it’s the ultimate healing food, plus, it’s one of those foods that epitomizes Jewish cooking (sorry S’fardim, I guess you don’t count!…I joke, next time I’ll make Jachnun, or something scary sounding like that). Onward!

Quoting Gil in the Encyclopedia:

“..By the 12th century, the concept of dumplings, originally made from bread, had spread from Italy to Bohemia, where it was called knodel (knot). From there, the name traveled with variations in pronunciation, to southern Germany, Austria, and France. The term also traveled eastward to the Slavic regions. The most widespread Ashkenazic name for dumpling became knaidel/kneydl, which is better know by the plural knaidlach/kneydlakh

As the medieval period waned, flour began to replace bread as the base…During the 8 days of Passover…Germans discovered that they could substitute matza for the bread or flour, creating the most widely known type..matzah knaidel

It was only in the early 20th century, after Manischewitz introduced packaged matza meal, that this dumpling achieved mass popularization and it’s current status as an iconic Jewish food.

Matza balls consist of only a few ingredients – matza meal, eggs, a little far, a liquid, salt, and pepper. Using matza meal in place of flour, and adding eggs resulsts in a lighter dumpling. Adding fat…produces a more flavorful dumplings…

Now, ever since our post on chicken stock, I’m sure that like me, you also have some chicken shmaltz lying around in the fridge (or maybe some duck fat??), and seriously, what better way than to incorporate it into some matzah meal, with some of that stock…it’s like the circle of life, man. First you make chicken, then with the leftover bones and scraps, you make stock. With that stock you get the base of your chicken soup, and you also have shmaltz to make knaydlach….it’s so deep man.

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I actually used Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for this (I like that everything is by weight…because, you know… a scale…I’m like a broken record over here…), and I took some matzah, and added it to a food processor to pulverize.

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To that I added, the remaining dry ingredients: baking powder, some fresh rosemary (which I had lying around, but you can use whatever you see fit), salt, and black pepper.

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I melted some fresh chicken fat (you can use vegetable oil if you’re a lightweight), added it to 4 eggs and 1/4 cup of fresh chicken stock, and mixed it all together.

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Then I mixed together, the dry and wet ingredients, and after thoroughly combined, I let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, to fully hydrate.

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Before you’re ready to go, bring a pot of salted water to a simmer.

Then I rolled it up into golf-ish sized balls (remember, they’re going to grow, so smaller than you expect….I make this mistake, every time mind you).

Dump the kneydels into the salted water, and cook until they’re nice and fluffy,  about 20-30 minutes.

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And there you have it…there might be some of you out there (ahem – Phoenix Fresser..) why not just make this out of a box mix?? Well I’m going to preempt that by saying, Hashem gets angry when you use a box mix (especially duncan hines…but that’s another post).

Anyway, we here at the Kosher Gastronome Headquarters would like to wish a full and speedy recovery to Gil (Yitzchak Simcha ben Baila).

As always with the Kosher Link Ups, click on the funny frog guy below to see what the other peoples are doing.

Matzah Balls:

Ingredients:

  • 4 squares of matzo (ie –  1 cup/140 grams matzo meal), well pulverized in a food processor
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup/60 grams schmaltz, melted (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup/60 milliliters chicken stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chopped rosemary (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until they are all thoroughly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. With damp hands, form the matzo mixture into 8 golf ball-sized orbs (they will double in size).
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer
  4. Drop in balls, and cook for 20-30 minutes.

 

Another one pot noodle thingamabob…plus a link up

Quite a catchy title there, I know. Anyway remember way back in the day when I used to post regularly? And one of those awesome posts was about the one pot noodle dishes that was all the rage a few months back? Oh you don’t? Well fear not, relive the experience by clicking here, but don’t forget to come back for some even more awesomeness. So much awesome, its awesome.

Anyway, moving right along, so this month’s link-up Kosher Connection, is all about comfort food. Well just what is comfort food? Well I guess its food that comforts you, duh…but what’s that? Well I don’t know, but who cares, let’s eat.

So ever since I posted that one pot linguine recipe I was talking about earlier, a few people have told me they really liked it, which is always nice to hear. And to be honest, I’ve made a few different iterations of the same dish, but this one stood out, namely because I actually remembered what I put in to it, and more importantly, I had some quasi usable pictures.

It all starts with stock. Vegetable stock to be precise, but not just any vegetable stock, a really quick vegetable stock; like 20 minutes quick. How, you wonder? Well, you’re going to have wait on that one…that post is coming up…eventually…maybe. Who am I kidding…more like don’t get your hopes up.

So anyway, you’ve got vegetable stock, which makes everything better (by they way, you can obviously use plain ole` water, if for some odd reason you don’t have stock handy), now it’s all a matter of throwing a few vegetables and some cheese together.

For this dish, I sauteed cauliflower, then added my noodles (orichetta), spinach (raw), ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. I added the stock, and let it all cook down.

While the stock was cooking, I took some feta cheese, and mushed it (which is the precise culinary term) with some chopped parsley.

Once the pasta was cooked through, and the stock was cooked out, I topped the whole shooting match with the feta-parsley awesomeness, and obviously some more parmesan, and then proceeded to be comforted.

Wow that was quick…I know you’re sad that that’s all, but if you have any questions type away in the comments below, and as always, click on the funny frog man under this paragraph to see what people who actually know how to blog are doing.

Vietnamese Ice Coffee Pops – Kosher Link Up. Blog swap, Plus a Giveaway

Hey friend, guess what…it’s another kosher connection link up thingy that we do every month. And would you believe it if I said it’s the one year anniversary of the whole Kosher Connection Link ups? Of course you would believe me, it would be weird of me to lie like that…anyway, in celebration of the whole shebang, we’re doing a blog swap and of course giving out prizes. I guess let’s start with the prize details (because we know that’s really why you’re here)

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Ready for a fun giveaway to celebrate one year of Kosher Connection? We are giving away two prizes from Emile Henry. A Bread Cloche valued at $130 and a 4.2 qt Dutch Oven valued at $170! Use the Rafflecopter below to win- you can enter up to 23 ways! Two winners will be chosen at random.

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Contest Fine Print:

The contest winners will be contacted via email. They will have 48 hours to respond before other winners are chosen. This contest is open to United States residents over the age of 18

Now to the blog swap. So we were all assigned another persons blog, and given the task to recreate something they made. I was assigned the difficult task to try and recreate something from the fabulous website by Hindy G – Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker, which if you’re reading this blog and you haven’t been over there, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Anyway, you might not know me that well, but if you’ve read the blog more than zero times, you can probably guess how good I am at making decisions. Well needless to say, trying to decide what to make from the myriads of awesome stuff on Hindy’s website was an attempt in futility . Just look at all the awesome stuff on her recipe index. Add to this confusion, the fact that it’s nearly as hot as the surface of the sun in my apartment, and I pretty much had to hone in on something that wouldn’t fry my brain any more, so the oven and stove were off limits. At first I wanted to make her homemade KitKat bars, but my doctor asked me not to. So I had to settle for some sort of frozen concoction. After perusing the few recipes listed, I knew is had to be Vietnamese Iced coffee popsicles. Why, you ask? Well mainly because, I like coffee, and it didn’t require too much work.

Confident Cook’s Vietnamese Iced Coffee Pops

There are different ways of getting your caffeine fix with iced coffee, and the Vietnamese version really is just adding sweetened condensed milk to the coffee instead of milk and sweetener. When it comes to making the actual coffee, Hindy used some espresso, but I decided to go with my cold brewed coffee, because I love me some cold brewed coffee.

I ground up some fresh beans, and placed in my french press, poured in water, allowed it to seep overnight, and filtered out the grind.

Mixed the coffee with some sweetened condensed milk to taste (you will probably need less than half of the can)

and poured it into the ice pop molds

I placed them in the oven at 350 for 100 hours, and then barbecued the ice pops over indirect …just making sure you’re paying attention…I placed them in the freezer, d’doy, and when frozen I ate them.

All right, so now’s the part where you want to know how they were right? Well, here’s the thing, this was possibly a last ditch attempt for me to like ice pops. There’s something about eating an ice pop…or let me rephrase that, because you never really eat an ice pop, in fact you never really do anything to an ice pop…you lick it? And then invariably you try to eat it…it’s just, in my humblest of opinions, not really the best vehicle for jamming food down my gullet. Now don’t get me wrong, I ate it, and enjoyed it, but I just don’t understand it…Anyone else out there in internet land understand where I’m coming from? Now one possibility where I went wrong was with the amount of sugar. Since the final result was mainly iced coffee, and a little condensed milk, it was for all intents and purposes, water, which means the final pop, was more like an ice cube than an “ice pop.” I didn’t really measure how much condensed milk I added, but I don’t think I could have added more, so if I make these again, I would probably add some simple syrup to boost up the sugar content, and make more of a slushier ice concoction. Just a thought.

Ok first thing first – don’t forget to head on over to all of the other amazing websites to see what actual talented people do by clicking on the link right below.

And as for the giveaway that we had mentioned above, click on this link to enter, a Rafflecopter giveaway…however if that doesn’t work, just  head on over to http://www.joyofkosher.com, and enter there.

 

Vietnamese Ice Coffee Pops

adapted from Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of Iced coffee (you can follow my instructions on how to make cold brewed, or you can just make a large batch of coffee)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Once you have your cold coffee, it’s just a matter of pouring in enough sweetened condensed milk to taste (I used maybe less than half of the can). (Now as a side point, the way I measured how much coffee I would need, I have 6 ice pop molds, and measured how much liquid one held, multiplied that by 6, and then subtracted a little to compensate for the milk.)
  2. Pop it in the freezer over night, and then enjoy.

Garlic Scallion Chicken Stir Fry – December Kosher Link Up

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This month’s Kosher Connection Linkup’s theme is Chinese Food, and pretty much any dish you get in a chinese restaurant is a stir fry. A stir fry, is my go to for a really quick weeknight supper. It comes together really quick, and can literally be on the table in like 10 minutes, provided you do some preparation work, and have everything ready to go (ie – mise en place). Now don’t get me wrong, I am the most unprepared cook in the history of preparedness, however, when it comes to throwing down a stir fry, you need to have it all ready, because it comes together quick.

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Here’s what makes a stir fry a stir fry. First thing first, like we said, everything comes together really quickly, which is why it’s crucial you have a good pan. Whether you use a wok (which might not be the best option, depending on what type of wok you have, and whether it’s suitable for your stove), or you have a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet (which is what I use), or a tri-ply type of skillet (a “metal” type of pan, that has a layer of copper sandwiched between 2 layers of aluminum, to ensure even cooking; these pans are usually very expensive [eg – all-clad]), you need to heat the bejessus out of it, to make sure it’s super duper hot. This will ensure everything cooks quickly. Second, you want uniform sized pieces, so whatever you decide to put into the stir fry, should all be about the same size.

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Now onto the food. There’s really three components. The protein, the vegetables, and the sauce. As for the protein, whether it’s chicken, beef, tofu, or whatever, the principles are the same. You want to cook them, really quickly, and with high heat, so you can develop maximum browning, but without overcooking. So you have to wait for the pan/oil to be really hot, and not overcrowd the pan (or you’ll end up steaming the meat, and not sautéing it). I usually cook the protein first, and when it’s ready I take it out of the pan, and let it sit on the side, and then add it back at the last second to mix together with everything else. (This is when a spider (that mesh looking device below) is really helpful)

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For the vegetables, I like to keep it simple, and not overwhelm the dish with too many different vegetables. 1 or 2 different vegetables would be the maximum. Now in regards to cooking the vegetable, it has be done with order also. First rule – garlic and ginger always gets added at the last second, and is only sautéed for like 20 seconds. This prevents the garlic and ginger from burning, which they can do pretty easily. Other wise, the other vegetables, will cook much the same way the chicken is cooked, fast, over high heat (again, to maximize browning, while retaining their crispy-ness).

For the garlic, there are those who are against garlic presses, saying garlic presses mush the garlic too fine, and can cause the flavor of the final product to be too harsh, and instead they make a garlic paste on their cutting board. Now, I’m not one of those people, but sometimes I’m too lazy to clean the garlic press, so I make the paste instead. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. You take your knife and using the sides, you just keep on smushing it, until a paste forms. Some people will add salt, saying it will help (the salt abrades against the garlic), but I never do that.

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For the sauce, this is really where you can just make anything up. Usually, the sauce will have soy sauce, and a vinegar in it, and a spicy component, but that’s not a hard fast rule. And you add the sauce once the vegetables is done. Since your pan is super hot, the sauce will immediately start to sizzle. You let it cook for 20 seconds or so, and then another classical addition is corn starch, to thicken the sauce.

Starch thickens sauces by absorbing water, but they only do that at a certain temperature, so typically, you take 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch and dissolve it in 1-2 teaspoons of water, and then add that to the sauce as the finishing touch. The reason you can’t just add corn starch straight to the sauce (without dissolving it first), is because the second the starch hits the hot sauce it starts absorbing water, and if you add it straight it would clump up.

So for our dish, we went with chicken (deboned thighs) as our protein, which we “marinated” in egg whites and corn starch (it’s not really a marinade, in that it doesn’t effect the chicken’s tenderness, but we did let it soak in it for a little while…the egg whites and corn starch coat the chicken, and form somewhat of a barrier, and are a kind of insurance to prevent over cooking), quick cooking scallions and garlic, and for the sauce, it was composed of – ketchup, white vinegar, white wine, sugar, and soy sauce, served over rice.

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Obviously the ingredients are listed below, but feel free to tinker around.

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that participated, by clicking on the funny looking frog thingy below.



Garlic Scallion Chicken Stiry Fry

adapted from Joy of cooking (pg 594)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1-2 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into roughly 1/2” cubes
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/4” pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix egg whites, cornstarch, salt, and chicken pieces, and let sit 20-30 minutes
  2. Cut scallions and garlic, and set aside. Mix together sauce, and set aside, and mix together cornstarch and water and also set aside (the cornstarch will settle, and will need one last stir right before adding)
  3. Heat your skillet/wok over high heat for at least 5-10 minutes, so that it’s really pre-heated. You can test this, by taking a drop of water, and it should sizzle the second it hits the pan.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of your oil, and once it’s shimmering, add chicken, ensuring not to overcrowd your pan, you might have to do it in batches if your pan isn’t big enough.
  5. Once the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan, and set it aside.
  6. Allow the pan to heat up again, and when hot again (don’t do the “water test” since there’s oil in the pan, and it will just spurt hot oil all over the place…not fun) add the garlic and scallions, and allow to cook for literally 20 seconds (once you start to smell it, it’s done)
  7. Working quickly, add the sauce, it should start to sizzle, and allow to cook for 15-20 seconds, and then slowly add the cornstarch mixture (don’t forget to stir the cornstarch before adding to make sure it’s dissolved), and it should start to thicken right away.
  8. Add your chicken back (along with any liquid that is with it) and mix around to incorporate everything, and you’re done