kneydlekh קניידלעך Matzo Ball Soup

I make Matzo balls, what my mom calls kneydlekh קניידלעך in Yiddish ki -NAY- dl-ekh (make the last sound (ekh) by clearing your throat), for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah, or just to help the heal a bad cold. Serve them in

Are you wondering if adding baking powder is kosher for Passover? All I can say is that the Manischewitz matzo ball mix which is kosher for Passover contains sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate which are the active ingredients of baking powder. So if they can make their matzo balls light and fluffy with that, so can I!

Makes about 15 medium matzo balls
4 large eggs
2 tsp schmalz (rendered chicken fat). Use the fat that rises to the top of the soup
(vegetarian version: use 1/4 cup oil only)
3 Tb  canola oil
1 tsp garlic infused olive oil
1 cup matzo meal
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tb minced parsley leaves
1/2 tsp dried or 1 Tb fresh minced dill weed
 
1 TB schmaltz added to boiling water
1/4 cup soup added to boiling water
 
 

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl with schmalz and oil.

Mix herbs, matzo meal, baking soda, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour

While dough is resting in the fridge, boil a large pot of water (at least a gallon). Add a tablespoonful of schmalz (unless you’re making vegetarian ones) and 1/4 cup soup. This will give the kneydlekh more flavor. If you have plenty of soup, you can just boil the kneydlekh in the soup.

Wet your hands and roll  about 12 golf-ball sized matzo balls.

Drop them in the boiling water. Cover pot tightly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Balls will double in size and should be soft. If you are going to store them for later, place them in a container with just enough broth to cover.

You can sprinkle more dill and parsley on the soup when serving.

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Low-fat cornbread-butternut squash and chestnut stuffing

close up of stuffingThis fragrant stuffing uses less bread than traditional stuffing, and uses only  2 Tb olive oil and 1/2 cube butter. The savory vegetables balance the sweetness of the butternut squash.

You can make a gluten-free stuffing using my recipe for gluten-free cornbread. You can also make this a vegetarian recipe by using vegetable broth or mushroom broth and either skip the turkey sausage or use a vegetarian sausage.

Stuff your turkey, then bake the rest in a casserole dish. Because I brine my turkey, I only add salt to the stuffing that I bake separately.

produce for stuffing

butternut squash ingredIngredients

Half of an  8 × 8 pan of Rosemary-scented cornbread or gluten-free cornbread, cut into cubes to make about 4 cups. (This way you get to nosh on the cornbread before making the stuffing!) cube the cornbread 2 Tb olive oil, divided

Small to medium butternut squash – about 1 pound

½ pound turkey sausage without casings

½ cube (1/4 cup) butter (use only 2 Tb if adding sausage)

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)

2 cups chopped celery (use the inside stalks, reserving the outside ones to surround the roasting turkey)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped (remove seeds and ribs)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 Granny Smith apples, chopped

2 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp minced fresh sage

3 Tb fresh thyme OR 2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

½ tsp (several grinds) black pepper

1 cup roasted chestnuts (shelled), sliced or crumbled (about 10 large chestnuts)

½  cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup pecan pieces

2 Tb dried cranberries

2 eggs

1 ½ cup turkey or chicken broth

½ to 1 tsp salt to taste (unless used for stuffing a brined turkey)

Make Turkey broth:

1 ½  cups water

turkey neck and giblets

1 onion, finely chopped

several stalks celery with leaves, cut up

1 clove garlic, minced

On Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, boil turkey neck and giblets in water with celery and chopped onion and  garlic for an hour or more. Strain into a container and use to moisten this stuffing. (Reserve giblets if you like chopped giblets in your gravy.)

Briefly parboil, then roast chestnuts (be sure to cut them first so they don’t burst!) at 425′ for 15 minutes. Let cool, then shell them. I found it’s easier to scoop the meat out with a teaspoon.  (Or buy the precooked, shelled ones at Trader Joe’s if you don’t want to spend all that time peeling them.)

Make cornbread on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You can also cube and roast the butternut squash on Wednesday:

cubed butternut squash

Peel the butternut squash. Cut into bite-sized cubes and toss in a large bowl with 1 Tb olive oil. Spread on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan lined with foil. Roast in a 375◦ oven for 15- 20 minutes until they are fork tender.

If using turkey sausage, fry in a pan until browned and crumbly.

Heat another Tb oil and the butter in a large, heavy frying pan. Stir-fry onions, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, apples, and garlic over medium heat until they soften. Add sausage if using, butternut squash, dried cranberries, pecans, chestnuts, parsley and herbs and heat a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the broth until warm. Beat the eggs and add  broth. Gently add to the cubed cornbread and other ingredients.

butternut squash stuffing

If not stuffing your turkey, bake in a  9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with olive oil at 350◦ for 45 minutes until the top is toasted. Alternatively, use the microwave since the oven’s got the turkey in it: 15 min should do it. You can finish it off in the oven for a crunchy top.

Enchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers

It’s dress rehearsal time again for my daughter’s dance company, and the parents are assigned to bring food for each meal. Sonia told me they needed a break from pasta, so we decided on enchiladas.

I made 21 enchiladas in a ¼ sheet baking pan. I made 10 more for the vegetarians, using pepper jack slices crumbled into Frijoles pintos along with the vegetables. You can make the broth below without the chicken for a vegetarian sauce.  I topped them with the heated sauce, more pepper jack, fresh cilantro leaves and olives after baking.

Broth ingredients:

16 cups (1 gallon) of water
2 chopped onions
8 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. chipotle powder
3 Tb cumin powder (comino)
2 Tb. dried oregano
2 cups diced Roma (plum) tomatoes or 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice)
1 sliced bell pepper
2 Tb. salt to taste
8 each pasilla and California chilies
6 – oz can tomato paste
1 whole chicken
 
Vegetables:
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
3 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped  in bite-size chunks
3 large chayote, peeled, seed area removed, and chopped in bite-size chunks

2 Tb flour

Non-stick spray

21 corn tortillas for chicken enchiladas, plus 10 more for bean and cheese ones

1 can black olives

1 cup cotija cheese

1 bunch fresh cilantro

Avocados to garnish

Ideally the best way to make this is to make the chicken first, then let it cool enough to handle. Pour the broth into a container and refrigerate it until the fat congeals, then remove it. Make the sauce from the defatted broth. I didn’t have the time to do this, so made it all in one day. I used a fat separator cup to de-fat the broth. This nifty little gadget pours out the broth from the bottom of the cup as the grease rises; I then discard the fat.

Making the chicken: For this batch, I boiled a whole chicken with the spices, onions and other ingredients above.  Toast the chilies on a comal or heavy skillet first to maximize their flavor. Reserve 2 Tb of tomato paste for the sauce. I used pretty much the same recipe I used for Tamales de pollo Chicken  Tamales. It’s true you have to watch out for the chicken bones and you will get the grease, but the broth will be richer and  it’s more economical than boneless breasts, especially if the chicken is on sale!

After 40 minutes, I add the carrots, potatoes and chayote. After the chicken has cooked an hour, I turn off the heat and pull the chicken out of the broth into a large bowl. Since I was running out of time, I set the bowl inside a larger bowl (actually the bottom of my salad spinner) that I filled with a layer of ice cubes, to cool down the chicken. Using a fork and knife, I pulled the meat off the bones until it’s cool enough to handle.

I discard the skin, gristle and bones, and use my hands to shred the chicken. I then pour a cup or two of broth into the chicken, mixing it with my hands, so that the shredded chicken can absorb the flavors. You can cook it in a frying pan for 15 minutes to help it absorb the broth. Save the leftover broth to make sauce and   or Cocido de Res – Mexican Beef Stew

Mix some beans (Frijoles pintos) and the vegetables (carrots, potatoes and chayote) into the shredded chicken.

Making the sauce: This will make a nice spicy sauce. Pour about 4 cups of broth into a fat separator cup. Pour the defatted broth into a blender and discard the fat.  Add 2 Tb flour and 2 Tb tomato paste. Fish out the chili peppers and bell peppers from the pot and add them to the sauce. Whir in the blender a few minutes until smooth. I don’t peel the chili pods or discard the seeds. They just go into the sauce. If you don’t want such spicy sauce, you can discard the seeds and you can add more tomato paste. But remember, the sauce will taste hotter alone than it will be over the enchiladas. The tortillas are bland, as is the cheese, and the cilantro and avocado will cool it down a bit too. Heat the sauce in a medium saucepan for about 20 minutes, stirring until thickened. Adjust salt and let cool enough to handle.

Assembling the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 375’ and grease a large pan with nonstick spray. Pour a few inches of sauce into a shallow flat-bottomed bowl. Place a large plate nearby. Heat a comal or heavy griddle or skillet and place one or two tortillas on it until they are hot and softened, and barely crisp. Take out one of the tortillas and briefly immerse each side in the sauce until it is coated with the sauce, then place it on the plate.

Take a few tablespoons of the chicken mixture (double-check with your fingers that you have removed all the little rib bones) and place it inside the tortilla. Then roll it up and place it seam side down on the greased pan. Repeat. It’s nice to have a partner place the tortillas on the comal for you. When the pan is full, place it in the oven for 20 minutes, until the tortillas begin to dry out.

While enchiladas are baking, crumble cotija cheese in a small bowl, and add a few handfuls of cilantro leaves. Open a can of black olives and drain it. Heat remaining sauce to boiling. When enchiladas have baked, pour a line of sauce down the middle of the enchiladas. Sprinkle the cotija cheese – cilantro mix over them and place a black olive in the middle of each enchilada. Nice served with soft sliced avocados.

Jenny’s Lemongrass and Opo Kang

My best friend at work, Jenny, shares her delicious Laotian dishes with me at lunchtime, and shares the recipes as well. She makes this with jasmine rice. I made it with brown rice.

This Laotian lemongrass-scented Kang (soup) is easy to make. The opo squash, also known as bottle squash because of its shape, is mild flavored when young. If you can’t find it in your local produce or Asian market, you can substitute chayote or zucchini. Jenny uses the seeds along with the flesh.

I bought the lemongrass, opo and Thai basil from an Asian market in Oakland. But next summer I’m going to try to grow them. Each stalk of lemongrass can become a new plant. Just save the bottom 4 inches above the bulb and suspend in water with toothpicks. The bulb will develop roots and the plant will grow quickly. I’ve already  planted one in the yard and will harvest it come summer. Thai basil is very fragrant; use just a bit so as not to overwhelm the lemongrass.

You can make this with pork or chicken. I used sustainably raised pork (from Niman Ranch) since I have issues with the environmental damage caused by commercial pig farms. It’s more expensive but you don’t use much in this recipe. If using a chicken breast, slice it thinly and add them with the opo for the last 15 minutes.

Serves 4


6 cups chicken broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

1 tomato, minced

1/4 pound center-cut boneless pork chop, fat trimmed or chicken breast.

1 stalk lemon grass

1/2 cup rice (I used brown rice)

2 opo squash

Salt to taste

fresh Thai basil leaves

Cut lemon grass into 4 inch pieces, smash with a molcajete (mortar and pestle) or rolling pin on a cutting board to release the scent, then boil in broth with tomato pieces. Cut pork in thin slices and add to broth with rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Peel the opo and slice into bite sized pieces. Fish out the lemon grass and discard. (you don’t want to bite into one while eating the soup!) Add the opo and cook 15 minutes. Salt to taste. Shred basil and garnish each bowlful.

Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

OK the chicken doesn’t need to be Jewish. But this soup will cure any cold, which is why it’s called Jewish penicillin.

My Vietnamese student Dan gave me a the advice to break the bones to expose the marrow to add amazing flavor and nutrients to the broth.

Ingredients:

Bones, skin, herbs and vegetables from roasted chicken

add 2 more cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

3 stalks celery, leaves also, coarsely chopped

2 carrots chopped, or a handful of baby carrots

1 onion, coarsely chopped with skin

green part of leeks, coarsely chopped

2 tsp. salt, or to taste

black pepper

Water, about 1 gallon

After serving and boning chicken, reserve bones and skin and herbs. Break the bones to expose the marrow (I use kitchen shears). Return the bones to the soup and let it boil while you shred the chicken by hand. Discard lemon, or it will give a bitter flavor to your broth. Fill roasting pan with water, add more celery, garlic, salt and pepper, the green part of leeks and onions. Keep onion skin on for a golden color to your broth.

Directions:

Boil for at least an hour; two hours is better. Stir to get the drippings in the pan into your soup. They add a delicious flavor.

Let cool until you can handle the pan. Strain through a strainer and store in refrigerator. The next day you can skim the fat off with a slotted spoon and adjust seasonings. This broth can be used as a base for various soups. Serve topped with fresh  dill.

Add kneydlekh-(matzo balls) for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah or just to help the healing process.

You can also add rice or noodles to the broth.

My mother-in-law, the beautiful Conchita, immigrated from Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas with a flair for making meals that were bién rica.  I have adapted some of her  recipes such as sopa de fideo, which is Mexican chicken-noodle soup.  She fries the fideo, which is short vermicelli, and adds onions, tomatoes and salsa.

Vegan Version: Omit the chicken. Add 3 sprigs of rosemary, 5 sprigs thyme, 10 cilantro sprigs, a handful of parsley, 3 sage leaves, and 3  garlic cloves to ingredients. Boil the vegetables and herbs for an hour, then strain and use as a base for vegetable soups.

Tortilla Soup, bién rica

On a long-ago vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, we fell in love with this soup: fragrant with lime, cilantro, comino and oregano, with just enough heat from chile powder and salsa de casera, and topped with crunchy tortillas or chips.

You could make a vegan version of this recipe by using vegetable broth and either omitting the chicken or substituting beans or some sort of fake chicken.

I buy preservative-free tortillas made in East Oakland: La Finca or La Mexicana,  in Mexican markets in the East Bay,  or at La Palma in San Francisco. Or make my own from fresh masa from La Finca.

I borrowed some of Jacqueline Higuera McMahan’s  method of adding roasted tomatoes from her recipe for tortilla soup:  http://www.sfgate.com/food/southtonorth/article/Soup-preserves-the-last-of-the-year-s-tomatoes-4888977.php Although it adds an extra step, the roasted tomatoes give the soup a rich and satisfying flavor and texture. You can roast them ahead of time. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup of canned tomato puree, although it won’t be quite the same.

tortilla soup ingredients

Serves 3 for dinner with warm tortillas on the side

1 ½ quarts (6 cups) homemade chicken broth.  See   (ok, buy it boxed or canned  it you don’t have homemade.)

5 Roma tomatoes

1/2 purple onion

3 cloves garlic

olive oil spray

1 tsp. cumin (comino in Spanish)

salt to taste

2-3 Tb. (to taste) salsa, such as Herdez salsa casera

1 – 2 tsp ancho chile powder (to taste)

½ chicken breast chopped. tinga de pollo is an excellent addition and will add extra flavor

Or use leftover roast chicken, or you can cook raw breast in the soup.

1 cup cooked rice

several sprigs of fresh cilantro for each bowl

3 sprigs fresh oregano, minced. (You can substitute 3 tsp dried oregano)

1-2 Tb queso cotija, queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese for each bowl

1 avocado sliced

1 lime

3 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 300′ Halve tomatoes and place cut side up on a foil-lined flat casserole dish, with the onion in the center and the garlic cloves placed between the tomatoes. Spray with olive oil spray and bake for 1 hour. Remove the stems and skins from tomatoes and onion, then pulse them in a food processor. You can do this step ahead of time.

Heat broth to boil, add tomatoes and cumin. Add chili powder,  salsa and salt to broth to taste. If using raw chicken breast add it at this point, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.

Heat tortillas on a comal or heavy frying pan until crispy, then break into pieces. You can use packaged tortilla chips instead.

tortilla on comal

Add cooked rice. If using cooked breast, put in the soup at the last minute so as not to lose the flavor.

Pour soup into bowls. Add oregano, cilantro and lime juice as desired, and stir. Crumble cheese on top and add avocado slices and tortilla pieces or chips. ¡Disfrùtela! Continue reading