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 Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup

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 (1/4 recipe in parentheses)
4 (1) large eggs
2 (1/2) tsp schmalz (rendered chicken fat). Use the fat that rises to the top of the soup
(vegetarian version: use 1/4 cup (1 Tb) oil only)
3 Tb (2 1/4 tsp) canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp (1/4 tsp) garlic infused olive oil
1 (1/4) cup matzo meal
2 (1/2) tsp salt
1/4 tsp (a shake) white pepper
1 tsp (1/4 tsp) baking powder
1 Tb (3/4 tsp) minced parsley leaves
1/2 tsp (1/8 tsp) dried or 1 Tb (3/4 tsp) fresh minced dill weed
 
1 TB (3/4 tsp) schmaltz added to boiling water
1/4 cup (1 Tb) 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 40 minutes

While dough is resting in the fridge, boil a large pot of water (at least a gallon). Add a tablespoonful (3/4 tsp) of schmalz (unless you’re making vegetarian ones) and 1/4 cup (1 Tb) 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 (4) golf-ball sized matzo balls. Put them on a plate

Drop them in the boiling water. Cover pot tightly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 40 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.

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:

2 Tb chicken fat (Schmaltz) skimmed from chicken drippings

3 stalks celery, leaves also, chopped

1 large carrot chopped, or a handful of baby carrots

1 onion, coarsely chopped with skin

1 leek, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 Tb salt, or to taste

1 quart (4 quarts) plus 1 gallon (16 cups) water

Bones, skin, herbs and vegetables from roasted chicken

A handful of parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tsp black peppercorns

Directions: Roast chicken using my recipe for

Roast Chicken

You can also use a rotisserie chicken.

bones

After serving and boning chicken, reserve bones and skin and herbs. Break the bones to expose the marrow (I use kitchen shears). I include the dark meat we didn’t have for dinner. Refrigerate overnight in a container.

Fill the roasting pan with about a quart (4 cups) of water and bring to a boil. Squeeze the lemon that you cooked in the chicken into the pan, then discard the lemon, since the pith will give a bitter flavor to your broth. Simmer pan for 15 minutes, then turn off the burner and let sit for half an hour. Scrape the drippings from the pan using a metal spatula until they are incorporated into the liquid. Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight.

If I’m not up for making stock the next day, I freeze the bones and drippings until I am ready. Sometimes I will have 2 or 3 frozen carcasses until I’m ready to tackle the soup. If you do this, double the seasonings and add an extra gallon of water to your stock.

IMG_0042

The next day, skim the fat (schmaltz) from the refrigerated pan drippings to make two Tb fat. Discard the rest of the fat (unless you are planning to use it for matzo balls).

IMG_1019

Melt the fat in a large pot.Saute the chopped vegetables until they are soft, and stir in the herbs.

stock cooking in pot

Add the defatted drippings, along with 1 gallon (16 cups) water, and bring it to a boil. Add the parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, chicken bones and skin to the soup and return to a boil. Simmer for at least an hour and half.

Let cool until you can handle the pan. Strain through a strainer into a container or two, discarding all solids.

container in ice bath

Rinse out soup pot and fill with ice and cold water. Place soup container(s) in the ice bath until cold, then store in refrigerator. This is to safeguard your broth from bacteria growing in lukewarm soup.

The next day you can skim some of the fat off with a slotted spoon (keep a couple of tablespoons for flavor though), and adjust seasonings. This broth can be used as a base for various soups. Serve topped with fresh or dried dill.

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

matzo balls in chicken soup

  •  Saute chopped carrots, celery, sugar snap peas or frozen peas in a teaspoon of chicken fat, add hot broth, sliced roasted chicken, and either cooked rice or egg noodles. Sing, “Sippin’ once, Sippin’ twice, Sippin’ chicken soup with rice” along with Carole King and Maurice Sendek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSJ0FDplzjk

chicken rice soup

Mexican fideo soup: 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. Saute vegetables in olive oil instead of shmaltz and add herbs.  Boil the vegetables and herbs for an hour, then strain and use as a base for vegetable soups.

Tortilla Soup, bién rica

This classic Mexican soup is fragrant with lime, comino and oregano, with just enough heat from chile powder. This is one of the first recipes that I posted on my blog. I’ve updated it to the way it has evolved in the last 10 years.

You could make a vegan version of this recipe by using vegetable broth.

I make my own Tortillas de maíz hechas a mano – Homemade corn tortillas from fresh masa from the local Mexican market or with dry masa. They will literally melt into the soup. When I’m not up to that I buy preservative-free tortillas made in East Oakland: (from La Finca or La Mexicana)  in Mexican markets in the East Bay,  or at La Palma in San Francisco.

You can roast the tomatoes ahead of time and make tinga de pollo or season the chicken ahead of time.

Serves 3 for dinner with a warm tortilla in the soup.

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

1 corn tortilla (homemade is best) for the soup, plus 3 tortillas to serve in the soup.

14 oz can roasted tomatoes or 5 fresh Roma tomatoes and olive oil spray

2 Tb olive oil, divided

1/2 onion plus 2 Tb onion for chicken and 2 Tb for garnish

3 cloves garlic

2 large stalks celery, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 tsp. cumin (comino in Spanish) divided between chicken and soup

2 tsp dried oregano, divided between chicken and soup

1/2 to 1 tsp ancho chile powder (to taste) Remember a little goes a long way!

1/2 teaspoon salt to taste

½ roasted chicken breast shredded (tinga de pollo is an excellent addition and will add extra flavor)

2-3 teaspoons salsa

1 lime, juiced

Garnish with any of the above:

Several sprigs of fresh cilantro for each bowl if desired

2 – 3 tsp dried oregano

A tablespoon of minced raw onion for each bowl

1-2 Tb Monterey Jack cheese for each bowl

1 small to medium avocado sliced

If roasting your own tomatoes: Preheat oven to 300′ Halve tomatoes and place cut side up on a foil-lined pan. 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 1 Tb olive oil in a large pot. add onions, celery and carrots and saute until onions soften. Add broth and bring to boil, then stir in tomatoes, cumin, chili powder and salt to taste.

Shred chicken breast. If not using tinga de pollo, prepare the chicken as follows: In a separate pan, heat 1 Tb olive oil and add onions and saute until soft. Add chicken and mix in 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon comino and 2 Tb salsa. (You can do this part ahead of time.)

Heat tortilla on a comal or heavy frying pan until soft. You can alternatively microwave it for 30 seconds.

Ladle 2 cups of broth into a blender (try not to include the vegetables). Tear up the tortilla and add it to the blender. Blend on high until tortilla has crumbled into the broth. Pour back into the soup pot and mix thoroughly.

Stir in the cooked breast. Heat soup to hot. Juice the lime into the soup.

Pour soup into bowls. Roll a freshly warmed tortilla and put it in the bowl. Add avocado slices, sprinkle dried oregano, raw chopped onions, and cilantro as desired. Crumble cheese on top. ¡Disfrùtela!

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