Since I am not Jewish, Jewish cooking must meet my style. So how could I do it otherwise?
I am quite fond of most ethnic cuisine, and particularly so of Jewish cooking. It is not always easy, however, to jump from one's known frying pan into an unknown skillet, expecially when the pan is over the fire--literally speaking.
Like most cultural foods, Jewish cooking is also unique. It comes to us, across time, from Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal, North Africa, France, Germany, the Middle East, and Mediterranean areas in particular.
Preparing Jewish food can become complex to non-Jewish cooks since Jewish cooking is influenced by dietary kosher laws. On the other hand, there is kosher-style food preparation, and that is my style.
So, what do I like? What do I cook? Those items that you are probably familiar with are also some of my favorites--like knishes, bagels, blintzes,
stuffed cabbage, tzimmes, kugel, challah bread, Jewish apple cake, and matzah ball soup.
I pride myself with my matzah ball soup, although it was not always so. You see, my first kettle of soup turned out matzah balls known as "sinkers." Sinkers are those that fall to the pot's bottom and stay there. My matzah balls were not only sinkers, they were Goliath-size sinkers. I mean they were huge.
Now, there are two types of matzah balls--the sinkers and the floaters. The sinkers are firm and heavy, while floaters are light, soft and airy. Sinkers fall to the bottom of the broth when dropped into it, where they remain. Floaters submerge momentarily, when dropped into the broth, then float airily to the top of the soup where they remain.
The cooked size of the matzah ball is determined by the amount of prepared meal one palms to round it up. In my first attempt, I scooped up large size wads of matzah, palmed them into perfectly round balls and dropped them harmlessly into the bubbling chicken broth. I stood there waiting for the matzah balls to surface. My goodness! Where are my matzah balls? Fifteen minutes later had become an excellent teacher.
I discarded the entire kettle's contents, and started from scratch. Someplace in my mind's eye I heard Florence Levenson saying, "Use less oil for light matzah balls."
1/2 cup matzah meal
2 T. melted chicken fat (or a good oil)
2 T. chicken broth
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
white or black pepper to taste
2 quarts of chicken broth
Mix first six ingredients well and place in frig for 20 minutes. I put mine in the freezer for half that time. In the meantime, bring chicken broth to a slow boil. When meal mixture is firm, roll into SMALL balls, in wet hands, using about a teaspoon of the mixture. Drop them into boiling broth, cover and cook about 15-20 minutes. It is important that the very center of the matzah ball is well done. (I hate an uncooked center, no matter how small it is).
On the other hand, MY simple directions are to purchase a box of Kosher Matzah Ball Mix and follow directions on the box. Roll into SMALL balls. Remember, the small balls will expand during cooking!
Serve soup and matzah balls in bowls with slices of shredded chicken and a sprinkling of parsley. Delicious!