Passover is almost here and it’s never too early to start your menu planning. The Forward’s Devra Ferst and Heritage Radio Network’s Leah Eden teamed up for this special Passover Food Podcast. Devra sat down with Jeffrey Yoskowitz, Co-owner and Chief Pickler of Gefilteria, to discuss what makes gefilte gefilte. And, Leah chated with Mitchell Davis, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation and host of Taste Matters, about what the Passover Seder looks like at the James Beard House.
For the recipes we talk about during the show, see below. Happy Passover!
My Mother’s Matzo Balls—Floaters
Adapted from The Mensch Chef (Clarkson Potter 2002)
This is an approximation of the matzo ball recipe my mother always used. It is based on the one on the matzo meal box, but with a few important modifications to account for my mother’s heavy hand with the schmaltz and her inexact measuring technique. When it comes to making fluffy floaters instead of sodden sinkers, I’ve tried all of the tricks: seltzer, baking soda, and others. But the only thing that seems to make a difference in the finished texture is how you handle the them. For floaters, it’s best not to let the mixture sit in the refrigerator more than 30 minutes before shaping. Whatever you do, don’t work too hard to the mixture into balls—rolling the matzo balls around for too long in the palm of your hands compacts and toughens them up. Instead, coax them into a spherical shape, and don’t be too OCD about it. Also, be sure to have the chicken soup simmering when the matzo balls are ready, so you can put them straight into the hot soup. That way they retain their texture after cooling.
Makes 10 to 12 medium-size matzo balls
Chef’s Note: You can double or triple this recipe as needed. (You can halve it, too.) Just be careful not to crowd the pot you are cooking the matzo balls in or they will not cook through fully.
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons chicken schmaltz, melted and cooled
4 tablespoons hot chicken soup
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons matzo meal
Combine the eggs, salt, schmaltz and soup or water in a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Whisk in the matzo meal and beat until smooth. Let set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until the matzo meal absorbs the liquid and the mixture sets near firm.
In a large pot, bring your chicken soup to a simmer. In a separate pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Remove the matzo ball mixture from the fridge. Wet your hands with cold water and shape a heaping tablespoonful of the mixture into a ball in the palm of your hands. Coax the matzo ball into a sphere. Rolling it too tightly will prevent it from achieving its puffiest. Drop into the boiling water and repeat with the remaining mixture, cleaning and wetting your hands as necessary to keep the matzo balls from sticking to your skin.
Bring the pot back up to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and cook for an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until the matzo balls have risen from the bottom of the pot and have blown up to about twice their original size. Occasionally a matzo ball or two will stick to the bottom of the pot. Give it a nudge with a spoon to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, remove the matzo balls fromt eh boiling water and place them directly into the simmering chicken soup.
The Sipping Seder’s Charoset Cocktail
1 oz (30 ml) 42Below Manuka Honey Vodka
1 oz (30 ml) Dolin Sweet Vermouth
1) Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice.
2) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
3) Dust with freshly grated cinnamon.
Notes: As a variation, the recipe also responds well to the addition of ½ ounce of Calvados, the French apple brandy.