Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When Bread is Banned

A little something about me: I come from a bi-religious family (my mom's Catholic and my dad's Jewish), and we celebrate every holiday out there.

As a result, I've been to many a Passover Seder in my day. When my brothers and I were younger, we hated Passover with a passion because it meant we were trapped at the dinner table for hours at a time, forced to ask some really weird questions (like "Why do we open doors?") out loud in front of everyone and made to forego perfectly good leavened bread.

Now that we're all old enough to enjoy alcohol, it's another story. We love Passover! During which other holiday (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever) are you required to drink 4 glasses of wine within the span of 1 hour in the name of good faith? It is binge drinking at its best.

During my childhood, Passover usually involved bad food. Thankfully, things have changed now that my family has secured an annual invitation to celebrate the occasion at Gloria's house. Gloria is a close family friend, an amazing cook and a food stylist who has rubbed elbows with the likes of Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis and countless other celebrity and local chefs. Check out what Gloria served at her Seder this year:

Naturally, it all started with a healthy serving of Matzoh.

Gloria served roasted lamb with Harissa sauce (untraditional for Passover but a really nice change of pace) and on the side, roasted spring vegetables including fennel, artichoke hearts and celery root.

Here's my full plate, complete with squash casserole (What? There weren't any breadcrumbs in it), roasted potatoes and Moroccan chicken:

The meal ended with a plethora of desserts made by Judy, another family friend and amazing cook. I had a huge plate of chocolate almond cake, lemon sponge cake with a lemon curd sauce and a whipped cream icing, homemade lady fingers dipped in dark chocolate and decadent chocolate mousse.

By definition, Passover (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) can't take place without matzoh. On Monday, we had matzoh ball soup as a first course. It just so happens that this soup is comforting, delicious and super affordable regardless of when you eat it. Run to the store, grab some matzoh meal and enjoy!

*The recipe below is from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Feel free to add shredded leftover chicken and more vegetables if you're looking to turn it into a main course.

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls


3 eggs
6 to 9 cups good chicken stock
1/4 cup minced or grated onion
1/4 cup melted rendered chicken fat or canola or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup matzoh meal, approximately
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish


Beat together the eggs and 1/2 cup of the stock. (If you would prefer very light matzoh balls, separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the stock. Beat the whites until almost stiff and fold them in after adding the matzoh meal.)

Stir in the onion, fat, salt, and pepper. Add the matzoh meal; the dough should be quite moist, barely stiff enough to make into balls. If it is too moist, add a little more meal.

Cover the mixture and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. When you're ready to cook, place a large pot of salted water to boil. (You can also cook the matzoh balls directly in your stock, but use the larger quantity of stock; the balls absorb a lot of liquid.) Using wet hands, shape the mixture into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Meanwhile, cook the carrots in the 5 1/2 cups stock.

Turn the heat under the boiling water to medium—low and cook the balls until expanded and set, about 30 minutes. Set them in soup bowls and ladle the stock and carrots over them, then garnish with lots of parsley.

1 comment:

  1. I loved at Emory all they served was Matzoh ball soup around Passover. Delish!