Matzo Balls and Memories

Youth volunteers learning how to make matzo balls
Today’s blog is inspired by this afternoon’s Handmaker Youth Leadership Team event, during which Chef Dave taught youth and residents how to make matzo balls for Handmaker’s famous chicken soup with matzo balls.  At Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, matzo ball soup is not only served at Passover, but every Friday, with Shabbat dinner.  There are always a range of comments about the soup, from “The soup is delicious!” to “It’s not as good as my mom used to make.”

Handmaker Youth Leadership Team is for youth ages 11-18 years.  Today we had 25 youth participants, which was a huge turnout.  Our chef had to run back to the kitchen to make more chicken stock, to be sure we had enough soup to go around!

My matzo ball soup memory is making matzo balls with my mom for the first night of Passover when I was in high school.  It must have been my senior year, because I was already driving, and had to run to the store for more ingredients for the dessert, when we realized that my mom had used margarine with corn oil in it for her chocolate truffle cake.  Corn, and other legumes, are prohibited during Passover, unless you are of Sephardic descent, which is a topic for another day.

My mom tends to make her matzo balls on the firmer side.  She taught me that the more you handle the matzo balls, as in rolling them into spheres with your hands, the firmer they will be.  If you want softer, fluffier matzo balls, then only roll them briefly.  After the matzo balls were cooked, my mom removed them from the broth, put them in a pyrex dish, wrapped it thoroughly with Saran Wrap, then a dish towel, then tucked it under the covers in bed.  She told me this is how her mother kept them warm.

The recipe below is from Tradition in the Kitchen, which is a cookbook published by our synagogue, Temple Beth-El in Highland Park, IL in 1976.  I found a copy for myself, and a second one for my sister, on ebay.

Fluffly Knaidlach
3 eggs, separated
3/4 C. matzo meal
dash of salt, ginger, parsley, paprika, pepper at your discretion

Beat egg yolks with matzo meal and fold into beaten egg whites.  Add spices.  Place in refrigerator for one-half hour.  Have either salted water or soup boiling.  Form mixture into balls with your hands and drop into hot liquid.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
(This recipe was submitted by Cara Madansky.)

Lori’s tip:  Keep a bowl of cold water handy while forming the matzo balls.  Periodically dip your hands in the water, which will keep the matzo ball mixture from sticking to your hands.

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