Recipes from my Bobba and Mother
By: Lauren Boolkin
It seems bizarre to be writing about Pesach in January, but in truth it’s a blessing. The key to enjoying the chag is to start thinking about it way in advance and definitely straight after Purim. Although you cannot “change over” your kitchen, you can certainly spring clean the rest of your house. Just implement the no food in bedrooms rule and you are well on your way.
I also like to keep a stock book where I write down the quantities used of each ingredient so that I do not overbuy when confronted with the shopping hype. Spices really do keep from year to year and I aim to cook using a lot of fresh herbs choosing to stay away from the expensive preservative laden products. Rather spend your money on a good cut of meat or the best fish you can find. In most cases a good olive oil (all extra virgin olive oil is Pesachdik), fresh lemon juice, herbs from your windowsill garden, and salt and pepper will yield a perfect result.
There have been years where I’ve attempted to introduce different recipes into our seders. No one was pleased. So, here are my traditional recipes, as taught to be by my Bobba and Mother. Please remember Jewish cooking is a touchy-feely thing. You must taste as there was no metric system in Lithuania.
Chicken Soup and Lala’s flop-proof Kneidlach
My precious friend Lauren P has taught me many things. Never to forget my lipstick, to make sure my roots never show and… (drumroll) …how to make the best Kneidlach ever!
- 4 pieces of top rib
- 1 small chicken
- 1 packet of soup greens
- 1 onion
- 1 pkt ready chopped pumpkin (about 400g)
Wash the chicken and meat well. Put it into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil and then throw off the water. This will yield a scum-free soup. Return them to the pot with your washed and peeled soup greens, pumpkin, and peeled onion. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let your stock simmer for 5 hours. Top up with boiling water to keep the level constant.
After five hours, strain your stock. Discard the chicken and vegetables. (I mince the meat for use in my chremzlach). I also refrigerate my stock overnight. A layer of fat will form on top. I discard it before freezing.
The stock will be strong so you can divide it in two and freeze.
When you are ready to serve it, defrost your stock. Add 3 or 4 Massell’s chicken Cubes (or Telma for Pesach) and salt to taste. If your soup is bland add extra cubes and salt. (Remember the touchy-feely thing.)
I guarantee you they will not flop as long as you do not open the lid during the 25-minute cooking time.
Yields 12-14 Kneidlach
- 4 eggs
- 4 level Tbsp schmaltz
- 4 Tbsp water at room temperature
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pinches cinnamon
- 14 rounded Tbsp matzah meal
Beat Eggs. Add schmaltz and water. Add matzah meal, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into golf ball size balls. Place into your fast boiling soup. Put on the lid. Switch to low (3/4).
Boil gently for 25 minutes. Do not open the lid; remain in suspense until the grand reveal.
If you feel the need to practice, use salted boiling water instead of your soup until you are confident.
Brisket and Tzimmes
Ingredients for Brisket
- 3kg fresh lean brisket
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
Place the brisket in a large oven proof pot or Le Creuset roaster. Add the peeled vegetables and spices. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook slowly until soft. This should take 3-4 hours. (Keep an eye that it doesn’t dry out). Remove from the water when soft. Slice when cool (otherwise it will break) and place in the ready tzimmes. You can make in the morning and reheat.
- 2kg carrots
- ¼ potato flour
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups syrup
- Scant tsp ginger
- Scant tsp cinnamon
- Scant tsp salt
Peel the carrots and slice into rounds. In a small bowl combine the potato flour and water until it is lump free. Add the syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Taste the mixture; it must be to your liking. You may need to add additional syrup/spices. Add the carrots and put in the oven, basting frequently until the carrots are soft.
You can add potato dumplings comprised of 3 Tbsp schmaltz, 3 eggs, 2 finely diced potatoes, and ½ an onion, to your tzimmes before cooking.
June Edelmuth’s Orange Stuffed Turkey (reprinted with permission)
Yay we have turkeys again! There is no better turkey recipe than this one. Last year, I discovered a trussing needle. It has changed my life.
- 2 cups matzo meal
- 1 tsp salt
- Pinch pepper
- 2 small onions finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- Pinch sage and thyme (I use fresh)
- 2 eggs
- 4 Tbsp melted chicken fat
Mix all ingredients and add enough orange juice (Approx. 1 1/3 cup) to make a soft mixture
- 3 cups orange juice
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup red wine
- 3 tsp horseradish
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup plus 3 tsp oil
Boil together for 15 minutes
Clean the turkey and spice with salt, pepper, and chicken spice. Make the stuffing and fill the turkey, tying the legs with string (I use my trussing needle). Brown both sides of the turkey in a little oil on the stove. Pour over the sauce and roast covered at 180°C for 3-4 hours, till soft. Then uncovered for 30-45 minutes till browned. Remove the turkey and thicken the sauce with a little potato flour and water. Decorate with overlapping orange slices.
Serve with sweet potato filled oranges around the turkey.
- 8 baby fennel bulbs
- 2 pkts of rocket
- 1 cup sugared nuts (Or toasted pistachios)
- 2 pears
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Ingredients for dressing
- ½ cup light olive oil
- 2½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard (there is a Kosher for Pesach mustard, use of which is varied as it may contain kitniot. Omit if you need to)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Juice from the caramelized pears and the leftover brown sugar and lemon (about 1/8 cup of each)
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and core the pears and cut them lengthwise into 1/8ths. Dip all slices of the pears in lemon juice and then brown sugar. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet lined with baking paper and roast until they begin to caramelise. Turn them over to caramelise the other side. Cut the fennel bulbs into thin longitudinal slices. Soak in ice water for about 30 minutes. Drain and dry. Arrange the rocket in your bowl. Top with the fennel slices and nuts. Just before serving cut the avocado into wedges add your caramelised pears and dress.
Tip: While preparing the salad I added asparagus which I coated with a bit of olive oil and roasted. I think it worked well.
“Nutella” Cake (without the Nutella)
- 4 eggs (read the whole recipe before starting)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cups ground hazelnuts (grind before measuring)
- 1 Tbsp cocoa
- ¾ cup almond flour or ground almonds
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- 1½ Tbsp olive oil (must be mild otherwise use sunflower oil or melted Cardin)
Grease and line a baking pan. Preheat your oven to 160°C. Separate 2 of the eggs and set aside the whites. Beat the other 2 eggs with the additional 2 yolks and 6½ Tbsp of the sugar until it is thick white and fluffy. Add the olive oil and beat again just until blended. Add the ground hazelnuts, almond flour, cocoa, and chocolate chips. Mix until smooth. Beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Fold it into the nut mixture and pour into your baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes.