Hanukkah, somewhat like Adam Sandler’s movie, to me seems like what could amount to eight crazy nights of eating, drinking and being merry-precisely everything the holidays should be.
I’ve decided to explore the food side of the holiday a bit out of curiosity. Our holiday season around these parts has already started to turn into eight crazy days and nights of eating…and then some. Still, I thought it necessary to at least pay a little homage to Hanukkah with a little Matzo Ball soup that meshes Jewish kosher tradition with a farm to fork approach more suited to the local market offerings from our immediate locale. I think I’ve come up with a meal that would do a Jewish granny proud and even managed to keep it kosher.
Speaking of the kosher diet, I must admit that I am quite lame when it comes to my limited knowledge on the subject so I did a bit of research before setting out. In the process I discovered a few great kosher wines I’d like to try. As if I needed another excuse to over-indulge during the holidays, Hanukkah provides additional fuel to stoke the furnace and possibly assist me in packing on a few extra pounds!
Matzo Ball Soup
Serves 4 to 6
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons matzo meal
10 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or packaged organic chicken stock
3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 leek, diced
2 clove of garlic,crushed
1 dried cardamom leave
Season to taste with salt and white pepper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and chicken fat until combined. Whisk in 1/2 cup water and salt. Add matzo meal, and whisk until combined. Fold in 1 tablespoon of chopped leek and one clove of crushed garlic. Cover and refrigerate batter until firm, 2 to 4 hours.
- Line a baking pan with parchment. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large wide saucepan, add cardamom leaf and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Slightly dampen your fingertips, and form 2 heaping tablespoons of batter into a 1 1/2-inch ball, being careful not to compress the mixture too much. Place ball on the prepared pan. Repeat process with remaining batter.
- Using a large spoon, slide the matzo balls into the simmering stock. Once all the balls have been added, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots, celery, 1 clove garlic, remaining leeks, thyme, and parsnips, cover, and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the matzo balls are cooked through. To test if the matzo balls are done, remove a ball from the water, and slice in half. The color should be light throughout. If the center is darker, cook 5 to 10 minutes more.
- To serve, fill the soup bowls evenly with soup and vegetables, allotting each person one or two matzo balls, depending on his or her appetite. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish with fresh sprig of thyme, and serve immediately.
Pastrami Reuben with Roasted Caraway Seed and Sauerkraut
- 1 lb. Smoked Pastrami, thick sliced
- 1 loaf dark Pumpernickel bread
- 16 oz. sauerkraut
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- Swiss Cheese
- 2 Cups Thousand Island Dressing (See Recipe)
1. Saute sauerkraut in medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.
2.Preheat small sauce pan over medium heat. Add caraway seeds and gently toss to roast. When seeds turn golden brown, remove from heat and add to sauerkraut.
3. Slice 8 slices pumpernickel. Layer pastrami, swiss and sauerkraut. Spread bread with Thousand Island Dressing and close.
4. Place in Pre-heated panini press or grill skillet and brown until cheese is melted and gooey. Section and serve.
Wine Selection: Yarden Voignier 2006
Yarden Viognier was produced entirely from Viognier grapes grown in the Golan Heights. The cool climate, rocky volcanic soil and high altitude are proving ideal for this classic northern Rhone Valley variety. Fermentation of one third of the wine was in stainless steel and two thirds were in French oak, yielding a wine with generous fruit, good body and satisfying complexity. Best served at 55 degrees F.
Kosher For Passover