Matzah Balls & More
With and without matzah meal.
Author of Pesach—Anything’s Possible! www.menuchapublishers.com
For so many people across the entire Jewish spectrum, the mention of Passover brings along with it an association with matzah balls, a.k.a. in Yiddish, “knaidelach”. Here are three of my favorite matzah ball recipes, one of them being completely matzah-free. Enjoy them! They can all be made in advance and then frozen for later use. This way, they are all ready to go and when you want them, just add them frozen to your hot, bubbling soup about a half hour before turning off the fire and presto – your knaidelach are sure to fluff up again and garner you many a compliment.
For those of you who do use matzah meal, here is the standard, traditional variety of knaidelach…
Traditional Matzah Balls
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup matzah meal
- 1/2 cup water
- 5-6 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional
- 1 small sprig of fresh dill, chopped, optional
- A small pinch of salt and pepper
The key to really fluffy, light and delicious matzah balls is not in the matzah – it’s in the eggs. Once I figured that out, the rest became easy. Place the 4 eggs into your beater or use your hand beater, and beat them until light and fluffy. You needn’t separate the eggs. Turn off the mixer and add in all else. Stir by hand at this point so that the eggs will still retain some fluffiness. The mixture is sure to fall; that is fine. Place mixture in the fridge for an hour or more.
Here's a tip many use: Instead of using water, you can substitute the same amount of seltzer water, plain soda water. It does not affect the taste adversely in any way, yet it helps create fluffy light matzo balls that are outstanding. However, I have never needed this tip as aerating the eggs first works so well that the soda water is unnecessary.
I always find that it is best to boil up the matzah balls in plain salted water first, and only add them to the soup later on. This way they will not soak up all your precious and delicious soup when boiling and they will re-fluff as they boil up the second time around.
Use a large pot as these matzah balls will grow a lot and need a lot of room to expand. Boil up the water with some salt thrown in, until it is boiling rapidly. Using wet hands, form small balls and drop them gently into the boiling liquid. Let them boil rapidly for 30 minutes. Remove gently from the pot, drain, and cool. These may now be frozen in plastic bags and removed for use as needed. I usually add mine to my soup, straight from the freezer, about a half hour or so before I turn the soup off.
Here’s another interesting knaidelach recipe,
Crushed Matzah-Matzah Balls
- 2 pieces of machine matzah, crumbled well, but not ground
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 sprigs of fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
- 4 Tablespoons ground matzah meal
- A small pinch each of salt and pepper
Soak the crumbled matzahs in cold water for a few minutes. Squeeze them out and set aside. Sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and light brown. Beat the eggs slightly with a fork and add this, together with the onions, to the matzo mish. Chop parsley and add as well. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and matzo meal. When I do this, I usually don’t add too much salt and pepper now as the matzah balls will absorb the flavor from the soup and that already has salt in it. Mix the entire mixture together and refrigerate, covered for at least an hour.
Boil up the same way as described above. Wet your hands with water and form small balls, drop gently into boiling salted water. Do only one or two balls and watch what happens in the first five minutes. If they completely fall apart, add in a bit more matzah meal to the batter, and then try again. What’s especially nice about this recipe is how different it looks than the traditional style of matzo balls.
These next “matzah balls” look so real your guests may just fall off their chairs in shock! In my family I make them since we do not eat "gebrochs" ie, we do not use any form of matzah or matzah meal in the foods we make on Pesach. Even if your custom is to use matzah meal, you may find yourselves using these also as they are so light and quite good; they don’t taste like matzah but they sure do the trick for those who want a matzah-less “matzah” ball!
- 1 lb./ 1/2 kilo ground white chicken or white turkey
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 potato, cooked and mashed
- 1 small onion, diced or pureed
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, for about two hours or more. Boil up a large pot of salted water until it comes to a rapid boil. Alternately, you can make these directly into a pot of boiling chicken soup. They do expand somewhat so ensure your pot is large enough. Drop small balls into boiling hot water and cook for 35-45 minutes. You may then drain them and freeze in plastic bags until later use, or just add to the soup pot about 45 minutes before it finishes cooking.
Now let's go on to a nice gluten free, matzah meal free kugel recipe,
Shredded Apple Kugel
- 5 Granny Smith apples, shredded
- 2 t. lemon juice
- 2 t. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- ½ cup oil
- ¾ cup potato starch
- 1 package vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the shredded apples. Toss them with the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites until they start to turn white; add ½ cup of the sugar to them and beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it is thick. Add the oil, potato starch, and vanilla sugar and beat more until the mixture is smooth. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this out into a lined 9x13-inch baking pan. Arrange the grated apple mixture all over the top of this batter. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon. Bake for 45–50 minutes, until the kugel is set. Let it cool in the fridge before slicing. Do not freeze this kugel.
To round off our Pesach article, here is a nice, refreshing dessert sure to end off any yom tov meal with a compliment...
- 4 packages of jello, different colors
- 8 cups orange juice
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
Do this recipe one layer at a time. The day before making it, first prepare the flavors. Take one cup water, and 1/2 cup sugar and boil it together. Add one package of jello and mix. Immediately add 2 cups orange juice to it and mix well. Place this mix in your freezer in a flat plastic container overnight. Do the same to all the other flavors, freezing each separately in a flat container.
The next day, remove one flavor from freezer and allow it to soften for 10 minutes or so first. Test that it is ready to be beaten by cutting it into four or five chunks first. If this works, then proceed to the next step.
Beat the frozen mix in your mixer or with your hand mixer until it is the consistency of sherbet. Spread it out in a 9x13 pan or a large plastic container and place it in your freezer. About 1/2 hour later or so, when that layer has re-hardened somewhat, do the same to a different color of jello, then spread this second layer on top of the first and refreeze again. Continue this way until you have all four layers finished, then cover your ices well. Keep them in the freezer until serving time.
This is a very refreshing and pretty dessert. If you can only find two colors, layer them red-yellow-red-yellow, etc. Scoop them out with an ice cream scooper and watch the colors compliment each other.
Enjoy and have a great Pesach!
All the best,