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Happy Passover

My lovely cousins Liz & Chuck host Seder at their house so I’m mostly off the hook for cooking.  My tasks this year were super easy – matzoh ball soup and haroset.

Matzoh ball soup starts with great chicken stock.  This time I used about 8 lbs. of spare parts (mostly backs), three medium yellow onions, a couple of big parsnips, a couple of carrots, a head of celery, a giant leek, a handful of peppercorns, a dozen-ish bay leaves and a few tbs. salt.  It all went into my giant (22-24 qt.) cauldron which I then filled with water.  I let it simmer six or seven hours, then strained the stock into huge bowls and let it sit in the fridge over night.  If you let it chill long enough the fat will solidify on top and you can skim it off very easily.  I didn’t let it chill long enough so I used my de-fatter to help me.  It’s basically like a big measuring cup where the spout starts near the bottom of the container.  You pour your liquid into it and let it sit a few minutes until the fat floats to the top then you can easily pour the fat-free liquid out from underneath.  Don’t throw out your chicken fat, though!  You’ll want it for the matzoh balls.

To make the matzoh balls, beat 2 eggs with 2 tbs. chicken fat (melted if it’s solidified) and 2 tbs. chicken stock.  Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 c. matzoh meal and stir it all together.  Let the batter chill for an hour or so, then roll it into balls (I like to make 8 balls from this amount of batter, but if you like your matzoh balls bigger you can do just 6) and drop it into boiling chicken stock or salted water.  I like to use about half chicken stock/half water with a bit of extra salt added.  Cover and let the matzoh balls simmer for 30-40 minutes (on the shorter side if you made 8 balls and on the longer side if you made 6).  Take the matzoh balls out of the cooking liquid.  When you’re ready to serve, reheat them in fresh broth (but don’t bring it all the way to a boil).   Garnish each bowl of soup with a little chopped parsley.  If I’m serving this soup as part of a meal, I figure 2 matzoh balls per person with a few extras just in case.

Haroset is just as easy.  Put about a cup of walnut pieces in the food processor with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.  Run the processor until the nuts are coarsely ground.  Peel and core 3 large apples (firmer is better and I prefer fairly tart ones) then grate them on a coarse grater (I used the grating blade for my food processor).  Toss them with the nuts, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a few tablespoons of sweet red wine (Mahischewitz is the obvious choice, although I prefer to use something that actually tastes good).  It’s best if it sits a few hours before serving.  I made 3 recipes for 14 people, but 2 would have been enough.

It takes all of about 10 minutes to make the haroset.  Matzoh ball soup only takes maybe an hour of active work (and that includes making the stock), but it does require you to be home for the better part of a day (unless of course you’re happy leaving something simmering on the stove while you go out…me, not so much).

Happy Passover and happy eating!

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