Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanukkah Herbal Dishes

I know that my focus this year has been almost entirely on my own religious background with the Advent Calendar and the Herbal Gift Series, however Christmas is not the only holiday in December and I thought I would share a couple recipes I found in a book called the Jewish Holidays Cookbook by Jill Bloomfield.  There are many great traditional recipes in the book but these two were ones my grandmother liked to make at holiday time.  She was not Jewish, but she did have a number of freinds at the Senior Center who were and as a result we learned to enjoy these dishes as if they came from our Finnish heritage.
Matzo Balls
Although these are seen to be like a dumpling, they really are not that dense.  To keep them light and fluffy pack them loosely; you want them to float when they cook. Matzo balls almost double in size when they cook, so be sure not to make yours too big.  I like Matzo balls as an alternative to noodles in chicken soup.  They are different and actually more simple to make than noodles anyway!

Serves 6
3 eggs
1 cup matzo meal
4 Tbls. vegetable oil
2 quarts plus 2 Tbls. chicken broth
½ cup cold water
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. parsley
1.    Separate 2 eggs and put the egg whites in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set the yolks aside because you will add them later. Whisk the egg whites until they are light and fluffy.
2.    Crack the last egg and combine with the yolks you set aside. Using a fork, beat together. Gently fold the yolks into your fluffy egg whites.
3.    Add matzo meal, vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of chicken broth, water, salt, white pepper, and garlic powder, and parsley again folding it carefully into your mixture.
4.    Place bowl in refrigerator for 1 hour, until the mixture is chilled and firm to the touch.
5.    Place 2 quarts chicken broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
6.    Remove matzo mixture from the refrigerator. Using your hands, scoop out a small bit of mixture and gently roll it in your hands to form a ball, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. (Rinse your hands with cold water if the dough is sticking to your fingers.)
7.    Using a slotted spoon, place matzo balls into the chicken stock 1 at a time. Reduce heat so mixture is at a low simmer. Cover pot and allow matzo balls to cook gently for about 45 minutes until they are cooked enough.
8.    Serve your matzo balls in the broth they were cooked in, or as a substitute for the noodles in chicken noodle soup.
Polish ponchik are fried doughnuts stuffed with jelly; Eastern European Jews brought these with them as they moved to Israel. This quick and easy recipe allows anyone to celebrate Hanukkah with homemade jelly doughnuts.  And what holiday cannot be enhanced by donuts!

Serves 5
1 (10 count) package of pre-made refrigerated biscuits
24 oz canola oil (for frying)
¼ cup raspberry jelly or jam (or feel free to use your favorite flavor, I like apple butter and grape too!)
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend (or just cinnamon)
1.    Separate biscuits and flatten into a circle about 4 inches in diameter.
2.    Place about a teaspoon of jelly or jam in the center of each biscuit. Bring the edges up the the middle to form a ball. Pinch it closed at the top to seal in the filling.
3.    When all 10 ponchik are ready, pour the oil in a saucepan and bring to 350 degrees F. While waiting for the oil to reach temperature, pour sugar and cinnamon onto a plate.
4.    When oil is ready, use a slotted spoon to lower ponchik into oil. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until the dough is cooked through and golden brown.
5.    Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on plate with cinnamon sugar. Gently roll the ponchik to coat. Be careful, ponchik will be hot.

Happy  Hanukkah!   

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