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Matzo Ball Soup

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Today was a rainy day off, so I sat in my house cleaning and decided that it was a perfect day to make some rich chicken stock for some Matzo Ball soup. I broke every single passover dietary law yesterday at the Edible Art Contest, so I decided that I was going to make up for it with tonight’s dinner.

Around noon, I went to Drewes’ and got myself about 3 pounds of frozen chicken backs. Sure, I could have roasted a chicken, and then used the carcass, but chicken backs give the nicest flavor, and Drewes’ carries bags of the bones specifically for stock making at only 99 cents/pound. It’s a bargain!

When I got home, I wanted to refresh my stock making skills, so I decided to head to the You-tubes, to watch this episode of Alton Brown (part one and part two). People forget how handy Youtube is for learning kitchen skills. You can look up an Yiddish bubbe making kreplach, or any culture’s grandmother making their traditional foods. Seriously, try it, it’s fun!

And so after 20 minutes of Alton’s best advice, I dumped the chicken backs into my big Le Creuset, added a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, a quartered onion, a big handful of parsley, about 10 Szechuan peppercorns, and covered it all with cold water. I brought it to a boil, and then simmered the golden brew, uncovered, for about 5 hours. At which point I made my matzo balls, unceremoniously, with Manischewitz mix. Well, Manischewitz mix made with some tasty Tomales pasture raised eggs. I dumped them in the strained stock, and then served it with the 5-hour stock carrot and some fresh dill.

It’s not my grandmother’s, but it was a pretty good consolation. If you want to make everything from scratch, I’d highly recommend Deb’s recipe for Matzo Ball Soup on Smitten Kitchen.

Spring Cleaning

Posted: March 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , | No Comments »



It’s Monday again, and tonight is erev Pesach (the first night of Passover). I’m sad that I’m not going to be home with my family this year – this is the first seder that will be at my grandmother’s new house, and I’m sorry to miss the occasion.

Mostly I’ll miss my family, but I’ll certainly be missing the food: chopped liver on Tam-Tams, gefilte fish with a massive amount of horseradish my mom’s charoset (the fruit and nut concoction that represents the "mortar" that the Jewish slaves in Egypt used), my grandmother’s matzoh ball soup (the woman is a soup queen – this is second only to her kreplach (dumpling) soup that she makes for Rosh Hashanah), and the fluffy lemon meringue concoction that my aunt Maryanne makes. 

I also love the sephardic dishes and customs that make appearances (we are a "mixed" family), including my favorite: bimuelos – little fried passover ‘donuts’ made of matzoh, honey, and cinnamon. And then the moroccan tradition of passing the seder plate above everyone’s heads as a reminder of the burdens that we carried as slaves in Egypt.

This morning I ate some of my leftover ‘chametz’ (aka forbidden foods of Pesach) – oatmeal, with some milk, brown sugar, and delicious fresh spring strawberries from Swanton Berry Farm. And the last of my gingerbread coffee.


I’m still planning my Passover foods for the next week: I’m going to roast a chicken, make my mom’s "matzah pasta" – a lasagna type chicken dish with matzah instead of noodles, and most likely some brisket.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thrown off by the changing of the seasons, and what the heck I’m going to do with my life (perhaps the root of my anxiety), and sometime during my nervous fits I remembered that I have to enjoy life right now, and might as well just get on with my business.

And then at some point this week I read a very nice Spring to Do List by Alice Q. Foodie, and I’ve working to create my own list of the little things that I want to do that make me happy.

:: Cook bright spring meals, hike to the top of Bernal hill a few times, drive down the 1 to the beach, do more yoga, make lemonade, read more books, clean my apartment, walk, lose those last 10 pounds, spend more time with friends, try lots of new cheese (and take notes)… well, lots in moderation…, find hidden away tea spots in San Francisco, spend more time learning – about anything really. Just learning.


So last night, in an effort to enjoy my Spring one moment at a time, I made some Flank steak with chimichurri sauce, bulgur pilaf, and leftover Rancho Gordo Rosa de Castillo bean and farro chili.

I first was reminded about how wonderful chimichurri sauce – a green tangy Argentinian pesto-like sauce – was while reading Tara Austen Weaver’s ‘The Butcher and the Vegetarian’.  Chimichurri was lingering in the back of my mind, and then yesterday Chef John of Foodwishes posted this great little video about the sauce – and immediately went home to make some my self.

On the way back from work I stopped at Drewes’ Meats to pick up some Marin Sun Farms flank steak, which I promptly took home and seasoned with a dash of sea salt, a teaspoon of cumin, and a teaspoon of cayenne (both fresh new acquisitions from Rainbow). While I let that sit, I put some water to boil and then once boiling added my bulgur, and set the timer for 20 minutes. I admit it – I have lots of fresh bulgur on hand, but I’ve been using these Near East Whole Grain Blends Wheat Pilaf because they taste fantastic. 

I then made my chimichurri in the blender – a couple of big handfuls of parsley, a few cloves of garlic, a pinch of sea salt, a few glugs of white wine vinegar, a few glugs of olive oil, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. No real measurements, just a bit of this, a bit of that, taste and adjust. I get it to about the consistency of a pesto, perhaps a little chunkier.

I put the steak on the grill pan that I preheated midway through chimichurri making, and grilled the steak for about 5 minutes on one side, and then 3 on the other. Then I took it off to rest for a few minutes while I heated up the chili and plated it on top of the bulgur. At the last minute, after resting, I sliced really thinly against the grain, (not with the grain, otherwise you’d be chewing each piece for hours). I layed the slices on the plate, doused it with the bright green sauce, and we dug in.

Chimichurri is a sauce that is useful for everything – you can put it on salmon, pasta, chicken, roasted vegetables, you name it. But it tasted particularly good on this flank steak. It was exactly what I wanted. It’s going to be exactly what you want too – I’d highly recommend experimenting with the stuff.

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