passover, with apologies, & oh so many liberties

My mom recycles calendars. She estimates that she's saved a little over $30 for every year that she has done this. It's an eccentric and slightly sheepish revelation that gives you a really good glimpse into how my family thinks about money. Expenses are evaluated, not on their one-off cost, but as they are projected over a lifetime.

For instance, my preferred Wallaby yogurt isn't $2.69 - $2.99 a pop - on no, it's $12.50 a month, nearly $150 a year - hence the recent $28 investment for a yogurt maker. Which might sound like a hassle to you, but it sounds like half a ticket to Iceland to me.

Not to stereotype (as I now proceed to stereotype), but this penny-pinching attitude is part of why this Shiksa and the Jewish men I've dated have always gotten on famously well in this regard. They seem to get it; spend on extravagances, on indulgent luxuries - and scrimp on the mundanities - like calendars - that don't really effect your life quality. If you do, when it comes to frills, you'll usually find that you have the money.

The only trouble with spending money on, say, international travel instead of this year's calendar, is that some pesky holidays don't stay fixed to a constant date. No, they go roaming around various months and make it difficult to pin them down if you're not watching carefully - which I wasn't.

So I'd half-planned a Seder feast for March 27, before I realized that while Passover happened on March 27 in *1994* - in *2011* Passover won't be making an appearance till April... sigh... oops... & oh well...

But it was too late - I'd already started in on the Matzoh Balls.

Despite the many Seders I've been to, as a function of me being vegetarian, I've actually never had Matzoh Ball soup. Though I've always been a little dubious that I'd actually like it - sodden bread is very far from my favorite texture and I don't particularly enjoy things with an eggy flavor - and since that's basically the two things Matzoh Ball soup has going for it... well... you can see the rationale behind my skepticism.

Nonetheless, I love traditional dishes and was quite keen to try a veggie variation and do my damnedest to turn this into a dish I might enjoy. I adapted this version of Sarah Kagan's Vegetarian Matzoh Balls, which basically means I made a moderate attempt to mask the 'egg' taste.

No doubt, people raised on their grandmother's plain matzoh ball & chicken consomme might balk, but I think it turned out well. Next time, however, I'll make an even grander attempt to make those balls super-savory and thus palatable to my palate (think more onion, more garlic, more turmeric, more cayenne, hmmm... maybe some rosemary?) - I'll call it Anne *Spiced* Matzo Ball Soup!

Till then, if you don't mind egg, and are looking for a veggie Matzoh soup dish that's a few steps left of the traditional, you'll probably really like the below recipe:

Slightly Bastardized Vegetarian Matzoh Ball Soup

2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp grated yellow onion
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp butter (leave this out if you're aiming for kosher!! & use a full 1 T of olive oil instead)
1/2 T olive oil
2 T chopped spinach
1 T grated carrot
2/3 cup matzoh meal (or approximately 2 sheets of finely blitzed matzoh crackers, which I felt *very* fortunate to find in this wholly gentile community where every store clerk responded to my inquires about matzoh meal - "What? You're looking for Malt O' Meal?")
5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup carrot
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup spinach

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a small bowl until they hold stiff peaks. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, turmeric, carrot, spinach, butter and oil. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until just combined. Fold in the matzoh meal (or finely blitzed crackers) in 4 separate additions. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.

In a large pot, saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, then add the celery and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and carrots and bring to a boil. Shape the matzoh mixture into 3/4 inch balls and drop them into the boiling stock. Return to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes, turning the balls occasionally. Add the spinach and chickpeas, cover and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. Serve warm with those extra Matzoh crackers you now have on hand! (Some people take their Matzoh balls out and serve in 'fresh broth' - so you know, do this if you don't like the idea of 'cloudy' - but from my perspective, the more that's going on besides those eggy dumplings, the better!)



sharon. said...

If I am ever feeling adventurous in the kitchen this is what I will attempt to make. They look yummy! I always appreciate a good vegetarian recipe. Thanks for sharing!!

anne spice said...

sharon - you should do! maybe try for actual passover in a couple weeks & let me know how it went! x