Passover Potluck: Saffron Matzoh Balls

saffron matzo ball passover soup, passover chicken soup, saffron matzah balls

Saffron Matzoh Ball Soup for Passover

Passover Potluck? Count me in Tori! It is my absolute pleasure and such an honor to be invited to contribute a Guest Post for my favorite Jewish holiday, Pesach, on my favorite Jewish cooking blog, The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I’ll bring the Matzoh Ball Soup. See you at Sundown!

Choosing a Passover dish to share with The Shiksa was easy. After rolling over a thousand matzoh balls between my palms over the last decade, it is this fluffy beloved dumpling of Passover that I must share at the Potluck.

But mine is not an ordinary matzoh ball, this one is infused with saffron. Lots of saffron. So beyond their beautiful rich color, these matzoh balls taste exotic, mysterious. Perfect for the retelling of our ancient story…

saffron matzo ball, chicken soup saffron matzah balls, matzoh cracker soup

My Saffron Matzoh Ball recipe is now posted at The Shiksa’s Passover Potluck here,
plus a peek at Our Beautiful Passover Seder Table too.

Try The Shiksa’s fabulous made-from-scratch “Sinker” Matzo Balls and “Floater” Matzo Balls,
now you’ll know the difference!

My recipe for the best Chicken Soup here,
how to get a crystal clear soup, chicken meat with flavor, elegant carrots, and more.

Wishing You a Holiday Full of Love, and Bright with Tradition!
Lori Lynn

Passover Round-Up 2009

Herbed Matzoh Balls
What would make the perfect introduction to this year’s collaborative Passover meal? I think Matzoh Balls says it all. Come, have a seat at our Seder Table, and Taste With The Eyes.
Our Collective Meal Served by Course:
First Course

Karen’s Haroset

Stacey’s Haroset

Giz’s Gefilte Fish


Julia’s Stuffed Matzo Ball Soup

Zahavah’s Fennel and Pistachio Salad

Father Adam’s Spinach Salad
with Mandarin Oranges, Olives, Oakwood Smoked Bacon
Main Course

Zahavah’s Moroccan Meatballs in Saffron Sunset Sauce

Amy’s Baked Tilapia with Lemon Parsley Matzah Crust

Father Adam’s Roasted Leg of Sonoma Lamb

Elra’s Braised Cornish Hen with Coriander
Kirmizi Biber and Preserved Lemon

Father Adam’s Fresh Asparagus with Garlic and Butter

Lori Lynn’s Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, and Shallots
with Olives and Gremolata
(Brisket in background)

Father Adam’s Scalloped Russet Potatoes with Cheddar


Penny’s Chocolate Cloud Cake

Penny’s Low Fat Cherry Cheesecake

Penny’s Peach Melba Torte

Penny’s Strawberry Shortcake

Penny’s Hazelnut Pear Tort

Stacey’s Chocolate Covered Macaroons
Après Passover

Phyllis’ Tempura Gefilte Fish
Contributors (alphabetical):
“As our ancestors ran from Pharaoh’s army on their escape from slavery and their journey out of Egypt and into the promised land, they had no time to wait for their bread to rise. Instead, the bread baked unleavened on their backs in the hot desert sun. This was the first matzah, and we eat it today to remember the sacrifices that our people had to make so that we could be free. The following is an application of matzah that I doubt our ancestors would have ever imagined, much less had the time or ability to prepare on their backs!”
“The Kirmizi Biber will add a little bit of spiciness to the dish.”
Father Adam
“On Holy Thursday, our meal is a little nicer than usual. On that night, we remember Jesus’ Passover Meal (the night before he died) and the night he instituted our Eucharist. We don’t imitate the Seder meal, but we do remember that Jesus was an observant Jew and that he would have celebrated the Passover just as Jews have done throughout the ages. As Roman Catholics, we are proud to look at this as our heritage.”
“Here’s babba’s recipe that’s been kept under lock and key. We think it’s ‘the best’.”
“Finally, finally this year, I synthesized all my mistakes and wisdom to create feather light matzo balls. The secret is to make the batter as wet as possible and still hold together when cooked. The water in the batter turns into steam when cooked, pushing against the dough, expanding it to create air pockets. When the matzo balls “set” (i.e. the proteins coagulate and the starches gel), the air bubbles are trapped inside.”
“I was supposed to prepare Haroset (aka Charoset) for a “Last Supper” reflection in my parish on Maundy Thursday (9 April 2009). The first time I tried making Haroset (using a recipe that I had randomly come across while surfing the web) about 3 -4 years ago, the results weren’t good. This year, I was given a “killer recipe” except that it came without any measurements, indication of proportions, and the directions were simply to mix everything together then refrigerate for 2 days. Panic, panic…what if I got the proportions or sequence wrong etc?”

Lori Lynn
“Our Passover Menu does not change much from year to year. We always have matzoh ball soup, tomato onion brisket, chicken with honey orange ginger glaze. This year I did change up the vegetable dishes however, one of the new dishes we made was Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, and Shallots with Olives and Gremolata inspired by Marie, the Proud Italian Cook.

“We didn’t have anyone who was kosher this year, so I opted to make lowfat dairy desserts, which I made by mixing recipes from my CD, Amazing Passover Desserts, with some of the recipes from Light Jewish Holiday Desserts. We had 4 desserts: Lowfat Strawberry Shortcake – made with Passover Genoise, Strawberry Filling and Lowfat Whipped Cream, Chocolate Cloud Cake with Lowfat Ganache, Lowfat Cherry Cheesecake, and Coconut Macaroons. Each cake was made in miniature so that the portions were small and no one felt stuffed even tasting all of the desserts.”

“But wouldn’t this be a great way to use up leftover gefilte fish once Passover is over?”
“Here is my recipe for Haroset. It is more of a Sephardic, Middle Eastern version with different nuts and dried fruits, unlike traditional haroset (also spelled haroseth & charoset). It is absolutely delicious. I always say each year ‘why don’t I make this all year long? It would be a great appetizer, and great on a turkey sandwich!’ But, I never do. It wouldn’t be as special, if I did.”
“On Wednesday, April 8, the morning of the first Passover seder, many Jews will partake in a rare ritual called Birkat HaChamah (”blessing over the sun”) after sunrise…Supposedly every 28 years, the sun is in the exact same position that it was in on the fourth day of creation, and many take advantage of this opportunity to remember creation and bless our Creator. The prayer said roughly translates to, ‘Blessed are you, Eternal our Lord, who makes the work of creation.’ “
As our virtual Seder draws to a close I wish you peace and extend my sincere thank you to all the cooks of this exceptional meal.

Passover Seder & The Kids

The tables are set early in the day.
Passover begins after sundown.
And there is much to prepare!

The kids have their own table. Stone is six years old and Jett is four.
They have their own Seder plate, just like the adults.

Passover Seder Plate contains symbolic foods having special significance in retelling the Passover story: z’roa (roasted shankbone), charoset, chazeret (romaine lettuce), karpas (parsley), beitzah (roasted egg), maror (horseradish).

What is the significance of all these frogs?

We have new people at our Seder every year, and they ask, what can I bring? Since the food is already planned, we say, please bring a frog. Our frog community has grown over the years.It is very important that children are involved in the Seder. The frogs, the place mats for coloring, helping with the washing of the hands, and ultimately the hunting for the afikomen help to keep even very young kids engaged and excited about Passover. My nephews are two energetic little boys who are well-behaved and respectful throughout the evening. I am a proud Aunt, can you tell?

My favorite, the Chef Frog (bottom left). Is he holding a brisket?
When Pharaoh refused to set the Israelites free, God punished the Egyptians with Ten Plagues. Frogs are one of the Ten Plagues.

We recognize guests who are attending their first Seder. Lena, Kim and Viktoria are from Germany and are working in Chicago for a year as au pairs.

Everyone is seated. There is Stone at the kids table by the window. Everyone gives him their attention as he welcomed everyone to our Seder with his own poem.
My brother, Don, is the leader. Everyone participates. We read from the haggadah. We recite the blessings. We tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We sing. We drink. We eat. We laugh. We get teary-eyed. Our story is being retold all over the world on this day.
Seder means order. Here is the order of the Seder:

  • Kaddesh – Saying a blessing over the first cup of wine in honor of the holiday.
  • Urechatz – Washing the hands, no blessing is said, prepare to eat karpas.
  • Karpas – Eating parsley dipped in salt water, representing the tears of our ancestors.
  • Yachatz – The middle of the three matzohs on the table is broken, the larger piece becomes the afikomen.
  • Maggid – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold. It starts with asking of the Four Questions by the youngest at the table.
  • Rachtzah – Hands are washed for the second time with a blessing, prepare to eat the matzoh.
  • Motzi – A blessing for bread or grain products is recited over the matzoh.
  • Matzah – Blessing specific to matzoh is recited and then matzoh is eaten.
  • Maror – Blessing is recited over a bitter vegetable such as horseradish, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery.
  • Korekh – Another set of bitter herbs known as Chazeret is eaten as the sandwich to replace the paschal offering. We make a matzoh sandwich with maror and charoset.
  • Shulchan Orech – A festive meal is eaten.
  • Tzafun – Piece of Matzoh hidden for the children to find and is eaten as the ‘dessert’ or the last food of the meal.
  • Barech -Grace is recited over the third cup of wine and then it is drunk. The fourth cup is poured along with the cup set aside for the Prophet Elijah. The door is opened to invite him in.
  • Hallel – Several psalms are recited followed by a blessing over the last cup of wine.
  • Nirtzah – A wish is made that Jews may celebrate next Pesach in Jerusalem or that the Messiah may come again next year.

Jett is ready to help with The First Washing of the Hands.

Lena and Stone assist with the washing of the hands, here, with Cousin Vicki. Vicki had been the youngest in our family until Stone and Jett were born. The youngest is the one to ask the Four Questions. This year, for the first time in almost three decades, Vicki did not ask the Four Questions. Stone did. (Maybe you remember Cousin Vicki from my posting about her beautiful wedding to Jonah in the Sonoma wine country last Fall here).

We eat matzoh on Passover to remind us that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste, they could not wait for the bread to rise. Additionally, matzoh is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms. Don places 3 matzohs in a special cloth. The middle matzoh will be broken in half, the larger piece placed in a little bag and hidden. The kids hunt for this piece of matzoh called the afikomen after dinner and receive a cash reward for “returning” the afikomen to the adults.
Stone asks in English and Hebrew:
Why is this night different from all other nights?
Mah nishtanah halyla hazeh mikol halaylot
1) On all nights we need not dip even once, on this night we do so twice.
2) On all nights we eat chametz or matzoh, and on this night only matzoh.
3) On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night maror.
4) On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline.

A second washing of the hands, this time with a blessing, in preparation for eating the matzoh.
As Lena and Stone help with the hand washing at one table, Kristy and Jett assist the other table. One of the objectives of the Seder is to retell our story and teach the next generation about the rituals, symbols, and meaning of the holiday. Next, we recite a blessing for matzoh and maror, eat a Hillel sandwich of charoset and maror, then serve the meal.
Please stop by on April 17 to see the food from this Seder and others!

Later that night:

“I found the Afikomen!”

Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes
Kasha & Bows

One cup of kasha (granulated roasted whole grain buckwheat) is toasted in a dry non-stick pan for a few minutes, then cooled. A beaten egg is added, stir to coat all the grains. Cook briefly over medium heat until the egg has dried. Add 2 c. seasoned hot chicken stock plus 1 T. vegetable oil, stir, cover and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile sauté a chopped yellow onion in  2 T. vegetable oil, or in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), as my Aunt Edythe did. When the onion is nice and browned, toss with al dente bowtie pasta and then add the kasha. This is usually served as a side dish but along with a salad, makes a tasty weeknight meal as well.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my father’s passing, 38 years ago. I always light a Yahrzeit candle in his memory on this day, say a personal prayer, and spend a few moments “in conversation” with my Dad.

This year I made Kasha Varnishkes, like my Aunt Edythe (his sister) used to make and served it on my parents’ old china, Franciscan Apple. Also known as Kasha & Bows, this is a traditional Russian Jewish dish, one no doubt taught to my Aunt by my Nana, who was from Kiev.
I find the annual act of lighting the Yahrzeit candle on this anniversary very comforting, and along with the cooking of traditional Jewish foods, it helps to keep the memory of my Dad, Aunt, Nana and Papa alive.
Now, Passover is just around the corner, starting at sundown on April 8. And like last year, I am excited to host a Round-up of Passover Photos. If you are participating in a Seder this year, I hope you will join in. Please send me a photo of your Seder plate, Passover dish(es), or your Passover table. If you would like to use my Passover Round-up badge in your blog post, please feel free. There are no rules to take part, just email your photo to tastewiththeeyes AT cox DOT net, and tell me a little about you and your Seder photo. I am hoping that those readers without a blog will participate as well. Let’s share! I will post the round-up after the eighth day of Passover. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Pesach.

Passover Dishes Round-Up

Piece of Asch’s photo of Homemade Matzoh Ball Soup. He writes, “This was my favorite course at last night’s Passover dinner with friends.”

Bob’s idea to grill the chicken made this dish superb: Grilled Chicken, Apricots and Meyer Lemon Slices. Orange Honey Ginger Glaze is poured over the chicken and it is reheated during the Seder.

My Roasted Potatoes with Thyme, Parsley and Meyer Lemon Zest. Potatoes are roasted with olive oil salt and pepper then the herb mixture is tossed with the potatoes when they are warm from the oven.

Here is the Famous Tomato Onion Brisket.

It was slow cooked for 8 hours then chilled overnight. In this photo the cold brisket is sliced against the grain and is ready to reheat for the Seder.

Two six pound briskets!

Fat side up, caramelize under the broiler.

Smother with onion and sauce.

For the complete recipe, go here.

Stone’s Vegetable Kabobs.
Stone’s Kabobs were grilled simply with olive oil salt and pepper.

Giz from Equal Opportunity Kitchen made Matzoh Crunchies. She writes, “Matzoh crunchies are so easy to make, and even easier to eat and you’d never know it was made of matzoh.” She gives detailed a step by step tutorial, then “put into the fridge to cool and harden (about 10 minutes) and then break into pieces. You have matzoh brittle!”

Val made Passover Hazelnut Trifle: Passover Sponge Cake, Coffee, Coffee Liqueur, Coco Hazelnut Spread, Toasted Hazelnuts, Whipped Cream

Until next year…