Here is the first of the recipe sections to the Autumn Easter Feast series beginning, naturally, with the starter and entree. Feel free to use the recipes in this series as a complete menu or individually. The kibbeh make fantastic snacks and can be made ahead of time, frozen and cooked on an as-need basis.
On the menu:
Matzoh Ball Soup
What is matzoh ball soup? Traditionally a chicken broth with a dumpling made from matzoh meal. Matzoh meal stems from Jewish tradition and the story of Passover. It’s an unleavened bread – like a cracker – that is then ground to make a meal, then used to make a dumpling. They are really, really tasty and I am addicted to the texture which is sort of bouncy, a little fluffy, without being chewy.
I could have opted to do a vegetarian version, but for this menu I wanted to make it traditional, chicken broth and all. If you want to make it vegetarian, just substitute chicken stock for a flavoursome vegetable version. I’ve posted a recipe here. Confused about stock vs. broth? I was too, so I googled and this is what I found (thanks Wikipedia!):
The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminology but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavoured liquid. This gives classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetable stock.
Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavouring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses.
Traditionally, broth contains some form of meat or fish: nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth.
For my chicken stock, I simmered:
- 1kg chicken necks (really gross, so I can’t think about it too much, but they produce a very tasty stock)
- 2 x onions, skin on and quartered
- 3 x cloves garlic, skin on and bashed to release flavour
- nob of ginger
- big handful of parsley
- 3 x med carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 x sticks celery, roughly chopped
- 3 x bay leaves
- 10 x peppercorns
- 4 litres water
Chill mixture for 15 minutes, roll into walnut sized balls and poach for 25 minutes. They’ll swell considerably so you have a decent size ball as a result.
If you can’t find the meal you can process some matzoh crackers a-la Isa Chandra (renown vegan superstar chef). Her vegan version is in her cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance.
Once the balls are cooked and stock is made you can set aside until serving time. Just pop a couple of balls in a warm bowl, sprinkle amply with fresh chopped dill and parsley and pour over the hot broth. Kicks butt over chicken noodle soup!
Smokey Carrot Kibbeh with Labne and Cavallo Nero
I stumbled upon kibbeh recently, which is a popular Arabian dish. Traditionally minced lamb is encased in a bulgur shell and either baked or fried. This recipe is even better IMO…and seasonally appropriate! Easily make this vegan if you’re so inclined, by substituting labne with tofutti (tofu cream cheese). One of my dinner guests exclaimed, “who misses the meat when you have flavours like these!”
I’ve adapted Ana Sortun’s recipe from Melbourne Food and Wine’s 2010 Masterclass recipe book. It goes a little sumthin’ like this:
To make the casing:
- Soak 1 c aborio rice for 1 hr
- Meanwhile boil in lightly salted water 1kg of roughly chopped carrots (make sure they’re even, approx 2″ pieces). Cook for approx 25 minutes until soft
- While carrots are cooking, in a large pot or risotto pan, sautee 1 x green capsicum (or can substitute with jalepeno peppers) and 1 x brown onion finely diced until both are soft
- Add 2 tsp smokey paprika (make sure it’s a good quality one) and 1 tsp tomato paste. Turn off heat while you go back to carrots
- Once carrots are done, puree in a food processor adding some seasoning and a nob of butter
- Add carrot puree to capsicum and onion mix.
- Clean out food processor because by now the rice should have softened. Strain rice and add to the food processor and process to a medium-course meal.
- Put carrot puree combination back onto a medium heat and add ground rice. Cook mixture until it thickens. You’re wanting a dough-y type consistency and starchy risotto texture is good because it’ll hold as a casing. This is going to envelope the stuffing.
- Once done, spread out on a pan (cools down quicker) and refrigerate. A cold mixture will help when handling to form the balls
To make the stuffing:
- De-stem a bunch of cavallo nero by running a paring knife down each side. Discard stems and roughly chop the fleshy leaves
- Saute over medium heat with 2 x tblsp olive oil and a splash of water and season with salt and white pepper. You may need to do it in batches, so reduce enough to fit all in the pan together
- Stir in 2 x cloves minced garlic, 1/2 c currants and cook until cavallo nero soft and currants have plumped up (approx 10 mins). Add splashes of carrot cooking water to keep moist
- Once done, set aside and refrigerate to cool mix enough to handle
- Squeeze out excess moisture
- Note you can add chopped nuts for texture – I think chopped fresh (or rehydrated) chestnuts would go great!
A note on labne:
Labne is strained yoghurt that separates the curds from the whey (sounds like a nursery rhyme huh?). I made the yoghurt to make the Labne in my really cool EasiYo yoghurt maker. It’s easy if you want to do this too, using home made or store bought yoghurt.
- Line a fine mesh sieve with muslin cloth. I cheated and used a clean tea towel!
- Place sieve over a small bowl
- Add 200ml unsweetened plain yoghurt, cover with edges of the material, place in the fridge and allow the liquid to strain itself through the material for about 6 – 12 hours.
- You’ll be left with a yellow-clear liquid in the bowl and a nice soft cheese-like yoghurt ball – Labne.
- Or you can simply buy labne from any good deli 🙂
To form the kibbeh:
- In a row, lay out the carrot mixture, labne and cavello nero stuffing
- Using slightly smaller than a tennis ball size portion of carrot/rice mix, with moist hands form a disc shape on your hand
- Using the back of a teaspoon, scoop up a small dollop of labne onto the carrot disc and a pinch of stuffing
- Fold your hand to fold the casing over the stuffing and press together edges, forming a little football shaped kibbeh
- Lay on a tray and repeat process
- Refrigerate kibbeh until ready to cook
Cook the kibbeh:
- Heat veg oil in a wok (I find woks really effective for frying foods). Oil is ready when it sizzles when you drop in a test bit of dough
- Cook the kibbeh in batches and keep warm in the oven
- You can choose to bake these. I’d suggest 30 mins at 180C – but I could be a bit off with timing. Please let me know if you try it!