As Passover approaches, you're sure to see grocery stores stocking up on matzo. While you can eat this thin, dry unleavened bread plain or topped with butter or other spreads, there are also quite a few ways to incorporate the popular Passover food into delicious recipes. Here, Philadelphia experts share their creative twists on the classic matzo ball soup as well as a few other recipes (including a sweet dessert).
1623 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Yehuda Sichel is the Executive Chef at Abe Fisher, a Rittenhouse-area restaurant from partners Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov of CookNSolo restaurants. Chef Sichel originally joined the CookNSolo team at Chef Solomonov's modern Israeli spot, Zahav in 2010. Under Chef Sichel, Abe Fisher received a 3-bell review from restaurant critic, Craig LaBan, and also earned a semifinalist nomination for "Best New Restaurant" in the 2015 James Beard Awards.
Baked Matzo Brei With Salami
- 1 box matzo (10 oz.)
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ small link of salami, diced (approximately 1 cup)
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 12 eggs
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- Maple syrup (drizzle)
- ¼ cup scallions, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fill a medium sized bowl with water, and crumble the matzo into the water.
- Let sit until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Heat the butter in a 10" cast iron pan over medium heat.
- Add salami and red onion to the pan and sauté for approximately 5 to 8 minutes. (The salami should be crispy at the edges, and the onion should be translucent.)
- Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and black pepper.
- Whisk until the mixture is aerated.
- Drain the soaked matzo, discarding the water, and add to the beaten eggs.
- Gently stir the softened matzo into the eggs.
- Add the matzo egg mixture to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sides of the egg and matzo mixture begin to set.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Serve in the skillet after garnishing with chopped scallions and a drizzle of maple syrup.
(Serves 8 people)
Night Kitchen Bakery
7725 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Located in Chestnut Hill, The Night Kitchen is a Philadelphia tradition going back over 30 years. Chef Amy Edelman bought the bakery in 2000, and her husband John Millard (also a chef) joined her as a co-owner after they were married in 2002. Chef Edelman has been a chef for over 25 years, with experience as a pastry chef and cook at a five-star resort in Florida, the Intercontinental Hotel in NYC, and EuroDisney in France as just a few of her accomplishments.
Passover Matzo-Crusted Cheesecake:
For the crust:
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
For the filling:
- 2 lbs. cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 medium eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 352 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the matzo meal, melted butter and sugar.
- Spray a 9" spring form pan with non-stick spray.
- Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan, spreading it evenly.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Scrape the bottom of the bowl several times, and mix in sour cream if you prefer a creamier cheesecake.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well blended.
- Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Pour the batter over the matzo crust and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the middle of the cake doesn't jiggle when you gently shake the pan from side to side.
- Chill for several hours before removing from the pan.
(Serves 10-12 people)
4410 Main St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Chef Tim Spinner is the co-owner (along with business partner, Brian Sirhal) of four Mexican restaurants in the Philadelphia area. Chef Spinner graduated from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. With three restaurants in three years, it's safe to say that the Philadelphia area is loving the Feliz group of restaurants. In 2015, a second Taqueria Feliz opened – this time in Horsham.
Mexican Matzo Ball Soup
For the soup:
- Vegetable oil
- 8 plum tomatoes, charred on the grill or cast iron skillet
- 3 cloves of garlic, charred on the grill or cast iron skillet
- 1 Spanish onion, charred on the grill or cast iron skillet
- 2 oz. tomato paste
- 3 pasilla chiles
- 3 gaujillo chiles
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 1-1/2 pieces of matzo, broken up
- Salt to season
- Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with vegetable oil and heat until hot./li>
- Add the tomatoes, onions and garlic to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, chilies and chipotle. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.
- Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer.
- Cook for 45 minutes.
- Add matzo and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the matzo is soft and tender.
- Puree the soup with a stick blender on high.
- Strain the soup through a large hole China cap.
- Season with salt to taste.
For the matzo balls:
(Recipe courtesy of Streit's Kosher food company)
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup seltzer water
- 1 cup Streit's matzo meal
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Beat the eggs.
- Add vegetable oil, seltzer and salt. Mix well.
- Add the matzo meal and mix thoroughly.
- Partially fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Season with salt.
- Moisten your palms with cold water and shape the mixture into balls, about 1" in diameter.
- Drop matzo balls in boiling water.
- Once all of the matzo balls are in the water, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.
- Remove matzo balls using a slotted spoon and refrigerate for later.
- Warm up broth.
- Add the chilled matzo balls to the warm broth and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Spoon soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, diced onion and micro arugula.
(Serves 4-6 people.)
Cornerstone Wayne BYOB Restaurant & Artisanal Cheese & Charcuterie
1 West Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087
Chef Christine Doherty-Kondra owns Cornerstone along with her husband, and fellow chef, Nick Kondra. The pair discovered a mutual passion for travel and mindfully sourced food, as well as the belief that every meal should be a unique experience. While traveling the country, they formed relationships with farms, artisanal purveyors, and chefs. These relationships and experiences were combined with their own concepts of quality sourcing and seasonal ingredients to form Cornerstone Cheese & Charcuterie.
Smoky Matzo Ball Soup
This three part recipe is a spin on the classic matzo ball soup. It incorporates the century old (very healthy) Israeli national chili paste, zhoug.
- 10 cups homemade chicken stock, fat skimmed and removed
- 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed with the inner stalk removed and thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- Handful of snap peas, ribs removed and sliced
- 2-3 purple, atomic red or orange carrots, diced
- 1 tablespoon safflower or olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
Optional variations: ½ cup chopped Swiss chard, handful of sautéed sea beans, 1 roasted and diced parsnip
- Turn the grill on medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken stock to a large stockpot.
- Make a bouquet by placing the lemongrass and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie in a knot. Add to chicken stock and simmer for 2 hours.
- As stock is simmering, toss the diced carrots with salt, pepper and oil and wrap in foil.
- Place the foil on the grill and smoke for 10 minutes, put the carrots to the side until the final steps.
- Slice snap peas and reserve.
- Begin making the matzo balls and zhoug while the stock is simmering.
- 3 eggs (organic, omega-3 or ameraucana)
- 3 tablespoons rendered chicken, beef or lamb fat
- ½ cup water
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup matzo meal, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
- 2-3 scallions, finely diced
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and rendered fat until combined.
- Whisk in ½ cup water and salt to season.
- Add matzo meal and whisk to combine.
- Mix in dill and scallions.
- Cover and refrigerate the batter for 2-4 hours, until firm.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slightly dampen your fingertips and form 2 heaping Tablespoons of batter into a 1-1/2" ball, being careful not to compress the mixture too much.
- Place the matzo ball on the prepared pan and repeat with remaining batter.
- Using a large spoon, slide the matzo balls into the simmering stock.
- After adding the matzo balls to the stock, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Then add the carrots and cook for another 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the matzo balls are cooked through.
- To test if the matzo balls are cooked, remove a ball from the stock and slice it in half. The color should be light throughout. If the center is darker, cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- While the matzo balls are cooking, prepare the smoky zhoug garnish.
- 2 jalapenos
- 1-2 small garlic cloves
- 1-1/4 oz. cilantro – stalks and leaves
- 1/3 oz. flat leaf parsley – stalks and leaves
- ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom, ground
- ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon superfine sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water (filtered if you have hard water)
- Smoke jalapeños on the grill for 8-10 minutes, turning every few minutes.
- At the same time, place garlic cloves in foil and cook on the grill.
- Remove jalapeños and let rest to cool.
- Remove garlic and crush.
- Place jalapeños, garlic and the remaining ingredients in the food processor. Pulse 4-5 times. Blend, but be sure to keep the consistency a bit chunky.
- Add sliced snap peas to bowls and evenly ladle in soup and vegetables.
- Give each person one or two matzo balls.
- Garnish with 1 tablespoon smoky zhoug and a few slices of preserved lemons.
- Serve immediately.
(Makes 6 servings.)
Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women's fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area.
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