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March 30, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 30, 2012 By Norene Gilletz Chicken soup for the bowl For me, Passover isn't complete without homemade chicken soup! I love it best with a couple of plump, matzo balls, preferably "floaters"- or homemade noodles. When I'm in a hurry, I serve it with quick soup dumplings as they're readyin moments. My mother, Belle Rykiss (z"l), always made matzo balls that were light and "puchedich." During the year, she added baking powder to the mixture to make them as light as a cloud. (You can omit it during Passover, or use Passover baking powder.) Morn could always tell the difference between matzo balls made from a mix and those that were homemade. You could never fool my mother! Enjoy... MOM'S MATZO BALLS Source: The NEW Food Processor Bible (Whitecap) by Norene Gilletz Ingredients: 4 eggs 1/2 cup oil I cup matzo meal 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp Passover baking powder Preparation: Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade just until smooth, about 10 seconds. Place in refrigerator for I hour, or in freezer for 20 minutes, until thickened. Shape into small bails. Drop into boiling salted water in a large pot and cook, partially covered, for about 40 minutes. Yield: about 14 to 16. May be frozen in soup. Chef's Tip: Freeze uncooked matzo ball mixture in ice cube trays. When needed, drop frozen matzo balls in boiling water and cook partly covered for 35 to 40 minutes. Kids love them in different shapes! LOW-FAT MATZO BALLS Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Giiletz Club soda is the secret ingredient to make these knaidlach (matzo balls) light and fluffy! This recipe can be doubled easily, but be sure to use a large pot and don't peek during cooking! Ingredients: 1/2 cup matzo meal 1/2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp pepper 1/8 tsp garlic powder I egg plus 2 egg whites 2 Tbsp club soda (or ginger ale) I tsp vegetable oil 1 Tbsp minced dill 2 1/2 quarts salted water Preparation: Combine matzo meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl. Add egg, egg whites, club soda, oil and dill; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a large pot, bring salted water tO a boil. Wet your hands and shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Drop matzo balls into boiling water, cover tightly and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and transfer to chicken soup or vegetable broth. Yield: 12 matzo balls. These may be frozen in soup, or on a cookie sheet andthen transferred to a plastic freezer bag. Reheat them right in the soup! HERBED PASSOVER NOODLES Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Giiletz These noodles are based on my recipe for Passover blintzes and are non-gebrochts. Ingredients: 1/2 cup potato starch 1/8 tsp salt I egg plus 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs) I cup water I tbsp oil 1/4 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tsp. freshly minced dill or basil) Preparation: Combine potato starch, salt, egg and egg whites. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in water, oil and basil; mix until smooth. (Can be done in a food processor.) Let batter stand for 15 minutes. Batter can be refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance. Use a crepe pan or nonstick skillet. Grease pan lightly for the first blintz, or spray pan with nonstick spray. Stir mixture well. Pour about 3 tbsp. batter (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) into the skillet. Cook about 1 minute, until edges are brown and top surface is dry. Flip the blintz onto its second side and cook 10 seconds longer. Turn out onto a clean tea towel. Repeatwith remaining batter, stirring occasionally to prevent potato starch from settling to the bottom. If blintzes begin to stick to the pan, grease pan with a little oil on a paper towel. Roll each pancake up like a jelly roll and cut into 1/4-inch strips. At serving time, add to hot chicken soup. Yield: 8 to 10 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well. QUICK SOUP DUMPLINGS Source: The New Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap) These dumplings are an easy alternative t( matzo balls. Kids love these! Ingredients: 2 eggs 1/2 tsp salt Dash freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup water 2/3 cup matzo meal PAGE 17A Preparation: Insert steel blade in food processor bowl. Process all.ingre- dients until smooth, about 10 seconds. Drop mixture from a teaspoon into simmering chicken soup. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Do not freeze. CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE BOWL[ Source: Norene's Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap) You don't have to be Jewish to love chicken soup--it's the ultimate comfort food! A steaming bowl of golden broth is " sure to cure colds or flu. Chicken soup is often called "Jew- ish penicillin." Some cooks like to add turnip or celery root to the broth. Ingredients: 3 1/2 to 4 lb chicken, cut up 10 cups cold water (approximately) 4 tsp salt 2 medium onions 4 to 6 medium carrots 3 to 4 stalks celery I parsnip (optional) 2 cloves garlic I bunch fresh dill 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper Preparation: Trim excess fat from chicken, but don't remove the skin as it adds flavour. Place chicken in a large soup pot. Add water, covering chicken completely by at least 1 inch. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove scum from the surface of the soup. Add onions, carrots, celery and parsnip to pot. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for I 1/4 hours. Add garlic and dill and simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust salt to taste. Season with freshly ground pepper. Remove pot from heat and cool completely. Strain soup, reserving carrots and chicken. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, discard hardened layer of fat from surface of soup. Remove skin from chicken and dice meat for soup. Reheat soup with diced chicken and carrots. Serve with Matzo Balls, Herbed Passover Noodles or Quick Soup Dumplings. Makes 8 generous servings. Freezes and reheats well. Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She divides her time between work as a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and editor. Gilletz lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is "Food that's good for you should taste good!" For more infor- mation, visit her website at or email her at In Foer-Englander 'New American Haggadah,' tradition and modern literary sensibilities collide By Eric Herschthal New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer grew up" with a fairly typical American Passover. His father would use the Maxwell House Haggadah, supplemented with his own pamphlet of writings, and lead the annual Foer seder. But nine years ago, sitting at his family seder in Washington, D.C., Foer thought that literary-wise, the Haggadah could use a little work. "It's an idea that's occurred to lots of people throughout history, and probably many other people who haven't actu- ally acted on it," Foer said. "I don't know if I've ever met a person who also doesn't feel that this"--meaning their Haggadah, whichever one they use--"could be better." So Foer set out to rewrite one. He emailed dozens of promi- nent Jewish writers--Jeffrey Goldberg, Tony Kushner, Susan Sontag, Simon Schama--ask- ingthem for brief commentaries onsomeofthe Passover themes. He thought he'd compile them all and create a supplement not unlike the one his father made, except with literary superstars. But then he changed his mind. "It became clear that I was making a book I really didn't want to make," he said. What he really wanted to create was a whole new Haggadah, not merely a supplement. So he began to revise. He pruned down the commentators to T: Hachette Book Group The "New American Hag- gadah " is edited by Jonathan Safran Foer using.a transla- lion by fellow novelist Nathan Englander. just four--the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg; novelist and philoso- pher Rebecca Newberger Gold- stein; children's book author Daniel Handler (a.k..a. Lemony Snicket); and the Jewish studies professor Nathaniel Deutsch. They'd each write 10 short commentaries--some politi- cal, some philosophical, some whimsical--that responded to a line from the traditional Haggadah. His friend Nathan Englander, an equally renowned Jewish novelist, grew up Ortho- dox, and he would translate the traditional Hebrew text itself. Nine years later, the Foer- edited "New American Hag- gadah" has just been released. "There was a lot of wasted time," Foersaid, explainingwhy it took so long. Yet he added later, "There's no reason to rush." Some of the delay can be explained by the change in for- mat. Englander had first been asked to write a commentary, but some time later Foer asked him if he'd do an entire new translation. At first, Englander said, he was resistant about doing the translation. "But [Jonathan] knows me well and he knows my brain well," Englander explained, "Then he said, 'This would be really special, some- thing we could be proud of for a very long time.' Englander added, "I bet a great majority of people using this will probably be read- ing the English translation. I understood ,he weight of that obligation." To prepare, Englander spent three years studying one on one with a learned Orthodox man in Brooklyn. He didn't want to just read a Haggadah in Hebrew and find approximate words in English. He wantedhis transla- tion to be driven by a deeper understanding of the text itself. "I wasn't even looking at other Haggadot anymore," Englander said. "I was looking at the To- rah"--the ur-text upon which the Passover story is based. "What's the meaning? What's the context? What's the intent?" He and his learriing partner, Baruch Thaler (thanked in the acknowledgements), would sometimes spend a whole ses- sion arguing over a single line of translation, Englander said. And while Englander wanted his translation to be as inclusive as possible--avoiding gender disputes when possible, for in- stance--he ultimately relied on a decidedly traditional Hebrew Haggadah for his main text. "This idea that I was going to spend years on this one text, then my sister"--who is still Orthodox, and with whom he is close--"isn't going to be able to use it" drove that decision, Englander said. But the commentaries are markedly untraditional. Gold- berg, for instance, draws several parallels to more modern-day politics. A commentary on the Four Sons segment of the Hag- gadah leads to a broader discus- sion about whether Jews should contribute to causes that benefit themselves or humankind more broadly. "Is it not a form of chauvin- ism to declare that the fate of Ethiopian Jews is an overriding concern oftheAmerican Jewish community, but what happens to non-Jewish Ethiopians is only a marginal concern?" Goldberg writes. In another commentary, he asks whether something in "the Jewish cultural DNA" has made Jews agitators for change throughout history. Jews are often found on the front lines of debates over the environ- ment, taxes, immigration and civil rights inAmerica, Goldberg writes. "More than 10 percent of the U.S. Senate is Jewish (Jews make up 2 percentofthe population)," he adds, "and Jews register to vote, and turn out to vote, in much higher percentages than any other group." "The question arises," he concludes,"DoJewswhoagitate so ardently for change do so as Jews, or because they are Jews?" Foer said he gave the four commentators few directions, neither telling them to avoid controversy nor to deliberately court it. "We didn't go out of out of our way to challenge anybody, but nor did we go out of our way to avoid challenging people," Foer said. "It's provocative not in the sense that it makes people defensive but in that it invites a discussion." Deutsch, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and co-director of the university's Center for Jewish Studies, confirmed Foer's lais- sez-faire approach. Foer never said "you have to toe this line or that line," according to Deutsch, who added, "I don't think you can look at this Haggadah and say it has an ideological bent." Still, some ideologically contentious issues seem un- avoidable. One commentary responds to a line from the Haggadah, taken from Exodus, which in Englander's transla- tion reads, "And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Deutsch interprets the line as meaning that Jews are a chosen people. He acknowledges in his commentary that "some of us do not accept it at all'--that is, the idea of chosenness, which more liberal Jewish movements have been de-emphasizing for decades. Buthe rejectsthatidea: "Being chosen is something that has happened to us already, something that we must re- member, and in doing so, make present in every generation." Deutsch said in an interview that he finds the idea ofchosen- ness central to Judaism, even if many Jews today downplay it. "I'm opposed to getting rid of it," he said, but added a crucial caveat, one stressed in his com- mentary as well: "Now, what chosenness means is something we can debate." Foe r noted that his Haggadah is not pitched to any one audi- ence in particular. But interest already seems highest among a more liberal, secular-minded set. There have been stories about the Haggadah in national outlets such as The New York Times, NPRandThe Huffington Post, for instance. But other audiences seem excited about it, too. Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, a Reform rabbi and author of the movement's official Haggadah, titled "The Open Door," was thrilled when she first heard she might have--competition? "I don't feel competition," El- well said. "I'm a rabbi and I want more people sitting around the table." She felt big-name writers like Foer and Englander would only bring in.more seats. "Part" of the joy is having more people totalkwith, toarguewith .... It's not competition at all." As for Foer's family seder this year, and whether his father would replace the Maxwell House Haggadahorsupplement it with his son's new version? Foer answered succinctly: "He better."