Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sundays with Marlena Spieler-Making matzo balls, having a feast, and then the latkes!

Aunt Estelle, Eileen Makishima Thornton, Shankari Easwaran, Marlena Spieler, and me-Melody Elliott Koontz. Link to Sacramento Bee article is here.
Did I ever think that my favorite cookbook author would be sitting with my! Feel free to click on all photos to enlarge...but don't laugh at my double chin! Whoa..I just did it and I need to go back and fix those red eyes we seem to have.
This photo of Estelle Opper, Marlena's aunt, was taken the following weekend at Shankari's Saree wearing Indian feast...but I like it so much I had to post it.
Marlena looked very festive in my apron and her green tights.
Marlena Spieler and her aunt, Estelle Opper arrive to help us make matzo balls! We were so excited on November 22nd. We did not know until the night before that Marlena was coming too! You can see that Shankari, Eileen, and I are almost speechless...but that didn't last long. We each made one of Marlena's dishes as well, and Dave made the challah!
Marlena and Estelle are arranging the balls...all in neat rows.
We all listen intently to Estelle's instructions. Treat your matzo ball respectfully. Even the photographer and reporter were taking notes. :)
Beautiful and delicious..and lite..Matzo balls! She cooked them for nearly an hour! I can say that I know how to make a great matzo ball! I made the chicken broth from Marlena's recipe..which really was her grandmother's recipe. I was so pleased that Estelle and Marlena liked it..a lot.
We cannot get enough...and we still have a feast at the table to devour. It was one fabulous day...I cannot tell you. Estelle was wonderful and charming and passionate about the way matzo balls should be made. Marlena was a sweetheart. She didn't want to take the "spotlight" off of us...but we are so glad she did. Below is the recipe I adapted from Jewish Cooking for making the chicken soup that is spooned over the matzo balls:

Have a huge pot
Fill half full with water and mix in a tablespoon or so of "Better than Bullion" chicken base
One whole large onion...cut a large cross in the stem,
4 carrots and 3 celery stalks chopped into 1/4 inch slices
about 3 tsp of fresh chopped parlsey
1 and 1/2 tsp of fresh chopped dill
a pinch of ground turmeric
2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced (optional)

Lower the clean chicken into the pot and cover. Turn heat to high until it barely begins to boil. Turn it down to a simmer and skim off the first scum that comes to the top.
You want the liquid to simmer but never come to a boil. That would cause a cloudy broth. Let the chicken simmer in covered pot for about 2 or 3 hours. The chicken won't be discard it. I'm not sure your cat would even it it...but the broth, that is heaven by now.

I like to add a bit more dill and parsley for garnish..and each bowl should get some carrots in it....with that matzo ball or two!

[I like to put the soup in the fridge and then skim off any fat solids..but if you don't have time, I use thick papers towels to pull grease off the top of the soup]. Shankari has the recipe posted over at her place.. the one Estelle prefers for the matzo balls.

I have so many photos from that day...I'll post a few during the coming days. I know Shankari's husband, Raj, took a great group shot so I hope she has it up over at her blog today! Thank you Estelle..and thank you Marlena. It was even more fun watching you on CBS Sunday Morning while you were here! Then we all ended up having that Saree wearing Indian Feast the very next Sunday.. over at Shankari's. Wow.

Many thanks to Autumn Cruz and Chris Macias of the Sacramento Bee. They stayed for almost 4 hours and didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave. Thanks to my dear husband for baking and for taking photos..and to Raj, for being our official photographer. Good times! Be sure to go to Eileen and Shankaris blogs to check out what's going on over there with Sundays with Marlena Spieler.
I just love my blogger pals, Eileen and Shankari. :) Thank you guys sooooo much! Again, the link to the Sacramento Bee story is HERE.

Happy Hanukkah...Latke making time is here! Oy.

Making latkes this afternoon...splatter, splatter!

Above are the latkes I made today. Top with applesauce and sour cream..or zchug (chili sauce) and sour cream..or sour cream and caviar, or a poached egg...some cheese maybe?
My FB buddy, Joyce Konigsberg, sent me photos of her making latkes last night!
Very lovely latke...and what a backdrop for your nibbles.

Joyce eating her latke...with Moses wishing he had one.

*Tiburon Leslie's Latkes by way of Greenbrae Sue as interpreted by Joyce in Winship Park

6 med.potatoes (4 Lg.) russets, peeled
5-6 eggs ( I used 2 lightly beaten)
1/2 cup flour( or matzo meal)
1 med. onion (finely grated)
1 T Kosher salt,
Coarse ground pepper
1tsp baking powder ( I used 1/2 tsp.)
Vegetable or Canola oil *

Mix and fry in canola oil.( *I used canola with a touch of peanut oil because the peanut oil has a high flash point so the oil is less likely to burn).

Personal tips; Food processor grating is not really recommended for potato latkes. You get a lighter crispier latke if you use a the largest hole on your grater and shred potatoes lengthwise; Put them in to lightly acidulated cool water; this prevents the potatoes from getting a funny pinky tone. Drain the potatoes in a dish towel, or better yet, cheesecloth making sure to get all of the liquid out; when you've done that, add the finely grated onion, flour or matzo meal, salt and pepper and the baking powder. Mix by hand. That's fun. Add the eggs last as the potatoes continue to give off liquid.Once combined, you're ready to start frying.

Make sure that the oil is at about 350 degrees, either by thermometer or the chopstick method. (Stick the chopstick into the heated oil. Bubbles will collect around the tip. When that happens, you're ready to go. )

You'll know when they are ready!


In a message dated 12/09/09, at 9;35;12 P.M., an anxious latke maker , me, wrote:.
I need the TIburon latke recipe, and quick. My new Facebook buddy/blogger Melody wants me to post photos of latkes and me, of course, making latkes. I can't use the recipe that I was going to use, because it's the same one she plans to use from Marlena Spieler's great volume on Jewish cooking. It's kind of funny since I have ten or fifteen classic cookbooks on Jewish cooking and I'm a little excessive in my use of the Food Network recipe search function. But, this one really sounded like a winner and was highly touted. I agree , but then I didn't exact follow the recipe directly.
My friend, Ann Martin Rolke over at Sacatomato made latkes too! She even posted Marlena's I didn't have to! Hop on over there and have a look see. Thanks Ann!
My blogger pal, Shankari, made latkes from Marlena's Jewish Cooking cookbook a few weeks ago, so check that out as well! Just click on her name!


shankari said...

Mel, well written. We have wonderful memories of this awesome get together.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Thanks Shankari. I am beginning to believe "we" are the only ones willing to comment. I think I'll start commenting on my own blog! LOL!

Pat said...

The post is wonderful and the pictures are so great. I am so jealous :-) I am so sorry you weren't in the photo in the Bee article, but it was lovely. I've enjoyed every recipe, but the matzo balls with Marlena and Estelle are especially great. Mazel Tov! and I love you.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Yes...the Bee story was really great and the lead photo was beautiful. They are beautiful women!

Thanks sis!

Carolyn Jung said...

Celebrity matzo ball making! How cool is that! What a wonderful cooking experience for the memories.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Carolyn...It was wonderful. So very surreal and magical.

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