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jackal10

Matzo Balls, Kneidlach, etc.

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As one who is perplexed, can someone please enlighten me as to the difference, if any, between a kleis and a kneidlach?

Are they different regional names for the same Matzoh Ball?

Is one the heavy version, and the other fluffy?

Is one made with soaked Matzo and the other with meal, (or flour not in Pesach?)

Is one distingusihed by the addition of onion and parsley?

My version, which I have just made a batch and always known as Matzo Kleis involves soaked Matzo, an egg, an onion browned in schmalz, parsley, pepper, salt, and maybe a little Matzo meal to dry out and to roll them in before simmering in the soup. So what then is a Kneidlach?

What is the rest of the ditty that starts:

"The Rabbi's wife made Matzo Kleis

She made them once, she made them twice

and then no more..."

(Note the use of Rabbi's wife, not Rabbitzin, and Kleis rather than balls or Dumplings so probably Anglo-Jewry, rather than Yiddish. I heard it from my poarents who heard it from theirs, so possibly Victorian or early 20th century. May be a parody of a popular song)

Why did she stop making these delicious dumplings? What tragedy befell? Need to know...


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Jack -- Never heard of kleis but out of curiosity I pulled out 2 fairly ancient and well-used Jewish cook books. One with a copyright of 1958 and another with a copyright of 1949. The latter was a wedding gift to my parents from my Mom's younger sister.

Unfortunately, both have several knaidlach recipes but no mention of kleis.

I'll ask my MIL the next time we speak but, at the moment, I think she's mad at me for some perceived slight at the 1st seder.

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I grew up with matzah knoedel. I do not like matzah balls made out of matzah meal.

Here is my family recipe:

MAMA K'S WORLD FAMOUS MATZO BALLS

Source: My Grandmother and her mother and so on.....

Yield: Approx. 45 - 50 Matzo Balls

* 14 Matzos

* 2 Med. White Onions, chopped coarsely

* 3/4 C. Melted Chicken Fat (do not substitute)

* 1/4 tsp. Pepper

* 1/2 C fresh Parsley, chopped

* 1 tsp. Salt

* 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

* 7 Eggs, lightly beaten w/ fork

* 1/8 Cup Matzo Meal

* Additional Matzo Meal for rolling

Break Matzos into chunks and put into a colander placed in sink. Run water over the colander until the matzo is moist, but not water logged. Let the water drain and let stand for one to two minutes. (Can be put into plastic bag and kept overnight in the refrigerator.)

Brown onions in melted fat in large heavy roasting pan over medium heat until "real brown" Add Matzos and stir gently frequently. Most of the moisture has to evaporate. If mixture sticks to bottom, put lid on a few minutes to soften. Add Salt, Pepper, Parsley & Nutmeg. Cool until no more steam comes off, check if cool enough so eggs won't cook, and add eggs. Gently stir in Matzo Meal.

Test the first matzo ball by placing in boiling water. Test that it maintains it shape and taste to check if more salt, pepper and nutmeg should be added.

Place thick layer of meal on foil-lined cookie sheet. Use spoons or scoop to make balls, rolling very carefully into golf ball size, using as little pressure as possible. Place on cookie sheet and roll in meal. If you prefer, wet your hands and roll in palm, but this requires scraping off hands and re-wetting frequently. Discard excess matzo meal. Leave on sheet in refrigerator, covered with wax paper, or freeze on sheet before packing in bags for freezer. They can be kept in the freezer for 3 months.

Bring chicken soup to a boil and add Matzo Balls a few at a time. When they rise to the top, they are done. Serve and say AAHHHH loudly with each bite.

This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation. It is Westphalian and Alsatian. If you are afraid of using chicken fat, try half chicken fat and half olive oil.

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Kleis, Kloss, Knoedel and Knaidelach all mean dumpling. It depends on where you are from. My family is from the German-Dutch border and call them Kloss.

My boyfriends's mother is from Hungary and calls them Knoedel.

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"d100 size" is for all y'all non RPG geeks out there (probably 99% of eGulleteers) is the size of a one hundred-sided die (yes, they really do exist); about the size of a slightly larger than average golf ball.

I have had GIGANTIC matzoh balls and d100 sized matzoh balls and smaller sized matzoh balls.

I have had matzoh ball soup that had no noodles, no veggies, nothing of any sort except a pool of insipid flavored yellow water and a glop of matzoh in the bowl, to the sort of divinely inspired concoction that you only hear described deep in the bowels of eGullet. :raz:

There are matzoh balls with schmaltz and matzoh balls with duck fat in 'em. There is matzoh ball soup with rotini noodles and vegetarian matzoh ball soup.

So, how do you like yours?

Soba

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I like Matzo balls like I like my women -- In all shapes, sizes and colors. Any way I can get them :laugh:

But seriously, I think the size of the matzo ball must be proportionate to the amount of "trimmings" in a particular bowl of soup. So if the main focus is the matzo ball itself, it should be a pretty big one. But if theres going to be other stuff in the soup, such as other veggies, pasta and perhaps chicken meat, then I would go for a smaller or medium-sized matzo ball.

i5427.jpg

Here is a bowl that was prepared from a batch that Rachel made for me today.

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I like Matzo balls like I like my women -- In all shapes, sizes and colors.  Any way I can get them :laugh:

So you have a "thing" about women who resemble matzo balls .... hmmm ... do you like them with little parsley flecks and bobbing around wildly and covered with pepper? Should they "float" or "sink"?

But perhaps more interestingly, does Rachel know?? :laugh:

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Excellent topic :smile:

Matzah balls golf ball sized, light and fluffy. With luction (thin, long noodles). Carrotts and onions a must, parsnips optional. Lots of ground pepper on top. Made by grandma. Eaten with a plastic Asian soup spoon so my tounge doesn't burn.

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Excellent topic :smile:

Matzah balls golf ball sized, light and fluffy. With luction (thin, long noodles). Carrotts and onions a must, parsnips optional. Lots of ground pepper on top. Made by grandma. Eaten with a plastic Asian soup spoon so my tounge doesn't burn.

Lukshen is an absolute mitzvah all of us must fulfill!! says it in the Torah if you read the (Hebrew) fine print! :laugh:

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Slightly larger than golf balll, but smaller than tennis ball

Fluffly, not cannonball, but *essential* with fried onion and chopped parsley, salt and white pepper

Should have discernable bits of soaked Matzo in them for texture - not just matzo meal.

Plenty of them, not just three as a garnish bobbing in a sea of soup

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Like I had it at Stuckey's, in L.A. A big ass single ball in the center of the bowl. Just matzo meal, good chicken broth. Working any number of bistros in the Valley, come home late at night, needing some serious comfort food - sitting alone at the lunch counter, ask for the same thing nightly - including a Kaiser roll. She's undoubtedly long gone now, god bless her, ancient then; called me darlin, asked how I was, told me the kaiser would be extra, 'that ok?' every single night...a mantra between us, a goy and my Jewish gramma.

Thanks for the memory. It was heaven.

Paul

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The whole point of the Matza Ball was that it was forbidden to have noodles during Pesach. I assume that's why they were invented.

The thing I make best is chicken soup. Don't tell my Bubbie but I've greatly improved upon her recipe. ;)

Generally, I don't make Matzo balls during the year, only during Pesach -- which makes them more special. But yes, lokshen (specifically, egg noodles) are a must.

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Damn all of you. This thread got me so jonesed for matzoh ball soup I stopped at TWO different delis on the way home for take-out. Both places were already closed :angry:

So now I'm really tormenting myself and reading more. I'm a masochist for matzoh ball soup.

There is no doubt that there will be matzoh ball soup in my gullet over the course of this weekend. It won't wait until Monday! :biggrin:

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So now I'm really tormenting myself and reading more.

Having had the exact same reaction to the thread with pictures of French pastry posted here today ... agony indeed!!

The matzoh ball soup is a cinch .. elaborately decadent and decorated desserts are something else!! :rolleyes:

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Matzoh balls are really easy to make and taste wonderful at home, but somehow I'm afraid to order them in a restaurant because the matzoh balls are usually too big and tasteless there. I don't understand why.

Roz

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Actually, I find that Greek diners generally tend to make pretty good Matzo ball soup. I wonder why that is.

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Matzoh balls are really easy to make and taste wonderful at home, but somehow I'm afraid to order them in a restaurant because the matzoh balls are usually too big and tasteless there. I don't understand why.

Too big and tasteless, and too heavy. I'm not sure why they're tasteless either, but would hazard a guess that they inherit that quality from the equally tasteless soup in which they've been cooked.

I make mine on the small side - actually a good bit smaller than a golf ball, I guess. Not that, um, size matters all that much - but that's the way we always had them, the way my grandmother and her cook made them, the way my mother made them, the way I make them. Also, at Pesach we break out the very very serious china, and the matzoh ball soup - which on that occasion consists only of the matzoh balls in an intensely flavored clear chicken broth, with a few bits of carrot (Jewish elegance, I guess) - gets served in Tiffany bouillon cups, which probably wouldn't even hold an industrial-size deli matzoh ball. (On other occasions, however, matzoh balls are a supporting player in a chicken soup loaded with STUFF.)

Anyway, what matters most to me in a matzoh ball is flavor and texture - I don't really care how big it is as long as it's light, fluffy, and chickeny as hell. Matzoh meal, egg, good oniony schmaltz, parsley, a little salt & pepper. Well-chilled so you can shape it with as little handling as possible. Cooked in the boilingest chickeniest of chicken stock (till it floats to the surface) so it trumpets "CHICKEN!" at your nose on the way up and murmurs "chicken..." throughout your gullet on the way down and softly rumbles "chicken-chicken-chicken-chicken-chicken-chicken" in your gut on arrival. Now THAT's takke a matzoh ball.

Hmmm. On second thought, size does matter in one respect. A matzoh ball, like an iceberg, should float at the surface but stay mostly submerged. So the bowl/soup/ball ratio should always be such that the matzoh ball can be true to its nature, thus also staying warm until you eat it. The shallower the bowl, the shallower the soup, the smaller the matzoh ball must be in order to preserve this order of nature. More to the point, what I find unacceptable is a huge deli matzoh ball plunked in the middle of a shallow plate of soup, protruding from it like a volcanic island (look - is that Abe Vigoda dancing on top?) and getting colder and colder while I work my way around it. No, no, no. This is supposed to be comfort food! The matzoh balls - lots of 'em - must be lovingly cradled by the soup, warmly enveloped by it, gently rocked whenever the spoon makes a wavelet.

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The matzoh balls - lots of 'em - must be lovingly cradled by the soup, warmly enveloped by it, gently rocked whenever the spoon makes a wavelet.

Nobody puts the essence of matzoh ball soup more poetically, more visually appealing, more emotionally charged than you just have ... nobody!

May I use this as an epitaph on my matzoh ball's metzaveh (tombstone)?? :laugh:

Takkeh, a proper eulogy to these "little guys" as they float ever so gently into my mouth!!


Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

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Anyway, what matters most to me in a matzoh ball is flavor and texture - I don't really care how big it is as long as it's light, fluffy, and chickeny as hell. Matzoh meal, egg, good oniony schmaltz, parsley, a little salt & pepper.

Speaking of schmaltz, I once had an argument with a German over what constitutes schmaltz. He claimed that my rendered chicken fat was not schmaltz. The only true schmaltz in his eyes was rendered pork fat, seasoned and suitable for spreading on bread. It did not occur to me at the time to bring up the fact that matzoh balls would not be cooked with pork fat!

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The matzoh balls - lots of 'em - must be lovingly cradled by the soup, warmly enveloped by it, gently rocked whenever the spoon makes a wavelet.

Nobody puts the essence of matzoh ball soup more poetically, more visually appealing, more emotionally charged than you just have ... nobody!

May I use this as an epitaph on my matzoh ball's metzaveh (tombstone)?? :laugh:

Takkeh, a proper eulogy to these "little guys" as they float ever so gently into my mouth!!

It would be my honor; as long as you don't have to swallow the metzaveh - or as long as the matzoh ball isn't the metzaveh itself, or as heavy as. (Dammit, I'm teetering on the edge of a really great really bad pun here, and can't quite seem to fall the rest of the way into it.)

Speaking of schmaltz, I once had an argument with a German over what constitutes schmaltz. He claimed that my rendered chicken fat was not schmaltz. The only true schmaltz in his eyes was rendered pork fat, seasoned and suitable for spreading on bread. It did not occur to me at the time to bring up the fact that matzoh balls would not be cooked with pork fat!

Hmmmm. German and Jewish can overlap, but they ain't necessarily equivalent. Sounds like a case for Captain Etymology! It's just conceivable that you were both right. But if only one of you was... then he was certainly wrong. Shall get back to you on this if I learn anything interesting....

EDIT to add: I didn't have to look very far. Googling up a few dictionary links - turns out that "schmaltz" means liquid animal fat. Most of the definitions do say "especially chicken fat," though in a couple of cases they say "especially goose fat" (!). So your German wasn't wrong about pork fat being schmaltz - he was, however, wrong to deny that the same was true of chicken fat. Though the word is Yiddish it is descended from Old Hochdeutsch, and its Indo-European Roots apparently tie it in with all sorts of other soft and/or melted substances. (I love this stuff!) Also found a link to an explanation of the evolution of its figurative meaning (this always reminds me of a ballet teacher who used to exhort us in class: "Now, do it again, con molto schmalzetto!"); which explanation I take with rather a lot of salt because it refers to schmaltz (goose variety) as being "sticky." Nuh-uh. Furthermore its writer, after describing her grandmother's method of rendering, disparages the whole idea of schmaltz and suggests that it has no place in a modern world. What kind of affectation is that? Who does this ingrate think she is, some kind of a Bay Ridge all-right-nik? Hmph.


Edited by balmagowry (log)

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Do you cook the Matzo balls in the same soup in which you will eat?

I generally don't do this b/c I think a lot of crap leaks out of the Matzo balls when you cook them, and will make the soup taste funny.

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Do you cook the Matzo balls in the same soup in which you will eat?

I have always boiled my matzo balls in salted water for some twenty minutes and then added them to the soup prior to serving .... they tend to cloud any liquid into which they are placed, so this method seems to works best .... although some have success with adding them directly to the soup, I am not one of these fortunate people. :hmmm:

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