Nana’s Matzah Balls

Of all of the dishes and meals that make Nana an amazing cook, her matzah ball soup stands out as undeniably one of the best. Each year, we look forward to the Jewish holidays so that we can have a big bowl and leftovers for weeks to come! As years have passed, we have found it easier to prepare some of the key ingredients for our Passover Seder in advance to offload some of the work day on the day of the holiday. One of those items are matzah balls. We worked with Nana to prepare, cook and ultimately freeze our matzah balls for dinner this Saturday. Even though we have the recipe written down, it is so different watching her cook them and seeing how the recipe and her preparation differ. She loves a good cooking moment in front of the camera, so be sure to check out her full video on our Instagram.

Nana's Matzah Balls

  • Servings: 12 matzah balls
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The recipe for Nana’s famous matzah balls.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • 4 tbs oil or chicken fat
  • 4 tbs soda water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 10 cups of water
  • chicken bouillon (enough to flavor 10 cups of water according to the bouillon directions)

Directions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs using a hand mixer or stand mixer.
  2. Add the matzah meal, chicken fat, soda water, salt and pepper and mix well until all of the ingredients are fully blended together. Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes.
  3. While the matzah ball dough is refrigerating, heat a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken bullion and simmer with the lid on while the batter is cooling. You want to add in enough to flavor the water.
  4. Bring the broth back to boil. Remove the matzah ball batter from the fridge and form the matzo ball dough into golf ball sized balls. Place them in the broth, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the matzah balls for 1 hour.
  5. Remove the matzah balls with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet to cool and drain. Serve immediately in chicken soup or cool completely and freeze until you are ready to use them. Freeze by placing them in a single layer in a large ziplock bag.


Nana’s Dill Pickles

We posted an Instagram a video of us making pickles with Nana a few weeks ago, and a lot of you loved seeing the Queen of the Kitchen at work. We have been making pickles with her every August since we can remember and it was so special to capture the process on camera and share it with you! We eat these pickles year round, but especially during the Jewish holidays. You will never find our Rosh Hashanah dinner table without a platter olives and homemade pickles. 

There are some materials required in order to preserve the pickles, so be sure you get your shopping list covered before pickle making day! The pickles can be eaten as soon as 10 days after they are jarred but are eaten ideally two to three weeks later; be sure to make this recipe well in advance of when you want to eat your pickles. 

Nana’s Dill Pickles 
Makes: 8 mason jars (roughly 50 pickles) 
Prep Time: 30 minutes + 24 hour overnight soak to clean cucumbers
Total Time: 11 days (at a minimum for pickling, up to 21 days)

Items Required**:

  • 8 large mason jars
  • 8 NEW mason jar lids (this is extremely important in making sure the cucumbers pickle properly and are preserved well)

Ingredients:

  • 50-60 pickling cucumbers – Ideally, you will want to get as many SMALL cucumbers that you can find so that you can fit more in the jars.
  • 8 tbs kosher salt
  • 24 garlic cloves, sliced 
  • 8 tsp pickling spice
  • 16 whole, dried red chili peppers 
  • 4 large bunches of dill weed 

Directions:

  1. Clean the cucumbers by letting them soak overnight in cold water. Using a light brush, scrub off any dirt but be sure not to puncture the cucumber.
  2. Place the mason jar lids in boiling water and set aside.
  3. Put a rounded tablespoon of kosher salt, 3 sliced garlic cloves,1 tsp of pickling salt and 2 dried chili peppers in the bottom of each mason jar. If you want spicy pickles you can use up to 3 chili peppers per jar. 
  4. Fill the bottom of each mason jar with as many cucumbers as you can fit. You will want to put your largest cucumbers in this layer. Make sure the cucumbers are compact but not forced in the jar.
  5. Take a half bunch of dill and place in each mason jar.
  6. Using the smaller cucumbers, add as many as you can to fill up the remainder of the jar. Once full, fill each jar to the top with cold water. Seal each jar as tight as you can. 
  7. Place the jars in a cool area upside down so that they are standing on their lids. We typically put a paper towel underneath the jars so that we can tell if any of the lids are leaking. Leave upside down for 24 hours. 
  8. Flip the jars back over after 24 hours and re-tighten the lids. Store the jars in a cool place in your house for at least two weeks. As long as the jars are sealed and kept in a cool, dry location, you can keep them for up to 6 months. Refrigerate the pickle jars once they are opened. 

** Nana insists that if a woman is on her period while making this recipe, the pickles will be completely ruined. So if it is that time of the month, no pickle making for you! 


Nana’s Challah

There is something very zen and therapy-like about baking bread. Watching the ingredients bubble, patiently waiting for the dough to rise, the kneading and braiding…. we love it all. We don’t bake very often, but every time we do, it is such an enjoyable experience. For our readers that don’t know, challah is an egg bread. It’s a fluffy and rich dough that is traditionally braided before baking. Overachievers can braid it in a multitude of ways, but an old fashioned three strand braid is a great introduction to making challah. 

Recipes like this are great to have in your back pocket. You can gift a loaf has a hostess gift over the holidays, make stupidly delicious sandwiches with it, and turn it into decadent french toast. We wanted to include it in our Hanukkah menu for anyone who celebrates and needs a go-to recipe, particularly for nights when Hanukkah falls on Shabbat. 

Nana's Challah

  • Servings: 1 extra large loaf or 2 medium loaves
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Nana’s go-to base challah recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 packages of dry yeast
  • 3 cups warm water, divided into ½ cup and 2 cups
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 8 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbs coarse salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • Challah toppings (poppy or sesame seeds)

Directions

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Mix together and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Put the flour into your mixing bowl. Make a well into the center of the flour. Pour in the yeast mixture and let stand until the mixture is bubbly. Add 4 eggs, oil, salt and sugar into the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with a bread hook. Gradually add the remaining 2 ½ cups of water. Keep an eye on the dough as you add the water. You want the dough to be able to easily knead into a ball. You may not have to add all of the water.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a floured service until it is smooth and satiny. Let the dough rise for one hour in a greased bowl in a warm place (in a warmed, but off, oven) covered with a towel or cheesecloth.
  4. Knead the dough again on a floured surface for five minutes and let the dough rise again until it is double in size (approximately one hour).
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into four even pieces for one large challah or two halves for two medium challahs.
  6. For the large challah: Roll three of the four pieces into long logs – approximately one inch circumference. Braid the dough making sure to tightly pinch each end. Use the fourth piece of dough and divide into three equal pieces. Create a small challah out of the three pieces using the same methodology as the large challah. Place the small challah on top of large challah and pinch the ends of the small challah and large challah together.
  7. For the medium challah: divide each half of the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into long logs – approximately one inch circumference. Braid the dough, making sure to tightly pinch each end. Do this for each half of the dough so that you have two equal sized challahs.
  8. Place the challah(s) on a baking sheet and let rise in a warm area for an hour.
  9. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Combine the last egg and the 1 tsp water in a small bowl and scramble the egg. Once the challah is done with its final rise, brush the egg over the challah. Do this twice so that the challah is double coated in the egg wash. Sprinkle the poppy or sesame seeds on top of the challah.
  11. Bake the challah at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes (35 minutes total). Remove the challah from the oven. You will know the challah is fully cooked if you flip it over and tap on the bottom – it will sound hollow.