As part of a new focus led by our Healing Meals Youth Development Committee, we are creating a heritage calendar where we will offer a special dish every month in our client menu. This dish will be special to a specific culture and also will be accompanied by some education about that heritage specific to food. All of these new recipes will be reviewed and modified to offer the greatest health for our clients. We hope you will enjoy this new addition to our offerings. During the month, we will also plan some fun ‘cultural food demonstrations’ for our volunteers.
Checkout January 2021’s focus in the letter below written by our very own Healing Meals Youth Volunteer, Alex!
Hello Healing Meals family!
This month we will be incorporating Jewish heritage into our menu for clients and education opportunities for our volunteers in the kitchen. A variation of chicken soup will be prepared for this month’s menu, as well as a Challah baking and braiding demonstration. We will include a matzo ball recipe on our website as well!
Food is of great importance in Jewish culture, as it brings together family for the purpose of recognizing and celebrating major spiritual landmarks. Jewish holidays have been centered around the home for over 2000 years because, in 586 BCE, the First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the King of Babylon. For this reason, the culture adapted and all of the rituals of the temple moved into the home: the family table became the altar, the show bread (known as lichen happening Hebrew) became the Challah, etc. From this point on, celebration in the home – especially through food – was a crucial part of Jewish culture.
Here are some examples of different Jewish holidays that focus on a traditional dish:
Shabbat: This is the day of rest, which occurs each week starting at sunset on Friday to celebrate the creation of the heavens and earth in six days as described early in the Torah. Two loaves of Challah (braided bread) are served on this day to symbolize the servings of manna given to children of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt.
Purim: A holiday that celebrates the defeat of Haman, a Persian official, that was in opposition to the Jews. A pastry called hamantaschen is prepared on this day; it is a folded triangular pastry filled with a variety of fruit jams. The name is derived from the German word mohntaschen but was adapted into Jewish culture using a play on words.
Passover: Passover is one of the major Jewish celebrations as it is declared one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals. It celebrates the freeing of Jewish slaves from Egypt. The Passover Seder is among the most popular celebrated Jewish practices. Because the celebration of Passover lasts eight days, a variety of foods are eaten, including matzo ball soup (which is essentially chicken soup with matzo balls made from matzo meal and egg).
Hanukkah: This eight-day celebration recognizes when in 200 BCE the Land of Israel became controlled by the King of Syria who granted the Jews religious freedom. The holiday is also referred to as the Festival of Lights because, during the Maccabean Revolt, Jews were able to light the menorah for eight days using a portion of the oil they thought would only last one day. Latkes, fried potato pancakes, are made during this celebration (many fried foods are made during Hanukkah).
Rosh Hashanah: This is essentially a celebration of the Jewish New Year (the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar. Therefore, it differs from the new year described in the Gregorian calendar which most of the world uses). Honey cake is prepared during this holiday because the sweetness of honey is used to symbolize good fortune for the year ahead.
We hope you all enjoy learning about Jewish heritage at Healing Meals this month and make sure to look out for matzo ball soup and both a physical and virtual Challah making tutorial!
Grandma Suzanne’s Jewish Matzo Balls
This recipe was contributed by Healing Meals Executive Chef Ayelet’s
Jewish mother-in-law, Suzanne Connell!
6 tbsp avocado oil
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helpful)
2 cups dried potato flakes (instant mashed potato flakes)
1 tsp paprika
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley)
¼ cup grated onion, squeezed to drain excess juice
¼ cup sparkling mineral water
Whisk eggs and oil until combined.
In a separate bowl, add salt and xanthan gum to potatoes and mix with fingers to combine.
In 3-4 batches, add potato flake mixture to egg mixture, combining well each time.
Add sparkling water, mix well, and chill for ½ hour.
Wet your hands and form the mixture into ‘walnut-sized’ balls (they puff up a lot during cooking).
Cook balls in simmering soup/broth/water for 20-30 minutes.
Alternate Option: Lieber’s Gluten-free Knaidel Mix– add 1 tsp paprika, 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, and ¼ cup grated onion and follow directions on the box.
Healing Meals Classic Jewish Chicken Soup Recipe
Chicken Broth Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, innards removed
2 large carrots, cut in half
2 large celery stalks, cut in half
2 parsnips, cut in half
1 onion, cut in half (with peel)
1 turnip, cut in half (with peel)
½ bunch fresh parsley, including stems
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
Chicken Soup Ingredients:
Meat from cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (skin and bones discarded)
3 quarts homemade chicken broth
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
Add all ‘chicken broth’ ingredients to a large pot.
Add enough water to cover all ingredients.
Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 1 ½ hours.
Remove chicken and place in a bowl to cool. Continue to cook broth for an additional hour.
When chicken is cooled, discard skin and bones and chop or shred chicken, then set aside.
When the broth has finished cooking, remove from heat and let cool. Then strain through a metal colander. Save the liquid and discard strained foods.
Clean out the pot and return the chicken broth liquid to the pot. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.
Add chicken soup ingredients, minus chicken. When veggies are tender, for about ½ hour, soup is ready.
If making matzo balls, you can cook them in the chicken soup once vegetables are tender or separately in a pot of boiling broth or water.
Once matzo balls are ready (see separate recipe) and veggies are tender, add some chicken to the bottom of a bowl, then ladle chicken soup and optional matzo balls over the chicken.