I am a woman on a mission. Passover is rapidly approaching and I must somehow create an eggless matzo ball for my sister's partner. The poor thing is allergic to eggs and so far I have done quite well in making substitutions when I know he is joining us for dinner. But Passover is a whole other story. Everything has to have egg in it. It's our sneaky way around eating things with leavening. While us Ashkenazi Jews spend most of the year thriving on egg bread (challah), pasta, sandwiches, and cake, this one time of year we must put our carbohydrates aside in observance of religious tradition.
The tradition of eating matzo came from the actual biblical story of the exodus. As the ancient Jews prepared to flee slavery under the Egyptian Pharaohs, they prepared dough to make bread for the long journey (little did they realize just how long...). They soon discovered that when Moses asked Pharaoh to "let my people go" and Pharaoh agreed, he meant right now. The freed slaves had to rush and leave at once, before the bread dough had time to rise. The story goes on to say that the heat of the dessert sun actually baked the bread on their backs, resulting in the much-maligned matzo that we eat today.
While companies like Manischewitz have developed countless yeast-less cakes, egg noodles, and macaroons, one wonders just how much processing and refinement these products must endure before they reach the grocery store shelf. I have found that the easiest way to get through the seemingly endless 8 days of no-pasta is by eating more fruits and vegetables. It's easy enough. I don't actually eat much of those store-bought bread substitutes that are so successfully marketed to Jews the world over. But there is one thing that not only to I make an exception for, I actually crave throughout the year.
The delicate art of matzo ball making is something that I have yet to master. While I was away at university, I would try to duplicate my mom's matzo balls, but they were never quite as fluffy as hers. The secret is the eggs, you see. The dumplings are made of ground matzo (matzo meal), chicken soup, salt, pepper, and egg whites. Mixed together, rolled into golf ball sized shapes, and then boiled in chicken soup for 20-30 minutes, they always seemed to be taking too long and I would remove them from the pot too early. This results in matzo balls of a rather hockey-puck type consistency.
* photos courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
But what will we do this year? We have a very nice guest, whom we like very much, who will otherwise have to go matzo ball-less. I certainly don't want to make him sick, but he can't miss out on matzo ball soup! It's the best part of the very long, drawn out, ceremony-filled meal. It's better than the turkey or the meatballs or the strange cakes and sweet meringues that end the dinner. They should not be given up just because of some silly little gastrointestinal incompatibility. What can I do? This is where you come in, dear readers. If anyone out there in cyberland knows of any eggless matzo ball recipes, I'd be forever indebted to you. Someone must have already faced this problem. I am a doer; I know there is a solution to this problem. I just need some help finding it.