This recipe is perfect for Passover, but is special because of who it comes from. I have a very meaningful cookbook called the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook. It’s recipes compiled by living survivors or their relatives. This book is rich in Eastern European history and contains stories both heartbreaking and hopeful. To think of the millions of Jewish cooks and homes that were mercilessly destroyed by the Nazis makes me weep. But it’s books like these that keep the flames burning. It’s a direct connection to the love these Jewish mamas poured into feeding their families. Before giving us the recipes, the book tells us much about the survivors who made them. Wonderful tales, memories, and anecdotes, as well as photos from before and after the War, grace the pages of this most important compilation.
This particular recipe is from Ruth Gans Mayer and was submitted by her daughter. Ruth was a prisoner of the concentration camps for five years. Her mother took her place in the gas chambers. She lost her parents, siblings, a husband, and a child. I can’t even believe we live in a world where this happened. I have heard about gas chambers my entire life due to my own grandparents being survivors. I get chills every time. Those words are simply sickening. Ruth was from Germany and was a pharmacist there. She settled in Ohio after the War. She was a single mother to her only child, which was very rare in the 40’s. Her daughter generously shares her recipes in this precious book. Ruth still lives on. Each of us who cooks her food keeps her alive in our own small way. If you make these delicious, traditional matzoh balls, please think of Ruth, all she endured, and her will to persevere.
6 pieces matzo broken in half
6 tablespoons unsalted parve margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 large eggs
8 tablespoons matzo meal
Place matzo in a large bowl and cover with water. Heat the margarine in frying pan and cook onion until clear. Add salt and pepper. Drain matzo and press matzo against strainer to squeeze out all the water you can. Add drained matzo to pan (it will break in pieces). Cook about 5 minutes to heat through. Transfer to bowl and let cook for 15 minutes. Stir in eggs and a few tablespoons of matzo meal. Add more matzo meal as necessary to form mixture into balls. They should be thick enough to hold their shapes but not clumpy. Refrigerate for one hour. Drop the balls into 5-6 quarts salted boiling water. They will sink to the bottom and then rise while they cook. Turn down simmer, cover and let them cook for about 20-25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove and place them in hot chicken soup.
Makes about 15-16 balls.