Albondigas, or meatballs, are a mainstay of Sephardic cuisine. They come in sizes ranging from golf balls to cherries and may be rolled into round or flattened shapes. Chopped onions, garlic, roasted eggplant, fresh spinach, chopped leek and grated carrots have been mixed into meatballs for centuries. These ingredients served to season meat (or poultry) which was then fried or simmered in sauce. Moistened bread bound it all together and served as another way to make these delicious treats an economical choice.
When I learned that the southern Italians sometimes included currants and pignoli nuts in their meatballs, I was intrigued. Perhaps it’s my Galiciana roots but I liked the prospect of adding a little sweetness (and unexpected texture) to the meat mix. It seemed like a good jumping point for considering how to use honey in my meatballs for Rosh Hashanah.
My intention was to get this mix subtly sweet, with a nod to the symbolism of serving sweet foods to ensure a sweet New Year. I paired citrus with the fruity nectar to balance the sweetness and sparked the flavors with cracked pepper, cumin and turmeric. Tiny, moist currants and rich pignoli provide an unfamiliar twist. For guests who think that meatballs belong in tomato sauce, they will be surprised and delighted by the yin/yang of this mildly sweet and lemony simmer broth.
Because these meatballs are quite small they are a bit of work. Set aside a couple of hours in order to get the task done. It will be time well spent. And you can check another dish off your ‘to do” list by making them in advance and freezing them.
For the meatballs:
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup currants
½ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
½ cup canola oil for frying
For the sauce:
2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients through turmeric. Mix gently with hands. Do not overmix.
Add currants and pignoli to meat mixture and combine.
Shape mixture into 1-1 ½” meatballs, wetting hands with water periodically to prevent the meat from sticking to fingers. Place meatballs on a couple of foil lined trays so they are all ready to fry at the same time.
Divide ½ cup of canola oil into 2 frying pans and heat on medium.
Add meatballs in a single layer until both pans are full but not crowded. Brown meatballs, turning them by using 2 spoons. They should be golden.
With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs when golden on all sides. Place meatballs on plates lined with paper towels so they may drain. Repeat until all meatballs are browned. You may want to save the browned pignoli and sprinkle them on meatballs when serving them.
Combine all ingredients for sauce and bring to low simmer. Taste to adjust for sweetness and salt.
Place all meatballs in sauce (It’s ok if they are not all submerged). Simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Remove meatballs from sauce, plate and serve with toothpicks. Sprinkle with browned pignoli and chopped fresh mint or parsley leaves. Drizzle sauce over the meatballs if you like.
Summer is here and it’s time for fresh, easy and quick recipes so you can be out at the beach or by the pool instead of working hard in the kitchen. And hey, it never hurts to make dishes that you can eat outside WHILE you’re enjoying the beautiful weather. With only a few simple ingredients and a sharp knife, this light and refreshing ceviche will definitely become a staple in your house.
Unlike a traditional ceviche, which can include tons of ingredients to chop like jalapenos, avocado, red onion, bell peppers and garlic, I’ve developed a simple recipe inspired by Israeli salad using tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and fresh lemon juice. Not too much chopping but an incredible amount of flavor.
Since I usually enjoy Israeli salad with fresh pita bread and I love to snack on ceviche with crunchy taco chips, I decided to bake my own healthy and oil free homemade tortilla chips for this combination Israeli Salad Ceviche. I flavored my baked corn tortillas with cumin and salt but you can use whatever spices you want on your own chips, including garlic, chili powder, turmeric or whatever else your heart desires. They’re your chips!
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Ingredients for Ceviche:
2-3 Persian cucumbers (½ cup chopped)
8 oz. heirloom cherry tomatoes (½ cup chopped)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces sushi-grade tuna
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for Tortilla Chips:
5 corn tortillas
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp salt
To make the Homemade Tortilla Chips:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the corn tortillas into triangles and place them on the baking sheet in one layer, making sure none of the tortilla pieces are touching. Sprinkle the tortillas with the salt and cumin and bake for 8-12 minutes, until the chips are crunchy. Set them aside to cool and harden even further. Store the chips in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To make the Israeli Salad Ceviche:
Chop the Persian cucumbers, heirloom cherry tomatoes and sushi-grade tuna into small pieces, making sure that the pieces are all similar in size.
Add the chopped fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Set the ceviche aside for 5 minutes for the tuna to cook slightly in the acidic lemon juice.
Ceviche is better fresh but can be refrigerated for 1-2 days. The fish will cook in the lemon juice so be prepared for cooked fish if you are eating leftovers the next day.
Chopped liver is one of the most iconic Jewish dishes. It’s been consumed spread on top of challah and matzah for generations. But the Ashkenazi version doesn’t really do much to impress me, with only onions to add flavor, I find the taste bland.
I wanted to create something that would enhance the naturally rich flavor of liver. So I looked for inspiration from more Middle Eastern flavors. Ironically, nothing is more Israeli than Turkish coffee. And perhaps also surprising is that the bitterness of the coffee really compliments the liver and apple flavors.
The result is a classic Jewish dish with an elegant twist and a really delicious taste.
1 heaping Tbsp Turkish coffee or instant espresso
2 Tbsp honey
1 lb chicken livers
½ cup warm water
½ tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 green apples, peeled and diced
Place the Turkish coffee (or instant espresso) and honey in the bottom of a heat proof bowl. Stir in the hot water until the honey dissolves.
Add the livers and let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Heat a small pot over a medium heat along with the cloves, vinegars and brown sugar.
Once the contents of the pot begins to simmer add the apples.
Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the apples to cook for half an hour.
The apples should be soft and darkened slightly when they are ready. After the apples are done cooking, use a slotted spoon and remove them from the pot leaving whatever liquid remains in the pot.
Raise the heat under the pot to medium high and drain all the liquid from the bowl except approximately 2 Tbsp worth of the marinade.
Add the liver and marinade to the pot and cook the livers until there are no more visible pink parts.
Combine the liver and cooked apples in a medium bowl and mash until desired consistency. For a smoother consistency you can use a food processor fitted with blade attachment.
I have never really loved the idea of savory hamantaschen. My sweet tooth just revolts at the concept. But after some poking and prodding from others, I decided: fine. I would try and make some savory hamantaschen.
A few weeks ago I made some balsamic caramelized onions to go on top of homemade pizza. They were amazing. Sweet and savory – my favorite combination. So as I was thinking about what kinds of savory hamantaschen I might try to make, I realized a sweet, savory onion jam was the perfect compromise to satisfy both sweet and savory cravings.
My husband serves as my trusty taste-tester and critic for all my creations, so I am happy to share that he LOVED this version. And I hope you will, too.
For the Hamantaschen dough:
½ cup butter (or margarine)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
For the onion jam filling:
4 small-medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp red wine
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp greek yogurt
To make the dough:
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk and rosemary until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by a few Tbsp at a time until firm.
Chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
To make the onion jam filling:
Add oil and butter to saute pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add onions to the pan, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes. If onions are browning too quickly reduce to low-medium heat.
When onions are completely translucent and soft, add balsamic vinegar and continue stirring for another 5-10 minutes. When onions seem sticky and the vinegar has reduced, add wine and stir. Scrape any bits off bottom of pan.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove onions from heat and set aside.
When onions have cooled, place onions in a food processor fitted with blade. Pulse until smooth. Mix in greek yogurt.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dust surface with flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circle and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in flour before each cut.
Fill each round with onion jam and using your favorite method, pinch corners together tightly.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.
The Super Bowl is a week away, so the men in my life tell me. I am not much for subscribing to traditional gender roles, but I admit freely: I hate football. But I do love cooking up snacks for football-viewing especially spicy chicken wings and beef-stuffed knishes.
Looking for some kosher snack ideas for the football fans in your life? We have some great dairy, meat, pareve and gluten free ideas from our recipe archives and our favorite bloggers.
What will you be cooking up? Share below!
Roasted Garlic Hummus (pareve)
Beet Chips with Spicy Honey Mayo (pareve)
Spinach and Cheese Borekas (dairy)
Classic Hot Wings (meat)
Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings (meat)