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Issue Date: December 2008


Matzo Balls


David Wasserstrom
If there is one certainty in Jewish culture, it’s that matzo balls, so lovingly prepared by mothers and grandmothers everywhere, will either be dense and chewy or exceedingly light and fluffy. Middle ground, it seems, isn’t in the cards.

Then there are those crafted by Sandy Zelman. Ethereal and irresistibly homey,

Zelman’s matzo balls celebrate the highest qualities of both extremes. These perfect little spheres of astounding taste and texture garner acclaim from family, friends and denizens of the Coit Road Market in East Cleveland, where she also sells baked goods.

From the kitchen of her Highland Heights home, Zelman uses time-honored techniques she learned at her mother’s side while growing up in Glenville. First rolled into walnut-sized orbs, then boiled, Zelman’s triumphant matzo balls eventually plunge into rich homemade chicken broth — the final movement in a symphony of taste and tradition.

Too busy to cook?

Hit the deli circuit. Great matzo ball soup is to be found (and carried out in quarts for later) at: Jack’s Deli in University Heights (14490 Cedar Road, 216-382-5350), Corky & Lenny’s in Woodmere (27091 Chagrin Blvd., 216-464-3838) and Joe’s Deli in Rocky River (19215 Hilliard Blvd., 440-333-7890).


Sandy Zelman’s Matzo Ball Recipe
[makes about 10, 1-inch matzo balls]

1 cup matzo meal
4 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil or melted margarine
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Pinch of ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry chicken consummé mix


Separate eggs yolks and whites into two bowls. Combine water [ 1 ], egg yolks, oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder in another bowl. Mix well, then add matzo meal and stir thoroughly.

Beat the egg whites and fold them into mixture [ 2 ]. If batter seems too thin, add a bit more matzo meal. Refrigerate for 1 hour [ 3 ].

Partially fill a large pot with water, add the consummé and bring to a boil. Remove batter from refrigerator, moisten palms with cold water and gently form batter into 1-inch balls.

Drop matzo balls into boiling water, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until done. Remove with slotted spoon to a large bowl. Serve with broth.

Yes, you can cheat and use store-bought broth. But matzo balls this fine deserve better. For Zelman's broth recipe, click here >>

Secrets of the Family Recipe
[ 1 ] If you like your matzo balls on the fluffy side, use seltzer instead of water.
[ 2 ] For best results, beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks, then fold them into the batter gradually.

[ 3 ] Make sure your batter is really cold before rolling. Cheating on Zelman’s suggested hour minimum will severely impede your rolling.

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