Bobba is the yiddish word for ‘grandmother’ and it’s spelt a myriad of different ways, from Bubba, Babba, Bubbe, Boba etc. My Bobba, Gloria, is without a doubt one of the most influential people in my life. A lot of the way I cook and think about food has been influenced by spending countless hours in the kitchen with her. She is one of the strongest, wisest and kindest women I know. When I moved to Melbourne, I was sick and all I wanted in the world was her chicken soup and matzoh balls (kneidelach). After managing to make it with some success, I brought it into the office where it was a huge hit with the team.
My grandparents on their wedding day.
Enjoying an icey-pole on the beach with Bobba in Umhlanga, South Africa.
Very serious discussions with Bobba as a 3year old.
- 2 parsnips- peeled and sliced
- 2 leeks- finely sliced
- 1 turnip – chopped
- 8 stalks of celery chopped + leaves
- 1 bunch parsley
- 5 carrots- peeled and sliced
- 1 cleaned whole chicken (skin on- gives better flavour)
- 1tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 3tbsp good chicken stock (Bobba loves the Osem brand)
- 3-4 Litres of water (approximate- may need more or less depending on pot size)
- 1 cup Matzoh meal (available from most supermarkets with a kosher section, especially around Passover in March/April)
- 2 tbsp Shmaltz (i.e fat- you can get this from the chicken soup- skim the top of the soup once the liquid has cooled) OR use melted butter or oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp stock
- 1tbsp white pepper
- Cover vegetables with water, and bring to the boil
- Once boiling, add the chicken
- 1. This is important- DON’T add the chicken until the water has boiled with the vegetables
- Once the chicken has been added, bring to the boil again
- Once boiling, add stock, salt and pepper
- Let simmer for 3-4 hours. Taste test and add more salt if needed.
- Take off the heat and let stand.
- Gather the oil off the top of the soup and keep this aside for the kneidelach
- Remove the chicken and cut the meat off the bone into pieces. The chicken should fall off the bone very easily. Dispose of the bones and the skin. Place the chicken back in the soup.
- Place shmaltz, water, eggs, stock and pepper into a bowl and slowly add the matzah meal.
- Mix until when lifted, the mixture drops slowly off the whisk
- Cover and let rest for 25-35 minutes (non-refrigerated)
- Put a large pot of water onto boil. Wet hands and roll mixture into balls (we prefer smaller matzoh balls, some people prefer larger so size is up to your preference).
- Place matzoh balls into boiling water for around 20 minutes to until desired firmness has been achieved.
- Heat up the chicken soup and enjoy with or without matzah balls
*if you want to freeze the soup, divide into containers and freeze once the soup. Soup freezes well- matzah balls- not so much.
Around Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) we swap the matzah balls out for perogen. Ours are the Polish version made with puff pastry, but the Russians have something similar with their pierogis- think of them as little dumplings. Rosh Hashanah to me is a time where I’ll spend at least one whole afternoon with mom and Bobba making mountains of perogen, as mum normally has 30+ people for dinner, and we like to freeze batches to have for Shabbat dinners afterwards.
Making perogen with mom and Bobba before Rosh Hashanah.
Note the empty containers to fill with perogen to freeze (there were more not in the picture!).
- 500 g regular beef mince
- 100g ox liver
- 1 large or 2 small onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp stock
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 tsp barbecue spice
- 3 tbsp sunflower/canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 packets puff pastry
- Fry the sliced onions in the oil
- When the onions are glassy, add the mince, liver and spices until the meat is cooked.
- Place the meat mixture in a mincer and mince through. The meat mixture needs to be as smooth as possible
- Taste the liver to check flavour, and if necessary, add more spices
- After mincing and spicing, add a raw egg and mix through the meat. Wait for the meat to cool before placing in pastry.
- Roll out the puff pastry ever so slightly and use a glass to cut out circles, or cut out squares.
- Place one teaspoon of mixture into the pastry and fold over the dough and seal. This can be best done by dipping a finger in water and running this on the inside edge of the pastry, pressing the sides together, and then pressing the tips of a fork down over the edges as well
- Repeat until you have as many perogen as desired.
- If freezing, freeze raw.
- If baking, brush with the remaining egg.
- Bake at 180 degrees celsius until golden brown (approx 15 minutes)
- Enjoy either dipped into chicken soup or on their own.
Recipe (retelling) by Aimee