Ginger Ale in matzo balls
So I made matzo ball soup for the first time in my life (actually have never eaten it before, so don't even know what it's *supposed* to taste like). I used a recipe from epicurious, below. (In full disclosure I used a mixture of chicken fat and butter instead of margarine; I know, that's not kosher, but neither am I.) I really liked it (the matzo balls have lots of leeks and chives in them) but wondered about the addition of 2T ginger ale for 1 cup of matzo flour. Seems like a very small amount to really make a difference (and I hate buying a six pack of soda for 2T; but I did. I never keep soda in the house, but I'm sure the kids will eventually drink it, if I let them). I did see other recipes on the web that include ginger ale, usually in larger quantities. Does anyone know whether it really adds anything, and whether more *would* be better?
We've always used ginger, the spice, in our matzo balls. When I grew up, it was ground powdered ginger, which is what I still use. In recent years my mother began using fresh grated, but I think it doesn’t work as well. Powdered ginger disperses more evenly in the matzo ball batter. I know of several other families that use ginger too, so it wasn’t limited only to us. Maybe it was a regional thing.
I wouldn’t use ginger ale in matzo balls. I don’t think that would work at all. For this purpose, the beverage would absolutely not work as a substitute for the spice.
I’ve used both club soda and seltzer instead of water and that works very well to make the matzo balls lighter and fluffier. And, for health reasons, my mother now makes matzo balls with egg whites and without any added fat… and while I’d never admit it to her ;), they’re pretty good. They don’t taste like deprivation at all.
I still use whole eggs but I don’t use added fat, either. I’m the last person on earth to preach against using fats prudently, but once I just tried a batch of matzo balls without added fat and felt that neither the texture nor the flavor suffered, and from then on, I stopped adding fat. If it’s a concern to you, it’s worth a trial run to decide for yourself.
For matzo balls, the seasonings I use (besides ginger) are salt and ground white pepper.
Personally, having grown up eating and making matzoh balls the traditional way, I don't like them very much all gussied up with "stuff." I use only schmaltz, not because I'm Kosher (I'm surely not) but because it tastes good. Butter has no place in matzo balls. (Yuck.) and I've never seen the need for carbonation. My Gram taught me to keep the lid on the pot the whole time, even while putting them in to cook (crack the lid as little as possible to slide them into the boiling water), and I've never produced a "clunker."
I can post that recipe for you tonight, if you'd like...
Yack. And shame on Epicurious. Seltzer is just fine if you want bubbles for leavening, but the thought of the sweet element it would add just chills me. You could add a pinch of ginger alone to your matzo balls, and it would be untraditional but probably not too bad, but total nix on the ale.
Jewish matzoh balls should not contain leeks and chives in any amount, especially lots of them. I strongly advise you to just purchase a box of matzoh meal and follow the directions. Full disclosure all around: for health reasons my own matzoh balls contain neither schmaltz nor butter - only canola or light olive oil.
Club soda can make matzoh balls lighter, but I've found that a pinch of baking soda works better. (If you look on those packages of matzoh ball mix, that's all that's in them aside from matzoh meal and preservatives.)
Ginger ale sounds disgusting, to be honest. Matzoh balls should not be sweet. If you want a gingery sort of taste, add a pinch of powdered ginger. (Ginger ale hardly has any ginger in it anyway.)
I have a colleague who swears that club soda makes her matzo balls light and fluffy.
I think they always need more boiling than the recipe: a good 45 min. to an hour, if you have the time.
I loved a recipe from an Evelyn Rose cookbook that called for ground almonds and parsley. Unfortunately the guy I married (and our kids) think that's too weird.
Sorry, I can't get past your use of butter with the chicken. Parve margarine combined with a bit of chicken fat works well. Otherwise, just go with all chicken fat.
I've added seltzer to my matzoh balls... I don't like the idea of ginger ale in them at all. The carbonation is supposed to help make them lighter; I'm not sure if this has been proven or anything. I would be wary of adding too much ginger ale. I don't think I like that flavor combination one bit. I do, however, enjoy some grated onion and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper in the matzo ball batter.