Jewish Meat Croquettes from Greece

Greek Jewish cooking has a very long history since Jews have lived in Greece since Hellenistic times. In the 16th century, many thousands of Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal moved to the Ottoman Empire. Many of them settled in Greece where they mingled with the Jewish communities who were already there. This makes Greek Jewish cooking particularly varied, eclectic, and altogether fascinating. Try these Jewish Meat Croquettes from Greece made with ground beef and matzo meal for a weeknight meal. Make your own spelt matzo meal from our spelt matzo recipe or order spelt matzo online. To make matzo meal, break up matzos and whizz them in the food processor.

We keep discovering varieties of Jewish cooking from all over Europe, Africa, and Asia. If you are interested in Jewish cooking, do yourself a favor and get a copy of The Cookbook of the Jews of Greece by Nicholas Stavroulakis.

Jewish Meat Croquettes from Greece with Spelt Matzo Meal

byzantine greek jews Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
About 20 croquettes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs/680 grams ground beef
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup/65 grams spelt matzo meal
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley and mint
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Raw onion rings, parsley, and lemon juice for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Mix the beef, onion, eggs, spelt matzo meal, vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, parsley and mint together in a large bowl and knead them thoroughly with your hands
  2. Pat egg-sized pieces of the mixture into oblong shapes and set on a plate
  3. Fry the croquettes in 4 tablespoons olive oil, turning them every couple of minutes so they’re well browned all over
  4. Serve immediately garnished with raw onion, parsley, and lemon juice

Adapted from The Cookbook of the Jews of Greece

Spelt Matzo Brei

We hadn’t eaten matzo brei in many years so we decided to make spelt matzo a couple of weeks ago. (We wanted to get our hands on some matzo meal, too.) You can make this spelt matzo brei using our recipe for spelt matzo, or one of the several brands of spelt matzo available commercially.

It’s said that this was originally a way to use up extra matzo from Passover. It’s a homely and economical but satisfying dish, which is very characteristic of Jewish cooking, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic.

One of the fundamental divisions of the Jews (right up there with the pastrami vs corned beef schism and whether it’s ever ok to buy retail) is whether or not to put something sweet like honey, maple syrup, or fruit preserves on the matzo brei. The controversy still rages after all these years (millennia?). We are in the salt-and-pepper only camp, but it’s ok with us if you find yourself on the other side. Enjoy!

Spelt Matzo Brei Recipe

Spelt Matzo Brei Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces spelt matzo
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup/118 ml water
  • 2 tbsp/28 g butter
  • 2 tbsp/29 ml canola or peanut oil

Instructions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, break the spelt matzo into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the spelt matzos. Quickly toss the matzo, then drain off any excess.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.
  4. Mix the eggs, salt and pepper into the spelt matzo.
  5. Over high heat, heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan.
  6. Add the matzo and fry until crisp.
  7. Flip over to fry the other side, breaking into pieces as it cooks.
  8. Serve with maple syrup, or preserves.

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/matzo-brei-recipe.html

Homemade Spelt Matzo

Matzo is an important ingredient in all kinds of Jewish cooking from around the world. It’s a very simple unleavened bread that can be made only from wheat, oats, rye, barley—or spelt. Spelt matzo is now available from several companies, but it’s easy to make your own and it’s delicious.

Matzo is unleavened because when the Jews left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise.

Matzo is the only bread Jews can eat during Passover, the holiday that celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. It is also said to symbolize humility, because as a simple unleavened bread, it represents poor people’s food. Also, it’s not “puffed up,” another reason it recalls the modesty and humility of the poor and simple.

Our mothers and grandmothers cooked with regular commercial matzos and matzo meal. Commercially produced spelt matzo does exist, but it’s easy to make your own from scratch and it’s delicious.

Once you have your matzo, go ahead and make matzo meal with some of it, eat a piece or two for old times’ sake, and then make some matzo brei, the Ashkenazic answer to french toast.

Homemade Spelt Matzo

spelt matzo Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 12 matzos

 

Ingredients:

  • About 2 3/4 cups/350 g white spelt flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp/3 g kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup/80 ml olive oil
  • About 1/2 tsp/3 g fine sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Set a pizza stone on an oven rack and heat oven to 500F/260C for about 45 minutes (if you don’t have a pizza stone, set a large baking sheet on a rack and heat until oven is hot).
  2. Put 2 1/4 cups/ 350 g spelt flour, kosher salt, and oil in a food processor. With motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup/120 ml water. Dough will come together into a ball and should feel soft and supple; if it is sticky at all, add more flour, 1 tbsp/8 g at a time.
  3. Divide dough into 12 portions. Using a floured rolling pin, roll 1 portion at a time on a well-floured work surface into a round about 8 in/20 cm wide and just thin enough to see through. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and press it in with your hands. Prick dough all over with a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up too much).
  4. Flour a wooden peel or back of a baking sheet generously and transfer dough to it. Gently slide dough onto hot pizza stone. Bake until matzo is light golden and crisp on each side and a bit darker at the edges, turning once with a wide spatula, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer matzo to a cooling rack and make remaining matzos the same way.
  5. 5. Rebake any matzo that isn’t crisp in the center, which may be the case if they baked on a baking sheet; put matzos on a rimmed baking sheet, reduce oven heat to 250F/120C, and bake 15 to 25 minutes more.

Adapted from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-matzos