Contributed and photographed by Paloma Aeylon
Falafel. Shawarma. Hummus. Shnitzel. Shakshuka. These are typically the foods we salivate over in anticipation of touching down in the land of milk and honey. While these Israeli delicacies certainly warrant our attention and appetite, there’s a culinary craft that’s lesser celebrated despite its rich role in Israel’s colorful cuisine. Continue reading
photo by Debra Somerville
I shared an hour on the phone with Moshe Aelyon last Friday afternoon and hung up with a deep hankering for Turkish cuisine. I had planned to spend the afternoon with him, chatting in his handsome kitchen while he prepared a distinctly Turkish, kosher style, Sabbath dinner for his regular, weekly client. Continue reading
When Moshe Aelyon described his grandmother’s savory, leek infused meatballs to me, I was hooked even before I tasted them. Leeks impart a more interesting and nuanced flavor than other onions. These are a true Turkish specialty.
Kofte de Pirasa (Leek Meat Balls-for Passover)
These Turkish meatballs have been adapted for Passover. They were a much requested Sabbath specialty in Moshe's childhood home in Instanbul.
When guests exclaimed how much they loved them, his grandmother reminded them of how special they were by claiming, "You should have golden teeth to eat these!"
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 3 bunches leeks (9 stalks), washed and chopped
- 1 cup parsley, washed and chopped
- 1/2 cup matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup matzo cake meal
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
- Cut off the bottom, very dark green, tough portion on each leek.
- Slit each leek vertically from top to bottom and rinse them through each layer.
- Slice the leeks vertically into thin strips and then chop them across finely.
- Place the leeks in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add water to cover and steam the leeks for about 15 minutes. When they are tender, drain out all the excess water and let them cool completely.
- After the leeks are cool, squeeze out all the remaining water with your hands.
- Combine the steamed leeks with ground beef, 1/2 cup of matzo meal, parsley, and eggs. Season the meat ball mix with salt and pepper.
- Form about 25-27 golf ball size koftes. Roll each kofte in matzo cake meal seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Crack three eggs into a shallow dish and beat them.
- Preheat a large sauté pan and when it is medium high, add oil to about ¼ inch deep.
- Dip each kofte in beaten egg and then place them in the oil to fry until they are golden brown. Only turn each kofte once. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towel.
- serve with a spritz of fresh lemon juice.
Helpful hints from Moshe:
Mud and grit cling to the inner layers of leeks so be thorough when washing them.
You can steam leeks several days ahead. Keep squeezed out leeks in a container in the refrigerator.
Before frying, roll all the koftes out first and coat all with the cake meal before you start frying. That way, you'll be less rushed and the oil won't overheat.