Magical Matzoh Progressive Passover Dinner Tour 2

(Kifticas de Prassa, Keftikas de Puero)

Second stop of the Magical Matzoh Progressive Passover Dinner Tour is Potomac, Maryland, at the home of Sheilah Kaufman. Sheilah has authored 22 cookbooks and will have two new books out this year. She proudly says that “fearless, fussless, easy, elegant” cooking is her trademark. (This is also the name of one of her more popular books.) According to Sheilah, her recipes have to be able to be made ahead or frozen, with a short preparation time, and have to taste fabulous. She loves to share her recipes and love of cooking with friends and family. When she visited me a few years ago, she completely took over my kitchen and cheerfully prepared some of her scrumptious specialties for us. You can be sure that she will always be a welcome guest in my home!

When I told her that I was writing this special Passover article, Sheilah said “Of course I’ll send you a recipe!” So enjoy this easy dish from Sheilah Kaufman’s newest cookbook, Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic which is due out in April.

Sheilah writes “Leeks are one of the oldest known vegetables and are much loved by Middle Eastern people. This wonderful dish from Isabella Sciaky is served for Passover and Rosh Hashanah, and can be adapted as a dish for Hanukah by leaving out the meat. Enjoy!

8 very thick leeks, whites only with a little green, roots removed
1/2 lb. ground beef, ground twice
3 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
matzo meal
oil for frying
lemon slices, for garnish

Slice leeks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly to remove all the sand. Chop the leeks and place them in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook the leeks until they are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Drain the leeks and let them cool. Squeeze out as much water as possible, but leave just a little water so the keftikas will not be too dry. Place leeks in a meat grinder or food processor and grind them (twice through a meat grinder). (Do not put the leeks in the refrigerator until you have ground them since it will be impossible to grind them after refrigerating.)

Combine the leeks, meat, eggs, salt, and pepper to taste and add enough matzo meal to form into patties (keftes). They should be about walnut size, then flatten them with your hands.

In a large skillet or fry pan, heat the oil (enough to at least cover the bottom of the pan) and fry until they are brown on each side. Drain well on paper towels. Serve with slices of lemon.

Makes 8 to 10 servings as a side dish

Variation: Venoutcha Benaroyo from Bulgaria made these for Passover for the lunch following the seder night. In Ladino, they are called albondigas de prasa. In her version, she uses a pound of ground meat with the leeks and seasoning (no other ingredients). The patties are then dipped in eggs and matzo meal and fried.

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