Thursday, November 08, 2007

Apples and Thyme - Memories of time spent in the kitchen with my Safta.

K'Zitzot - My Grandma's Infamous Meatballs



Inge of Vanielje Kitchen and Jeni from The Passionate Palate are hosting a wonderful Blog Event called Apples and Thyme - in celebration of mothers and grandmothers and time spent with with them in the kitchen. Though my mother has inspired me to no end in the kitchen, this post is dedicated to my safta (grandmother), Shula Manela Shikler who recently passed away.


We are kindred spirits, my safta Shula and I. Ever since I can remember; my family would remind me that I took after my grandmother. "The same spirit", they would say. In my opinion, there is no more flattering a compliment. If I have a smidgen as much bravado and zeal for life as my safta did, than I would be the world's luckiest woman. How such a pint-sized package could contain a larger than life personality such as hers still amazes me to this day. Whenever she would walk into a room it was as though she was making her way onto center stage - a spotlight illuminating her smiling face. Though there were countless hardships that she had faced in life; losing her family in the holocaust, making her way to Israel from Poland alone at the tender age of 15, teaching herself to speak Hebrew and English, her spirit never faltered.

My safta was a true artist, a creative soul. Her passion for life poured out into her elaborate paintings, her expressive dance, and of course into her soulful food. I always knew that my creativity and love of dance stemmed from her genes. Yet it wasn't until recently that I realised just how much she's influenced my passion to cook and entertain. A typical Jewish grandma, it seemed at times that her sole purpose in life was to stuff you like a turkey. Once settled in her apartment in Tel Aviv there was no escaping until the entire contents of her fridge had been emptied. We'd feast on copious specialties from freshly made gefilte fish (that had been swimming in her tub earlier), goulash, chopped liver and stuffed peppers to the best chicken soup and plates piled high with K'Zitzot. The latter were my sibling's and mine favourite. Crisp, moist and garlicky meatballs that went down so easily you would just pop another in your mouth without even realising it. The last time she prepared these for us was her last visit to my dad's in California. She was so happy to be there, basking in the lush landscape and sun. Gan 'Eden she called it - The Garden of Eden. We arrived from the airport to the scent of garlic in the air, only to find her frying away batch after batch of K'Zitzot. I clearly remember how adorable she looked in all her late eighties glory, half glasses perched on the tip of her nose, colourful apron tied on and standing barely taller than the stove itself. What a sight to behold! I will cherish those memories forever, among many others that simply do not fit on the page. I can only hope to inherit her wisdom, grace, confidence and sense of humour as I grow old myself. I felt it was only fitting to share this recipe that so embodies my safta - small, zesty, warm, comforting and memorable all in one package!

Safta Shula's K'Zitzot

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • splash of olive oil
  • splash of water
  • bread crumbs
  • Knorr chicken bouillon powder or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Thoroughly mix the turkey and chicken until they are well combined. Add the onion, garlic and parsley and mix well. Next add the egg, splash of oil and water and stir. Season well with the Knorr chicken bouillon or salt and the pepper. The mixture should be moist but able to hold the meat ball shape. If it's too wet, you can add a bit of flour. Shape the mixture into meatballs, using a tablespoon to measure. Once all the balls are formed, heat a small layer of vegetable oil in a large pan. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs and cover all sides, at this point they will take the shape of discs. Fry them in batches until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. Allow to drain on paper towels.

11 comments:

Rivka said...

What a beautiful recipe and post! I saw your k'tzizot post on tastespotting and, having spent the last two years in Israel, I had to click through :) this seems like a great recipe and I'm looking forward to trying it. If you want any commiseration, I've got lots of Jewish-y recipes from years in the kitchen with my Ima :) www.notderbypie.blogspot.com. Thanks again for the really beautiful post!

african vanielje said...

Merav, this is such a warm and loving addition to the Apples & Thyme collection. Thank you for joining us and sharing these beautiful memories. And a delicious recipe too!!

Merav said...

Rivka -
Thank you your wonderful comment. I am heading over to your blog now! Can't get enough of Jewish recipes!

Inge - It's an honour to join Apples & Thyme!

Cedar said...

wow those look incredible! I am saving this, so I can try them!

The Passionate Palate said...

Merav - your Safta sounds like an amazing woman. I am really moved.
Thanks for participating in our even with such a touch post,
Jeni

Ann said...

Your recipe looks fantastic! Enjoyed reading your story and memories.

Laurie Constantino said...

You've painted a lovely picture of a clearly lovely woman. I could just smell those meatballs cooking! Thanks for a wondeful story and recipe.

Gay said...

I'm going to try your recipe soon!

Barb McMahon said...

Your Safta sounds lovely. And I think you're more like her than you know.

Julie said...

What an amazing story! I would've loved to have known your Safta--she sounds like a great person. My Hun and I laughed at the part where you mentioned the gefilte fish were previously swimming around in her bathtub! Thank you for sharing the K'zitzot recipe--yet another recipe from this event that I can't wait to try!

sognatrice said...

Such a gorgeous post and delicious recipe! I've been meaning to try more Jewish recipes as it's a cuisine I've never had the pleasure of being exposed to. This will be a *great* start!