Monday, September 19, 2011


Every Fall I get nostalgic for Jewish food as soon as the weather turns. I think it's because there are SO many jewish holidays right at the beginning of the Fall, so I associate the Fall with Jewish greasy foods. And as I've said before, I'm a food jew- I have no interest in celebrating jewish holidays per se, but I LOVE some traditional jewish foods, and occasionally end up eating them around that holiday season. Especially around Rosh Hashana season. Also in the Fall I get the hankering to cook a lot of soup and other foods and freeze them. I think this might be an evolutionary instinct to hoard food for the winter or something.

Last Fall I attempted to make cholent and vegetarian kishke. I used my mom's recipe for cholent and a recipe I found on for the kishke. The Cholent turned out..well, just like my mom makes it, terrible. The Kishka was even worse. I had one bowl of cholent and kishka and the rest ended up in the trash.

It's been getting colder the past few weeks, and I've been getting that familiar hankering for jewish food. So this year I decided to try to make Kreplach soup. My mother never made kreplach at home, but every time we went to visit my grandparents in Florida growing up (so about once a year) we had kreplach soup. Kreplach is basically jewish wontons or jewish ravioli- the meat is flavored differently than wontons or ravioli, but essentially it's a bit of meat wrapped in dough. When my Savta (grandmother) died in 2007 some people tried to look around her house for recipes, but if she had any written down it was in polish (which no one else could read) or she just never wrote down her recipes, because we couldn't find any. So I thought her kreplach recipe (and her amazing rugaluch recipe) was basically gone forever.

But I found a kreplach recipe online so this weekend I decided to make them! A few weeks ago we had dinner with some other OTDers who live near us, and I mentioned my kreplach hankering, and one of them mentioned they used wonton skins instead of making their own dough. Which sounded genius to me, cause the dough making part seemed like the hardest part of kreplach.

So on saturday morning, B and I went and found a local asian grocery store, and got a whole bunch of wonton skins (and also asian candy and noodles and lots of meat that was mysteriously $1-$2 cheaper than the meat they sell at the regular grocery store, and a lot better looking).

And then I made some kreplach!

Last weekend I had made a huge pot of chicken soup using In The Pink's Recipe and froze about 2 gallons of chicken broth:

Soup right after it went in the pot

Soup after cooking a while

This week I made about 100 kreplach, froze most of them (you freeze them uncooked on a flat tray and then take them off the flat tray when they are frozen to put in ziplock bags) using the epicurious beef recipe and wonton skins.

Uncooked Kreplach, some shaped into wontons

Then we took about 8 of the kreplach and boiled it (gently) in the chicken broth from last week for about 10 minutes

I would have taken a picture of kreplach in a bowl of soup, but I ate it too quickly.

Definitely a winning recipe, and so happy I have around 80 kreplach still in the freezer! They taste almost exactly like my grandmother's, and it was awesome to have authentic tasting kreplach for the first time in probably over a decade!

Next year (or possibly even later this Fall) maybe I'll make yerushalmi kugel. I've tried to make it before, but it just wasn't greasy enough.


  1. My grandmother had a secret recipe for kreplach. No one else in my family made it. She told all of us kids she made them for us specially. Only as adults did we discover she bought them in a store on the lower east side (where she lived.)

    Still the tastiest kreplach I've ever tasted, even knowing the truth.

    I've been a vegetarian for 20 years. Maybe I'll try my hand at vegetarian kreplach.

  2. And I have known people to use cut up egg roll wrappers as dumplings in chicken and dumplings!
    Hey! Dough is dough, whatever language it's made in.

  3. philo i've discovered it is possible to buy pre-made kreplach down here from certain grocery stores, but they cost $9 for 9 kreplach! Or $1/kreplach

    Meanwhile the cost of around 100 kreplachs that I made:
    100 wonton skins: $0.99
    1.5 pounds ground beef: ~$5
    fresh parsley: ~$1
    onion: $0.69 cents
    dozen brown eggs (used 4): $2.49
    and had some oil around the house.

    Total: ~$10/100 kreplach or around $0.10 a kreplach

    So store bought kreplach imported from NY (I guess?) are roughly 10x as expensive as making my own.

  4. "I associate the Fall with Jewish greasy foods."

    Until I started going to synagogue youth group functions, I never understood why everyone joked about greasy traditional Jewish food. Apparently, my Mom was a first adopter of various fat separation technologies, and nothing she made, not the matzah ball soup, or the brisket, or the kreplach or whatever was greasy.,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=eb4651f87c0c3777&biw=1280&bih=861

    This should get you started. A fat separator is cheap and easy to use. Or, just make a brisket and let it sit in the pan in the fridge after it's cooked, and the fat will harden up overnight and be a snap to skim off and dispose of.

  5. ha, conservative, I think you mistake me- the greasiness is one of the things I love about jewish food. :)

  6. Did you ever see the opening scenes of "Mr. Saturday Night", with schmaltz frying?

    I'm not working on a farm or trying to survive a Siberian winter, so there's no way that I could eat like that on a regular basis. I'm not into kugel or kishke.

    Some recipes, though, do adapt nicely into the modern world. Chicken soup is actually really easy and yummy if you use a large 6 qt. crockpot. I set mine up on Wed. night, it cooks while I sleep and I just ladle it into jars on Thurs. morning. By Friday, the sediment falls to the bottom of the jars while the fat hardens on top, and I've got great clear soup in between. It takes only around 10 min of hands-on effort.

    The one exception to the health kick, though, is challah. I'll occasionally make whole wheat, but what's the point? I love frozen unbaked challah loaves - almost effortless (2 min. to do the egg wash and stick in the oven, far less time than it takes to run to the bakery) yet it smells and tastes divine. Our local brand (Lenchners) is better than Kinneret, though.

  7. I just think it is great that you found a way to make yourself happy and fed a need. It was a great post!

  8. I think it was great that you found a way to make yourself happy and fed a need.

  9. I think it was great that you found a way to make yourself happy and fed a need.

  10. JRKmommy,

    That'll work to separate out the fat, but an easier approach (to me), is to brown the chicken in a non-stick frying pan. The browning process introduces complexity into the flavor, and a LOT of fan comes out into the pan. Toss the chicken in the crock pot, and away you go, chicken soup, with a lot less fat. And 10-15 minutes to brown chicken on the stove seems like less work than ladling in and out of jars.

  11. Do you strain your chicken soup? I, too, experience feelings of nostalgia when I smell Jewish food cooking.

  12. I don't strain it, what I do is I take out all the stuff in it with a slotted spoon (guess that's kinda like straining?) and then ladle the rest into containers. Towards the bottom there is usually some crap left over, and I just don't use like the last half inch of soup.

  13. Ah.

    My mom strains the soup and uses the chicken for chicken salad or dog food. I don't know what she does with the vegetables.

    Then she cooks a new batch of carrots, matza balls or pasta and adds those to the soup before serving. Extra soup gets frozen and keeps for a few months.

  14. 10-15 min. to brown anything is too much work, plus an extra pan to clean. It's also hard to fry chicken bones, which are cheaper than a cut-up chicken.

    1 big crockpot of soup = 3.5 quarts of soup, which is 3 big and 1 little jar. Not a lot of work, and you have to store the soup in something. It keeps in the jars for several days in the fridge, and the jars can easily be frozen. The congealed fat pops out easily, and you just pour the soup into the pot. Ability to freeze soup makes it possible for me to do Yom Tov for 50 people.

    Trust me, my family wouldn't get homemade chicken soup every week if it actually required any real work on my part.

    Leftover broth makes a great base for hot and sour soup, btw. Just add onions, mushroom, a chinese eggplant, baby bok choy, extra-firm tofu, garlic, ginger, hot chili pepper, rice vinegar, an egg and soy sauce.

  15. Yeah, the veggies cooked with the soup are pretty much done. If I have the energy, I'll pick the meat off the chicken bones and use it for stirfry.

    Noodles need to be cooked separately and added just at the last moment to the bowl, or they get mushy.

  16. Loved your article. Love Jewish food (this Irish-American from Boston) too!


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