Don’t let the name Anthony fool you: star chef Tony Maws is Jewish.
“My mom just loved the name Anthony,” he said with a laugh as he welcomed 30-plus guests to Cambridge’s Craigie on Main on a recent snowy Saturday for a Passover cooking class.
His dad is from the Bronx; his mom is from Newton. Maws grew up in Newton, spending time in his Baba Hannah’s kitchen. Her portrait now hangs in Craigie’s kitchen, casting a watchful eye over the proceedings.
Guests nibbled on red beet hummus on sesame crackers, chicken rillettes and bluefish pâté. Then Maws walked his audience through a matzoh-ball-making tutorial and showed them how to make brisket. Finally, it was time for a multi-course Passover feast: chopped liver with vegetable crudités, pastrami-cured Scottish salmon on watercress, Baba Hannah’s matzoh-ball soup, almond-and-prune-braised beef brisket and sheep’s milk cheesecake.
We got four secrets (and a recipe!) from Maws’ kitchen.
Four Passover Tips
- Add a sprinkle of ground ginger powder to your matzoh-ball dough for extra flavor. Maws learned this technique from Jewish cooking expert Joan Nathan.
- For the best and freshest cuts of meat, Maws shops at Savenor’s Butcher & Market in Cambridge.
- To give your chicken soup extra richness, add unpeeled onions. Really! For an especially indulgent soup, use chicken stock instead of water.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to shape your matzoh balls. It’s not cheating.
Craigie Matzoh Balls
Makes 12 matzoh balls
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons schmaltz, melted
- 1 ½ cups matzoh meal
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup chicken stock, plus more for boiling
- 4 egg whites
- Combine egg yolks and schmaltz with matzoh meal, ground ginger powder, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock gradually until a crumbly but hydrated dough is formed. (It should clump when squeezed in the fist, but not be hard. You may need more or less stock than listed.)
- Whip egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Gently fold egg whites into the dough in two additions. The resulting dough will look kind of like loose, overcooked oatmeal.
- Rest dough one hour.
- Portion with a two-ounce scoop and let balls rest one hour.
- Round flat side of balls with your hands and drop them into seasoned, boiling chicken stock. Bring back up to a gentle simmer and cover. Don’t peek for at least the first half-hour, as you may deflate the balls.
- They are done after about one hour, when a cake tester can be inserted and removed with little to no resistance.