If my mind has been shaped by books, it has also been nourished by memorable meals. The Northern Line describes the food I remember as a child, both delicious and disgusting. Eating brings families  together. The best times are those we share over the dinner table. Here are some of the traditional recipes celebrated in The Northern Line.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls

The traditional way of making this soup is with a boiling fowl.  I make it with the left over carcass of a roasted chicken or with uncooked chicken pieces. The important thing is to make it the day before you need it, let it cool, and then skim off any fat from the surface before reheating. Whatever you use, it should be clear and golden to serve.

Soup: 1 chicken carcass, 2 onions, 4 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 1 leek, handful of parsley, salt and pepper.

Saute vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil, add the chicken, cover with boiling water and let it simmer for an hour (2 hours if you are using a boiling fowl). Sieve to remove all chicken pieces and other solids. Serve with matzo balls.


Matzo Balls

Matzo balls: 1 cup of medium matzo meal, I cup of boiling water, 2 eggs, rendered chicken fat, salt and pepper.

Put matzo meal, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour on boiling water and mix with a fork. Add eggs and chicken fat (or melted margarine) and mix further. Cover bowl and place in fridge for at least an hour. When cooled, roll into balls in the palms of your hands. Keep your hands moist with cold water to keep matzo balls smooth. Keep in the fridge and when ready to cook, drop into uncovered pan of boiling soup and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Aunty Ada’s Eingemachts – Beetroot Jam

As my cousin Maureen warned, it is advisable to wear rubber gloves when making this jam or, if you are cooking the beetroots yourself, your hands will turn bright pink. The quantity below will make approximately 8 jars of jam.

2 lb cooked beetroots, 2 lb granulated sugar, 3 lemons, ½ oz ginger, 6 fl oz water, 4 oz split blanched almonds.

Cut beetroot into thin slivers and put into a heavy pan with the sugar and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves and simmer for 1 hour. Slice the lemons, add to the pan and cook for another hour. Add nuts and ginger and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into warmed jars while still hot.

Ena’s Spice Biscuits

This recipe is taken from my mother’s recipe book given her as a bride in 1942

1 lb flour, 4 oz butter, 7 oz sugar, 10 oz golden syrup, I egg, I teaspoonful each of baking soda, mixed spice, dried ginger, and 2 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon.

Knead all ingredients together until dough is very firm. It may need a little more flour. Roll out very thin. Then cut with a biscuit cutter to the size you want. Bake in a rather quick oven for about 10 minutes.

Great Grandma’s Helzel (Stuffed Neck)

Don’t be put off by the primitive sounding title of this dish. It is in fact completely delicious, a tasty firm stuffing for the crop of a chicken or turkey. Grandma used to serve it in slices. 

3 oz plain flour, 1 oz fine matzo meal, I grated onion, 2 0z firm margarine (or chicken fat) chopped in pieces, a large pinch each of salt and sugar.

Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Stuff the mixture loosely into the crop of the chicken or turkey. Sew the skin of the neck into the back of the bird. It cooks while the bird is roasting. Baste regularly.

Aunty Rae’s Wedding Feast: 1938

* Hors d’oeuvres *

* Pate de Pigeon *

* Consomme de Nouilles *

* Roast Poussin *

* Poire Melba *

* Savarin de Fruits *


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