Matzo balls the way one mother made themHenry Pertman...

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March 20, 1994|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Sun Staff Writer

Matzo balls the way one mother made them

Henry Pertman truly believes his mother's matzo balls are better than the rest; that's why he's been making them to serve in his restaurant's chicken noodle soup. Customers agree: It's become the best-selling soup in the restaurant. So Mr. Pertman decided to enlist some help keeping up with demand; he's teaching the kitchen staff how to make them the way Mother does. "Two things she always does -- she uses chicken soup instead of water to make them, and she makes sure she uses a great big pot and doesn't put too many in at a time," when cooking them, "so they don't get too dense," says Mr. Pertman, who is co-owner, with Jeff Pressman, of Henry & Jeff's, 1218 Charles St. Other than that, he says, it's a standard recipe off the matzo meal box. "But ours are much more flavorful," he says.

The Herzog family, said to be the world's largest producers of kosher foods and wines (as Royal Wine Corp., or Kedem) is dedicated to supplying products that make "kosher-for-Passover" and "gourmet" synonymous. Four recent examples are: Bartenura balsamic vinegar, made from Trebbiano grapes from the Veneto region of Italy; Savion "light" margarine, made from cottonseed oil, with 50 calories per single tablespoon serving; Shufra chocolates, all hand-made, in marshmallow, raspberry, coconut, mint and Viennese crunch; and Crispy O's cold cereal in fruit flavor.

Fish can ring a light change on a festive Passover meal. Southern Seafood offers Herringbrook frozen fish in steaks and fillets. Among items are 6-ounce individually packed mahi-mahi fillets. Southern has locations in Towson, Catonsville, Dundalk and on Reisterstown Road.

Finding a good dessert can require a certain amount of ingenuity for the Passover chef. Here's suggestion from the National Honey Board.

Honey Passover cheesecake

Serves 16

FOR THE MATZO MEAL TART SHELL:

1 cup matzo meal

1/3 cup softened butter

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon honey

FOR THE CHEESECAKE:

1 pound low-fat cream cheese, softened

2 cups low-fat sour cream, divided use

2/3 cup honey, divided use

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla, divided use

kiwi and strawberries, for garnish, if desired

FOR THE TART SHELL: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Process matzo meal in food processor until very fine. Cut butter into meal until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine water and honey and mix well. Sprinkle water mixture over matzo mixture. Mix lightly to form dough; shape into ball. Press dough into bottom of 9-inch springform pan with removable bottom. Bake 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool completely.

FOR THE CHEESECAKE: Heat over to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sour cream at low speed until very smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons honey and gradually beat remaining honey into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs, one at a time; add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well. Pour into cooled crust. Bake 45 minutes or until knife blade inserted at center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. Combine 1 1/2 cups sour cream, reserved 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla; mix well. Carefully spread over top of cheesecake. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes, or until edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove sides of pan and, if desired, garnish with sliced kiwi and strawberries. Jewish traditions of food and cooking are among the most enduring and beloved in the world. Three new cookbooks feature Jewish cuisine:

*"The Passover Table," by Susan R. Friedland (HarperPerennial, $17), offers more than 40 "new and traditional recipes for your Seders and the entire Passover Week." The introduction relates the rituals of today to their Biblical roots, and offers many tips and instructions.

*"Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen" by Leah Loeb Fischer and Maria Polushkin Robbins (Collier Books, $10), takes a humorous approach to Jewish cuisine, though the food is required to be seriously good. "Jewish food is food that makes people happy," says the introduction. There are 225 recipes.

*"Jewish Cooking in America," by Joan Nathan (Random House, $30), has "300 kosher recipes old and new from Jews around the world who've settled in America." Some of Ms. Nathan's extensive research for the book has been translated into the Maryland Public Television program "Passover: Traditions of Freedom," which will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Ms. Nathan will be signing copies of her book -- and offering samples of the food -- from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today at Book for Cooks in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace.

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