I saw once more...the soup with dreamily swimming dumplings — and my soul melted like the notes of an enamoured nightingale.
HEINRICH HEINE, THE RABBI OF BACHERACH
Homey dumplings have been a hallmark of German cuisine ever since the Middle Ages, and the Yiddish words knaidl (a variant of knoedl) and kleis (which began as klosse) reveal their German ancestry. Jewish cooks in Central and Eastern Europe incorporated dumplings into their repertoire, fashioning them from bread, rolls, flour, and potatoes.
And for Passover they made fluffy balls out of matzoh. I have found that the Alsatian, German, and Czech matzoh ball recipes, often called kleis, created from soaked pieces of whole matzoh, are frequently more imaginatively and assertively flavored than the familiar variety made of matzoh meal. And I love the way the matzoh pieces seem to inhale the seasonings far more lustily than matzoh meal does.
In my rendition, generous lacings of fresh herbs and lemon zest, along with a delicate, traditional ground-almond thickener, make for kleis that are vibrant yet gossamer-light.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.