Turkey Turnovers & Passover ("Matzah-Ball") Rolls

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. I feel like my mom saying that - not because she often complains about cooking, but just because she does so much, almost always has a home-cooked meal on the table for all of us, and yet receives very little appreciation. So no, she never says those words, but if she hasn't thought them before, she is clearly a saint. Which is possible.

Last night was one of those nights where I seriously called into question why I'm doing all of this - why I spend at least three hours of my weekends in the kitchen (one of these days I will learn to cook a full dinner from prep to finish in under three hours, like normal people), chopping and trimming and cooking away, to wind up with an under-enthusiastic crowd, one member of whom continually fails to even taste what I present. I'm given the whole, "it's not you, it's me" spiel, but I really won't get into the details of this because, after all, this is not my diary. Regardless, it was disheartening.Add Image
So then I got upset and mopey and pissed off, and - being the wonderfully composed and 100% mature female that I am - dissolved into tears in the hallway when saying goodbye to my boyfriend (who dutifully comes over to witness as many meals of mine as he can). He reminded me that I don't cook for them; I cook for myself. And that even if they don't give me a standing ovation for my efforts, he thinks they enjoy the meal (when they try it). And then he left me to my own thoughts, and though I am still looking for my self confidence, which ran out the window last night as I served the meal, I know that he's right. I do this for me. I do this to learn...and I am certainly learning.

Maybe my disappointment in my dinner's meekly positive reviews (don't get me wrong, it tasted really good and everyone said they enjoyed it; their approval, however, was simply kind as opposed to enthusiastic) lies in the fact that I had such high expectations. Last night, for the first time I ever, I doctored up the recipe - on purpose. As in, not because one ingredient was fussy or another was too expensive - but because I just got an idea for some added flavors and decided to go with it. Actually, I take that back - I used dried dill instead of the fennel seeds, mostly because my family didn't know what to do with the leftover fennel seeds and I didn't want them to go to waste. But the mushrooms you see in that pan? All me. America's Next Top Chef, right?

The Passover Rolls were also a gamble that I was hoping would be a success and, consequently, impressive. They turned out roughly how you would imagine a matzah-meal based dough would turn out: heavy. The flavor was nice and they cooked how they were supposed to, but whether it be a result of my larger-than-necessary dough balls or, perhaps, matzah meal instead of cake meal, they really did taste like doughy matzah balls. Not that this is a bad thing. And they tasted delicious the next day with a little bit of homemade pomegranate jelly...

Turkey Turnovers, courtesy of Rachael Ray
Yield: 4 Servings
4 turkey cutlets (1 pound total)
Salt and pepper (omission: salt)
4 tablespoons soft herb cheese,such as Boursin
2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped (substitution: a generous sprinkling of dried dill)
*addition: 1/2 pack of Baby Bella Mushrooms, rinsed and - for the larger ones - halved

1. Pound the turkey cutlets 1/4 inch thick and season with salt and pepper.
2. Spoon 1 tablespoon cheese in the center of each cutlet and top with the spinach.
3. Fold the cutlets in half and close with a toothpick.
4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
5. Add the cutlets and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
6. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the fennel seeds; bring to a boil.
7. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
*Note: To elaborate on why I was so disappointed by this meal initially, the turkey didn't fully cook. As this is the second time in only a little while that I have served undercooked and - in this case - raw meat, I was shamed. Because of the stuffing, the 10-minute simmering was only enough to cook the side of the meat touching the pan. I remedied this by adding the meat back into the pan (with an attitude), but to prevent this you might want to flip the cutlets mid-simmer and, unlike my careless habits, actually check your meat - be it with a thermometer or just cutting into it (I know that's technically a no-no, shhh!) before serving it to people you care about.

Passover Rolls, courtesy of offthebroiler.wordpress.com
Yield: 20 cream puffs or 10-12 dinner rolls (you can tell right here why mine went wrong - I wound up with only six...whoops!)
⅔ Cup Water
⅓ Cup Peanut Oil (Butter for cream puffs) (substitution: canola oil, simply because peanut oil was only being sold in alleged vats, and nut oils turn rancid way too quickly for such copious amounts)
1 Cup Matzo Meal (use Matzo Cake Meal for cream puffs)
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Boil the water and oil together, add the dry ingredients, stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. 3. Allow to cool slightly and, using a handheld beater, beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
5. Line a sheet pan with parchment or Silpat. Portion dough into balls using a disher, drop into wet hands (with oil or water) and gently roll into a ball.
6. For (about 20) bite sized cream puffs, use a very small disher and bake for 25-30 minutes; for (10-12) dinner rolls or larger cream puffs, use a medium sized disher and bake for about 40 minutes; for (5-6) larger rolls for sandwiches, use a large disher and bake for 50-60 minutes.
7. Bake until golden.

Overall, the meal was tasty. Everyone pretty much cleared their plates (or else never filled them to begin with, but again, that's another story), and aside from a few minor adjustments and finally becoming convinced to use my handy meat thermometer, it went well.

That is, particularly after I served dessert - a Passover-friendly fruit crisp - but we'll save that post for another day.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

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