CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 18 Made in America: Part III - Page 14

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M There are certain foods that find their greatest utility in specific circumstances. Ice cream is perfect for breakups. Champagne and/or Miller High Life are the only way to celebrate a walk-off homerun in adult kickball. And when a wee-young Colin tricked his mom into believing he was sick, Kit Kat bars were the soup du’jour. OK, delicious, chocolaty candy sticks are neither soup nor specific to sick days, but they did do the trick. The actual remedy for illness was a big bowl of matzo ball soup. Matzo ball soup has always been a staple of my recovery process. It’s hot, it soothes the throat, and it tastes like, well, not much. Bland foods are easy on the stomach and ideal given the lack of ability to taste when sick. That’s also unfortunately why the traditional soup never made its way into this Gentile’s healthy life. Enter The Matzo Project. This appropriately named company began as a quest to make matzo crackers that were worth eating all year instead of flavorless slices of cardboard relegated to Passover. It’s the brainchild of Ashley Albert, a top-flight shuffleboard player, and Kevin Rodriguez, a former product designer for Vera Wang furniture. It’s an unlikely pairing, but between the two of them they had everything they needed to upend the matzo market that you probably didn’t know existed. The brand began with crackers, including the cleverly named, “Everything Plus Two More Things.” They contain the same seasoning mix as an everything bagel, but they’ve added paprika and chili flakes. I wish more bagel shops would jump on that recipe; who doesn’t love a little extra spicy kick? From there, Albert and Rodriguez quickly added chips to the lineup. In my life, crackers are for parties and chips are for snacking, so if the goal is to make matzo a weekly purchase, it’s the chips that are going to do it. While these chips lag far behind Wavy Lays or other grease-bomb snacks loved by the masses, the masses are not The Matzo Project’s target market. They’re taking aim at the people who buy “elevated” snack options like pita chips and fancy toast. The toughest part is committing to whether you’re making sinkers or floaters. How do you please everyone? The answer is easy--do whatever makes you happy and everyone else can deal with it. I opted for light and fluffy floaters. Step one is to beat a couple eggs with oil in a bowl. I added an extra tablespoon of oil to ensure my matzo balls didn’t drown. Then after dumping in and mixing the matzo, the bowl went into the fridge for 15 minutes while I started the stock. Starting the stock simply means putting water and the soup packet in a pot. Like I said…easy. I contemplated adding chopped veggies to the pot as well, but given that this was a test I didn’t want to give The Matzo Project any freebies. They were going to have to win me over on their own. I’ve never made matzo balls before, but it’s pretty much the same as rolling meatballs or cookie dough ball or really anything else that can be formed into edible balls. It took no time at all until the matzo balls were ready to rock, and I just had to wait on the pot of stock to boil. The matzo balls spent 30 minutes in their simmering stock bath, and the aroma when I popped the lid off was amazing for a pot with so little involved. One mouth burn later and the soup quickly began to disappear. Talk about living up to their word—Albert and Rodriguez hit the nail on the head with their branding. It is surprisingly delicious soup. The packet-based stock stood up to something that takes hours longer, and the matzo balls were fluffy and flavorful. While the soup was far from a scratch, I felt accomplished making it. I don’t know if The Matzo Project is ever going to take over the 365-day snack market, but they definitely have a product that people will enjoy. Their crackers are versatile, their chips are inter- esting, and their matzo ball soup is a little bowl of happiness. Mazel tov! While the crackers and chips might be the Matzo Project origin story, it’s the soup that has my attention. There’s never a bad time for matzo ball soup, but how often is there a good time? The bland, flavorless orbs in matzo ball soup, whether floating or sinking, have always been its weak link. Typical matzo soup, begs the question, “Why you wouldn’t just have veggie or chicken noo- dle soup?” Again, the Matzo Project hopes to eliminate that question with matzo that’s actually worth eating. There are two options depending on how many matzo balls you need and how homemade you demand you soup to be. One option is just the matzo balls, which are ideal for people who have their own super-secret soup stock recipe passed down by generations of grandmas who initially just got it from a magazine or newspaper. My stock comes from a box with a screw top, so I’m cer- tainly not married to it. That makes the “Surprisingly Delicious Matzo Ball Soup Kit” a much better option for me. It makes less matzo but incudes a party packet that magically transforms a pot of water into delicious stock. The packet contains no dye or MSG and it is vegetarian, and kosher. While I admittedly don’t care about any of those things, there are many to whom those things are very important. What matters to me is the flavor. It also doesn’t hurt that this soup is incredibly easy to make. Unlike many of the products I’ve tested along the way for CRAFT, this soup couldn’t be simpler. PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT: The Matzo Project © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.