Warm up with Great Chicken Soup Cook-Off
The Temple Beth Tikvah Sisterhood has a fail-safe formula for warming tummies and hearts.
Every winter, the women's organization invites the community to experience the comforting properties of chicken matzo ball soup during its annual Great Chicken Soup Cook-Off.
This year's event will take place 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Tikvah, 12411 Park Shadows Trail. The synagogue is located between Armand Bayou Nature Center and the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
For $5, guests earn the right to try competitors' creations, as well as a drink and dessert.
The competition has a sense of the theatrical about it. Participants cook to a theme, and they use costumes and booth dcor to illustrate it. Previous themes over the years have ranged from Jews in Black to Great Balls of Fire.
It's great fun," said event coordinator Joyce Johnson, a Pasadena resident. The food is just, so, so good."
Teams compete in one of two categories: matzo ball or chef's choice chicken soup, which could be noodle, vegetable, rice, tortilla or other creative selections.
Judges will present awards for soup types, and for team spirit and booth design.
The people's choice award is based on guests' votes.
But cooking teams don't have to let this decision go to chance. They can buy votes for every $1 or canned good they contribute to Interfaith Caring Ministries, which operates a food pantry at 151 Park Ave. in League City. Guests can do the same to buy additional votes.
As of last week, eight teams were registered to compete, but they haven't divulged their themes, Johnson said. It's all hush, hush."
Mastering these recipes is no easy task.
There are two kinds of matzo balls," Johnson said. The first kind are golf balls; the others are clouds from heaven."
The secret to light and fluffy matzo balls? Don't put too much pressure on them when you're forming them," Johnson said.
Frequent competitor Jack Sasiene, a League City resident, used to eat his father's matzo ball soup as a boy.
He'd make very, very good matzo balls, but the soup wasn't very good," Sasiene said.
It was Sasiene's drive to create something better that interested him in the cook-off. He has won the event's spirit award during most of his five years of competing.
The year he participated while serving as the temple president, he went with a souper president theme. The booth displayed well-known presidential quotes with a soup spin, including I am not a cook" and I did not stir my soup with that woman!"
Last year, Sasiene and his team presented Magical Mushroom Soup, complete with Beatles music playing in the background.
While he's unwilling to go until great detail about his technique, he does advise cooks to use natural ingredients whenever possible.
The soup has to have texture to it to stimulate the taste buds," he said.
Click here for Joyce Johnson's Chicken Matzo Ball Soup recipe
Click here for more information about the cook-off.
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