Rhen, a commenter from Israel, asked me for kubeh recipes. Kubeh, or kibbeh, is the name of the little meatballs, often torpedo shaped, that are made with a bulghur wheat crust and cuminy meat filling. They are a Syrian and Lebanese specialty. I am about as Ashkenazi as they come, so I don't have any special kibbeh insights! Nevertheless I am going to try to be as helpful as possible, because...I don't know. Once when I was in Israel, maybe a dozen years ago, I watched the children's TV program Zehu Zeh, and they did this extended schtick about creatures from outer space who crave kibbeh. (Or perhaps they pronounced it "kubeh.") It was sort of like the extended "egg salad so good you could plotz" device in the movie What's Up Tiger Lily but, you know, no Yiddish.
Anyway, this is a perfect opportunity for me to recommend a new cookbook.
Jennifer Abadi is my age, a New Yorker, and she wrote the book with her aging grandmother. The
grandmother died right before the book came out. It was really apposite for me to read this after my grandma's death this year. The book was a present from a friend of my parents who was thinning her cookbook collection and who also passed away shortly after she gave me the book. She was young, in her 60s, and I knew her pretty much my whole life.
The book also made me think of Walter Zenner, a sociologist who mainly studied the Syrian Jewish community in New York. He passed away in 2003. He was a professor at SUNY Albany and was friendly with my in-laws. I had learned a lot of the stuff about Syrian Jews in the book from a talk Walter gave at the Association for Jewish Studies at a session celebrating his life's work. It is really cool to read the same things he observed as a social scientist, in the voice of a 30-something Jewish woman who is an insider.
Maybe the Woody Allen movie title I should have cited was Love and Death. Food is nostalgic and it is almost always associated with loss. Okay okay, kibbeh is not one of those foods for me! It's just weird the the cookbooks can also be associated with loss!
Jennifer Abadi has a classic kibbeh recipe that she got from her familiy--she has a beef filling, a turkey filling and a vegetarian potato-spinach filling. I am not going to give you her recipe, because I think there is too much detail, it violates her copyright, and anyway you will like the book. She gives an alternate recipe for a kibbeh pie, which might be a good bet.
Claudia Roden also has a kibbeh recipe and many details in her Book of Jewish Food. The Syrian Jews call them kibbeh, the Iraqi and Kurdish Jews say kubba and the Egyptians call them kobeba. Claudia Roden says they are all about skill. It's not easy to mold the shells with your fingers and to stuff them without having them fall apart. If you are in Israel, you shouldn't be asking me, an Ashkenazi Jew in the States, for kibbeh advice. You should find your closest Syrian Jewish grandma and bring along a video camera and make a video for her family of people making kibbeh. I did find one of Claudia Roden's kibbeh recipes posted online on an Islamic website. You should also check out the kibbeh recipes on this page of Middle Eastern Jewish recipes of the Jewish-food.org site. I am sorry that I don't know enough about kubeh/kibbeh/kobeba to know which one to recommend. My guess is the Aleppo one since the Syrians think their food is the best. Like Hungarians -- right, DK?
(Hey, coolbeans, did you see that there is a zucchini SOUP recipe? Is that crazy or what? It sounds pretty good, though! Good for your zucchini collection. I'm sure it's still a live issue!)