matzoh brei

not kosher, but tasty

I first heard of matzoh brei a few years ago, while reading something by Ruth Reichl – I don’t remember what it was any more, but it made an impression on me. A sort of Jewish French toast, a simple mixture of matzoh and egg, fried in butter and topped with syrup, it sounded just like something I would like – but I had never had it or seen it anywhere. My husband, who grew up eating vast quantities of matzoh, didn’t remember ever having it either. And for some reason we never seem to have matzoh on hand.

Then last week I saw the Passover clearance display at the co-op and, on the spur of the moment, decided to grab a cheap box of matzoh. We ate half of it straight with Saint Nectaire cheese (yum), but set aside several pieces for a weekend breakfast. I went looking for recipes and actually had some trouble finding any – none of my Jewish cookbooks included it, but I did find a version in a book called The Good Egg, so I used that – although I upped the egg quantity so there would be a one-to-one egg/matzoh ratio.

Later, I checked online and found Ruth Reichl’s version here. It’s just a bit different from the one I used – in hers you run water over broken matzohs, then scramble them with the egg in the pan, whereas in mine you soak the entire matzoh and then break it up, then fry as a solid cake. When Jon asked his mother, it turned out that she did used to make this occasionally, but her version apparently involves milk. Obviously there’s a certain amount of permitted variation. I think it would also be good as a savory, with herbs and hot sauce. We may need to experiment further.

If you grew up with matzoh brei, how did your family make it?

soggy matzoh

Matzoh Brei

Adapted from The Good Egg by Marie Simmons. Serves two.

  • 3 sheets matzoh
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Place the matzoh in a pan, pour cold water over to cover and let sit 5 minutes. Lift the matzoh out and lay on a clean towel to drain, then carefully transfer to a mixing bowl and break it up loosely. Beat together the eggs and salt and pour them over the matzoh. Stir together.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat, melt the butter. When it bubbles, scrape in the matzoh and egg and flatten into a pancake. Allow to cook several minutes, until the bottom becomes golden and a bit crusty. Break the pancake into sections with a spatula and flip the sections. When cooked on the second side, put the pieces on plates and top with maple syrup.

If you’re not worried about keeping kosher, I recommend pork sausage with this. Or bacon.

mixing matzoh brei

matzoh brei

sausages

Advertisements

octopus hash

baby octopus

I would probably never have thought of making this if it weren’t for the “Tom’s Big Breakfast” at Lola in Seattle. A happy plateful of eggs, potatoes, peppers and octopus, I found it surprisingly delicious. So when we left Gretchen’s the other night with a container of leftover boiled potatoes and steamed baby octopus, I knew that we were going to have octopus hash for breakfast.

octopus hash with an egg

Since the leftovers were all cooked, all I needed to do was roughly chop the potatoes and toss them into a nonstick pan with a little butter and oil, letting them get good and crusty, then stir in the chopped octopus near the end to heat through. With fried eggs on top and a dab of mayonnaise mixed with habañero sauce, the result was extremely good. And very filling.

We gave the octopus heads to the cats. They all thought we were trying to poison them except Mickey, who scarfed everything we gave him. He has excellent taste.

the perfect soft-boiled egg

green egg

It’s no secret that I love fried eggs – I do tend to put them on every possible type of leftover. But I also love boiled eggs, and often have one for breakfast with cereal and a pot of tea.

egg in a cup

Everyone seems to have their own method for boiling eggs, and I have different methods depending on what final result I’m going for. If I want them hard-boiled for making devilled or curried eggs, I use the approach of putting them in cold water, bringing the pot to a boil, then turning it off and letting it sit covered for exactly twelve minutes, then quick-chilling the eggs. But when I’m boiling an egg for breakfast, I want it soft and runny inside, with the white just set.

a perfect egg

Continue reading

savory

tart

Ever since I brought home a tub of leaf lard from Art of the Pie I’ve been itching to use some of it in a savory pie. My chance came this week, as we had a bunch of spinach from Frog’s Song Farm, a bag of mustard and kale greens from Blue Heron, and a wedge of fresh goat feta from Gothberg Farms. If that doesn’t say “savory tart” I don’t know what does.

I began by completely screwing up my pie dough. I usually stick with a part-whole wheat, all-butter crust for my quiches, but I wanted this crust to taste distinctly of lard. Unfortunately I added too much lard, especially given the warmth of the kitchen, and the dough became unwieldy. I ended up patting it into a tart pan with my fingers instead of rolling it out all the way. Then I prebaked it for a few minutes to make sure it would set and not just melt in the pan. It actually worked OK, so I got started on my filling. 

I wanted this to really be about the greens and feta rather than the binder, so instead of following my usual quiche formula I made up something a little different. I blanched the greens in salted boiling water, then squeezed the liquid out and chopped them. I mixed up two eggs, then added the cooled greens, some sauteed shallot, the crumbled feta, a dollop of cream, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. I piled all this into my tart crust and baked it for a while at 375° – sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention, but I think it was about half an hour. Basically, when the egg had set and was beginning to puff up, I called it done.

We let it cool briefly, then carefully (as the crust was very tender) cut wedges and ate them with glasses of chilled rosé. Despite the haphazardness of the preparation, it was really, really good. How about that?

crab and eggs

breakfast

In the annals of putting fried eggs on top of things, this breakfast came very close to perfection. Here’s how to make it.

crab

Take one Dungeness crab, cooked and cleaned.

crabmeat

Pick the meat out and set aside. Put the shell into a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Strain and keep warm.

Continue reading

chips & egg

chips & egg

This is kind of embarrassing, but I can’t deny (and you’ll know this if you’ve been reading for a while) that I will put a fried egg on almost anything. And when you think about it, French fries aren’t that different from hashbrowns, right?

I don’t usually bring leftover French fries home, but these were special fries. We had lunch at Nell Thorn last weekend, after spending a quiet Sunday morning in La Conner checking out some of the Art’s Alive exhibits. Thinking we’d be restrained and share an order (after downing some incredible oyster shooters), we asked for a single Nell burger with fries and a side salad. Unfortunately for our good intentions, the kitchen cut the burger neatly in half, put each on its own plate and filled in the space around it with fries. And these are Nell Thorn fries, done with local potatoes and herbs and served with spicy house-made ketchup. We ate far too many, then just had to take the rest home. And, of course, ate them for breakfast. What would you have done?

bacon and egg pizza

bacon & egg pizza

It was serendipitous, really. We were already planning pizza for dinner, but hadn’t given much thought to the toppings; usually we just go with tomato sauce, pepperoni and sliced olives if nothing else is really calling to us, and we always have those on hand.

In the nick of time, though, I saw a tweet from Michael Ruhlman about a homemade pizza topped with bacon, egg and asparagus. It looked amazing, and I thought, “Why have I never thought of putting bacon on a pizza? What have I been doing with my brain all this time?” Plus I adore eggs on pizza (especially with bitter greens, like one I tasted at Serious Pie), but I haven’t ever gotten the hang of it. It was time to try again.

I did my usual crust, because I still think it’s one of the best ever – just a little whole wheat, and plenty of crunch without being crackery. I like to transfer the rolled-out crust to a hot pizza stone and top it right there on the hot oven rack, which takes a bit of quick work and gets you all hot and bothered, but is much easier than trying to move a fully loaded pizza. We didn’t have any asparagus, but we did have some diced tomato left over from last week’s kebabs, so I tossed that on with the lightly sauteed bacon lardons. After five minutes I added a raw egg and let it bake another ten minutes.

It ended up being a little overdone, due to my apparent inability to tell the difference between a nicely baked-but-still-runny egg and a completely raw one – next time, I’ll take it out sooner. But it was still a swell pizza, chewy and cheesy and bacon-y. It looked so good we had to cut into it while it was still molten from the oven, and burned ourselves extremely thoroughly – ouch. It was totally worth it though. We’ll be doing this again.

the curried egg

hidden egg

For those who have not had a large Rubbermaid container of leftover curried eggs to work through this week, and are therefore not completely burned out on them, here’s a recipe (I omitted to include it in my Easter brunch report, obviously a mistake).

Ideally, this should be done with freshly found Easter eggs, wet with dew, delivered to the kitchen by victorious children, anxious to get back out into the fray. The finished dish will be ready by the time all the hunting is done, assuming you’ve begun the prep beforehand.

If you have no children or Easter eggs available, however, you can boil eggs just for this purpose. You could even make them sometime other than Easter. I won’t tell. Continue reading

Easter brunch

mosaic2176877

We had a rather fabulous Easter brunch (I say modestly) at our house yesterday. It was an excellent way to spend the morning, since the day turned out aggressively wet and windy. Not good egg-hunting weather.

hard boiled eggs
curried eggs

Curried eggs, from the original Vegetarian Epicure, are a must in our family for Easter. They’re some trouble to make, but worth the effort. The eggs are stuffed with their own yolks, which are mixed with sour cream, fresh dill and sauteed mushrooms. The devilled eggs are then baked in a curried bechamel sauce with a sprinkling of paprika.

sour cream coffeecake
coffeecake

Jon made his sour cream coffeecake, which turned out spectacularly well. Continue reading