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

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Matzoh ball soup with celery root

celery root

We got our first celery root (also called celeriac) of the season at Dunbar Gardens last week! Possibly the ugliest and least edible looking vegetable around, but it has a beautiful, delicate celery flavor. I love what it does for chicken soup, especially matzoh ball soup.

I didn’t have matzoh growing up – I don’t think I even saw it until I went to a seder in California when I was 21 (yes, I was the youngest person there – I got to read the questions!) So I don’t have many preconceived notions of what matzoh ball soup should be like – I know it’s traditionally just carrots, chicken stock and matzoh balls, but I like my soup to have a little more oomph. So I generally put chicken meat in, and usually celery root for flavor and peas or spinach for color. For the balls, I just follow the recipe on the box – matzoh meal, eggs, oil, seltzer and salt, mix with a fork, leave in the fridge for an hour while you get the soup going. No big secret family recipe. Unless my family wants to give me one, of course…

prepping celery root

Note about cutting up celery root: it’s so knobbly and hairy that it doesn’t pay to be overly careful. I just whack the edges off so it becomes a sort of cube, then dice from there. Continue reading