My weekend was filled with long walks, frigid wind, taking my trike out for the inaugural ride of 2015(!), eating far too many Cadbury mini eggs, and matzo brei. A typical Easter/Passover weekend. My mom converted to Judaism when she married my dad, so growing up, we had a fairly normal, suburban, Jewish home, filled with dreidels and shabbos candles. The only bit of cross-pollination that remained from my mother’s Catholic upbringing was the Easter basket. On Easter morning, my sister and I would wake up to a pastel basket, overflowing with multicolored straw, and egg-shaped chocolates nestled throughout. They were a delight!
And you know what else is a delight, but for different reasons? Matzo brei! It’s one of the many dishes that Jews will eat during the week after Passover (this year it’s right around Easter) when eating anything leavened is forbidden.
Typically, matzo brei is matzo, crushed then softened in hot water, and scrambled in eggs– very simple, and very quick. It can be eaten on the savory side (fry some caramelized onion with the eggs and serve with sour cream), or the sweet (sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar with a side of apple sauce). Some people say that matzo brei is the sort of food that one has to grow up with in order to truly like. It’s true that it doesn’t sound like much– and that’s because it’s not. Like a bowl of rice (another forbidden Passover food), it is perfectly bland, subtle, and could be mistaken for baby food.
The kind of matzo brei that I most prefer, uses the same ingredients, it is how they are handled that differs. I make a sort of pancake from the batter, not the typical hard scramble. The matzo is soft and swollen, and the egg acts as a binder. Fried in oil and butter, the brei gets golden around the edges with a casual chew. You can have this matzo brei either sweet or savory. I had a tired basket of strawberries in the fridge so I made a compote from them. Waste not, want not!
I made matzo brei to celebrate Passover, but this dish one of those meals that’s made year round at my house.
Depending on appetites, the general rule for matzo brei is one egg and one sheet of matzo per person. Believe it or not, I find those swollen sheets of matzo quite filling.
2 sheets of matzo
large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flavorless oil, like canola
1 tablespoon butter
Makes 2 servings, 6 pancakes
In a colander, or sieve, crush the matzo into pies about 1 inch square. You want some irregularity in the size. Run the colander under hot water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the matzo is softened and swollen. Shake the colander of excess water, gently pressing the matzo.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Season with the salt, and then add the matzo.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the oil, and melt the butter. Spoon in the matzo brei batter, like you would pancakes. Depending on size, the recipe should make 6 pancakes. Cook until golden brown at edges, about 2 minutes. Flip, and continue to cook on the other side until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Remove from pan, and serve with apple sauce, sour cream, or compote.