The 5th Question: How To Make The Matzah Brei? | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

The 5th Question: How To Make The Matzah Brei?

The 5th Question: How To Make The Matzah Brei?

Fluffy or crunchy, and what about the toppings? 3 creative matzah brei recipes for Passover.

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Digg icon
e-mail icon

Passover’s coming soon, which means there’s gonna be matzo brei on the menu, count on it. This homey dish, like Seder brisket and flourless chocolate cake, has become a kind of culinary rite of Passover passage. It’s understandable. Even though most of us groan about the amount of matzo we consume over the 8-day holiday, we still manage to fill ourselves with unleavened bread in dozens of ways, including matzo brei, the kind of dish we could eat year ‘round, but mostly don’t.

“I don't know why I don't make it all year long,” Amy Kritzer told me. It’s a family favorite for Amy, one of the authors of 4 Bloggers Dish: Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors, and such a simple dish that she started cooking it when she was a young teenager. But she saves the recipe for Passover because otherwise it might “take away from some of the specialness.”

Matzo brei -- special? Yes, particularly for Esti Berkowitz, who has poignant memories of her Dad, patchkeying in the kitchen on Sunday mornings, music blasting in the background, breaking up sheets of matzo and mixing them with eggs; an old banged-up pan waiting on the stovetop, foaming inside with almost a whole stick of butter, eager for matzo brei batter. “My mom said it was like my dad was conducting his own Mahler symphony, the spatula his baton,” Esti remembers, so Passover or not, matzo brei is a mainstay at her house.

At the Fein house, we are also a year-round matzo brei family, but the Passover kind is special anyway. There’s something magical about the first crunch from the newly opened box of Passover matzos that begins the holiday. It’s more than delicious to the tongue; it helps fill the memory bank, year after year. I still remember my grandma cooking the first matzo brei of the holiday season, then my mother, then me, now my daughters. Someday their children.

But one person’s matzo brei is not like another’s. Sure, the basic recipe involves matzos and eggs, fried in fat. But a person can get into a fight over something this simple. For example, in my family we always make it pancake style, thick and fluffy, soft inside and lightly crispy on the surface, cut into wedges, like pizza, for serving. My husband Ed was appalled the first time I cooked that for him, he from a family where the matzo brei was dry and crunchy and all fried up in separate pieces in the pan.

Definitely crunchy says Amy. Ditto for Esti. Oh well. Minds can differ I suppose.

There’s also the question of: plain and old-fashioned or fancy and creative? Additions to the basic batter can be simple ones: a handful of raisins, chopped fresh fruit, chocolate chips or chopped nuts will do, with or without other seasonings such as grated citrus peel, vanilla extract or ground cinnamon. If you prefer, you can make it savory by adding sautéed mushrooms and/or onions, a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes and such. Amy suggests grated cheese (think feta, chevre, mozzarella or cheddar). She also makes a spectacular, company-worthy version that includes both sweet and savory: Matzah Brei with Whipped Greek Yogurt, Blackberry Sauce and Candied Sage, from her soon-to-be-published cookbook, Sweet Noshings.

There are the toppings to consider too. My grandma served matzo brei sprinkled with salt and topped with a big blob of sour cream. Sometimes applesauce. Ed still asks for maple syrup which, for me, belongs on French Toast, not Jewish matzo toast. And Esti told me that it’s Welch’s grape jelly for her gang (and in a pinch, Aunt Jemima syrup).

No, really? Of course you can pour on a rich, sweet sauce, like in Amy’s recipe. Sometimes I make a simple sauce by mixing plain yogurt with honey and a hint of vanilla extract. “Matzo brei is a blank canvas,” Amy says. For all sorts of additions and with “all sorts of awesome sweet or savory toppings.” Have it your way this Passover. There are several here to choose from.
 


Apple-Raisin Matzo Brei with Honey-Vanilla Sauce (Ronnie Fein)

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 6-8 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 matzos
  • hot water
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 medium chopped apple
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon or orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions

  1. Break the matzos into pieces into a bowl. Cover with hot water for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Return the matzos to the bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, salt, apple, raisins, vanilla extract and lemon peel and mix thoroughly.
  4. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, pour the batter into the sauté pan.
  5. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn and fry for another 3-4 minutes.

Honey-Vanilla Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek style plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

     

Matzah Brei with Whipped Greek Yogurt, Blackberry Sauce and Candied Sage (Amy Kritzer)

Prep time: 40 minutes

Inactive prep time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

Tips: You can make the sage leaves up to 2 days ahead of time. Store in one layer in the refrigerator uncovered. You’ll have leftover candied sage. Serve with fish, chicken or (post-Pesach) pasta.

Ingredients

For candied sage:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup water
  • 20 fresh sage leaves

For blackberry sauce:

  • 1 cup blackberries, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine (or water or definitely Manischewitz)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest (I used orange)

For whipped Greek yogurt:

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt (plain or a flavor works too)
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar

For matzah brei:

  • 2 pieces matzah, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • Warm water
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds garnish

Directions

  1. Make your candied sage ahead of time. Set aside a greased cooling rack or wax paper. Bring water and sugar to a boil, and lower to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool completely and brush glaze on sage on both sides and sprinkle with more sugar. Cool on a greased cooling sheet or wax paper 1 hour or until hard. This will depend on factors like humidity. You’ll have extra candied sage, which is delicious with pasta, fish or chicken too.
  3. Then, make your blackberry syrup. Bring blackberries, sugar, wine and/or water and zest to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolved sugar. Lower heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and let cool to room temperature. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
  4. Lastly, make your whipped Greek yogurt topping. Using a hand mixer, whip Greek yogurt and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. The add confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Finally, time for the matzah brei! Break matzah pieces and soak in a small bowl of warm water for 15 seconds and drain. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract, brown sugar and salt and add to matzah.
  6.  Heat a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Once melted, add matzah mixture to the pan and sauté while gently stirring until eggs are set, about 5 minutes.
  7. Divide matzah brei between two plates and garnish with whipped Greek yogurt, blackberry syrup, more blackberries, whipped Greek yogurt, almonds and candied sage.

    A Mahler Inspired Matzo Brei Brunch (Esti Berkowitz)

Prep time: 8-10 minutes

Cooking time: about 6 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 sheets matzos (I use Manischewitz)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water (may need more if you want wetter mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • syrup or grape jelly

Directions

  1. Break up the matzos into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and water together. Add the liquid mixture to the broken matzo pieces. Mix all together for 5-6 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the matzo brei batter and cook for about 3 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the mixture and cook on the second side for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve while hot with syrup or Welch's Grape Jelly.

     

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at #RonnieVFein.

Join The Discussion