Matzah Brei

I said I was going to post this recipe last week and now that Passover has almost ended, I’d better actually post it. Matzah brei is, essentially, french toast made with matzah instead of bread. Everyone has their own way of making it. Some like it eggier, while others like it more matzah-y. I didn’t know this until recently, but some people even eat it with syrup or jam, like you would with french toast. My family, true to our love of salt, has always prepared a savory version. The recipe I’m posting is for just one or two servings (one for me), but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled as necessary.

Matzah Brei

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 pieces of matzah (regular works best, but I sometimes use whole wheat or bran if I’m feeling the need to be healthier)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. oil

Beat the eggs and salt together in a low, wide bowl. Run the matzah under water just long enough to dampen each side. (You don’t want it to fall apart in your hands!) Crumble the matzah into the eggs; I usually do this by breaking it in half, then quarters, etc. until I have pieces that are no more than an inch long or wide. Mix the egg and matzah together to make sure that the matzah soaks up as much egg as possible.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Once the oil spreads easily, add the egg and matzah mixture, making sure that it is spread around the pan and will cook evenly.

You should only need to cook each side for a minute or two for the egg to cook.

And that’s it! You can add more salt if you want. I’d also add some fruit or something, because matzah has zero fiber…

Asparagus, mushroom, and leek frittata with goat cheese

This is a super easy recipe that I decided to make for the first night of Passover (minus the goat cheese, but I think it really adds something). It turned out really well and I’ll definitely be making this recipe again.

This recipe requires the use of a cast iron pan, which is pretty much the only pan that can go from stovetop to oven. If you don’t have one, you can get them used for a decent price…and used is probably better when it comes to cast iron as older pans are generally of better quality. If you’ve never used your pan before, it’s best to season it first, which is essentially heating oil in it until the oil polymerizes, leaving a thin layer bonded to the metal. Seasoning a cast iron skillet is quite easy. First, please the skillet on your stove over a medium high flame. Once it has heated slightly, add about 1-2 tsp of oil (any will work, but I like vegetable oil) and use a paper towel to spread it in an even layer around the inside of the pan. Allow the pan to heat until it just starts to smoke, then turn off and allow to cool. Once the pan has cooled sufficiently, wipe it down again, to remove any oil that has not polymerized.

Now to make the frittata!

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Asparagus, mushroom, leek frittata

  • 1 cup asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
  • 8 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (+/-) sunflower oil

Heat the oil over medium high in your cast iron skillet. Add the asparagus, leeks, and mushrooms. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt together in a medium bowl. When the vegetables are soft, add the eggs and stir slightly to mix. Spread the goat cheese evenly throughout the skillet. Reduce temperature to medium and allow to cook until the edges start to set, about 10 minutes.

While the frittata is cooking stovetop, preheat your oven to broil. When the edges have started to set, move the frittata to the oven and broil for five minutes. Keep a close eye on it! It’s very easy to overcook at this point because the temperature is so high.

When the frittata has just started to brown on top, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

What I’m eating for Passover

Tonight marks the first night of Passover. If you’re not familiar with this holiday, The Boston Globe did a nice overview this year. The important thing to know is that for eight days (starting at sundown the night before the first day), Jews are not supposed to eat chametz, or leavened breads made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt. Instead, we can eat matzah, which is made from any of the previously-mentioned grains, but under close supervision by a rabbi to ensure that it remains unleavened.

Traditionally, Ashkenazi Jews (those of us with recent roots primarily in central and eastern Europe) also avoid eating foods categorized as kitniyot, such as  legumes, beans, peas, rice, millet, corn, and seeds (mustard, sesame, and poppy, for example). This prohibition on kitniyot finds its origins in a very common tradition among Ashkenazim called “fencing.” Essentially, Medieval rabbis created fences around prohibited behaviors, so that not only would people not engage in those behaviors, but they would not engage in behaviors that could even be mistaken for those that are prohibited. Because many of the foods considered kitniyot expand when cooked (even without the addition of a leavening agent) and because they can be ground down into flour that could be baked into products that closely resemble chametz, the rabbis decided that they should be avoided altogether. Jewish communities outside of central and eastern Europe do not follow this custom.

Within the past few years, rabbis from the Reform and Israeli Conservative movements have issued responsa (opinions) stating that Ashkenazi Jews should feel free to eat kitniyot during Passover. This works out well for me, since, though my family is Ashkenazi, my mother started eating kitniyot about 15 years ago anyway. Though I don’t eat much kitniyot anyway, for the purposes of this post, a few of the meal options will contain foods that some Jews won’t eat on Passover.

Breakfast

I was most worried about breakfast because I eat oatmeal most morning and obviously, that’s out. Manischewitz makes a kosher for Passover (KP) hot cereal, but it’s basically just cream of wheat (not especially nutritious) and I can’t find it anywhere in stores or online. Luckily, I recently discovered that there is a product called quinoa flakes and that they can be used to make hot cereal. Unfortunately, you’re not going to find strictly KP quinoa flakes, but I’m not super strict, so these work for me. Another good option would be my breakfast egg-veggie muffins, which contain no grain at all. My absolute favorite Passover breakfast is matzah brei (I’ll post a recipe soon), but it’s really more of a brunch dish, rather than something I could eat during the week. Of course, yogurt is an option as well.

Lunch

Recently, I’ve been eating whole wheat pita sandwiches for lunch, usually with either roasted turkey or turkey bologna (both from Applegate Farms because they don’t add nitrates). In the past, I’ve used regular whole wheat matzah as crackers, but this year, I discovered Yehuda Light Whole Wheat Bran Matzah and decided to try those. One board of matzah with 2-3 oz. of meat and some fruit on the side is a decent lunch.

Dinner

The traditional Seder dinner (at least in my house) is brisket. Jewish brisket is delicious (and not at all the same is the brisket you get at barbecue restaurants), but not something I’ve ever made myself. Instead, this year I’m making an asparagus, mushroom, and leek frittata. Passover is a spring holiday; the egg on the seder plate represents several things, among them the cycle of life, which begins anew with spring. I thought that it would be nice for the main dish to represent spring and rebirth.

Chag sameach!