Matzoh’s on the Menu
A trip to New York City? To me, that usually means City Bakery, William Greenberg, Billy’s Bakery and bagels, of course. But not this time around. That will have to wait for the next transatlantic trip when it’s not Passover, the Jewish holiday when we avoid all leavened foods. Yet if there is but one reason to be in New York right now, it’s simple: my grandfather’s matzoh brei.
Matzoh, those dry, cracker-like squares we resort to instead of bread, get dressed up and disguised in all shapes and forms. My favorite is matzoh buttercrunch and especially my latest creation, in ice cream sundaes. My other favorite is soaked in eggs and fried like French toast or scrambled up like the eggs it’s mixed with. That’s matzoh brei. Some people like it savory, some sweet. (You can all guess my preference, I am sure!) From one pan of matzoh brei, you can have a dozen different plates on the table. My mother is of the salt and pepper camp. My grandfather eats his with lox (smoked salmon). My grandmother, plain. When my sister and I were little, we would make big bowls of cinnamon and sugar and pour (more accurate than sprinkle) that on top. I have since upgraded to pure maple syrup, my father’s first choice as well. A friend of mine just told me how she had it for breakfast this past weekend, first batch with salt, second with jam. There are no rules. Just as long as it tastes good!
If my family is having matzoh brei, we all know who will be breaking the matzoh and mixing up the eggs. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my grandfather’s recipe and will always be. I don’t think he actually makes it very different than other families do, perhaps a personal touch here or there. It’s rather simple: First he breaks up the matzoh. He gives it a fast soak in lukewarm water (those are his hands above). Next, he’ll whisk some eggs together with a touch of milk. He’ll pour that over the matzoh pieces and make sure they all get nicely coated, turning with his mini silver fork. That bowl is then passed over to my grandmother, who is ready and waiting at the stovetop. She’ll already have the pan real hot, butter sizzling away and her new favorite wooden spatula in hand. Kosher salt at the ready too. She’ll fry the matzoh for a few minutes, turning every now and then. And to the table it then goes, where me and my family are ready too, with forks and knives in hand, that is! Matzoh brei will be joined by the plate of dry matzoh as well, lox, whitefish salad, cream cheese, crudites, salt and pepper… and don’t forget the maple syrup for me too!
Below you’ll see the recipe my grandfather wrote for me years back. I am sharing that with you, but there’s one thing that I cannot share. You’ll notice the last line in his recipe: “call your grandmother to ask her when to add Love.” So there you have it, perhaps the key to his famous matzoh brei. And I thought it was the maple syrup that made it so sweet! I suppose you’ll have to give the first 9 steps at home a try and see how it comes out. You can add different toppings… and your own dose of love too. Let me know how you like it best.