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 BrieMatzoh, 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!

Matzoh BrieMatzoh BrieMatzoh BrieMatzoh Brie

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!

Matzoh Brie

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.

Matzoh Brie

21 Responses to “Matzoh’s on the Menu”

  1. Sam Sidney says:

    Thanks for the mention… I feel honored. And I would LOVE to try it with Lox… heaven! I saw some at the market yesterday and wasn’t sure what to eat it with, I should have gotten some to have with a little matza brie. Remind me to try it again next year!

  2. Steve says:

    Great stuff! Love the personal touch, and especially that sentimentality at the end. Awesome pictures too. And matzoh brie aside, i’d recommend the grilled cheese “sandwiches” on matzoh too. Matzoh is alot more versatile than people think. And Sam, you don’t have to wait until next year. You can eat matzoh any time you’d like.

  3. Kerrin says:

    Sam, thanks again for the ideas. I’ll skip the first batch with salt though, and go right to the one with jam ! I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow morning… !

    And Steve’s right… matzoh works all year round. And matzoh brie works all day long too – dinner anyone ?! 🙂

  4. Sarah says:

    I was always an egg and onion matzoh girl myself. Put it in the microwave for ten seconds and run a stick of salted butter over the top. Yum!

    I used to be obsessed with lox when I was a little girl; I used to get SO absurdly excited about going to the bagel bakery and getting, if I recall, an everything bagel with cream cheese, lox, capers and onions. I’m getting a little excited about it now except I’m at home sick without the energy to go anywhere. But when I do… 🙂

  5. Kelleyn says:

    What is on a Passover Seder? I know that there is something to do with the Matzoh and then I have heard something to do with apples and walnut, but other than that I do not know. It would be fun to teach my children about the passover even though we are not Jewish.

  6. Lani says:

    Passover for me is all about family….and making and eating matzoh brie made with love. Yes, I am a salt person! Love the smell of cooking matzoh but I do love either putting butter or cream cheese on top. Matzoh is addicting…you can’t stop once you get started. I so loved the idea about putting the recipe on your blog in your Grandfather’s handwriting….it was wonderful!

  7. marina villatoro says:

    yummmmmmmmmmm!!!!! i love matzah. once again, the shipment to costa rica for passover was way too limited and i think they ran out of matzah after the first person bought it. i couldn’t find any of it anywhere! i tell my folks to stock up and save it for us when we go to visit them in NYC.
    The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

  8. Solo Road Trip says:

    I commented on the matzah brei one post too soon! Here it is in all its glory! Brings me to my knees I tell ya. Isn’t it interesting the different spellings for both matzah (matzoh) and brei (brie, bry)? LOVE this sort of thing. And how wonderful to have the recipe in your Grandfather’s hand. — Tammie

  9. Alexander says:

    It sure looks fantastic!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. 😀

    Alex’s World! –

  10. Alexander says:

    It sure looks good. Thanks for the recipe 😀

  11. jen laceda says:

    I’ve never really tried matzah. I guess this would be a great time to do it. Happy Passover!

  12. Uncle Beefy says:

    Okay, Kerrin…I’m a little upset with you. You cannot mention whitefish salad around me! It makes my mouth instantly water and now people at work are asking me about the river running from my lower lip! Plus I live on a little island where I have no access to whitefish salad! UGH! The torture! 😉

    Will have to give this a try! Especially if my partner converts to Judaism I’m going to have to brush up on my Jewish culinary repertoire since I’m the cook in the family! But I’ve been told I make a pretty mean Kugel. So not too bad for the Irish Catholic guy! 😉

    I’ll let you know how this turns out for me! Oooh…but I need your grandmother’s phone number! 😉

  13. Kerrin says:

    Sarah, matzoh in the microwave… really? Even though Passover just ended, I have to try that! Meanwhile, I hope you are no longer home sick, and you’ve already treated yourself to that delicious and nostalgic bagel & lox !

    Kelleyn, great question. Whether you are asking about what is on the official Seder plate (including haroset, which is the apple and nut mixture you’re referring to), or what is typically on a Passover seder table, here’s a great site to look at with your children. Tons of information, every question answered for sure and loads of fun stuff for kids. Recipes too:

    Lani, I could not agree more. Passover – and all Jewish holidays – are about family for me. Traditions. Family recipes. Glad you enjoyed this post. And I also totally agree with you that matzoh with butter is certainly addicting! 😉

    Marina, I am sorry you could not find matzoh in Costa Rica. But one thing’s for sure, you’ll have no problem stocking up in NYC next year! Good idea to put your parents on the mission!

    Uncle Beefy, my apologies. If only I knew about your true love (read: obsession!) for whitefish salad! Seems that we’ve got a serious barter in the works… your delectable cupcakes versus my matzoh buttercrunch. And now I’ve upped the ante with whitefish salad! 🙂 How about you throw in your Kugel recipe too?! I bet you do make a mean one, and I’d love to try it! How fascinating that your partner might convert to Judaism. Looking forward to following along in your Jewish culinary discoveries then… Oh, and even without my grandmother’s phone number, how did your matzoh brie turn out?? Do let us know…

  14. Stéphanie says:

    Merci de partager tout ça!!!! Je vais devenir incollable sur la culture juive :d
    La recette de ta mamie…. j’adore!!!!

  15. Rachel Sztul says:

    Nothing makes me happier than my father’s Matzah Bri! Even though it is the only thing he cooks, it is amazing!
    I always need my sweet, very sweet!
    Enjoy your next trip!

  16. Robert Aguilera says:

    I did not grow up with matzah, but you get to know it quick in the Boston suburb of Brookline. Anywho, your recipes for matzah brie give me reason to think of a dish I did grow up with that uses left-over tortilla chips from the last evenings fiesta. It’s called “chilequiles”, and it is basically the leftover tortilla chips added to caramelized onions and garlic in a skillet, smothered with jack cheese and then a smooth & spicy chile sauce that gives it a kick. Sometimes ground beef is added to the mix, but it is a matter of preference. I think matzah could stand in for the tortilla chips here, but that’s just me. What do you think?

  17. Catherine M. says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Makes me miss New York and the Jewish diners I used to frequent…..

  18. Danielle says:

    Love your grandfather’s hands in the pictures… and his hand-written recipe! So sweet and special.

  19. Jamie says:

    That is soooo lovely and sweet and funny. What great grandparents you have and apparently a wonderful couple! Mazel Tov!

  20. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I just adore the handwritten recipe. What a treasure that is!

    So I definitely MUST try this recipe. I’m not sure if I’d go sweet or savoury. I would have to taste test maple syrup, cinnamon sugar, and smoked salmon – separately, of course. Do you eat this with salmon and cream cheese (giggled at the tub of Temp Tee in the shot – that was my favourite whipped cream cheese in the US!).

    When you soak the Matzoh, how soft is it before cooking?

  21. Jonell Galloway says:

    What a lovely piece, Kerrin. “Call your grandmother to ask her when to add Love.”

    Love is such an important element of good food. Food that is cooked with love will always taste better to us, and that in turn gives you a stronger psychological and emotional base.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

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