Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Don't Pass This Matzoh Brei Over

Many Jewish celebrations and observances are home-centered and food-obsessed. Passover is one of the biggies. One of its practices is not eating leavened bread (among other things) for eight days. One person in my congregation joked "that shouldn't be hard, look at all the people on Atkins."

But the holiday is a lot more than subbing matzoh for your morning muffin.

For some it is a harvest festival, a celebration of Spring.
For others it is a story of miracles and a reaffirmation of G-d.
For still others it is a history lesson and a link to Jews past and future.
For many it is political call to action and a reminder that freedom from oppression is an on-going issue.
For most it is a time for family and friends with special foods and special memories.

Do you, your family or your friends have any special celebrations, customs or Passover "habits" you'd like to share? If so, please leave a comment below (or email me through my profile) and I'll summarize them in a future post. If you have any questions about the holiday, leave those there as well.

Here's my recipe for a Custard Matzoh Brei. It is based on my custard French toast recipe, which was featured in this post from White Trash BBQ.

Whatever your holiday is this week, may peace and happiness be yours.

Blog Appetit's Custard Matzoh Brei

This recipe is adapted from one given to me for pain perdu when I was in New Orleans. Pain perdu, or “lost bread,” quickly became my family’s favorite French toast recipe and now this version is their favorite for matzo brei. We even have one cousin who tries to visit during Passover so he can have this treat.

This can be a very rich dish if you make it with whole milk, but you can cut some of the fat by using fat-free milk (which is what I usually do). You could also replace the eggs with egg substitute.

Since I make this different every time I prepare it, feel free to make your own changes.

For four-to-five servings

10 whole matzoh
Four eggs, beaten
One-quarter to one-half cup sugar (or more or less to taste)
Two cups of whole, low fat or fat-free milk
Tsp. of vanilla extract (kosher for Passover)
2 tsp. grated orange rind (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Grating (or dash) of nutmeg
1 tbsp. butter (or more as needed for the frying pan)
Cinnamon Sugar (optional)

Soak whole matzohs in a large bowl filled with warm water until just softened. (For a crisper matzo brei, just rinse and drain, do not soak.)
Drain well and break into small pieces in a large bowl.
In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, orange rind, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and beat to mix well.
Pour over soaked and drained matzoh. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow matzo to absorb some of the custard mixture. Stir the mixture occasionally.

Heat butter in a very large frying pan over medium heat. Add matzoh mixture and fry. (If too much for one pan, cook in batches and keep warm in a 250-degree oven. Be sure the matzoh brei has room to fry not steam in the pan. If you will be holding the matzo brei for any time, slightly undercook it so it won’t dry out.)

Let the matzoh brei mixture set in the hot pan for a minute or two then use your spatula to break it into chunks and turn. Keep turning and breaking up the matzoh brei every one to two minutes for a few more times until the custard mixture is absorbed but the matzoh is still moist.

(You could also add it to the pan in three-inch diameter dollops, which you could cook as individual pancakes.)

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Serve by itself or with maple syrup, jam or other toppings.
Photo Credit: Microsoft

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