I hate Passover. Most of my favorite foods are forbidden, and in their place we get matzo, the original flatbread. Stick to the roof of your mouth matzo. Crumbs all over your shirtfront matzo. Halt all intestinal activity matzo. Oh, I’ll admit, for the first day or two it’s kind of fun to eat a special food, one that you’d never even think of eating the rest of the year—but the reason you’d never eat it the rest of the year is that just this one week is enough to turn you off the stuff for the other 51. The only saving grace of this cardboardy so-called food is that it’s the main ingredient in matzo brei.
When I was a kid, my grandparents would usually come down from Newton, MA, for the seders, which meant that in the mornings we’d have Grandpa’s matzo brei. He’d pull out the giant yellow frying pan (the dairy, kosher-for-Passover one—my parents are observant so they have separate dishes, pots & pans, etc, that get hauled out for one week of the year) and start cooking before we kids were out of bed. We’d wake up to the alluring aroma of melting butter, and know that a treat was imminent. Buttery, eggy, soft with crispy edges, with just the slightest salty undertone playing off the hint of cinnamon, Grandpa’s matzo brei was heaven. My brothers would slather sour cream all over theirs—the smell of it was enough to make me gag—but I’d eat mine with strawberry jam.
The version I make is true to his in spirit, but modified for both my weight-watching needs and S’s cholesterol-watching ones. This morning I woke up earlier than usual and couldn’t get back to sleep—all I could think about was making matzo brei. I let S slumber as long as I could bear to wait, until I finally kissed him gently to rouse him, then whispered: “I’m going to make some matzo brei now. Do you want any?” He nodded, then dozed while I cooked. When it was nearly ready, I rushed back into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, fairly giddy with excitement. “The matzo brei is ready! The matzo brei is ready!” I couldn’t stop bouncing. S isn’t Jewish, so he didn’t exactly share my enthusiasm, but he’s a good husband so he got out of bed and joined me.
It was wonderful. While I ate I sang a little matzo brei song to myself, something along the lines of “Matzo brei, matzo brei, matzo brei.” I plan to eat it every day this week. Of course, by Wednesday I’ll probably realize cooking breakfast before going to work isn’t exactly practical…
Weight Watchers readers: this version is 5 points per serving. DO NOT make the matzo brei recipe on WW’s web site. It’s so far from being actual matzo brei it’s practically criminal.
1 t. butter
3 boards of matzo, broken into 1-2” pieces
6 egg whites
1 whole egg
¼ cup milk [I use 1%]
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon to taste [I probably use about 1 t.]
In a large nonstick frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Put matzo pieces in a bowl large enough to hold them comfortably, and pour cold water over—not enough to submerge them fully, just enough to moisten them. The idea is not to create soggy matzo, it’s just to loosen it up a bit.
Let it sit for a few seconds (not more than 10-20), then drain.
Add drained matzo to the frying pan and let it cook, undisturbed, for a minute or two. Stir it around to expose the other side to the pan’s surface, and let cook another minute or two. The idea here is to get most of that water you just added to cook out. Don’t ask me why we wet the matzo and then dry it out again, but it does something wonderful to the texture. While the matzo’s frying, put the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip with a fork, as you would for scrambled eggs or French toast. Pour this mixture over the matzo in the pan, and let it cook undisturbed for a minute or two.
When the egg begins to set, stir the mixture around and let it cook for another minute or two. Repeat this process until the matzo brei is no longer shiny and the eggs are cooked through—you don’t want to break it up too much by stirring it around a lot, so try to just let it sit as much as possible. Serve immediately, with jam or sour cream.