A couple of days ago I had a crazy day. Organizing a move and the paperwork that inevitably goes along with it – this is France after all – is stressful. After all the times I’ve moved, six different states and one country not to mention countless apartment, I should have a system memorized like instrument fingerings. But no. It’s as hectic now as it was the first time I filled my old Toyota Corolla up with everything I owned and drove off to university for my first fall semester.
These are the times when it’s good to find comfort where I can. I like to listen to Bach, an old habit given to me by an oboe teacher, read books I’ve read a thousand times before, and make some of my favorite dishes. Everyone has their favorite comfort foods. I think we can all agree that a fresh, homemade macaroni and cheese works wonders for the soul. As do warm, gooey, perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Spicie Foodie happened to bring up one of her favorite comfort foods from childhood. Mexican Green Beans with Eggs. Not only does it sound wonderful and perfect for summer, but it got me thinking about the foods my mother used to make for me that I particularly loved as a child. One of those was Matzo Brei.
Matzo Brei (pronounced like fry) is traditionally served during Passover week when the eating of leavened breads is forbidden. It’s a simple dish of Matzo and eggs and my mom liked to make it sweet, sprinkling it with a bit of sugar to have as a breakfast treat during the week.
I hadn’t thought of Matzo Brei in years. I must admit that until I was about 15 I thought the name for it was Matzo Bride and spent many a naïve childhood Passover musing over why it was called bride and making up stories to myself about women in white dresses eating it before their wedding ceremony.
The dish itself has been described as a Jewish version of French toast. That doesn’t sit right with me, because I loved my matzo brei scrambled, a towering mash on my plate glistening with sugar crystals slowly absorbing themselves into the egg and matzo. It’s possible to make it pretty, round, perfectly layered, omelet like. But why? Comfort food, in my mind, is best served the way we remember it as children.
It’s a relatively recent dish to Jewish cuisine and it hasn’t changed much from its inception. While researching this blog post a bit, I found this tidbit from the Jewish Daily Forward that made me smile.
According to the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” the common brei recipe — soaked matzo dipped in egg and pan-fried — can be traced back to the late 19th century — or in Jewish terms, last week. (Article by Gordon Haber)
But while the base recipe is simple and unchanged, the variations are endless.
As soon as I recalled my fond memories of matzo brei, I knew that I had to make some. But I didn’t want to make it for breakfast when I can’t even handle making coffee for myself without spilling beans and water everywhere. Thank God for my coffee pot’s timer. So I though I revere matzo brei with sugar, I created a savory dish for dinner.
The base recipe: matzo soaked in water, drained, and then mixed with beaten eggs.
My additions: wild mushrooms and Munster cheese.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little voice said “I don’t think cheese and eggs are kosher” but this is my dish and after the crazy day I’d had, and looking toward the crazier days to come, I wanted something that would put a smile on my face and in my tummy.
And it did.
The husband, who had never had matzo brei or even matzo before, was watching me curiously. He inspected the matzo box and tasted a bit saying it would be good with salted butter. He was probably dreaming about sausage on top. But he declared the savory matzo brei a success and I promised to make him the sweet version sometime soon so he could have a taste of my childhood memories.
- 2 large matzo
- 2 eggs
- 50g Munster cheese
- ½ cup frozen mushrooms*
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl break up the matzo into small, irregular pieces. Cover with hot water and let sit for one minute. Drain the water. Add eggs and beat together until well mixed. Add cheese, beat again. Salt and pepper if you like.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook your mushrooms. Add the matzo mixture and cook for about 6-8 minutes on medium heat the way you would scrambled eggs. Add some olive oil and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve.