Passover Recipe: Fried Matzo with Cinnamon-Sugar (AKA Matzo Brei)

Fried Matzo with Cinnamon Sugar

Fried Matzo with Cinnamon-Sugar

It’s amazing how something that tastes so awful can so easily be doctored into something that tastes so good. That’s matzo for you.

Eaten plain, matzo tastes like cardboard – completely bland and dry – but smear on a little butter and suddenly it becomes a delicious snack.

Fried matzo: soak matzo Fried matzo: drain matzo

So, if butter can transform cardboard into something edible, just imagine what eggs and sugar could do to it? Now you’ve got a truly delectable meal: fried matzo (AKA matzo brei).

This traditional breakfast dish is a staple in most Jewish homes during Passover, and in deli’s year-round. I’ve always eaten it sweet but have recently heard about savory versions with lox and cream cheese. I guess I’ll just have to try that next…

Fried matzo: add vanilla to eggs Fried Matzo: whisk cinnamon with eggs and vanilla

My first reaction when I made fried matzo this year was that it was a little too eggy, but afterwards I changed my mind and decided I liked it this way. The recipe calls for a 1 to 1 ratio of eggs to matzo, but feel free to add a bit more matzo if you prefer.

Also, I like to top mine with cinnamon-sugar (leftover from the very mandelly mandel bread) or just plain sugar, although maple syrup and honey are popular alternatives.

Fried matzo: mix matzo with eggs Fried matzo: frying

Finally, I cook the fried matzo in butter because I avoid margarine at all costs (it’s a personal choice), but it’s okay to substitute margarine if you need to for religious reasons. Read more of this >>

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Passover Recipe: Asparagus & Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Asparagus & Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Asparagus & Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Passover is one of my favorite holidays, not as much for the religious aspect as for the feeling of tradition and togetherness as the extended family sits down for a meal together. My family isn’t very religious and our Seders are quick – never more than 20 minutes (I’ve heard rumors of returning to the table after dinner for a second part but have never experienced that myself) – and are filled with laughter.

Laughing during a religious ceremony? Yeah, we don’t take it too seriously. There’s always a bit of manipulation by the “leader” to make sure that specific “participants” read as the “wicked” or “simple” son, and I always got into the dayenus by leading the whole group in at least two rounds of the song. Not to mention all the fun the kids have searching for the afikoman.

And then there’s the food. I love the Passover meal, not to be confused with the often over-processed, gut-clinging, matzo-based diet many Jews subsist on during the week of Passover. No, I’m talking about the traditional food my family serves during the seder.

There’s always a tender brisket, my mom’s amazing matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, hard-boiled eggs, harosets, apple-matzo kugel, not to mention great desserts (and no, we do NOT serve coconut macaroons or sponge cake – gag!). Delicious food, but very, very heavy.

This year one of the dishes I was assigned was a vegetable side, in addition to harosets and dessert. We’ve never served a salad before, but I thought it would be the perfect way to add a lighter, healthier component to the meal.

I tried to cover all the bases with this salad – something a bit sweet but overall subtle, and I wanted to incorporate asparagus, a spring vegetable that has somehow become synonymous with Passover. The result was a refreshing and filling asparagus and spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette.

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Lemon Yogurt Cake Helps Brighten the Day

Lemon Yogurt Cake

For most of us it seems as though April 15th, AKA tax day, is approaching too fast. But for my sister, Marci, and other family members it couldn’t come soon enough. Pretty much all of them are CPAs (yes, I’m the culinary rebel of the family) and have been working crazy hours since February.

With long days that don’t allow them any actual sunlight, I doubt my sister and her coworkers are eating anything homemade right now, and they truly seem to appreciate any gesture in that direction: two weeks ago I sent Marci to work with cake balls and she and her coworkers are still raving about them!

So, to help make this last week of tax season a bit easier to swallow, I made them a lemon yogurt cake. This brightly-flavored treat has a moist crumb but is light in texture so as not to bog them down, plus there’s just enough sugar to help them get through the day.

Of course, I had to try one small piece just to make sure it was edible – and trust me it was! Oh, how I hated to part with the rest of that cake, but certainly this was a worthy cause.

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Exploring Green Garlic: Pasta & Soup Recipes

Trimmed green garlic

Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of produce available at the indoor farmer’s market yesterday. I had gone in hopes of finding ramps, but instead discovered green garlic.

One of the first crops of the year, I was thrilled to get my hands on this leafy garlic stalk that looks like a cross between a scallion and a baby leek with the root still attached. In reality, the flavor is all garlic but is a bit more subtle and sweet than traditional garlic cloves. To use green garlic, remove the beard (the roots), trim the tough green tops (about 1 inch), and peel away any slimy pieces around the stalk.

Green garlic whole

But what to cook with this treasure? It’s true that green garlic can be used any place you’d use garlic cloves, but I wanted to make something that would highlight the unique flavor of this seasonal delight.

Minced green garlic

I considered a lot of options (garlic chicken, spinach-green garlic soup, salad, etc.), but in the end I decided it was silly to limit myself to just one green garlic dish, so I made two: pasta with green garlic, bacon and Spring vegetables and green garlic and potato soup, a twist on the classic potato-leek soup (or vichyssoise if served cold).

Pasta with Green Garlic, Bacon & Spring Vegetables

The pasta dish is basically a pan sauce with bacon, green garlic, mushrooms and spinach, and can be made in the time it takes to cook the noodles. At the end stir in parmesan cheese and a bit of the cooking liquid, and you’ve got yourself an amazingly fragrant and filling meal. Also, you can use any type of bite-sized pasta, in this instance I chose miniature farfalle.

Green garlic and potato soup

The green garlic and potato soup is just as simple to prepare although it takes a bit longer. But it’s worth the wait for the soup’s thick, creamy texture.

In both recipes the green garlic flavor is subtle yet prominent in that it doesn’t overwhelm the palate, but you definitely know it’s there.

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Recipe: Beet, Grape & Arugula Salad

Beet, Grape & Arugula Salad

Beet, Grape & Arugula Salad

A little sweet, a little peppery, and very, very earthy, this delicious beet, grape and arugula salad is ideal for early spring. It’s simple to make, just be sure to allow enough time for the beets to cook and cool.

Boil beets Peel beets

I like to serve this salad with a thick balsamic vinaigrette (see recipe below), but it would also work with a simple drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil.

Seedless red grapes

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