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Newton in the Kitchen: Passover Breakfast Recipes

One of the great quandaries for Jewish cooks is what to make for breakfast during Passover. Here are a couple of ideas that are sure to start your holiday mornings off right.

 

Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25 and ends at sundown on April 2. In past Passover columns, Newton in the Kitchen has shared recipes for dinner and dessert as well as soup and sides. But the meal that seems to give folks the most trouble during the holiday-when-bread-is-forbidden is breakfast. So here are two tried-and-true recipes for dishes you can make for the first meal of the day, even if you are short on time.

Matzo Brei

Serves 4

There are many variations on this traditional Passover recipe- great also as a side dish- but this is the one I have been making for the past 30 years. It is based on the proportion of one-and-a-half sheets of matzo to one extra-large egg, so though this recipe serves four you can make a batch just for you or for your entire mishpucha!

Ingredients:

  • 6 sheets of matzo
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

  1. Break the matzos into small pieces into a colander or strainer and run it under hot water to soften the matzo. Let sit for five minutes or so.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl large enough to hold them and the matzo.
  3. Add the softened matzo and mix thoroughly.
  4. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter thoroughly until foam subsides. DO NOT let it get too brown.
  5. Using a large spoon, scoop out matzo mixture into hot pan to make a single-serve pancake (this may take more than one spoonful, depending on the size of your spoon and your pan- see attached picture for better representation).
  6. Flatten pancake with back of spoon and let cook until brown on underside. Edges will begin to show some browning as well.
  7. Flip pancake and brown thoroughly on other side.
  8. Fry until pancake is cooked through (you may want to lower the heat a bit if it seems to be browning on the outside faster than it is cooking on the inside).
  9. Serve with butter and salt and pepper (the way my kids like it) or sour cream and applesauce (like a latke) or REAL maple syrup (imitation maple syrup may have corn syrup, so make sure you check the label).

 

Matzo Meal Polenta

Serves 4-6

This dish reminds me of old-fashioned fried Cream-of-Wheat. The recipe is adapted from one in the Union Square Café Cookbook. Danny Meyer, whose name you may recognize from his association with the recently opened Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill, opened Union Square Café - his first restaurant- in 1985. The cookbook, co-authored with Chef Michael Romano, was first published in 1994. Note that the polenta needs at least 30 minutes to set up before being fried. If you make it the night before and stick it in the fridge, it’s easy to fry up for breakfast in the morning or as a side dish with dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock + 1 cup milk OR 2 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (trust me- they add GREAT flavor!)
  • ¾ cup matzo meal, plus extra for coating the polenta squares
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Lightly oil a square, 8-inch cake pan.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring to a boil the chicken stock and milk (or just the 2 ¼ cups of chicken stock, if you want the dish to be non-dairy) and the bouillon cubes.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer until the bouillon cubes are dissolved, about 3 minutes.
  4. Have a firm whisk at the ready. Slowly pour the matzo meal into the liquid while constantly whisking. Continue whisking as the matzo meal is integrated and the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. It will be QUITE thick (see picture).
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes, whisking frequently to avoid sticking.
  6. Beat the egg and egg yolk together and whisk them into the matzo meal mixture, then raise the heat slightly until the mixture starts to bubble up again. Whisk constantly for another minute, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly using a spatula. Try to get it as flat as possible, but don’t worry if it’s a little bumpy.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  9. Cut the now-solidified polenta into 8 – 12 pieces and dredge each piece in matzo meal.
  10. Sauté over medium-high heat in the olive oil (in batches, if you don’t have a large enough pan), frying each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Danny’s recipe is served with sautéed mushrooms, and I have served the polenta with a fried egg on top. The toppings are limited only by your imagination and the dietary restrictions of the holiday.

Chag Sameach and B’tayavon! (Happy holiday and bon appetit!)

Other stories you might be interested in:

  • Passover Recipes: No-Fail Matzo Balls & Sweet Potato Gnocchi
  • Matzo Fast! -- Recipes for Passover

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Candy Gold March 22, 2013 at 11:59 AM
The polenta looks amazing!!!!! Happy Passover.
Mark Golden March 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Matza Brei is a basic, long standing recipe. You can spice this up as simply as adding a few shakes of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. This creates a sweet and savory Brei. Of course check the items to make sure they are appropriate for Passover. I also let the butter brown to add a nice nutty flavor. Diced onions, shallots, chives, or any aromatic also add a nice layer of flavor.
Melanie Graham (Editor) March 22, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Love these suggestions, Mark! Thanks for posting.
Wendy Schapiro March 23, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Thanks Candy! Mark, I know, I know, but I am a matzo brei purist ;-) Seriously, though, they *are* terrific ideas and can help avoid matzo brei boredom by day six of Passover!
Mark Golden March 23, 2013 at 01:47 AM
I have never thought of making individual "pancake" servings. Like my mother before me and her mother before her, I always make one large (a large electric fry pan size) "mess o matzo". And like my mother, etc, much of the serving is, well, over cooked, well some of it takes longer to cook. The individual ones would certainly solve that problem. Thanks for the idea.
Mark Golden March 24, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Well, I guess you can teach an old dog (or cat, since I am the marketing consultant for Gifford Cat Shelter), new tricks. This morning I made a batch of Matzo Brei and I did indeed use the "pancake" method. WOW! Crisp all over and perfect on the inside. Thank you Wendy.

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