Savory Matzo Brei
Asparagus, Smoked Salmon, Onion, Fennel
Sour Cream and Fresh Dill
We eat matzo (unleavened bread) on Passover to remind us of our ancestors’ Exodus from Egypt. Leaving in such a haste, they could not wait for bread to rise. Additionally, matzo is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms.
Jett is 10 years old. The morning after our Seder for the first night of Passover, he had Matzo Brei for breakfast. Matzo, butter, eggs with a pinch of salt…and sugar! My cute nephew proclaimed it to be “awesome.” I simply sautéed the water-softened matzo in butter, then added eggs and scrambled it together. I served him the sugar on the side, so he could sprinkle his Matzo Brei with just the right amount. Turns out he likes it pretty sweet, no surprise.
This had me thinking about an adult version of Matzo Brei, a savory rendition celebrating springtime. No vegetable screams spring more than asparagus, and paired with smoked salmon, onion, fennel, dill, and sour cream – the adult version turned out “awesome” as well!
Matzo Brei Recipe
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This past Monday, family and friends were together in the kitchen, rolling scores of matzoh balls in preparation for the several-course meal at nightfall — the start of the eight day celebration of Passover. At our Passover dinner, chicken soup with matzoh balls is one of the favorite courses. These cherished “dumplings” are made from ground matzoh, eggs, and oil.
My brother leads the Passover Seder. Among many of the Seder rituals, out of innocence the youngest child able asks ‘The Four Questions.’ The first Question his eight-year-old son, Jett, poses, “Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat leavened bread or matzoh but tonight we eat only matzoh. Why?”
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Homemade Chicken Soup with Herbed Matzoh Balls
Garlic-Scented Lima Beans, Micro-Thin Carrot Slices
Fine Egg Noodles, Hand-Shredded Roasted Chicken Breast
Fresh Parsley and Dill Garnish
This soup is dedicated to my Nana. I thank her for inspiring me with a life-long passion to explore the cuisine of our heritage. Year after year, I tweak her original chicken soup recipe. This one, prepared in celebration of the High Holy Days (5772 on the Hebrew calendar) resulted in one of the best versions ever. The matzoh balls were light and fluffy, the garlic-scented lima beans added heft, the flavorful broth was beautifully clear and just barely rich. Delicate fine egg noodles and colorful carrots balanced out the dish.
My paternal Grandparents – Irving and Fanny Hirsch (front center)
Careful attention to each component is what makes it special. This soup uses two birds, one for making the broth, the other is roasted – the breast meat shredded and added just before serving. From the double-strained flavorful broth with the tiniest amount of schmaltz droplets providing a hint of richness, to the elegantly sliced carrots (I was never of fan of a floating carrot log), to the garlicky-creamy beans – I am certain my Nana would have approved.
Chicken Soup Recipe
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Saffron Matzoh Balls
Paella, Risotto alla Milanese, Bouillabaisse, Persian Pilafs, Indian Biryani dishes… make room! We can now add Matzoh Balls to the list of international foods flavored with that mysterious orange-hued spice with the bright exotic metallic flavor – SAFFRON.
Some chefs – including one of my favorites – Michel Richard, say that with saffron’s sweet power, the minute you can taste the saffron in the dish, then there is too much. I have to respectfully disagree with the Chef here, and wish I could make these Saffron Matzoh Balls for him. They are unique, intriguing, conjuring memories of foods from far away places…the saffron is assertive and compelling.
With Passover around the corner, I’m experimenting with different ways to prepare Matzoh Balls. I recently read about a recipe for Matzoh Balls Wrapped in Bacon which sounds oh so delicious but clearly, that one wouldn’t fly at our Seder…
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Matzoh Balls – They’re Not Just for Passover!
Over the last decade, I have made in excess of 1000 Matzoh Balls. We make about 100 every Passover. We make them the day before, the day we call “Cooking Day.” We make 2 per person 34 X 2 for Passover dinner, plus we have them for lunch on cooking day, for a midnight snack, and lunch the following day. And matzoh balls are not just for Passover, we enjoy them throughout the year when we get the the urge to liven up the chicken soup. As the self-proclaimed Queen of The Matzoh Ball, I’m going to share my tips on producing the fluffiest and tastiest of matzoh balls!
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