Classic Matzoh Brie
Yield: 2 to 4 servings

“And then there was the great classic, matzoh brie, pieces of matzoh soaked in milk, squeezed into a delectable mess, and fried to golden curls and flakes--one of the dishes that evokes piercing darts of nostalgia in every Jewish breast and stories of childhood Passovers complete with lightly drunken uncles.” --Kate Simon, Bronx Primitive

Not just for Passover. Like matzoh balls and potato latkes, matzoh brie now makes regular appearances at table year-round.

And not just for breakfast. Tony Manhattan restaurants feature entrees of fluffy matzoh brie, chockablock with smoked salmon and sauteed sweet onions, fragrant with dill, or layered with exotic wild mushrooms.

Like the best soul-satisfying starchy foods, matzoh brie is a chef’s canvas, reflecting the image and nuances you choose: served like French toast, flavored with vanilla, cinnamon or almond extract and doused with maple syrup; or frittata-style, sauteed with onions, mushrooms, and sapid tender vegetables like artichokes or asparagus. In fact, I often add some soaked and drained matzoh to frittata recipes--it stretches the number of eggs used, reducing that insistent egginess that spells breakfast to so many of us.

No sweet/savory matzoh brie fault line runs through our house: though I grew up on the sweet, we thoroughly enjoy all versions. Instructions for both follow, and see the Cook’s Note for a buttery caramelized onion matzoh brie, with or without smoked salmon.

4 whole plain or egg matzohs
4 or 5 large eggs (use 5 for a softer, eggier matzoh brie)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Optional accompaniments: Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar (recipe follows), apple or other fruit sauces or compotes (see Jewish Holiday Cooking for several recipes), maple syrup, jam, honey, sour cream, yogurt cream, fresh (unaged) goat or sheep’s milk cheeses, farmer cheese, or cottage cheese

Please read Making Matzoh Brie and choose the preparation and cooking style you prefer. Break the matzohs, wet them with cold water, squeeze them dry, according to the instructions, and place them in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs until light and foamy. For sweet matzoh brie, season the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt; for savory matzoh brie, season generously with lots of salt and pepper to taste (keep in mind how bland plain matzoh tastes). Stir the eggs into the matzoh mixture and combine well. If preparing either fluffy or pancake-like matzoh brie, allow the matzohs to soak in the eggs for a while.

In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (nonstick works well here), heat the butter over medium heat until it sizzles. Add the matzoh batter, either adding it in all at once, like an omelet or frittata, or dropping by heaping tablespoonfuls, like pancakes. Fry until golden brown on the bottom, then turn and fry until done to taste on the other side: either golden and fluffy or more well-done and crisp, according to preferred method. While hot, sprinkle with Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar, or serve with one or more of the other suggested accompaniments.

Cook’s Note: For those who crave whole grains during the holiday, try matzoh brie, savory or sweet, made from whole-wheat matzoh (available kosher-for-Passover). No, it won’t summon up taste memories of McCann’s old-fashioned Irish oatmeal, but it can be a wonderful comfort food when needed.

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