By Barbara Beltrami
Passover is the joyous Jewish holiday that celebrates the exodus of the children of Israel in ancient Egypt from slavery to freedom. As they fled, they had no time for their bread to rise, and that is how we came to eat matzos (unleavened bread) for Passover.
The matzo has come to present itself in many forms, although I think everyone’s favorite is still that pale square megacracker that is a wonderful support system for everything from butter to horseradish to jam to salsa and everything in between.
Since Biblical times, it has also managed to evolve into matzo meal, which then has become the foundation for all sorts of delicious recipes. That being said, my all-time favorites are the traditional ones for matzo balls, matzo brei, and matzo meal pancakes.
The butt of many a joke, especially at the expense of mothers-in-law, these little round gems turn chicken soup into a treasure.
YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings
¼ cup vegetable oil
¹∕₃ cup cold seltzer or club soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup matzo meal
DIRECTIONS: Beat the eggs, oil, soda and salt together. Stir in the matzo meal, adding just enough to make a stiff batter. Chill for at least one hour. Form into 18 balls and cook for 30 minutes in boiling salted water or broth. Serve with chicken soup.
Not as familiar perhaps as matzo balls, matzo brei is broken up matzos soaked for a short time in warm water or milk, then mixed with beaten eggs and fried. It makes a great breakfast or side dish, and with the addition of whatever your imagination dictates, a delicious main dish.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
4 eggs, beaten
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoon grated onion (optional)
Butter or oil for frying
DIRECTIONS: Combine the eggs, salt and onion (if using). Break matzos into large bite-size pieces and soak in water or milk until softened but not mushy. Add to egg mixture and stir well. In a medium skillet heat the butter or oil; then add matzo mixture to it. Fry until lightly browned and heated through. Serve with maple syrup, apple sauce or sugar. If using onions, serve with sour cream or soft cheese.
Matzo Meal Pancakes
Because of their crispy exterior and light interior, these pancakes are a nice change from regular ones.
YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt ½ cup cold water
¾ cup matzo meal
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Oil for frying
DIRECTIONS: Beat together the egg yolks, salt and water. Stir in the matzo meal; then gently fold in the egg whites. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil, then drop the batter, one heaping tablespoon at a time, into it. Turn once to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sugar and cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, fruit or jam.