Lest you think that I am only posting this recipe in order to get away with eating scrambled eggs again, I would like to start by clarifying that matzo brei (rhymes with “fry” and, hey!, also means “fried”) is a traditional Passover meal. Some people eat it because they are eating matzo (matzoh/matzah!) in place of leavened bread in observance of Passover. The rest of us eat it because we have a box of matzo in the house and would prefer to use it up this year. Either way, these eggy pancakes make an appealing blank slate for sweet or savory sauces, and get you out of eating boxed matzo in its dry and un-fried form.
I’d like to tell you that this was my own Bubbie’s recipe, but actually it came from Bon Appetit. Growing up, my family’s matzo brei was more of a scramble, and if I recall correctly it involved fried salami as well (is THAT kosher?). This recipe is more refined, more symmetrically shaped, and more vegetarian.
Matzo brei is traditionally a breakfast dish, but breakfast for dinner is never a bad idea. You can take these in a sweet direction with jam, powdered sugar, or syrup, or you can spice things up; we liked them with a harissa spread. But my personal favorite topping was our homemade plum-ginger jam. You could easily replicate it by pureeing a pound of pitted plums and boiling them down with a couple of teaspoons of grated ginger and sugar to taste (I further sweetened our jam to use as a sauce here). Isn’t that good? You’re welcome.Continue reading Matzo Brei (click for recipe)
I love savory bread puddings for so many reasons. This one is packed full of vegetables and has all four food groups in one baking dish (you know how I love a casserole). You can make it ahead of time and have it cooling on your stovetop when your brunch guests arrive. The texture contrast between the crisp browned top and the savory custard within is lovely. And it’s a thrifty way to use up bread that’s past its prime. Actually, let’s just call that bread that’s in its bread pudding prime.
This is not a terribly pudding-y bread pudding. It’s hearty fare, not a delicately quivering cream custard (those make good bread puddings too, but you’ll need a different recipe for that). As always, you can vary the ingredients here, but I think the essential thing is to make sure that the eggs and vegetables are well-seasoned with salt and pepper and/or herbs, since a plain bread adds more texture than flavor to the finished dish. (Or you can use your leftover beer bread, as I did, or another strongly-flavored bread, in which case it adds a flavor of its own.)Continue reading Savory Bread Pudding (click for recipe)
Today I had a now-rare opportunity to visit my old life. A meeting on a high-up floor of a downtown law firm with views across the city. A conference table, a catered lunch, a laptop open in front of me, moving through bullet points on an agenda. I was there for a good cause, a volunteer gig for an organization I love, and with some right smart and good-hearted women, but still…I was glad to leave. I miss a some things about working (adult conversation! feeling competent! having a secretary!), and I will be glad to do it again when the time is right. But today I just wanted to get home, snuggle my family, and make granola.
Are you a sweet or savory breakfast person? I like both. (Sometimes at the same time.) But in spite of having a huge sweet tooth, the savory breakfast usually trumps for me.
Either way, you’re covered this weekend. If you’re a sweet person, you have that French toast to make. And if savory is your thing, here’s the plan.
Pick some potatoes. I know I’m being a little preachy here, but let me just gently suggest that if you have never bought a potato from your winter farmers’ market, you should give it a try. I buy plenty of supermarket produce in addition to supporting my local farmers when I can, but there are a few things that are just so much more flavorful when I buy them from the farmers’ market that they seem like different vegetables. Potatoes are one of those things. But I should also say that I am no potato snob. Potatoes are one of my favorite foods and I always have a 5 lb. bag of grocery store potatoes lurking in the basement just in case. (Is that weird?) And I love them. Just like I love the even more flavorful fancy ones.
I had a bag of purple potatoes. You can use whatever potatoes you have or choose to acquire.
This is a riff on the Smoky Cauliflower Frittata to the extent that I used the smoked paprika and smoked cheese combo again. I was using up leftover baked cod, but I think this recipe would also be great if you used a smoked fish instead and left out the paprika. Or you can leave the fish out altogether, of course. We roll with a lot of vegetarians, so we made one frittata with the fish and one without.Purple Potato Frittata, with or without Cod: Dice a few potatoes into small cubes and saute in olive oil over medium high heat with a large diced onion until the potato is edibly tender. Meanwhile, whisk 6 eggs with 1/4 c. Greek yogurt, 2 tsp. smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Mix two handfuls of smoked cheese and one of sharp cheddar into the eggs, along with the cooked potato and onion mixture. Flake some cooked or smoked fish into the bowl if you’re using it. Mix gently to combine everything. Heat a little more oil in the same pan you used to cook the potatoes, then pour in the egg mixture and cook about 5 minutes over medium heat until the edges are set. Scatter one last handful of cheese on top of the eggs. Transfer to the oven and bake at 375 for another 10-12 minutes, until nearly set, then turn on the broiler for a carefully attended minute or two to brown the top. Serve with toast and fruit for breakfast, or with a salad for any other meal.
I hope that you have some loaves of challah in the oven or the bread box, because you are going to want to make this French toast this weekend. Lots of the recipes I have posted here are old favorites, but this one is a new favorite. It’s Ina Garten’s recipe but Sonia made it for me recently, and then I made it again, and frankly, it’s the reason we’ll be baking challah again tomorrow.
Vanilla. Orange Zest. Crisp, buttery edges. Custardy centers. A drizzle of pure maple syrup, a tumble of fruit, a steaming mug of coffee. Weekend mornings don’t get better than this.
French Toast with Vanilla and Orange Zest: In a wide bowl or pan, whisk 6 eggs with 1 1/2 c. milk, 1 Tb. honey, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and the zest of one orange. Soak 3/4 inch slices of challah for 5 minutes, turning once. Cook in plenty of butter over medium heat until nicely browned on each side (meanwhile, get the next batch of bread soaking in the egg mixture). Transfer to a 250 degree oven while you cook the remaining slices. Serve with maple syrup and fruit.