Sunday, April 04, 2010


Barry’s Backyard
A tranquil Sunday morning in Marietta.

This morning, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, saying, “He is risen!”

And that, Esteemed Readers, is the difference between Christians and Jews in a nutshell. For during the festival of Passover, leavened foods are forbidden to us: That which is risen is strictly off-limits.

Dealing with the Passover dietary restrictions can be tricky, especially for those of us who eat pretty much whatever the hell we want to during the other fifty-one weeks of the year... but it’s manageable. Breakfast, however, is a particular challenge, given that many popular breakfast mainstays (cereal, English muffins, pancakes, waffles) are Pesach no-nos. Which means you have to find ever-more-creative ways to enjoy matzoh, the unleavened bread that is the culinary backbone of the week.

Me, I’m perfectly happy to spread well-softened butter over my matzoh-sheets and wolf them down, accompanied by a cup of coffee. And I might treat myself to matzoh-meal pancakes, a seasonal dish that always brings back pleasant memories of holidays spent with our grandparents in Florida. And then there is matzoh brei, a preparation that looks like it might have resulted from the same sort of accidental collision that created Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:
“You got your matzoh in my French toast!”

“You got your French toast in my matzoh!”
Like a Jewish Brer Rabbit, I like to visit the matzoh brei-er patch every so often. It’s simple enough to make. You soak broken-up sheets of matzoh (or matzoh farfel, if you’re lazy) in milk or water until they're soft, then fry ’em up in a mixture of milk and eggs until you end up with a sort of French-toasty affair. Crisp or tender, it’s up to you, as is the choice between sweet and savory accompaniments. Whether to go with salt and pepper or butter and maple syrup may be the source of family disagreements, but they are the sort of good-natured arguments in which everyone is a winner.

Today we had a wonderful new version of matzoh brei, courtesy of our friend Malka - bourmalikas, AKA Bulgarian-style matzoh brei. It’s easy as (unleavened) pie to make. You start by soaking sheets of matzoh in water overnight. In the morning, squeeze out as much moisture as possible (a colander, besides being a fashionable item of headgear, is helpful for this purpose), then mash the damp matzoh into well-beaten eggs - one egg for every two sheets of matzoh. Form the mixture into patties and then fry until crisp in vegetable oil, and Boom! You have bourmalikas.

Bourmalikas. Matzoh brei, Bulgarian style.

I had mine savory, decorated with cottage cheese and sour cream; Malka ate hers sweet, dipping each bite into a pile of granulated sugar. They’re excellent either way.

Grape Tomatoes Caprese
Grape Tomatoes Caprese: tomatoes with mozzarella balls and basil, a fine accompaniment.

With stuff like this on hand, I can keep my jones for cold cereal - or the occasional waffle - at bay. I’d eat a Passover-style breakfast like this any time of year.

Speaking of holidays, a most happy Easter to our Christian friends!

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