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PASSOVER FEATURE Removing the ‘affliction’ from Passover breakfasts

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (JTA) — “I don’t mind forgoing flour at Passover,” says a University of Pennsylvania graduate student, claiming that breakfast is the only time she misses it. “I get tired of eating matzah every morning.” Like Passover observers everywhere, she longs for a break in the breakfast routine. Because it is challenging to find satisfying substitutes for the bread, cereal and pancakes many people savor the rest of the year, some observers draw on their creativity to make the most of matzah. “I put as much stuff as possible on the ‘bread of affliction,’ ” says a Manhattan writer who grew up in Rochester, New York. She spreads combinations of toppings on matzah the way people pile condiments on hot dogs. One of her favorites is goat cheese, sliced pears, and roasted walnuts. She also likes feta cheese, avocados and tomatoes. “However, nothing compares with the Passover popovers my mom baked every morning during my childhood,” she says, explaining that they are lighter than air. She loves them hot from the oven, smothered in butter. “It’s worth a trip to Rochester at Passover to taste them again.” Yet an assistant publicist in Hoboken, New Jersey, feels the same way about her mother’s Passover granola. “When I can’t get home for the holiday, she sends me a batch from Florida,” she says. Made from matzah farfel, nuts and dried fruit, it looks and tastes like granola made from grains. Omitting butter and oil, her recipe is lower in fat than regular granola. “I snack on it all day at work,” she says, admitting she often runs out before Passover ends. But the graduate student sees matzah as strictly breakfast food. On weekday mornings, she melts mozzarella cheese on matzah, sometimes sprinkling on a little parmesan too. When in a rush, she spreads cream cheese on matzah, adding Egyptian horosis, made from raisins, dates and almonds. She also has a copy of her mother’s matzahbrie recipe. Instead of soggy matzah, it calls for browning matzah squares in butter until crisp. “It’s perfect for Sunday morning, when I crave a fix of french toast,” she says, admitting that when it comes to matzah, mother knows best.

LOW-FAT PASSOVER GRANOLA

2 cups matzah farfel
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pitted dates, sliced
1/4 tsp. salt
Butter to grease pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a spoon until well mixed. Butter a shallow baking pan, and spread mixture evenly inside. Bake for 90 minutes, until mixture browns. Cool. Store in an airtight container. Yield: Five and a half cups.

PASSOVER POPOVERS

1 cup water
1/2 cup peanut oil (vegetable oil may be used as a substitute)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. orange juice
2 cups matzah meal
4 eggs

1. In a small pot, bring water, oil, sugar, salt and juice to a boil.
2. Place matzah meal in a large bowl. Quickly stir in boiling liquids, mixing well.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Batter will be sticky.
4. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Grease cookie sheet.
5. With wet hands, roll heaping tablespoonfuls of batter until round. Stagger on greased cookie sheet. Using a spoon, make kaiser roll indentations.
6. Bake at 350 degrees, until lightly brown and toothpick tests clean. Yield: 8.

CRISPY MATZAHBRIE

4 sheets matzah
Quarter cup water
4 eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp. butter

1. Break matzah into one-inch squares, placing in a large bowl. Drizzle water, mixing with hands.
2. Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a 12-inch non-stick frying pan. Spread squares evenly in pan, turning until brown on both sides.
3. Adding butter as needed, pour eggs evenly between squares. When bottom browns, divide into six pieces and turn. Fry until both sides are crunchy. Serve with maple syrup or Passover confectioners’ sugar.

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