This is another of my retooled faves from the “Pizza Bagel” files: an Italian Boy making traditional comfort food in the Jewish tradition.
I cannot credit this one to my kids or my Baby Mama, the beautiful Ms. R. who allowed me to absorb a lovely family culture from her side of our association over the ten years we spent together.
No, this one goes back to my gorgeous, talented, warm and smart and inner-light bearing friend, Synthia. Literally the only thing I don’t like about Syn is the fact that she lives on the opposite side of the country and if I get to see her once a year it’s a lot. I have been in deep spiritual love with this woman since our sophomore year of High School. Which is when she first taught me the wonders of Matzo Brei.
Synthia was, in my world, the Amy Irving character of “Izzy” from “Crossing Delancey.” She was (and remains) a goddess to behold, with such a sweet and giving spirit that she was nothing short of captivating. And she even lived (sort of) on the Lower East Side like Izzy, and came from a very traditional Jewish family.
OK. Back in your pants, weasel. Moving on.
Syn taught me her family’s way of making matzo brei — a very simple combo of crumbled matzo and egg — noting the addition of a dash of seltzer, like her father always did.
My first go ’rounds were in pancake form, flattening it and sticking it together in the frying pan. Later I started “scrambling” it. I was always made to think of it as a sweet breakfast, like a regular pancake or waffle, so I ate it either with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or my usual, maple syrup.
At a recent brunch at a midtown Jewish deli (the sit down with a nasty waitress or old old man waiter kind, famous and worth the trip) the staff looked at me like I was ordering grape jelly for my nova lox. To a lot of people, matzo brei is savory, like an omelette, and salt and pepper or sometimes (egads) ketchup are in order.
Since I don’t know which way YOU prefer matzo brei (and bonus points if you guessed I couldn’t give a fuck, either), and a great many of you won’t have a preference because you’ve never tasted (or heard of) such a thing, I offer here a Food Daddy Twofer: one recipe, slightly adjustable, for both.
This will make four waffles. Ish.
Ess ess, meine kinder!
Waffle Iron Setting/Cook Time: HIGH
1/8 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Water
Crush matzo in a mixing bowl. They should be in bits somewhere in size between a Tic Tac and a Chiclet. Oh my God, remember Chiclets? And what about Dentyne? Do they even MAKE that stuff any more?
Lightly beat the egg, the water and the salt. Pour over crushed matzo and toss vigorously to coat. Let sit 10 minutes.
FOR SWEET: add 1/4 C sugar.
FOR SAVORY: fry 1 C chopped white onion in 2 Tbsp. of butter over medium high heat until browned and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix your sweet OR savory add-in to the matzo brei mixture. Grease the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, mound batter in each of the wells or wedges and spread slightly toward edges, and close to cook to golden brown.
Move waffles to serving dish (or dishes if you decide as you should to make both), and serve with the following toppings:
Cinnamon sugar, maple syrup or jam or preserves for the sweet; Sour cream, or more butter.