I was at work the other day when our CFO strode purposefully into my office. This almost always means trouble, and with our data whiz out of the office on vacation, I had a sinking feeling that his request for some kind of financial analysis was going to fall on me. When the first words out of his mouth where “I have an idea” I knew I’d be setting aside a good part of my day tracking down some obscure bit of data in the deepest reaches of our customer database.
“Matzo-moto Brei” he exclaimed proudly…. I was perplexed. I knew what matzo was, but as for “brei”, and how it related to Q2 revenue projections, I had nothing. There was an awkward pause… and then my VP started laughing hysterically.
Matzo’s significance during Passover was explained to me along with a quick rundown of Matzo Brei. But the request wasn’t for just any Matzo Brei, the CFO wanted Matsumoto’s (that’s me) take on it, “something infused with lemon” he said. Quarterly bonuses coming up and all, I didn’t want to disappoint, so I sat dutifully at my desk over lunch, doing some research about this puzzling mélange of egg and unleavened bread.
Since I’d never had it before, I had no idea what it was supposed to look or taste like, but after looking at some photos on Flickr, and scanning a few recipes, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on what I was making.
For my version, I soaked the matzo in milk to soften it up, then mixed it with some fresh ricotta, Meyer lemon zest and egg. I saw some photos that scrambled the mixture in the pan, but I liked the bronzed crust that was on the more frittata-like renditions, so I added a healthy dose of butter into the pan and poured the rather unattractive mixture in, letting it fry undisturbed for a good 10 minutes.
Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect. The gloppy mixture of soggy crackers and egg looked dubious at best, and I started to wonder if I’d be eating yogurt for breakfast. “French toast”, was how it was described to me, and I’d have to say that’s a pretty accurate description. There’s just one thing… Matzo Brei is better! I ended up eating the whole thing myself, doused with lemon juice and a generous shower of powdered sugar on top. The matzo absorbs whatever flavours you throw at it, and the middle stays soft and moist, while the butter fried exterior turns brown and gets a nice crisp crust around the edges.
I have all kinds of ideas about future versions of this that I’ll be making, like a savoury Matzo Brei cooked in schmaltz with lemon zest and thyme, or another sweet one with rum soaked raisins and a caramel sauce. Taste aside, this dish is great because matzos keep forever in your cupboard. So as long as you have eggs, you’re only a few minutes away from a delicious breakfast/snack/dessert.
Lemon Ricotta Matzo Brei
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs sugar
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 Tbs butter
Break up the matzo into medium chunks and put them in a bowl. Heat the milk until warm and pour it over the matzo, stirring to make sure the matzo is soaking evenly. Let it sit until the matzo is softened (a noodle like texture) but not mushy. Drain and gently squeeze out any extra milk.
Whisk the eggs in another bowl with the vanilla, sugar and lemon zest. Pour the egg mixture over the moistened matzo, and add the ricotta cheese. Stir to combine.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the butter and melt, waiting until the sizzling subsides. Add the matzo mixture and lower the heat to medium low. Flatten out the top, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Flip the Matzo Brei over and turn up the heat to medium. Cook uncovered until the second side is browned.
Slice the Matzo Brei up into wedges and serve with lemon and a generous dusting of powdered sugar on top.