Got some leftover matzah Use it to make this classic dad dish

Honestly, I wouldn’t say that my father is the biggest culinary role model in my life. That’s not to say he never did anything for me. He taught me how to ride a bike, how to catch a baseball, how to appear unimpressed by car salesmen, how to do my taxes and how to win at Yahtzee, to name a few, but my food education came mostly from my mother.

moskowitzThere is, however, one recipe my father cooked for me when I was a child that was the first successful dish I ever cooked by myself, and that I continue to make today: matzah brei.

If you’ve never had matzah brei, imagine an omelet made with matzah and onions (I am aware of the existence of sweet matzah brei, but in our family we keep it strictly savory). It’s a simple recipe, but it’s proof that simple things can be very special. When I was growing up, matzah brei was eaten not just on Passover, but nearly every Sunday before Hebrew school.

One of the best things about matzah brei is that it’s actually better with stale matzah — the drier the matzah the better it will soak up the liquid. Since Passover just ended, I bet you have an open box of matzah that is getting stale.

 

Larry Moskowitz’s Matzah Brei

Serves 4

2 cups 2 percent milk

2 eggs

6 sheets egg-and-onion flavor matzah (plain works too)

2 Tbs. butter or margarine

1⁄2 medium onion, diced

onion salt and pepper to garnish

Pour the milk into a large bowl. Carefully crack the eggs into the milk and use a whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Break the matzah into pieces and place in the egg-milk mixture, pushing down the matzah to ensure that it is fully covered by the liquid. Set aside and allow to soak for 8-10 minutes.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large frying pan, but don’t let it brown. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. When the matzah has soaked for long enough, add the bowl’s contents to the frying pan and allow to cook, scraping the pan occasionally with a spatula, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. You want it to be about as wet as freshly scrambled eggs. Divide onto plates and garnish with onion salt and freshly cracked pepper.

For a truly authentic Larry Moskowitz experience, eat while watching televised golf.

 

My mother, however, has a way of turning the simplest dish into something special. Take, for example, her chicken soup with dumplings, which was a household staple when I was growing up. While I enjoyed it as a kid, it wasn’t until adulthood that I began to truly appreciate the magic of the dish. 

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

Serves 4 generously, with leftovers

1 stewing chicken (about 5 lbs.)

2 ribs celery, leaves sliced

2 carrots, sliced into coins

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 small bunch parsley, minced and divided in half

15-20 whole peppercorns

12 cups water

2 8-oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup sifted flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. shortening

2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. fresh or dried dill

1 egg

3 Tbs. water

Rinse chicken and remove giblets and any extra fat. Chop onion, garlic, celery and carrots and place in the bottom of a large soup pot. Add thyme, bay leaves, half of the parsley, and peppercorns. Place chicken on top of vegetables and spices and add water and low sodium chicken broth. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 11⁄2 hours. Remove chicken and let cool. When cool, remove skin and bones and shred chicken meat and return to pot.

For dumplings: Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture; add rosemary, dill, and the remaining parsley. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and 3 Tbs. water; add to dry mixture and stir with fork until well blended. Bring chicken soup to a very low boil and drop dumplings by teaspoonfuls onto chicken soup. Turn soup down to a simmer and cover and steam for 10 minutes, and then simmer 10 minutes more with lid off until dumplings are fluffy and done inside.

Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, www.gabimoskowitz.com.

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at brokeassgourmet.com.