On Friday night, the first night of Passover, I sat at the kitchen table reading two children’s books to my little guys about the holiday. The stories tell of traditions that have been passed down from one generation to the next, and reflect what my world looked like growing up, but not what it is now. I’m very aware that the families in these books don’t look like my family, and I wonder about the message my own kids take from these illustrations. It’s a conversation I could probably have with my 8 year old at some level, but I haven’t yet. It makes me think about writing a new book.
Instead, while they nibbled on crumbling pieces of matzoh slathered in salted butter, I read them the story of the Jews being freed, of Pharaoh and Moses and the ten plagues. I told them that as a kid Passover was my favorite holiday, and talked about the songs we sang around the table, hunting for the afikomen after dinner, and all of the delicious food. As with all the holidays, I explained “this is how Mommy grew up” and “this is what the Jewish tradition is, ” because I want them to know these stories: the personal and the historical. And I want them to absorb the lessons of freedom and equality that are laced throughout the Passover rituals.
Earlier in the day, they had listened to their grandparents explain how they honored Good Friday in their small villages in India as children, and in the evening we had our haphazard matzoh dinner. We watched a clip from Shalom Sesame and some random and ridiculous Passover music videos, and for this year that felt like enough. My challenge is figuring out how to create a seder that reflects the family and life that I’ve created for myself. As with many things in life, there’s no guidebook for this sort of thing (and no wrong answers!). It’s on me to take the lead, but I look forward to building our new tradition together as a family. Whatever that may be. So while our Friday night may not have been the typical way others celebrate, it worked for us for now.
And on Sunday morning, before heading out to get supplies for the Easter egg hunt that would happen later that afternoon, I made this Cardamom Almond Matzoh Brei with the help of little hands. Basically, matzoh brei is the kosher for Passover version of french toast. It takes less than ten minutes to make, and very few ingredients. You break up the matzoh (unleavened bread that is like a big cracker,) and run hot water over it to soften. You mix those pieces with egg and salt and fry it up in a bit of butter in a hot pan. Instead of making it just like my mom used to though, I upped the flavor with some freshly ground cardamom and almond extract, the perfect compliment to the cherry jam that tops it. It’s soft, chewy and delicious, and since it’s made with whole wheat matzoh I feel comfortable saying it’s healthy. Even if you’re not celebrating the holiday this week, it’s a great breakfast or brunch option, and I’d welcome it for dinner too!
Do you have a favorite matzoh brei recipe? I would love to hear about it! (And if you want to tell me the definitive way to spell matzoh in English, that would be great. Matzo? Matzoh? Matza? Matzah? I just decided to pick one and stick with it, but am happy to be convinced otherwise. Can you help?)
This Cardamom Almond Matzoh Brei is an extra flavorful version of Passover french toast. In less than ten minutes you have a healthy, easy breakfast that you'll want to eat all year round.
- 2 pieces of whole wheat matzoh
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
- cherry jam to serve on top
*This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled, just make sure to always fry the matzoh in a single layer.
**I prefer to use whole wheat matzoh, but any kind will do. The same goes for jam. Although I love the combination of almond and cherries, use whatever flavor you like.
***And if you prefer a more traditional approach, skip the cardamom and almond, and stick with salt and pepper like my mom used to make.