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Here are the rules -- no flour, no cornstarch, no baking powder or baking soda, no yeast; therefore, no bread or challah for French toast, no noodles for kugel, no toasted bagels for the cream cheese, no "snap, crackle and pop" cereals, no croissants or muffins to round out our coffee.
You know the routine -- eggs, matzah meal, matzah and more eggs. Can the cook whose family believes that Sunday isn't Sunday without a decent brunch achieve the impossible during Passover? It's a challenge, but it can be done.
Let's start with matzah and eggs. In combination with some interesting additions, they can make magic. They seem to have a special and tasty affinity for each other in dishes that lend themselves particularly well to morning meals.
My favorite is matzah brie and all of its endless variations -- from savory to sweet. Matzah and matzah meal are also the mainstay of Passover French toast, kugels, muffins and pancakes. These recipes are not substitutes for the real thing -- they are the real thing, making a Passover brunch a special treat.
Round out the menu with seasonal fruits, like strawberries and rhubarb, which are refreshing reminders of the new season -- spring.
French Toast Matzah
11/2 cups matzah meal
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
2 matzahs, softened slightly under cold running water and drained
oil or butter for frying
Put the matzah meal into a shallow dish. (A pie plate works well). Add the eggs, salt and milk, a little at a time.
Mix well and continue adding milk until it becomes the consistency of a crepe or blintz batter.
Break up the matzah into relatively the same size, 4x3-inch pieces. Dip in the batter stirring to coat both sides.
Add about 1/4 cup of oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet and preheat to medium-high.
Place the coated matzah pieces in stacks of two (one on top of the other like a sandwich in the pan) and cook until browned on each side.
Serve with seasonal fruit or with strawberry-rhubarb compote (below).
11/2 lbs. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup sweet Passover wine
3 Tbsps. brown sugar
3 Tbsps. granulated white sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsps. grated lemon zest
4 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
In a medium saucepan, cook the rhubarb and wine, covered, until rhubarb is tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the sugars, cinnamon, lemon zest and 3/4 of the strawberries.
Cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes.
Add the remaining strawberries and let cool.
Mushroom-and-Shallot Matzah Brie
(Dairy or Pareve)
2 sheets of matzah, broken into bite-size pieces
2 tsps. butter or oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
4 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
Place the matzah in a colander and run cold water over it. Let stand about 2 minutes. Press down on matzah with a spatula to squeeze excess water out.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and dried herbs, then stir in matzahs.
In a large skillet, heat the butter. Sauté the mushrooms and shallots until tender, about 5 minutes.
Pour the egg-matzah mix into the skillet and stir gently, as you would scrambled eggs, until cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with parsley.
1/3 cup matzah meal
2 Tbsps. sugar
1/3 cup sour cream or whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup cottage cheese
oil for frying
1 cup blueberries
In a blender or food processor, combine the eggs, matzah meal, salt, sour cream and cottage cheese until smooth.
Stir in the berries by hand. The batter will be thick.
Heat the oil on a griddle or skillet until hot.
Ladle about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake into pan.
Cook until a few bubbles appear on top and the underside becomes golden, about 3 minutes. Peek by lifting pancake with a spatula.
Turn each pancake and cook until golden on other side, about 2 minutes.
Serve with jam or compote.
Makes about 12.
Banana-Dried Cherry Muffins
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup matzah meal
1 cup matzah cake meal
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended.
Whisk in the oil, sugar, matzah meal, cake meal, vanilla, and banana until smooth.
Stir in the dried cherries. Spoon into muffin cups.
Bake 35 minutes, or until tops are firm and golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Asparagus Matzah Kugel
4 sheets of matzah, broken into small pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 lb. thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces and cooked just until tender
butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 9x13-inch pan.
Soak the matzah pieces in water until soft. Drain, but do not squeeze dry.
Beat the eggs with salt, sugar, melted butter or margarine and cheese. Add to the matzah mixture.
Stir in the Swiss cheese and asparagus.
Dot with additional butter or margarine.
Sprinkle with chives.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. E-mail her at: [email protected].