"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Matzo Brei

I knew even before embarking upon this recipe that Matzo Brei is an intensely personal experience. I witnessed this a few years ago when we met a branch of my husband's Long Island family for brunch at Zaftig's, a famous Jewish deli in Brookline. Don's cousin Jamie ordered the matzo brei with great anticipation, but when it came, she looked at it and the waiter like he had served her something unmentionable.

"It's supposed to be sort of scrambled," she said, making a mixing motion with her hands. "Kind of dry."

So the waiter took it back, and the chef tried again. Again, Jamie looked at her plate, this time with a mixture of dismay and resignation. Too polite to send it back a second time, she pushed the matzo brei around her plate a bit, took a few bites, and gave up. It wasn't right, she said. Not like her mother's at all.

Fortunately I don't have the baggage of a Jewish culinary upbringing to weigh down my feelings about matzo brei--I was simply worried that soggy matzo crackers in scrambled eggs was just plain weird and couldn't possibly be worth wasting time on. But could thousands of years of Jewish tradition be wrong? Well, look at gefilte fish.

Don't worry, soothes the recipe. Editor Ruth Reichl's secret (which she learned from her mother, of course) is lots of butter. All right, I'm on board.

The end result was pretty edible, if rather plain. It was kind of like...buttered popcorn. That kind of experience. But less crunchy. So sort of like rather soggy well buttered popcorn with cooked eggs in it, which can be just the thing if you're in the right mood. One thing I liked about it was that I was able to flip it in my pan (like those chefs you see on tv) because there was so much butter in it that it slid around beautifully once the egg was cooked. I kept hoping for the matzo to crisp up (as the recipe suggested it would start to do) but I would have had to let it sit and I was having too much fun flipping it.

I see on Epicurious that at least one reader out there adds grated onions and parsley, and I think that would be an improvement. And if you make this (and why not? Maybe to eat while you're watching a movie) I would suggest a beverage that's astringent (black tea, dry champagne, gin on the rocks) to help that butter dissolve.

I'd like to give a shout-out to my new friend Kasha, who came over to take some poetry books off our hands, shared the matzo brei with me, and came bearing a gift of the most amazing chocolate creation I've ever eaten (excluding anything from Maison du Chocolat) which is dark chocolate and chipotle pepper bark from Turtle Alley. GOD!!!! Is it good. Thanks Kasha!

No comments: