Posts Tagged ‘matzo’

Unrecipe of the Week: Matzo

March 2, 2015

With Passover just around the corner, I wondered why nobody ever made their own matzo. I mean, the stuff from the box is just shy of being cardboard. Surely, I could do better, right? Maybe.
Ever the kitchen adventurer, I decided to try my hand and it to see if was worth the effort.

I began by researching recipes. While there were a few different variations out there, the basic premise was to use flour and water to form a dough. While flour is not permitted during Passover, it is used in the making of matzo. As the story goes, our ancestors were rushing to escape the evil Pharaoh by hightailing it out of Egypt as quickly as possible. Therefore, the bread did not have time to leaven, resulting in a flat cracker, which became known as matzo.

When making matzo to commemorate Passover, it must be made from start to finish within 18 minutes, or it is no longer acceptable to eat during the holiday.

Ready, set....GO!

Ready, set….GO!

I assembled all of my ingredients and utensils and waited for the oven to preheat to 500 degrees. When the oven reached the ideal temperature, I set the timer and got to work. The first batch did make it through in the time allotted, but since this was also an experiment in getting the recipe and technique right, the subsequent tweaked versions were done more slowly. I also do not recommend stopping to document the steps on Instagram, which took precious minutes away from the process, and left my phone a bit gooey.

I opted to use a blend of white and whole wheat flours, sifted together with a little kosher salt. I used 2 cups of flour to one cup of water, and mixed the dough by hand.

Knead the dough into a ball

Knead the dough into a ball

Once it was mixed and kneaded for a few minutes until it achieved the desired consistency, I divided it into about 8 pieces. As I kneaded and rolled the dough, I continuously added a little flour to keep it from getting too sticky.

Cut into small balls

Cut into small balls

I tried using a rolling pin, and ultimately opted for putting the dough through the flattening gears of my hand crank pasta machine. I tried cutting it into crackers with a biscuit cutter, and tried baking it in a long sheet. The matzo gets pricked with a fork to keep it from puffing up in the oven.
The small crackers were not easy to cut, as the dough tended to snap back a little when the pieces were so small. I thought they might be good for making matzo brittle s’mores if they were precut, since it is hard to cut regular matzo evenly without it breaking. They never got quite brown enough and frankly they seem a little bland.

VERDICT: Not really worth it

VERDICT: Meh! Not really worth it

Verdict: not really worth it. (Although I will see how they do when slathered in toffee and chocolate!)

 

Now we're talking!

Now we’re talking!

Next, I tried to brushing the long flatbreads with olive oil and sprinkling them with coarse kosher salt and a little basil before baking. That seemed to up the matzo game considerably. Topped with a little chopped tomato and basil, and perhaps a bit of Parmesan cheese, these could be the perfect Passover pizza. Slathered with a little artichoke dip, or maybe some hummus? SInce they can be made in 18 minutes, with few ingredients, they could be a viable anytime snack base. I think we may be on to something here!

While not matzo in it’s purist form, these flatbreads do conform to the criteria necessary to make Passover matzo, and should be acceptable to eat during the holiday.

So, do you think it’s worth trying to DIY matzo for the holidays?

On your marks, get set…..GO!

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New Traditions

April 9, 2012

This year, we celebrated a holiday I coined “Easter-over”. It was intended to be a non-denominational hybrid of Easter, and Passover.

Of the 9 guests, there were 3 non-practicing Jews, a couple of lapsed Catholics, and a few others that didn’t have much of an affiliation to any formalized religion at all.

It was the ideal celebration for me. It paid respect to multiple cultures and holidays, and incorporated lots of different foods.

Wasn’t it ironic, that by the end of the evening, all the “non-Jews” were asking where their favorite part of the Seder went?  Someone hid a matzo, someone else set out a glass of wine for Elijah the Prophet.  Others asked where the haroset, (an apple, nut and wine concoction reminiscent of mortar) was.

I was initially surprised but ultimately realized that the religious implications of the day did not play a significant role. Being with “family”, in this case a multi-cultural group that shared no blood but lots of love and history, was the most important aspect. Those familiar foods and rituals had become an important part of our “family’s” heritage.
Perhaps Easter-over will become a new tradition. If you don’t celebrate Passover or Easter, celebrate spring. Next year go ahead and serve ham and matzo balls if you want to, just do something meaningful with people who love you.

The Easter bunny came and went, and Elijah drank his sweet kosher wine. The matzo was found, and the leftovers packed away. Hopefully the memories will live on.

Happy Easter-over everyone!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Easter-over

April 8, 2012

Today we are celebrating “Easter-over”, a non-denominational hybrid of Passover and Easter. The beginning of the meal features classic matzoh ball soup, leading up to a salad of mache and figs, herb roasted leg of lamb, roasted new potatoes and vegetables, and ending with an array of Passover desserts.

This year, in addition to the sponge cake, made from my grandmother’s recipe and cooled upside down on a glass bottle, there are homemade coconut macaroons with a tiny chocolate center, and chocolate matzo brittle.

Matzo brittle is a fairly recent concoction, and not the type of thing I would normally make. I balk at things that start with processed ingredients, and with no disrespect to our state’s acting first lady, the idea of “Semi-Homemade” is unappealing. Yet, something made me want to try this one, and I am glad I did!
It is easy, yet a little messy, and absolutely addictive, regardless of what your heritage might be!

Matzo Brittle

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cover 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil, including the edges.( you will thank me for this later) and then lay a piece of parchment paper on each pan.

Lay out sheets of plain matzo, using broken pieces to fill any gaps.

In a heavy sauce pan, melt 2 sticks of butter, and 1 cup of brown sugar, stirring until melted together. Allow the mixture to bubble up for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove it from the pan and pour it over the matzo, covering each piece evenly.

Put the pans in the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble up.

Remove the pans from the oven, and sprinkle each one with a bag of chocolate chips. Pop back in the oven for about 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the matzo.

Allow to cool, and then break into pieces.

Try not to taste it, or there won’t be any left for the guests.

To all of our readers around the world,Happy Easter-over! May you enjoy a wonderful celebration of the Spring season surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Enjoy!


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