For kids, finding the afikomen is the most thrilling part of the Passover Seder. I can remember running through my grandma’s house searching for that half of a matzo. My cousin Leslie and I would look together. (We did everything together.) And when we found the matzo we screamed with joy and then when my Uncle Irving fit it together with the other half, we shared the prize (which I think was a piece of candy).
I remember my daughters yelling and jumping up and down with delight when it was their turn to find the afikomen.
This is the way it’s supposed to be. When the children find the half that some grownup has hidden they all shriek and shout, as you can see by the expression of utter joy shown by my grandson Zev in the first photo.
But the two pieces of matzo have to fit together. (It always does! But somehow the kids have that tiniest bit of doubt, which makes it so much fun for the grownups to watch.)
The fitting together part is my husband Ed’s task and you can see (in the other photos) that he’s pretty much thrilled with it and jokes about it with the kids. Sometimes he purposely gets out the wrong half so the afikomen won’t fit. Sometimes he pretends he’s eaten the other half. Or tries to fit it together sideways.
And so on.
Of course Passover, beyond the tradition of finding the afikomen, is all about matzo. Which suits me just fine because I think it is one of life’s most delicious foods. Fresh matzo. Crispy, toasty. Just plain, smeared with butter or cream cheese. Or topped with leftover chicken or chopped liver. Or strawberry jam.
During Passover I use a matzo to make a crust on top of spinach pie (the same recipe I use year round with a phyllo dough crust).
I even make toasted cheese sandwiches with matzo (place slices of cheese on top of the matzo and cook in a toaster oven).
But the family favorite is matzo brei. For breakfast, brunch and an occasional dinner. Is there anyone who doesn’t like matzo brei?
Ed and I still argue over whether matzo brei is better soft (me) or crunchy (him).
I think this is a common theme among matzo brei enthusiasts.
Although we usually eat plain old matzo brei, I tinker with the recipe. Of course. That’s what I do.
And although we come back to the original time after time, sometimes it’s nice to have a new version. So here is one that we liked.
Sweet and Fruity Matzo Brei
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup chopped apple
3 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Break the matzos into pieces into a bowl. Cover with boiling water for about 5-6 minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Return the matzos to the bowl. Add the eggs, salt, apple, raisins, vanilla extract and lemon peel and mix thoroughly. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, pour the batter into the saute pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn and fry for another 2-3 minutes. NOTE: you can fry smaller portions instead of one large pancake. Makes 3-4 servings