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Matzah Brei–blintzes?

Matzah Brei Blintzes

Thursday morning I broke down and decided to cook  breakfast for my daughter instead of leaving it at matzah, jam, yogurt and fruit. I’m not a big fan of matzah brei, a poor substitute for french toast in which the eggs never really seem to absorb very well and you’re left swallowing the hard corners of the matzah. Neither crisp nor soft, it always seems like a wrong turn to me.

On the other hand, I didn’t have any matzah meal in the house for pancakes (how much extra matzah product do you really need when you’re trying to eat less of it?) So I broke down and took a couple of sheets of the whole wheat matzah from the latest box and prepared to do battle.

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I hate waiting for water to boil. But a pyrex pie plate with half an inch of water in the bottom takes only 2 minutes to heat up fairly well in the microwave. And it has room for the matzah, which I broke up into halves. But whole wheat matzah doesn’t soak up all that well, even after several minutes in hot water. It’s the tougher bread of affliction. What now?

I fished out a dinner plate and covered the pie plate with it, stuck it all back in the microwave, and hit stun for another minute. To my surprise, it worked–really worked. The matzah didn’t fluff up or anything–but it was soft and pliable and even a bit elastic, something like just-cooked lasagne noodles. No hard corners. I drained off the hot water and poured on the egg-milk soak, which didn’t really soak in much even though the matzah was now soft. Sigh.

My daughter came around a corner, looked at me fishing one of these matzah halves out of the pie plate, and said, “I wish we could have blintzes” and I thought–well, these actually bend–could we? Why not?

Matzah brei blintz ready for frying

Matzah brei blintz, ready for frying

Ricotta cheese is actually one of the better choices for diabetics–not as carb-free as hard cheese, but pretty low all the same since most of the whey has been pressed out. Two to four grams of carb per quarter cup, with some protein, and you can get part-skim or skim. Not bad at all. With a sheet of whole wheat matzah at 20 grams (lower than the regular 25-28 g., and has 4 g. fiber, which is why I went with whole wheat this year) and half a cup of ricotta, my daughter could eat four blintz-sized pieces for only 30 g. carb. With half a cup of tart strawberries or blueberries, two tablespoons of maple syrup or all-fruit/low-carb jam, and a glass of milk, it’s a fairly decent meal and not overwhelmingly heavy on total carbs or free sugars.

I should mention that I don’t add sugar to either the egg soak or the ricotta filling–trying to save carbs where possible–but then again older classic recipes for blintzes don’t either. They’re supposed to be cheesy, a foil for the fruit, apple sauce and sour cream, or syrup. And they came out surprisingly well–tender, a little eggy, easy to eat and cut, and tinged with vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of orange and lemon–the things I added for flavor instead of sugar or salt.

If you really want to get fancy (and rich) with the filling you could add some cream cheese too, but I don’t know that you really need the extra fat. Just don’t add yogurt because it’ll break when you heat it and make everything really runny.

Matzah Brei Blintzes

  • 1 sheet whole wheat matzah per person
  • eggs and skim milk–1 whole egg plus one white and 1/2 c milk was more than enough for 3 matzahs, and could probably have gone for 5 or 6
  • 1/2 c. ricotta per sheet of matzah
  • vanilla
  • cinnamon
  • lemon juice
  • orange juice
  • butter or light-flavored oil for frying

1. Put half an inch of water in a pyrex pie plate, cover with a microwaveable lid or ceramic dinner plate, microwave on HIGH 2 minutes or so until steaming hot.

2. Break matzah sheets into quarters (neater for whole wheat than for regular) and lay them in the hot water, rolling the water over all of them to soak a minute or so. Cover again and microwave on HIGH for another minute. The sheets should be tender and somewhat elastic, with no hard bits. Nuke another 30 s covered if they’re not there yet.

3. Drain off the water. In another bowl, mix the egg(s) and white(s) with proportionate amount of milk, add a capful of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon, and pour over the drained matzahs in the pie plate. Let them soak a few minutes while you make the ricotta filling.

4. Mix ricotta with vanilla, lemon juice, and orange juice in the following rough proportions (and figuring 1/2 c. ricotta per sheet of matzah):

Per cup of ricotta: 1 capful or 1/2 t. vanilla, 1-2 t. each lemon and orange juice, cinnamon to taste. You don’t want it too liquidy–if you want more lemon flavor, grate a bit of peel with a zester.

5. Dollop ricotta onto half of each matzah quarter with a soup spoon, fold the matzah over into rectangles or triangles, and fry on both sides for a few minutes. Turn them gently and they should hold together surprisingly well without oozing too much filling.

6. Because of the egg soak, make sure they’re cooked through either by putting a lid over the pan and turning down the heat for a few minutes (check carefully to keep from scorching) OR rinse the pie plate out, dry it, put in the fried blintzes, cover with a dinner plate, and microwave on high for a minute or a minute and a half.

Serve with berries and maple syrup or brown sugar, apricot jam and cinnamon (personal favorite), or the classic unsweetened apple sauce and sour cream or yogurt.

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