Who needs a donut?

His first meal of the day at 1:15 p.m. Brunch?

This is Joe’s power breakfast today, or was it lunch?

Cinnamon Toast Matzo

  • 1 sheet matzo
  • butter
  • cinnamon sugar

Spread the matzo with some softened butter. Put it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds for the butter to melt. Sprinkle on some cinnamon-sugar, then put it back in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Delicious (not nutritious).

Pat’s Perfect Passover Blintzes

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please see Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

Passover Blintzes

For the bletlach (crepe):

  • 1 c. matzo meal
  • 2 c. (plus) milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. sugar

Mix together all the ingredients and relax with a good book for 20-30 minutes. Heat butter in an 8″ crepe pan (or non-stick pan), and ladle in 1/3-1/2 cup of batter. When the bottom is brown, turn over with a spatula, or flip in the air if brave. Brown the second side adding more butter as needed. Fill, fold, and return to pan to brown.
Serve topped with preserves.

For the filling:

  • 16 oz. ricotta
  • 2 Tbs. cream cheese
  • 1 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. sugar

Whisk together all ingredients. Fill and fold.

For the topping:

  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar

The blintzes, filled and returned to the pan for more cooking. Since the filling has raw eggs, be sure and cook them thoroughly.

Rae’s Savory Matzo Brie with Mushrooms and Onions

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please get the book Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

Rae and I have been showing some enthusiastic teenagers a few of our secrets to good Jewish cooking. For the past few weeks we have been making a lot of Passover recipes. Matzo brie, or fried matzo, is a Passover staple. What was surprising, and really kind of delightful, was to discover that Rae’s family and my family have two completely different versions of the same dish. Ours is cooked up quite fast, into browned chopped up bits, and then served with a mound of jam, eingie. Rae’s is slow-cooked, using mushrooms and onions, and served in one giant, fluffed up wheel, which is cut into wedges to serve.

Rae’s Matzo Brie

  • 6 sheets matzo
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, halved or sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • olive oil for frying

In a very large pan, saute the onion until almost golden, then stir in the mushrooms and let cook for a few more minutes. Soak the matzos in water, briefly, then drain and stir in the eggs, salt, onions and mushrooms. Add a little more oil to the pan, and when it’s hot pour in the matzo mixture. Turn the heat to medium and let it slowly brown, for about 8 minutes. Slide a spatula around the edges and check the bottom of the matzo brie. When it is a deep golden brown it is ready to be flipped. Take a flat platter that is a bit larger than the pan, place over the top of the pan, and turn it all upside down, inverting the matzo brie onto the platter. Add a little more oil to the pan, and when it’s hot, slide the matzo brie back into the pan, uncooked side down. Cook for another 8-10 minutes until golden brown on the bottom, and then carefully slide onto the serving platter. Cut into wedges to serve.

Soak the matzo, stir in eggs. Add slow-sauteed onions and mushrooms and stir it all together.

Fry it up.

Loosen the edges and flip the matzo brie upside down onto a platter.

Slip it back into the pan, uncooked side down.

After the second side is golden brown, carefully loosen the edges, and slip it back onto the platter to serve.

Fried Matzo (matzo brie)

A hot plate of fried matzo, topped with our favorite, eingie.

Break the matzo before soaking.

Mix the soaked matzo with egg and salt, and pour into a hot, buttered pan to brown.


  • 1½ sheets matzo
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • butter for frying


  1. Break up the matzo into a large bowl. Run warm water into the bowl to cover the matzo bits, count to three, then drain, either into a colander, or simply by using your fingers to hold the matzo in the bowl.
  2. Add the egg and salt and, using a large spoon, mix together thoroughly.
  3. Melt about a half-tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. When hot, pour in the matzo mixture. When the bottom begins to brown, use your spoon to break apart chunks, and turn them over so that the other side can brown. Add a little more butter as you go, and continue in this fashion until you have a pan filled with nicely browned pieces.
  4. Serve immediately; eat plain, or top with eingie (page 184), honey,
    or syrup.

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please see Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

passover promo shot

Perfectly fluffy: Matzo Balls (kneidlach)

A matzo ball, swimming in soup.

My mother’s matzo balls were always “puchie”*, and my grandmother’s were dense. My grandmother, a wonderful cook, just could not get them to be like my mom’s even though they used the same recipe—or so they thought. It turned out that my mother was beating her egg whites; Nana was not. Today I came across my mother’s recipe, which in true form was merely a list of ingredients. I mixed it together, folded in the beaten egg whites last, and it looked awful. So I threw that batch away and began again. This time I folded in the egg whites earlier, and it worked! These are the lightest, fluffiest matzo balls you’ll ever taste.

*Puchie is my spelling for the Yiddish word for fluffy. The “ch” is made at the back of your throat, as if you are beginning to spit.


  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbs. oil (or schmaltz)
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley (optional, but it’s very pretty)
  • ½ c. matzo meal


  1. Put a large, covered pot of salted water up to boil.
  2. Mix together the egg yolks, oil, water, salt, and parsley.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the matzo meal a little at a time. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Wet your hands and form batter into approximately 2˝-diameter balls, then place into simmering water. After all the matzo balls are in the water, cover, and leave undisturbed for 30 minutes. Do not let the water come to a hard boil as that will damage the delicate matzo balls.
  5. Serve in chicken, turkey, or vegetable soup.

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please see Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

passover promo shot

Matzo Meal Pancakes

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please see Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

The most delicate and elegant pancakes you’ve ever tasted, these are like little balls of buttery fluff that melt in your mouth. With a preparation time of 30 minutes, we were lucky if my mother fixed these twice during the eight days of Passover, and then we would wait another full year before tasting them again. They are very small, so plan on 8-12 pancakes per person, and more if you have competitive teenage eaters in the house.

Matzo Meal Pancakes (serves 2-3)

Mix together:

  • 1/2 c. matzo meal
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Beat together and add to matzo meal mixture:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 c. milk

Let sit for 30 minutes. Beat the 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Spoon batter onto a hot, buttered griddle or pan. Serve plain or with eingie.

Hero Mother and Mothers of Invention: Mom’s Lasagna and Turkey Cobbler

My mother made good on her promise.

My mother was a hero.

In January of 1978 my brother Richard and his wife were flying home from their vacation, and would be stopping by my parent’s home to pick up Sam, their dog. Sam had been my dog, but since moving into their new home which was all decorated in white—white wool carpet, white sofa, white upholstered dining room chairs—and with me off at college, the dog had gone to live with Richard. I was six when my mother promised me that I could have a dog, but only if I could wait until I turned twelve. I didn’t mention the dog thing again until my twelfth birthday and then, surprisingly, my mother made good on her promise. I think she felt guilty that I would be home alone, with the last of my three older siblings heading off to college. The fact that my mother took me shopping for a puppy is the first example of my mom as a hero, since she was not a dog person (note the white carpet and white furniture). In addition to a lot of white, the new home had slick parquet floors, in a great open area which at its longest spanned 55 feet, and which sat atop 6″ of hollow-core concrete slabs. My dad was in the precast concrete business and there was a lot of structural concrete in the new home. After over 25 years (they had paid off the mortgage) in a 1920’s era home with the creakiest of floors, my father was proud of the solid floors in this new dream house. One could sneak from room to room in the new house without the slightest sound. There was no give to these floors.

Mom had prepared Richard’s favorite lasagna for dinner, and it sat on the counter waiting to go in the oven. A proficient multi-tasker long before they had a word for it, she phoned the airline to see when the plane would be arriving at O’Hare, and while on hold she took a minute to lay down the phone and run into the other room for a moment. Mom always had hot feet and instead of shoes or slippers she wore those nude-colored knee-high stockings. She had a drawer stuffed with hundreds of them in all shades of nudes and beige and taupe. As she ran into the other room, while the airline played hold-music, she slipped on the smooth parquet, and her hip landed right on that 6″ of immovable, hollow-core concrete, and broke.

Realizing that it was painful to walk, Mom crawled into the kitchen and somehow put the lasagna in the oven. She managed to get to the couch to wait until my brother arrived and called an ambulance. On her way out the door, on a stretcher, she told us when the lasagna would be ready and that we should be sure to check on it and sit down to eat it while it was hot. My hero.

An old recipe, with my regards to Dan Quayle.

–  –  –  –  –

I didn’t break anything, I only had a cold, and so I can’t claim to be anywhere in a league with Ruth Gordon. Yet even though I was feeling ill I felt compelled by that mysterious, maternal force to produce a meal.  The day before I had taken out the bag of frozen turkey scraps which had been in the freezer since Thanksgiving, and it was time to use them or toss them. As I lay in bed all day, feeling sorry for my pitiful virus, I contemplated the thawed turkey scraps and how I had planned on a lovely pot pie for dinner. Feeling the need to make dinner, and also feeling very lazy, I made a hurry-up version of a pot pie, making more of a cobbler than a pie. I made pot-pie filling as usual, poured it into a casserole dish, then mixed up a batch of biscuits in the food processor and glopped on bits of the biscuit dough on top of the filling,

Last night we had Turkey Cobbler for the third night in a row. Max asked me how much more of it there was and when I replied, sheepishly, that he must be sick of it, he said, “No, I could eat this every night for weeks! I love this!” I think I just invented Max’s favorite dinner, which I can make when he comes to visit me some day, when I’m watching his dog. I will endeavor to be a heroic mother. I will not, however, ever have a home that is decorated in all white.

With a father who loves biscuits and gravy, and a teenage boy's love of carbs, it makes sense that this is Max's new favorite meal.

Maralee’s Spaghetti Lasagna

My sister Maralee’s dinner tonight sounded so wonderful that I asked her to take a picture of it and write about it for my blog. This is from Maralee.

Last week I was having the Crystal Lake Interfaith Clergy Group over to the synagogue for lunch, and I bought all the ingredients for lasagna.  Then it turned out we had some lasagna in the synagogue freezer, made by the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys in their social action group, and we had to use up before Passover.  So there I was—stuck with the ingredients, which I brought home.  Tonight I decided to use those ingredients to make lasagna at home, but there was one problem—we try to only use whole wheat pasta, and the leftover noodles were white!  This is how I came to invent a new dish:  Spaghetti Lasagna.  It’s a quick dish to make, and here is how I did it:

Spaghetti Lasagna

  • Barilla Italian Bake Pasta Sauce, 2 jars (or use your favorite)
  • Ricotta cheese, 32 oz.
  • Shredded Mozzarella, 16 oz.
  • Shredded parmesan, ½ cup
  • frozen chopped spinach, ten oz. package, thawed
  • sliced baby portabella mushrooms, half a pound, uncooked
  • spaghetti noodles, 1 lb., uncooked

In a 9×13 Pyrex dish pour a little of the sauce from each of the jars to cover the bottom.

Lay half the spaghetti length-wise to cover the entire dish—you might want to break some in half to fill in the ends.

Pour the rest of one jar of sauce over the spaghetti and place sliced mushrooms over the sauce to cover (some slices were too thick and I sliced them thinner).

Spread half the ricotta over the mushroomed sauce (I spread it by hand).

Sprinkle half the mozzarella over the ricotta, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan,

Lay the other half of the spaghetti over the cheese,

Mix the spinach with the rest of the sauce and spread over the spaghetti,

Finish off with the rest of the ricotta followed by the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Here we are, happy together in my kitchen, last year at Pesach.

Real food for real teens: Cupcakes

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries


These have purple frosing with a light dusting of purple sparkly sugar. What’s not to love?

Cupcakes really aren’t in my cooking vocabulary, unless you consider Black Bottom Cupcakes, which are in a class by themselves. My 16 year-old son can’t ever remember me making regular cupcakes. Unlike me, my mother used to make cupcakes every other year to send to school for my birthday. (On the off year Karen Baskin’s mother would send in the cupcakes since Karen and I shared a birthday.) However, Molly was assigned purple cupcakes for a club meeting tomorrow, where a rainbow of sugary cakes will be displayed and sold to eager highschoolers. Molly suggested that using a baking mix would be okay because she heard that mixes made exactly 12 which is what she would need. “Mix?” Not in my kitchen, and not a surprise that making them from scratch was a) quick, and b) really, really, surprisingly GOOD! I liked them better before we glopped on the purple butter-cream frosting. They were light in texture and chocolaty in flavor, with a delicate crust.

Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12 medium or 10 larger)

  • 3 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then add the milk and vanilla, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until evenly blended. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin trays, and bake at  375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean. Frost, if you must, with a butter-cream frosting.

No recipe Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1/2 a stick or so of really soft butter
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • vanilla
  • milk

Cream together the butter with some sugar until it starts to get thick and creamy. Then thin with milk, just a trickle at a time, then add more sugar, and repeat until you have the quantity that you like. Whip it up really well until it’s very fluffy. At some point pour in a little vanilla. If you’re going to use food coloring then leave the frosting very thick before adding, since the liquid coloring will also thin the frosting.