This past weekend, my hubby and I drove over to one of our favorite Los Angeles breakfast spots, Factor’s Famous Deli on Pico Boulevard. Factor’s is a quintessential deli with a big menu full of American-style Jewish delicacies. Usually, I order the same delicious breakfast at Factor’s—toasted egg bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and tomatoes. It’s sinfully yummy. But for some reason, on this occasion, I felt like trying something different. One dish stuck out to me, one I’d never tried before but had always been curious about…
Now, I’ve been cooking Jewish food for several years, but I’ve focused more on the Sephardic side of the cuisine. Certain Ashkenazi dishes are foreign to me. While this dish is made by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, it’s more of an Ashkenazi favorite. The only thing I knew about matzo brei was that it contained eggs and matzo. I like both eggs and matzo—the idea of the two being scrambled together was intriguing.
Being a shiksa, and not knowing any better, I’d always thought the dish was pronounced matzo bree. My hubby corrected me.
“It’s pronounced matzo brigh,” he said. “And it’s delicious. You should try it. It’s Stephen Spielberg’s favorite breakfast.”
So brei rhymes with try, huh? Feeling adventurous, I decided to try it and see what I was missing. The waitress came to take our order.
“I’ll have the matzo brei,” I said proudly, my pronunciation pitch-perfect.
“Would you like it salty or sweet?” she asked.
Yikes! I was caught off guard. “People eat it sweet?”
“Sure,” she said. “Some people like it with sugar. And some like it salty. It’s up to you.”
I was totally confused, but the thought of sweet eggs made me a little queasy. “Uhh, I guess I’ll have it salty?”
“Great,” she replied. “I’ll bring you a side of sour cream and applesauce, too.”
Sour cream and applesauce? With eggs? Maybe this breakfast experiment wasn’t such a great idea. But I wasn’t about to chicken out. This shiksa was in it to win it.
After about ten minutes, the waitress brought me a plate of matzo brei. It looked harmless enough, and it smelled good. I decided to dig in.
With my first bite, I tried the eggs and matzo on their own. Yum, I thought. Second bite, I tasted the eggs and matzo with a dab of sour cream on top. Double yum. Finally, I tried a bite with everything… eggs, matzo, sour cream, and applesauce.
Have mercy. I’m in matzo brei heaven.
Now I understand why some people like this dish sweet. After that first taste, I ended up piling on the applesauce. There’s something about that added sweetness that really adds to the egg/matzo mixture. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I cleaned my plate at Factor’s Deli. It’s the perfect comfort food, and it stuck with me all day… I even skipped lunch.
Fast forward to yesterday morning. We woke up to a chilly rainstorm here in Los Angeles. The weather screamed for a warm, comforting breakfast. “Matzo brei,” I thought. I flipped through a few of my old Jewish cookbooks and quickly got the idea. It’s a simple dish. Here’s the way I ended up making it. And yes, it was delicious! I encourage you to give it a try… if nothing else, it will help you use up those leftover matzos after Passover.
This breakfast will now be a part of my regular rotation. Thank you, Factor’s Deli! How do you like your matzo brei? Salty or sweet?
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- Scramble 2 eggs in a bowl with a whisk. I like to add 1 tbsp of milk to the eggs for a creamy flavor.
- Run a sheet of matzo under running water for 20-60 seconds until it just begins to soften. The amount of time you'll need to keep it under the water depends on the type of matzo you're using. Let it get soft, but don’t let it turn mushy! Shake off the excess water and reserve the matzo.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Break matzo into bite-sized pieces and place them in the skillet. Sauté the matzo pieces over medium heat for about a minute, until they are evenly coated with butter.
- Pour the scrambled eggs over the matzo pieces. Stir the eggs with a spatula until they are well combined with the matzo. Cook the eggs for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously—don’t let the eggs sit, or they will overcook. You want the eggs to be cooked soft and just a tiny bit runny. I hate runny eggs, but trust me on this one—overcooked or browned eggs don’t work with this dish. As you are cooking, sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. This would also be the time to add sugar, if you want a sweeter matzo brei.
- Serve the matzo brei with a small side of applesauce and sour cream.
- Note: If you are planning on adding extras like diced vegetables, nuts, or fruit, sauté them with the matzo and butter. Add extra seasonings or cheese with the eggs.