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What To Do With Leftover Matzo?

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What To Do With Leftover Matzo?

What To Do With Leftover Matzo?

What To Do With Leftover Matzo?

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As Jewish families all over the world take part in the ritual Passover feast known as the Seder, one element is a MUST: the traditional unleavened bread, matzo. As with any staple in a feast, there can be lots of leftovers. One of the leading authorities on Jewish cuisine, Joan Nathan, offers host Michel Martin expert advice on creative ways to use leftover matzo.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

As you just heard, Passover begins on Monday and that means Jewish families around the world are probably already planning what they will eat for the traditional Passover Seder, a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the holiday.

Now, Seders everywhere must include some traditional elements, which may very slightly, according to the part of the world the celebrant is in or from. But one element is a must - matzoh - that cracker-like unleavened bread, which symbolizes the meal prepared in haste as the Israelites prepared to flee Egypt for freedom.

Now, here's the problem. Let's say your friends and guests are very generous and they have presented you with a large quantity of this item, which while spiritually (unintelligible) probably not the best thing you ever ate. So, what to do with your leftover matzoh?

We have called upon Joan Nathan, one of this country's foremost authorities on Jewish cooking. She's the author of many, many books. The latest is "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France." And she's here with us in our Washington, D.C. studio. Thank you so much for joining us.

Ms. JOAN NATHAN (Author, "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France"): Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: Now, I must tell you, I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't called you. This is a little like calling, you know, Pavarotti to sing the birthday song.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Or Aretha. But we appreciate that you're willing to take on this challenge of what to do with your leftover matzoh. But before we do, Passover, as we were talking earlier, is probably the Jewish holiday that may be most familiar to non-Jews.

Ms. NATHAN: Right.

MARTIN: And it's a very festive occasion.

Ms. NATHAN: Absolutely.

MARTIN: What do you like about Passover?

Ms. NATHAN: Well, I like the sense of family. That everybody comes home. We try to make all our kids come home. And I really - it's the hardest thing I do all year. But when it finally comes together, it's worth it because it's a way of creating memories for your children and have people - all people that you love at your home with great food - and matzoh.

MARTIN: And matzoh. I hope I'm not being disrespectful when I say that, you know, matzoh has a great spiritual importance, but it's - can we just be honest, it's not the best thing we ever ate.

Ms. NATHAN: Right. It's flour and water.

MARTIN: Flour and water pretty much.

Ms. NATHAN: That's exactly right.

MARTIN: And is there any salt in it?

Ms. NATHAN: There can be.

MARTIN: There can be salt in it.

Ms. NATHAN: There can be salt in it.

MARTIN: So, do you ever find yourself with the dilemma of leftover matzoh?

Ms. NATHAN: Well, you know, it's funny. My daughter, when she was about five years old, she's in her 30s now, she once said, you know, we looked so forward to Passover and then we realized after the first day we have to have matzoh for eight days.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: So what have you come up with as a way to utilize this important ingredient?

Ms. NATHAN: Right. Well, first of all, I crumble up matzoh for my matzoh balls, but I also make matzoh pizza, matzoh macaroni cheese. I have this - which I brought in for you from my new book, a tarte flambee with matzoh that Alsatians use. It's like with farmer's cheese and creme fraiche and sauteed onions and usually with ham. But, of course, the Jews aren't going to use ham.

MARTIN: No, we're not going to have the ham.

Ms. NATHAN: So, it's a Sunday night dinner in Alsace. Everybody eats it for Sunday night.

MARTIN: It smells amazing. And is it hard to make?

Ms. NATHAN: It's so easy.

MARTIN: What do you do?

Ms. NATHAN: Well, basically you saute some onions or shallots and you take a piece of matzoh, otherwise you would take pie crust and you put some on top. Then you sprinkle on some creme fraiche and also some gruyere cheese and you just bake it in the oven.

MARTIN: It looks like pizza. Kind of looks like pizza.

Ms. NATHAN: It's like pizza. Well, you can taste it.

MARTIN: Do you mind if I taste it?

Ms. NATHAN: It's for you. It's for you.

MARTIN: Oh, OK.

Ms. NATHAN: And, you know, what's really so interesting is that you might not think that matzoh's so good. However, in the Middle Ages, Jews lived in small towns in the south of France. They lived all over France. You know, Jews have lived there for 2,000 years.

MARTIN: This is so good.

Ms. NATHAN: And they had something called a carriere, basically ghettos. And in the synagogue they would have a matzoh bakery. And the Jews would have the matzoh, but the gentiles loves the matzoh so much that they would come from the regular part of town to the ghetto, to the bakery and get these - they called them cudal(ph) or condol(ph) and these were the matzoh. And to this day, pain azyme, which is the French word for matzoh is diet food in France.

MARTIN: And so people eat it all year round.

Ms. NATHAN: They eat it all year round.

MARTIN: This is amazing. I'm sorry, I'm just sitting here in this reverie of...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. NATHAN: Isn't this good?

MARTIN: And you call this what again?

Ms. NATHAN: It's called tarte flambee.

MARTIN: Now, one of my colleagues brought this dish to a potluck, the chocolate salty crackers. Are you familiar with that?

Ms. NATHAN: Oh, yeah, that's...

MARTIN: Did you invent that, by the way?

Ms. NATHAN: No, I did not. And there are many people that say they invented it. Probably some company invented it.

MARTIN: Do you like it?

Ms. NATHAN: It's delicious.

MARTIN: It is a revelation. I mean, it changed my whole attitude about matzoh, I must tell you. It's because it's very simple to make. You make sort of a caramel.

Ms. NATHAN: Right.

MARTIN: And then you spread some chocolate chips on top.

Ms. NATHAN: And chocolate.

MARTIN: And then maybe some nuts. But you didn't invent that?

Ms. NATHAN: I didn't invent it. I use it. Everybody uses it.

MARTIN: Do you like it?

Ms. NATHAN: I do like it. But, you know, there are so many different things that you can do with matzoh.

MARTIN: Give an example. What about something for breakfast, for example?

Ms. NATHAN: Well, you crush it up and you put water in it. In fact, we once had a - it's called a matzoh brie. And we had a matzoh brie cook-off with the late Sheila Lukins who was at my house for Passover. So, she made hers with mushrooms, sauteed mushrooms and onions. And I made mine just with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. And we just tried to do it - see whose was best. And I guess whose best is what your mother made. That's really...

MARTIN: So, what do you do is you just wet the matzoh a little bit. And you crumble it.

Ms. NATHAN: You wet the matzoh, you dry it out. But I have another new idea that was in my article for the New York Times: deep fried matzoh. You just deep fry it for a minute. And it makes it very crunchy. And then you just sprinkle on it granulated garlic, salt, pepper, sugar. It is so delicious. It's addictive. It's that frying - it doesn't do anything to it because it's so thin.

MARTIN: I thought we were kind of moving into a healthy eating phase here. But you're just dragging us right back in.

Ms. NATHAN: I am. But believe me, it is so good. And the thing is, nothing is absorbed, so all it does - it gives it a little crunch. There you go.

MARTIN: Well, that's a solution to every problem.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: And, finally, I'm sure that there will be people stalking you for invitations to your Seder anyway, but what are you serving this Seder, if you don't mind my asking?

Ms. NATHAN: I'm going to do the fried matzoh. But I'm also going to have the shmura matzoh, the round matzoh, which are really the originally matzoh. I'll have charoset, which is the more - symbolic of the mortar, when Jews were slaves in Egypt. I'll have brisket. I'll have chicken soup, homemade gefilte and I end my meal with a matzoh fritter called a chremslach, which is from Germany. It's like a doughnut, a matzoh doughnut. And then I serve it with a compote.

And it's a recipe that my father loved. He was from a very assimilated Jewish family in Germany. And when my mother wanted to have a Seder, he didn't really want to have a Seder, but he said he would do it on one condition. That she would make this chremslach, this matzoh fritter. And so she learned to make it and I think about him every year when I make the matzoh. Why don't you come to my Seder?

MARTIN: I was waiting.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. NATHAN: It's great food.

MARTIN: No doubt. Joan Nathan is the author of 10 cookbooks. Her most recent is "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France." She's also a frequent contributor to the New York Times Food Arts Magazine and Tablet Magazine. And she was kind enough to stop by our Washington, D.C. studios at this very busy time of year. Joan Nathan, thank you so much for joining us.

Ms. NATHAN: Thank you.

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