Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam

I wanted to make Egg Foo Yung.

It was cooking class in 6th grade; mid-Passover.  The teacher announced that those of us who observed Passover would be making Matzo Brei, and everyone else would be making Egg Foo Yung.

“Can I have a show of hands of those who observe Passover, please?” she asked with what appeared to be an evil glint in her eye.

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam
Yes, evil, to me..because, seriously, Matzo Brei versus Egg Foo Yung? Not even remotely fair! Plus, I’d already had my fair share of matzo brei at home for three days straight. She knew some of us were going to get the shaft.  Egg Foo Yung > Matzo Brei; no contest.

I kept my hands clasped under the desk, hoping I could sneak into one of the Egg Foo Yung groups.

Suddenly, a raspy voice interrupted the teacher, just as she assigned me to one of the Foo Yung kitchens.

“Lisa!! Why didn’t you raise your hand? You observe Passover!”

Grrr…Susan Filner (names have been fictionalized), a loud, bossy girl with thick, coarse, straw-colored hair and braces. We had attended a JCC camp together the summer before.

The teacher looked at me sweetly, pity lurking beneath the sweetness. She felt sorry for me because I was going to be stuck with bland, boring matzo brei, while she and most of the class would be chowing down on delicious Egg Foo Yung.

“Is that true, Lisa? Does your family observe Passover?” she asked in a tone that would suggest a condolence of some sort.

I looked up and replied through gritted teeth..”Well, sort of..ummm, yeah.”

I couldn’t come up with an explanation of ‘sort of’ that would punch my ticket to Foo Yung.

“OK, then, you’re in kitchen #3 with Susan, Shelley and Danielle!” she exclaimed with a warm smile.

I slowly, and indignantly, shuffled my feet to the kitchen of gloom, making sure the teacher could see how unhappy I was and maybe change her mind.

5..4..3…2…nope, it wasn’t going to happen.

When I reached the kitchen, Susan took charge immediately, the tiny rubber bands attached to her braces stretching up and down as she barked orders at us. It was like someone was operating her mouth through a lever in her back.

“Lisa, you beat the eggs. Danielle, you crumble the matzos. Shelley, you soak the matzo.” she demanded, then, “..and I’ll do the cooking”.  No one dared protest since she was kind of scary, in a parental sort of way. Plus, she was bigger than all of us.

I begrudgingly beat the eggs with a fork while watching the Egg Foo Yung kitchens across from us.  They were chopping vegetables and measuring stuff from exotic bottles with Chinese characters on the labels. Soon, the sound of sizzling oil, and the smell of stir-fry, permeated the air.

I wanted to cry.

When the Matzo Brei components were ready, Susan mixed it all together and dumped the whole batch into simmering oil in a skillet.  Oil? We always used buttery margarine at home. I couldn’t imagine Matzo Brei without a slightly buttery or butter-flavored, crust. To make matters worse, she cooked it like you would scrambled eggs, my least favorite way to eat it.

Then the coup-de-grace, and far from a merciful one at that. She plated it for all of us and slammed down a salt shaker. This is how she grew up eating Matzo Brei, as did her kitchen comrades..with salt.  In my home, we ate it with maple syrup or jam. I asked for one or the other.

“Ewww, Lisa; that’s not the way you eat Matzo Brei! It’s supposed to be savory!” she wailed with disgust, as she shook some salt on top of my dry, crumbly matzo curds.

I knew what she said couldn’t be true, but in that moment, I actually believed her, thinking that maybe that was just my family’s weird way of eating matzo brei, sort of like this special chopped liver, coleslaw, and fried bologna sandwich my father invented, in which I knew for sure no one else outside our family was partaking in.

Somehow I managed to choke it down, drinking copious amounts of water to counteract this salty, overcooked, flavorless mess of scrambled matzo. I stared longingly at everyone else eating their delicious looking Egg Foo Yung in a rich, brown sauce, wishing I could sneak a taste.

To this day, I have yet to make Egg Foo Yung.

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam

Growing up, the first weekend of every Passover we looked forward to a breakfast treat that was considered a treat because it was made during Passover. Don’t get me wrong, there were times we enjoyed this treat outside of Passover, but it was rare because Passover was what made it so special. The aforementioned Matzo (Matzah, Matzoh) Brei, made the right way, well, the better way, in my opinion.

My father was in charge of the Matzo Brei, the Matzo Brei head chef , so to speak, and no one ever challenged that or complained.  He made, and continues to make, a mean Matzo Brei. He would use a 12-inch skillet and cook the matzo mush into one big cake, which we sliced up and drenched in maple syrup. He learned how to make it from his mother, I think, but the gigantic pan cake was all his, and it never broke, even when he flipped it in the air instead of onto a plate to turn it. He also has this amazing technique to keep it creamy, but fully-cooked, on the inside, while perfectly crispy and buttery on the outside. I’ve tried to replicate it, but no dice; it’s all his and will remain that way.  It’s a gift that can’t be replicated.

That being said, I can’t even begin to tell you how much we looked forward to his Matzo Brei cake on Passover Sundays.  We would come running down the stairs, early, like it was a snow day; the sizzle/smell of melting margarine in the pan alerting us to its inception.

Last Passover, I made some Matzi Brei patties.  I spread some jam on one patty.  I looked at the other patty. wouldn’t hurt to try…

Thus, the idea of Peanut Butter Matzo Brei was born.

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam

Peanut butter Matzo Brei would be forbidden in strict Orthodox households because peanuts are kitniyot, which are foods that Sephardic Jews can eat during Passover, but Ashkenazi Jews cannoteg: corn, rice, peas, lentils, and peanuts.

We were not a strict Orthodox household, so our Passover rule was No food that contains flour and/or leavening, and that’s it. Peanut butter does not contain flour or leavening  so peanut butter and jelly matzo sandwiches were wrapped in foil and tucked into our lunch boxes.

I was a bad Passover observer. During the latter half of Passover, I’d start trading my peanut butter and jelly matzo sandwiches, or whatever matzo sandwich I had that day, with curious, non-Jewish classmates, for a tuna on rye or some kind of cold-cut concoction on white bread or a roll.  After several days of dry, flavorless matzo, I desperately needed bread. I figured I was going to Hell, but after days and days of matzo, I decided that bread just might be worth the descent into flaming oblivion.

Unfortunately, not much has changed. I rarely make it all the way through without a few liaisons with chametz (the forbidden grains – wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye).

Since Jews don’t believe in Hell, well, no Hell past 11 months, but, some do believe in reincarnation, I figure I’ll be lucky to make it back as a chicken..or bowling ball.

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam

If you keep kosher for Passover, there are kosher peanut butters out there. If you follow kitniyot, almond butter is a fantastic substitute. Although great with jam or jelly, we also love it with fresh fruit syrup.  Our favorite is a fresh strawberry syrup, which I’ve provided a recipe for, below.

Matzo Brei

By the way, the matzo brei ‘rule of thumb’ is usually 1 egg per matzo. However, since I’m mixing peanut butter or almond butter in, I subtracted one egg.

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: Makes about 8-12 matzo brei patties - 4-6 servings
  • 4 whole matzos (I use egg matzos)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine (parve for Passover)
Fresh Strawberry Syrup
  • 2 pints of strawberries, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ to ¾ cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your syrup
  • ½ cup water
For the Matzo Brei
  1. Break matzos into 1-inch pieces in a bowl. Pour hot tap water over the crumbled matzos to cover and let soak until the matzos are moist and soft, no crispy parts left (you don't want matzo mush, the pieces should still be whole, but very flimsy), about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring them around to make sure every piece is wet and softened. Pour the matzo and water through a strainer, then press down on the wet matzo pieces to remove any excess water. Transfer the damp, softened matzo pieces to another large bowl. I actually put the matzo pieces in a strainer and run hot tap water over them..mixing the pieces around until they're wet enough and super soft. Either way is fine.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the salt, then beat in peanut butter until uniform. Pour over the wet matzo pieces and mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat the butter or margarine in a 10-inch or 12-inch saute pan until foamy. Spoon ¼ cupfuls * of matzo mixture into the hot pan with melted butter or you would potato latkes. Cook each side for about 1 minute. Serve hot with jam, jelly, or your favorite syrup. Forget those and sprinkle with salt, if Susan is around.
For the Strawberry Syrup
  1. In a large sauce pan, combine the chopped strawberries, sugar and water. Cook on medium heat until the strawberry chunks are floating in a lot of liquid. Strain the strawberry juice into a clean sauce pan and cook down (reduce) until thickened to pancake syrup consistency. Add cooked berry chunks back into syrup, if desired, and/or just cut up fresh strawberries and top matzo brei and syrup with them.
* You could also make the matzo brei into one large pancake, like my father does. After the butter or margarine has melted and is sizzling, dump all of the matzo mixture into the pan and spread and flatten into one large pancake (it should cover the whole pan). Cook for 5 minutes, then flip, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until golden.

Bookmark and Share

This entry was posted in Breakfast, Fruit, Holiday, Jams/Jellies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) Matzo Brei with Fresh Strawberry Syrup or Jam

  1. Hooray! I was so happy to see you on my feed this morning. I love this post! I grew up in small town Iowa, no Jewish people at all. I was an adult when I made some Jewish friends and got invited to the amazing dinners, I even bought Matzo out of sheer curiosity…a little bland. Then I would drill them about the traditions, the stories, the food! Love those little hat pastries! But I love how your religion and my religion are so similar…to a point anyway! Welcome back, I hope all is well.

  2. Winnie says:

    Definitely a childhood memory – matzo brei every morning during Passover. My Dad use to sprinkle tons of sugar on it, and we LOVED it.
    I don’t make it myself but looking at what you made – WOW !!
    With strawberry syrup – I’m drooling. It looks and sounds DELISH
    Happy Passover Lisa – “Moadim Le’Simcha

  3. Rosa Mayland says:

    A great Passover treat! Those matzo brei look really tempting.



  4. Such a cute story…need to try this fun version of marzo brei! Glad to see you back in action and Happy Passover! (I’m MiA all the time…thanks for sticking with me!)

  5. I have never had matzo brei….the patties look so tasty!

  6. Such a cute story and a lovely recipe. I’m so happy to see your post in my inbox today. I hope all is well. You’ve been very misses!! Xoxo

  7. Sweet and delicious looking patties my friend 😀


  8. ramblingtart says:

    Oh you make me laugh, Lisa, as always. 🙂 A chicken or a bowling ball? Bahaha. 🙂 Your Dad’s concoction and cooking flourishes sound fantastic. 🙂

  9. I can´t stop laughing at the first part of this post… and beware, you might come back as a bossy Susan…ja
    These matzo patties look so tempting Lisa! Pb and strawberries, just amazing together.

  10. Shelley C says:

    That looks so delicious! A reason to buy a box of matzah! And… umm… Shelley? Hmm… 😉

  11. Well you see this could be one of the events in your life that have brought you here, curious about food, with a fab blog! But you must have been sad that day in class. Never had this before. And what is Egg Foo Yung? I did try Manischewitz wine for the first time this past week. Happy Passover.

  12. Bunkycooks says:

    Very cute story and so glad to see you are back writing and sharing recipes. I might not be Jewish, but I’d sure eat a stack of these Matzo Brei! 😉

  13. Lora says:

    Wow. Fantastic. I love this peanut butter and jelly version.

  14. These look seriously tasty, forbidden or not! I love anything peanut butter based 🙂

  15. Your stories always crack me up! I want to see your egg foo yung one day still! Now not the typical way I’ve heard of this dish (I’ve never had it), but definitely the more fun way;)Your syrup is gorgeous. I was so excited to see you post something :))

  16. You weave such an entertaining story…from the annoying pest in school to your dad’s best version of matzo brei. The strawberry sauce looks like an amazing addition…way better than salt :/

  17. jamie says:

    Oh, Lisa, this has to be my favorite post, favorite story you have ever written. I love it. Hysterical your description of Home Ec and I could feel your pain about having to make Matzoh Brei instead of Egg Fu Young. AND I loved peanut butter on matzoh. I was pretty strict during Passover growing up but always made an exception for peanut butter. I couldn’t get through the week without it. But I loved and still love matzoh and can live on. And I agree totally about *whew* no hell for us!

    I never had matzoh brei until I was an adult. My parents never made it. The first time I made it (it is a very early blog post) I made both a savory version (ha ha not salt but smoked salmon) and a sweet version with cooked apples I think. I love both!

    Happy Happy holiday, my friend! I am sharing this post all over – and pinning on my Jewish board, my comfort food board and my Brilliant Blog Post Writing board! xoxo

  18. Dan says:

    Funny story – I only wish Matzah Brei appealed to my palate as much as your writing does. Certainly yours looks (nice photos) a lot better than I remember my mom’s use to be – just could not ever get a taste for it. I remember soaking it with maple syrup – wish I had your strawberry sauce maybe I could acquire a taste for it. Could never imagine it as a savory dish :).

  19. I have never had matzo brei, but your version would be a yummy initiation! So glad when your post popped up in my inbox…I had been checking to see if I was missing them!?! Whew! 🙂

  20. Stacy says:

    What a great story! I am always fascinated by family traditions since my own are so deeply ingrained. You really need to make egg foo yung to finish this story off and give yourself some closure. 🙂 I’ve never tried matzo brei but yours looks buttery and crispy and I imagine it tastes delicious with that sweet strawberry syrup.

  21. Lisa, so happy to see you in my e-mail inbox this morning! Oh the horrors of home economics or food technology or whatever they call that class these days. Just think of the word food technology right there it just sounds like a science experiment gone bad…! I am so sorry you had to eat gruel on that day, but if you didn’t, you would not been able to create this sweet and delicious little treat. Take Care, BAM

  22. johanna says:

    ha ha!! love this!! yer a riot!

    besides plain ol’ raisins and salty butter on matzoh, this is the best use of matzoh i’ve seen yet 🙂 time to make..

  23. Terra says:

    You crack me up! AND jeez Susan has a big mouth, bwahahaha!!! Now I am curious about egg foo yung. My hubby the peanut butter addict, would love your delicious recipe:-) Sending hugs, Terra

  24. Sophie33 says:

    What a lovely recipe to try! 🙂 It looks smashing too! xxx

  25. I love family traditions and you need closure in the egg foo yung department, ASAP 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *