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Matzah Outside the Box: A Modern Tale of Biblical Portions

Matzah Outside the Box: A Modern Tale of Biblical Portions

As Passover approaches, so does that age-old question: "What are we going to do with all of this left-over matzah?" Little do most people suspect that matzah can be exciting, tasty, and infinite, a truth I discovered when I found out I had an allergy to yeast. I started cooking and eating matzah year-round and discovered that matzah answered many of my cooking and eating dilemmas. Hence, my newly-launched blog that takes matzah to a new level, matzah Outside the Box. As my alter-ego Bernie and I have learned, matzah easily replaces traditional breading for eggplant parmesan, dough for pizza, and layers of four layer chocolate cake. matzah is an old food product (biblical, even). It is extremely versatile... more then just a platform for peanut butter, jelly and cream cheese. Jazz up your Passover Seder this year with this nouvelle cuisine matzah recipe from my blog:

Horseradish Salmon en matzah Croûte Serving Size: 2 Ingredients
  • 1 lb. salmon filet (skin removed)
  • 2 matzahs, ground fine
  • ½ cup horseradish (fresh or jarred)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F
  2. Put matzah, horseradish, shallot, parsley, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until combined.
  3. Rub baking dish with remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. Place salmon in the baking dish and evenly distribute matzah mixture on top of fish to create a crusty topping.
  5. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes on the upper rack of the oven. Then turn oven to broil high for 2 to 3 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Don't stop cooking after your salmon is done. Try a lovely Brie en matzah Croûte appetizer, and for dessert Chocolate Peanut butter covered matzah "Pretzels". And now, a little matzah history to get your taste buds going. According to Dr. Jonathan Sarna in his paper How Matzah Became Square, matzah, "....like the Jewish people...underwent monumental changes brought about by new inventions, new visions, and migration to new lands. These changes transformed the character and manufacturing of matzah, as well as its shape, texture and taste" (Sarna 1). Originally, matzahs were round and made by hand in temples. In the 19th Century many processes such as hand-made matzahs began to be mechanized. In 1838 a Jewish man named Issac Singer invented the first machine for rolling matzah (Sarna 1-2). Fifty years later Behr Manischewitz opened a matzah factory in Cincinnati. During this time the demand for matzah was rising in the United States because of the growth of the Jewish population. In 1912, due to demands of technology and packaging, Manischewitz started making his matzah square. A lot of controversy surrounded this transition. Many Rabbis and members of the Jewish community believed that the square matzahs were not "kosher enough" (Sarna 6-7). Since matzah was traditionally made by hand and was round, the idea of changing how the matzah was made and shaped caused some individuals to believe that the square machine made matzah was not in any way traditional and therefore less kosher. However, mass-producing matzah and making it square allowed matzah to no longer be just a local food product produced on an as needed basis. There was no longer a concern about the matzah breaking when shipped, allowing it to become a national and then international food. The supply of matzah was increased and the price decreased.

(Source: "How Matzah Became Square" by Jonathan Sarna. Touro College, New York, 2001.)

Natalie Seltzer is the Web Assistant/Registrar at the Union for Reform Judaism's Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning. She has a master's degree in Food Studies from New York University and, along with her alter-ego Bernie Mendelbaum, is co-blogger of matzah Oustide the Box.

Published: 3/26/2009

Categories: Jewish Life, Food and Recipes, Reform Judaism
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