Did you know that you can buy matzoh in the supermarket all year round, not just at Passover, and not just in the giant-size packages they sell during the holiday season? (If you don't know what matzoh looks like, here's a photo; it's a type of flatbread or large cracker.) In our house, we tend to buy the same plain kosher-for-Passover matzoh year after year, and to make the same matzoh brei recipe (my dad's classic) year after year. And we only make it during the holidays; I don't know why. I'm tired of the same old same old, and as proof, I offer this maple cinnamon matzoh brei (pronounced MAT-zah BRY), which is very much like a frittata or a really substantial quiche. Instead of the somewhat bland classic version that relies on salt for flavor, this sweet matzoh brei kicks off your day with cinnamon, maple syrup, and a bit of vanilla. I tested it on a group of friends a few weeks ago. There were no leftovers.
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Some people possess the elegance gene. Clothes, hair, pastry -- effortlessly elegant. I didn't get that gene, not even a tiny portion of that gene, and especially not the pastry portion of that gene. So, whenever I manage to make something ever so slightly elegant, like these puff pastry tartlets, it rates a celebration. Last week, I wanted to create a pretty vegetarian appetizer, and my pantry came to the rescue with store-bought puff pastry and the last of last summer's slow-roasted tomatoes, excavated from the freezer. A mandoline made the paper-thin zucchini toppers, but a good, sharp knife and a steady hand can do the same.
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Alsace and Lorraine, two provinces in eastern France, haven't had an easy history. Until 1945, Germany and France wrested control of the region from each other several times, but fortunately, despite the political challenges, the culinary traditions remained intact. Alsace-Lorraine gave birth to the world's most famous quiche. Well, that's not entirely true. When it was part of Germany, Lorraine gave birth to the bacon, egg and cream quiche. Adding onions made it a Quiche Alsacienne. Adding gruyere cheese made it a dish that isn't one side of the Rhine or the other. This recipe takes a few liberties with tradition, but it's a quiche like Lorraine in taste and spirit, perfect for lunch or dinner with a crunchy salad and a glass of sparkling wine.
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When I first opened the doors of The Perfect Pantry, I put Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese up on a pedestal (as well it should be), and lumped all of the other cheeses together as, well... assorted cheese.
I apologize for that.
I apologize to you, and to the cheese: to the salty bite of feta; to the nutty smoothness of Gruyere and Swiss; to the creaminess of brie and camembert; and to the tangy acidity of goat cheese.
Goat cheese does things few other cheeses can do -- it spreads and melts -- and for that it's earned its own place on my refrigerator shelf.
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