we've just returned from a fantastic few days spent in florida for my youngest cousin's bat mitzvah, which, like all bat mitzvahs, made me want to go to wayyy more bat mitzvahs (and maybe have my own 90s-themed one someday?). because the parties are just like weddings but with many more mozzarella sticks, less mushy emotions, and tons of glow in the dark shit. and when done correctly, they have added bonuses like a t-shirt airbrushing station or sting-ray petting zoo. i'm not even kidding! this party last weekend was at the tampa aquarium and we were given the opportunity to engage in such things as eating a mini pizza with one hand and reaching into a sting ray tank with the other. then we did the hora and filled our bellies with sour patch kids and charleston chews. it was so great.
after the bat mitzvah we drove our little red cozy coop rental car down to sarasota to stake out a place for retirement. and also because my friends george and sam were presenting a concert of reich and muhly and all of the music i adore, so we basked in the sweet sounds of that and then stayed in costume to party like college kids, eat fish around a bonfire, and ketchup with old friends (whose birthdays i still need to memorize...). during the day we walked over two bridges, past a baby dolphin, to the bookstore downtown where i bought brooklyn because i've been wanting to see the movie soo badly but it never came to our theater! so lame. so i guess i'm doing things the old fashioned way. although since the new season of house of cards is out i don't know that i'll have any units of free time leftover to read.
other than that, now that we're back home i've been hurry scurrying quick like a bunny to meet the photo deadline for my book because it is right around the corner. today was soup and cake day, tomorrow is casserole and more cake day, and next week we are staging a holiday a party! good thing the chrismukkah bush is still up... uhh, hehe, oops...
and because soup day and casserole day just weren't enough, we also have pi day on monday! yayyy! *applies stretchy pants* pi day is great because it allows me to reminisce on all of my fun mathlete years back in the day, but it can also be intimidating because i'm quite clumsy with pie dough. i am no michelle or samantha or yossy. and probably have no place living on a farm in this regard. but! i recently learned about mina, which is a passover pie with sephardic roots that uses matzo instead of pie dough. it's often layered, like a lasagna, with lamb or beef or vegetables. but in zahav it's made in a round pie pan and then flipped onto a plate. i loved the look of that so i took that route as well. i also love what mike solomonov says in his headnotes, about how tasty it is when the fatty juices from the meat soak into the matzo. the result kind of makes me think of what a beef fatty ritz cracker would taste like if such a thing existed.
the filling here is spiced with a bunch of cinnamon and cumin and will make your house smell better than thanksgiving. it's pretty rich so you'll be glad it's wrapped in matzo and not pie dough, and, with passover right around the corner, you officially have two great reasons to make this. so go on, flag down the matzo truck 🚚 🚚 🚚 🚚 🚚!!!!
spiced beef matzo pie
makes one 8-inch pie
2 tablespoons flavorless oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
5-6 sheets matzo
egg wash: 1 egg lightly beaten with a splash of water
Fresh parsley or micro greens, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onion, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the beef and sprinkle it with the Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few turns of black pepper and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon or spatula, until it is fully cooked and no longer pink. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Grease an 8” cake pan and set it aside. Soak the matzo in warm water for a few minutes until it has softened. Line the bottom and sides of the cake pan with the matzo pieces, breaking it up as needed and packing it down firmly. It will look a little rustic and that’s ok. Use a paper towel to blot away excess moisture once the matzo is in the pan and then pour in the beef mixture and pack it down firmly. Cover the top with soaked matzo, pressing the edges to seal, and then brush it with a healthy coating of egg wash. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then invert onto a plate. Top with parsley or micro greens and serve.