Latkes with Farmer Cheese

Latkes with Farmer Cheese

Latkes with Farmer Cheese, Two Ways

Sweet with Pomegranate Arils
and
Savory with Fresh Herbs

Happy Hanukkah!

A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. So we eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate that ancient miracle. As far as symbolic foods go, potatoes fried in oil are pretty much everyone’s favorite.

This year I’m serving my latkes two ways, sweet and savory, both topped with farmer cheese. My favorite, Lifeway Farmer Cheese, is a cultured soft cheese made from an old world recipe with a distinctive tangy flavor, and it’s packed with probiotics to boot. You might say farmer cheese and latkes are a match made in heaven…

Latkes with Farmer Cheese

Latkes with Farmer Cheese

Latkes Two Ways

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Turkey Soup with Tortellini and Kale

Turkey Soup with Tortellini and KaleTurkey Soup with Tortellini and Kale

Turkey Soup with Tortellini and Kale

By the third or fourth day after Thanksgiving I am about ready to look at turkey again. I buy a good-sized turkey for our crowd and we usually serve another protein like roast beef, so when I carve the bird for Thanksgiving dinner I don’t have to worry about slicing every bit of meat off the bones. The carcass usually has a good amount of meat left on it – ideal for a rich flavorful turkey stock and the eventual annual soup.

Craving pasta and greens after the holiday, cheese tortellini and lots of curly kale were the perfect ingredients for this years’ turkey soup.

Turkey Soup with Tortellini and Kale Recipe

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Not Your Usual “Leftover Turkey” Recipe

Turkey with Sweet Potato Noodles

Turkey with Sweet Potato Noodles
Chili Oil Sauce, Celery, Fresh Herbs, Peanuts

Wow. We were so impressed with a version of this edgy recipe for leftover turkey from San Francisco Chef Brandon Jew. It’s the opposite of everything one thinks of Thanksgiving leftovers:  spicy, cool, vinegary, vibrant, herby, even tingling…the Chef says it’s a nod to the Sichuan dish ma la ji pian that typically features chicken chunks in chili oil. Those looking for a leftover turkey recipe that is deliciously out-of-the-box will be extremely excited about this one.

Made only from sweet potato starch and water, sweet potato noodles are also known as Korean glass noodles. They do not contain wheat so these noodles are naturally gluten-free, and are slightly chewy and springy with a neutral flavor perfect for absorbing chili oil sauce.

My adaptation of Chef Jew’s recipe is below, using more readily available ingredients and it’s a bit less spicy to boot. If Sichuan peppercorns are not available, leaving them out will eliminate the tingling sensation, but this dish will still be worth making! His original recipe is here.

Turkey with Sweet Potato Noodles Recipe

Plus My “Do Nothing” Recipe for Cooking a  Perfect Turkey

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Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

Fiesta in a Bowl
Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

This is one sassy black bean soup. It is easy to make and gets a kick of heat and smoky authentic flavor from the addition of fire-roasted salsa verde added at the end of cooking. Let each diner go crazy with the garnishes according to their own taste: pickled red onion, garlic crema, tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro all add to this fiesta in a bowl. The black bean canvas is artistically painted with a array of flavors, textures, and colors. 

With only 4 ingredients (tomatillos, jalapeños, salt, and water) –  our favorite Salsa de Molcajete Verde from the refrigerated section at the supermarket, adds robust Mexican taste without having to take the extra steps to roast chiles and tomatillos over an open flame. 

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde Recipe

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Bay Shrimp Ceviche, Baja-Style

Ceviche Baja-Style

Refreshing Bay shrimp Ceviche, Baja-Style

The beauty of this bay shrimp ceviche is that there is no need to search out pristine, raw, expensive fresh seafood when in the mood for a refreshing light meal.

Toss Wild Pacific Coldwater Bay Shrimp with fresh squeezed lime juice. Fold in chopped vegetables, refrigerate then enjoy 15 minutes later! These little shrimp have a delicious sweet flavored meat with a medium soft texture, perfect for ceviche.

We served this dish al fresco, Baja-style. The weather’s been in the low 90°s during the day here in Vegas. Chilled ceviche with house-made chips makes a delightful poolside snack. Add a frosty cerveza and there is nothing better.

These sustainable bay shrimp are harvested from the Pacific Ocean in cold waters from San Francisco up to Canada, with most of the catch coming from along the Oregon coast.  The shrimp are fully cooked, peeled, and frozen. I keep a bag in the freezer. At $15 for a 2 lb. bag from Costco, it’s a great economical protein source to use in many recipes from soups to salads to omelettes.

Baja-style is the type of ceviche served all over Baja California which includes Mexican staples such as avocado, cucumber, and tomato as opposed to a Peruvian-style ceviche which is prepared with vegetables popular in Peru, such as sweet potato and choclo. Both great, just different.

Bay Shrimp Ceviche, Baja-Style Recipe

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Mexican Matzo Ball Soup

Mexican Matzo Ball Soup

Mexican Matzo Ball Soup

Cilantro Matzo Balls with Toasted Coriander and Cumin
Chicken Soup with Avocado, Jalapeño, Lime, Onion, Cilantro

The holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur ends at sunset tonight. This evening we break the fast with something simultaneously traditional and nontraditional: matzo ball soup with an unexpected twist!

Mexican flavors including cilantro, coriander, and cumin bring a bright zippy freshness to our beloved soup. No soup could be better than Nana’s, but this year things are mighty different, so why not the soup? 5781, the year we served our matzo ball soup with avocado, jalapeño, and lime!

Mexican Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

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Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

An enjoyable dinner at the new Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse here in Las Vegas and the approaching Jewish High Holy Days curiously inspired us to make homemade blintzes.

We discovered that infamous Jewish mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were huge fans of the Cheese Blintzes at Ratner’s Restaurant. Founded in 1905 and located on the Lower East Side of New York City, Ratner’s did not serve meat in deference to the kosher prohibition against mixing milk with meat. They served a Jewish kosher dairy menu with cheese blintzes as one of the most loved dishes.

Growing up, our Jewish pancakes were always stuffed with farmer cheese, but, alas, not the easiest cheese to find in modern times… As luck would have it, my friends at Lifeway Kefir make Farmer Cheese that is happily having a resurgence. It is a cultured soft cheese made from an old world recipe with a distinctive tangy flavor, and packed with probiotics. Feeling nostalgic for Jewish comfort foods from our youth, we found the perfect authentic filling for our blintzes.

We prefer our blintzes cooked in browned butter for a nuttier taste and on the slightly crispy side, always served with the obligatory sour cream and lots of other complementary toppings. Here’s our recipe….

Farmer Cheese Blintzes Recipe

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