Compelled by Stanley Tucci To Make a Negroni

To Make a Negroni

A Negroni by the Pool

After watching Stanley Tucci prepare the ubiquitous Milanese cocktail on Instagram, I felt compelled to make a Negroni.

His definitive pronouncement of “that’s good” after a sip of his aperitivo drove me to make the legendary Italian drink right then and there. Well, that, and his suave debonaire manner…you just have to see the video for yourself.

It was neat to see Mr. Tucci concoct a cocktail especially because we just re-watched the movie Julie & Julia as a diversion from these pandemic days, where the actor excels as Julia Child’s husband Paul.

As luck and a well-stocked bar would have it, I had all the ingredients necessary, including my favorite vermouth in the refrigerator, one fresh orange on hand, and frozen ice orbs. And today just happened to be opening day at the pool, Le Résort Ataloré!

So we enjoyed a Negroni by the Pool, basked in the exceptionally warm weather and simply uttered, “that’s good.”

Just like Stanley Tucci.

What Does a Negroni Taste Like?

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Chicken Soup with a Big Comforting Matzo Ball

Chicken Soup with a Big Comforting Matzo Ball

Chicken Soup with a Big Comforting Matzo Ball

If this were a normal Passover, I would be in Chicago right now with 15 lbs. of brisket in the oven, a huge pot of chicken soup on the stovetop, plus some 100 matzo balls in production, prepping for a  fabulous multi-course meal for my family and friends as I have done for the past two decades.

Since, unfortunately, this is not a normal Passover. I am in Las Vegas, not Chicago. And I’m not cooking a multi-course meal for thirty-five, I’m cooking for one. Just a nice bowl of my chicken soup with a big comforting matzo ball.

Happily, in spite of the global pandemic, we’ll still be holding our Seder and holding tight to tradition. We will all Zoom in on the internet at sundown on Wednesday to retell the Passover story of how we were slaves in Egypt before God led us to freedom with signs and wonders. Each year at Passover we go on a journey in our hearts from slavery to freedom and from sadness to joy. This year is no different in that respect.

Big Matzo Ball Recipe and Matzo Ball Secrets

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Eggplant Steaks, Restaurant Style

Eggplant Steaks, Restaurant Style

Eggplant Steaks, Restaurant Style

A couple months ago we had an absolutely delightful and completely unique meal at Roy Choi’s restaurant, Best Friend, at Park MGM on The Las Vegas Strip.

“Best Friend is… Koreatown in a capsule – a portal to the streets of LA, but also rooted in what makes Las Vegas… VEGAS. Hip hop-to-bibimbop. Kimchi-to-spaghetti. BBQ and late-night food. I want Best Friend to energize the minds of people looking to experience the best in life. Whether they are from Hollywood or Hong Kong, D.C. or Down Under, I hope all guests are licking their fingers with their mouths full saying ‘holy sh!t’ as they reach across the table for another bite. LA food in Las Vegas. Los Vegas. Best Friend. Forever.” – Roy Choi

Blown away by the KALBI Korean BBQ marinated bone-in short rib; SLIPPERY SHRIMP crispy rock shrimp, chili mayo, walnuts; ELOTES kewpie mayo, lime juice, tajín, cotija, cilantro; and EGGPLANT SCHNITZEL.

The eggplant was simple yet elevated with its silky interior and crunchy exterior. The sauce was intriguing, creamy, and mustardy. Fresh peppery green arugula provided the perfect balance to the fried eggplant. Brilliant.

In his endearing, personal, and somewhat irreverent cookbook L.A. Son, Chef Choi writes, “I make a mean schnitzel.” Yep, he sure does.

Eggplant Steaks Recipe

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Fresh Yuzu Bohemian Cocktail

Fresh Yuzu Bohemian Cocktail

Fresh Yuzu Bohemian Cocktail, Yuzu Foam

It’s cocktail hour! And time to use the yuzu. The fruits on my Southern California yuzu tree are at their ripest. On a trip back to LA last week, we picked the yuzu and flew home to Las Vegas with a big bag of fresh citrus fruit. It’s OK to carry on the plane per the TSA. Good to know!

An extremely aromatic fruit, a basket of yuzu perfumes the whole room. No wonder that it makes an equally aromatic cocktail; a heady complex floral elixir with notes of mandarin orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime.

The traditional Bohemian Cocktail is made with grapefruit juice. Substituting fresh squeezed yuzu takes this cocktail to a whole new exotic level. The foamy head adds a layer of luxurious richness and creamy texture to balance the tart invigorating citrus. A dash of bitters always finishes a classic cocktail with more aromatic notes and cool understated stylish flair.

Fresh Yuzu Bohemian Cocktail Recipe

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Short Rib Kreplach and Nana’s Meat Soup

Short Rib Kreplach and Nana's Meat Soup

Celebrating Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights
with
Short Rib Kreplach and Nana’s Meat Soup

Back in 2008 I had asked my Mother about recipes from the past. She said that my Nana (my paternal grandmother) made excellent soups. I remembered her chicken soup which I still make to this day, and her delicious borscht. Mom said that she always liked Nana’s meat soup. Meat Soup, I asked? Mom said that it was just like chicken soup but with meat. She still had the recipe.

These are the ingredients my Mother had listed on the old recipe index card from notes she took while watching her mother-in-law make meat soup: short ribs, carrots, onions, parsnips, celery stalks, parsley root, dried large lima beans, and egg noodles.

In honor of Hanukkah and in remembrance of my dear mother Joyce (1933- 2013) and dear grandmother Fanny (1894-1972), I’m making Nana’s Meat Soup and adding those comforting Jewish dumplings known as kreplach, filled with tasty shredded short ribs of beef.

Short Rib Kreplach and Nana's Meat Soup

Short Rib Kreplach and Nana’s Meat Soup

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My Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup

Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup

My Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup with Herbs and Flowers

Among the many Seder rituals, out of innocence the youngest child who is able asks The Four Questions. The first Question posed, “Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat leavened bread or matzoh but tonight we eat only matzoh. Why?”

And to all the children at Seders around the world, the first Question is answered, “This night is different because we eat the unleavened bread called matzoh in remembrance of our ancestors’ haste to escape from Egypt’s bondage as there was no time to let the dough rise.”

Among the many Passover dishes, Matzoh Ball Soup is a perennial favorite.

Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup

Since 2007, I have shared many a matzoh ball here on Taste With The Eyes. But this year, because winter had been especially rainy, cold, and snowy from LA, to Las Vegas, to Chicago…I am giving an extra nod to rebirth and springtime by adding more green herbs and pretty edible flowers to the soup.

Everyone had the same reaction to this bowl of soup. “That’s beautiful!” they said, so here I present the 2019 version called My Beautiful Matzoh Ball Soup.

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Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters
Candied Pepitas, Creme Fraiche, Pink Peppercorns

Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.

The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters Recipe

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