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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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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Celebrating Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights
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
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Passover and Vicki’s Beet Salad & Fresh Horseradish
Passover 2018 ends at sundown tonight. As I have for the past 17 years, I traveled to Chicago to celebrate the holiday and cook Passover dinner for my family and friends.
The Seder tells the story of how we were slaves in Egypt before God led us to freedom. Each year at Passover we go on a journey in our hearts from slavery to freedom, from sadness to joy. The 3000 year-old story never changes, and our menu doesn’t change very much either.
Over the years I have been sharing our Passover recipes, this year I am so excited to share my cousin Vicki’s fabulous Beet Salad with Orange, Fennel and Walnuts and her super-popular fiery Fresh Horseradish!
2018 Tables – White Linen with Rainbow Flowers
What does change? The decor. Every year we have a wildly different color scheme. Some of the color combinations from our past Seders include:
And the tables are covered with frogs! Read all about our whimsical Passover Frog Collection here.
The Passover Seder Table is not simply a place to tell the story of the Exodus and to eat dinner. The Table is symbolic in and of itself. It is a place where memories are made and traditions are taught.
It is where we gather with family and friends, and perhaps strangers too, to celebrate our freedoms.
The care with which my sister-in-law Kristy sets her Table reflects the solemnness and seriousness of this holiday. The vibrancy and beauty of the Table reflect our gratitude to God.
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Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel
Rice Noodles, Eggs, Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, Cinnamon, Sugar
Golden Raisins, Cherries, Cranberries, Blueberries, Apricots
Perhaps you were one of the 85,000 people or the 3,500 vendors attending Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center last weekend? Maybe you had the opportunity to try gluten-free, organic, plant-based protein pastas by Explore Cuisine?
It was my honor and pleasure for the fourth year in a row to cook gluten-free pasta dishes to sample the crowds for my friends at Explore Cuisine. Among the most unique and quite popular was my gluten-free noodle kugel. Can I go out on a limb and gather that none of the other 3,500 vendors served a kugel?
Kugel is a beloved sweet Jewish dairy casserole that originated in Europe hundreds of years ago; traditionally made with egg noodles, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and raisins. It is baked and dusted with cinnamon.
Explore Cuisine Brown Rice Fusilli is a kosher-certified, gluten-free, whole grain pasta made in Italy of just two ingredients; organic brown rice and organic pea protein.
Kugel and rice noodles were a match made in heaven for those with gluten intolerance…those who are fans of original lokshen kugel and those who had never ever heard of kugel, all enjoyed this luscious gluten-free version.
Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel Recipe
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Our Best Passover Menu and Tips For Serving
We’ll be hosting our 16th Annual Passover Seder and dinner on April 10th at sundown. I’ve been flying back to Chicago for the past 16 years to cook Passover dinner for family and friends at the lovely home of my brother and sister-in-law. When they married in 2001, the honor of hosting the First Night of Passover for our family was passed to them from our cousins.
OUR BEST PASSOVER MENU
Olives & Nuts
Geri’s Gefilte Fish
Vicki’s Beet Salad, Fresh Horseradish, Matzohs
Davida’s Chopped Liver with Pistachios
Hard Boiled Eggs
Homemade Chicken Soup
Herbed Matzoh Balls
Super-Tender Traditional Beef Brisket with Red Wine Tomato Sauce
Chicken Adobo with Scallion, Cilantro, Sesame Seeds
Horseradish Potato Cakes with Chives
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Balsamic Glaze
Karen’s Chocolate Matzoh Crisp
Flourless Apple Almond Cake
Chocolate Souffle Cake
Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bars
Pistachio Ganache Tart
Fresh Fruit Skewers
(Click on Menu Links For Recipes)
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Savory Matzo Brei
Asparagus, Smoked Salmon, Onion, Fennel
Sour Cream and Fresh Dill
We eat matzo (unleavened bread) on Passover to remind us of our ancestors’ Exodus from Egypt. Leaving in such a haste, they could not wait for bread to rise. Additionally, matzo is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms.
Jett is 10 years old. The morning after our Seder for the first night of Passover, he had Matzo Brei for breakfast. Matzo, butter, eggs with a pinch of salt…and sugar! My cute nephew proclaimed it to be “awesome.” I simply sautéed the water-softened matzo in butter, then added eggs and scrambled it together. I served him the sugar on the side, so he could sprinkle his Matzo Brei with just the right amount. Turns out he likes it pretty sweet, no surprise.
This had me thinking about an adult version of Matzo Brei, a savory rendition celebrating springtime. No vegetable screams spring more than asparagus, and paired with smoked salmon, onion, fennel, dill, and sour cream – the adult version turned out “awesome” as well!
Matzo Brei Recipe
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