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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Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog
I’m taking a risk. I hope my Chicago friends and family won’t be mad that I am sharing a Vegan hot dog, but please hear me out. All these authentic Chicago-style hot dog “fixings” will really give you the Chicago dog experience.
Even ardent meat eaters might eschew hot dogs due to ingredients and additives in addition to beef or other meats – such as corn syrup, salt, potassium lactate, hydrolyzed beef stock, natural flavor, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, sheep’s casing…
So try a “a real vegetarian frankfurter” as Field Roast Grain Meat Co. calls it. Simply made from grains and vegetables, it is very tasty, balanced, and well-seasoned.
Now here is the best part, a Field Roast frank has 3 to 4 times the amount of protein as a regular hot dog, sporting 20g in one link with no cholesterol. It has 6g of fiber compared to zero in a hot dog and much less saturated fat as well. Interested?
How To Prepare a Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog
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Mayfair Supper Club Tomato Salad
Heirloom Tomatoes and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Green Olive/Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette, Shallots, Baby Basil
If you’ve been following Taste With The Eyes for a while, you know that I love to re-create dishes. Not just the food but the entire experience, including the ambience right down to the china, glass, and silver.
One of my most cherished creative outlets is to re-create historical events through food. The Abraham Lincoln Dinner at Delmonico’s on February 12, 1900; Barack Obama’s 57th Inaugural Luncheon; Donald Trump’s 58th Inaugural Luncheon; and Julia Child’s First Meal in France are a few examples of many of my favorite re-creations.
The most popular by far is the re-enactment of Julia Child’s first meal in France in 1948 including her recipe for Sole Meunière. I also visually attempt to reconstruct her experience in a beautiful courtyard at a little white table beneath a leafy trellis discussing the merits of Loup de Mer; and her charming memory of Tijuana, Mexico and Caesar Cardini in her kitchen preparing Caesar Salad and Salmon en Papillote.
An evening at the Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio in Las Vegas was worth re-creating. We had a fantastic meal where we were mesmerized by the entertainment, awed by the ambiance, and impressed by the service.
The humble tomato salad was as memorable as the over-the-top duo of truffle dishes – filet mignon with sauce perigourdine and truffle pasta. The salad was shot in my atelier, attempting to duplicate the chef’s recipe from taste memory and mimicking the ambiance of the supper club (with some jazz tunes playing in the background of course).
Mayfair Supper Club Tomato Salad Recipe
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Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone
Have you been baking a lot of bread during this pandemic time? More than you and your family can possibly eat? Maybe you have some slices in the freezer? Here is a delightful meatless meal to use the remainder of the bread that may be becoming a little hard and stale.
The flavorful bean broth rehydrates the toast…and for such a simple dish, this crostone is really extraordinary. Butter AND olive oil add rich mouthfeel while colorful cherry tomatoes add sweetness. Fresh thyme adds herbaceous earthiness while yellow eye beans bring a deep creaminess. It’s a peasant-style vegetarian dish drenched in flavor and texture, and is extremely satisfying. And extremely economical.
Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone Recipe
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Tortilla Soup with Pasilla Chile and Masa Harina
Many years ago, I fell in love with Tortilla Soup over dinner al fresco on a lovely courtyard in Sinaloa, Mexico.
We were on a trip to the Barrancas del Cobre and had an overnight at a quaint hotel in Los Mochis. The soup was divine – a simple chicken broth with melting queso fresco, fried tortillas, and herbs. When we got back home I had to recreate it, and still do to this day.
Fast forward more than a couple of decades in these pandemic times, and I find myself watching more Facebook videos than before, one in particular caught my attention. A true master of Mexican cooking, Rick Bayless making a Tortilla Soup.
Now the Chef has probably made a zillion versions of tortilla soup but this one resonated with me – with its addition of mild, smoky, raisiny pasilla chiles.
As a polar opposite to my Los Mochis version with its brothy style, here I also added a quarter cup of masa harina to the soup as a thickening agent. The masa added heft and a super corn flavor. The result was an extraordinary amalgamation of complex chile and earthy corn. Rich and satisfying, it is a meal in itself.
Since pasillas are not particularly spicy…and for another layer of flavor and texture, I made an oil with the hotter chile de arbol, and sprinkled some of these toasted chile crumbles over the soup.
Tortilla Soup 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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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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