Ratner’s Nostalgic Recipes

17 Dec

I remember Ratner’s on the lower east side

My folks are in town for Chanukah and I invited them over for latkes. My dad’s response? Only if they are like Ratner’s latkes.

So I googled “Ratner’s Latkes” and came across two different recipes. One is for Ratner’s Potato Latkes and the other for Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets + Gravy.

Ratner’s Famous Potato Latkes

7 potatoes
1 onion
2 large eggs
1/2 cup matzoh meal
1.5 teaspoons of salt
Grapeseed oil

 Peel potatoes and grate into a bowl of COLD water. This is to remove excess starch and makes the potatoes stiff.

Finely grate 1 onion and add to a second bowel. Take 2 eggs and beat well, then add to bowel with the onion. Mix in the matzoh meal, salt and paper.

Drain potatoes, press out ALL of the liquid. If it is wet, the potatoes will not be as crispy as they could be.

Stir potatoes into bowel with the eggs+onion+salt+pepper+matzoh meal.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet and wait until the oil is hot. Use a medium heat.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into hot oil and flatten it to around a 4″ pancake and fry each side (slowly). Do not crowd the skillet.

Serve with either applesauce or sour cream – up to you.


Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets
Makes 12 to 15 cutlets

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2/3 pound)
6 mushrooms, chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced carrots, drained (see Arthur’s Two Cents)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can cut green beans, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can peas, drained
3 eggs
2 cups matzoh meal (approximately)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Mash.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat butter and sauté onions and mushrooms until tender.

Pour mushroom mixture into a bowl with mashed potatoes. Stir in carrots, green beans, peas and 2 eggs. Blend thoroughly. Add enough matzoh meal so that mixture can shaped into large patties. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Shape into 12 to 15 patties. Beat the remaining eggs well. Brush patties on both sides, coating thoroughly. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly golden browned.

Serve hot.

Arthur’s Two Cents: Canned diced carrots seem to be no longer available. Use sliced carrots and dice them.

Also: These reheat very well.

Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlet Gravy
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (1-pound) can tomatoes, undrained
3 cups Mushroom Water (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon mushroom powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter and sauté onion, carrot, celery, green peeper and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes

Add tomatoes, mushroom water and mushroom powder. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix remaining 2 tablespoons butter and flour and enough water to make a paste. Stir into saucepan and cook until sauce bubbles and thickens.

Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.

Serve hot spooned over Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets.

Mushroom Water
Makes 4 cups

2 pounds mushrooms, chopped
1 quart water

In a large saucepan, combine mushrooms and water. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender.

Strain broth and chill until ready to use. (Remaining chopped mushrooms may be chilled until ready to use in any dish.)

Ratner’s Onion Rolls

24 rolls


1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm water 
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
3 large eggs 
6 tablespoons oil
4-5 cups all purpose flour
Egg Wash
1 egg, well beaten, for wash 

1 cup finely chopped onion 
1 teaspoons salt 
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds 
1 cup dry bread crumbs 
1/4 cup oil 


In a bowl whisk the yeast in lukewarm water. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, oil and enough flour to form a stiff dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease top. Let rise, covered, in a warm dry place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. from the other side.

Punch down and knead on a floured surface and roll dough into a 18 x 24 inch oblong. Cut dough into twelve 6×13 inch pieces. To prepare filling, mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spoon 3/4 of the mixture over dough. Fold 1/3 of the dough over onions and fold 1/3 over again

Place rolls, seam side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten rolls until they are five inches long.

Cut rolls in half.

Brush rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with remaining onion mixture. At this point, you can freeze the dough for later use

Let rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Bake rolls in a preheated hot oven (400 degree F) for 15-30 minutes.

Frozen Rolls:

When ready to bake, place frozen rolls on a greased cookie sheet and let rise, uncovered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake rolls in a preheated hot oven (400 degree F) for 15-30 minutes.

Smoked Paprika, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

26 Nov

Two days ago I went hunting for a recipe for the most addicting party dip dish ever – the famous Spinach & Artichoke cheese dip. When I think of that dish – I think of the former Bennigan’s (near Roosevelt Field Mall) and how it was nothing like I had ever tasted.

Fast forward to this week and I had offered to make this dish for a friend’s birthday party. I live outside of America and do not always have access to American products (like Philadelphia cream cheese) and decided to make do with what I could find in the local supermarket.

So here is my version of a highly addicting and delicious spinach & artichoke dip.

Smoked Paprika, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

You will need one pot + vegetable steamer, fine mesh strainer, a 8×8 lasagna dish, 2 small bowels and one large mixing bowel, a cheese grater, cutting board and can opener.


  • 1 Bag of frozen spinach
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts
  • Half of a large white onion
  • Half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Half a cup of freshly grated English Cheddar
  • Half a cup of grated or thinly sliced Mozzarella
  • 1 cup of cream cheese (or here in Israel – I used shament)
  • 3 cloves of fresh pungent garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (I prefer McCormick’s for a strong flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil for greasing the dish

To Make:

  • Turn on the oven and to 400 F (or 200 C)
  • Grease the 8×8 baking dish (I use vegetable oil with a paper towel to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish)
  • Defrost the spinach  (I prefer using a vegetable steamer in a big pot on the stovetop)
  • Grate the English cheddar into a bowl and transfer the shavings into a measuring cup to make sure you have enough. then return it back into the bowl.
  • Grate the Parmesan into its own bowl, transfer the shavings into the measuring cup and make sure you have enough then return it back into the bowl.
  • When the spinach has defrosted, place it into the fine mesh strainer over the pot and press down to remove any additional water. Let it sit there for 5 minutes to make sure all extra liquid has drained.
  • Chop the 3 garlic cloves into small itty bitty pieces and dump into the mixing bowel
  • Finely chop the half onion and dump into the mixing bowel
  • Chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces and dump into the mixing bowel.
  • Add the smoked paprika, regular paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and now mix
  • Throw in the spinach and mix (using a fork)
  • Toss in the Parmesan and English Cheddar and mix well with the fork.
  • Now don’t forget to add the cup of cream cheese
  • Add the 2 tablespoons of milk and mix again
  • Place the mix in the greased 8×8 lasagna dish and bake for 25 minutes
  • Pull the hot dish out and try not to eat it while spreading the Mozzarella across the top of the dish
  • Turn on the broiler as high as it goes and put it the dish back in the oven for another 2 to 5 minutes. You want to take it out of the oven when the top has light brown crunchy cheese top.
  • Serve hot with pita bread or french baguette or even your favorite corn tortilla chips.

Enjoy! Oh, and remember, this dish is highly recommended by your taste buds but definitely not recommended by your doctor or nutritionist

How To Make Your Fresh Vegetables Last Longer

22 Sep

My top tricks to keep our veggies and fruits to last longer

I don’t know about you, but most of our weekly food budget is for fresh produce. I shop at a local vegetable store where local farmers got together to sell their produce. It is not organic fruits and veggies but it is certainly farm to table.

Over the years, I have tried out a bunch of different tricks to keep the delicious veggies fresh while in the fridge. I have one trick that I depend on to keep our veggies fresher, for longer.

Here are my top tricks:

1.  A ziplock bag (or sealed container) and paper towels.

I store our cucumbers, fresh herbs, lettuce, spinach and mushrooms in sealed containers with one or two paper towels. The towels absorb the moisture and stops the produce from wilting. I need to note here, that I replace the paper towel every single time I open the container/bag. And if I haven’t opened it in a few days (no more than 3), I replace the paper towels. Again, you do not want the towels to become so moist that it helps rot the produce.

Keeping Cucumbers Fresh

Cucumbers: Add cucumbers to a ziplock bag (or a sealed container), add two pieces of paper towels. Stays fresh for up to 3 weeks. as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Green onions (scallions): Cut off the green stems, wrap in two pieces of paper towels and store in a plastic bag. Stays fresh for up to 3 weeks. as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Spinach: Dump a bag of baby spinach into a sealed container, add a single paper towel on the top of it before closing the container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks (as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Romain Lettuce: Wrap the bunch and place in a sealed container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Fresh Herbs (cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, nana, sage, etc. ): Wrap the bunch and place in a sealed container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

2. Vinegar bath

I fill a large bowel with cold water and dump in a cap sized amount of white vinegar to the water and then gently (I don’t want to bruise the fruits or vegetables) place the fruits/veggies in the water for about 15 minutes. Then  I wash off with regular water and let the fruits and veggies air dry before placing them into the fridge.

Berries: Blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. Make sure they are completely dry before placing in the fridge or they will mold.

Strawberries: Will last 2 weeks in the fridge

Cherry tomatoes: Will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge

3. Storing onions and garlic in a “hole-y basket”

It is imperative to store onions and garlic in a bowl/container with holes. Don’t pack them in too tightly – these veggies need to breathe.

So try out my neat little tricks to see if this will keep your fruits/veggies to last longer and let me know if they worked for you.

If you liked this post, you might like my Hacking the Home post.


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