Monthly Archives: October 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Happy Halloween!! Or should I just say Happy Best Day of the Year Ever? I’ll go with the former only because it’s shorter, but my true sentiments are honestly reflected in the latter.  I look forward to October 31 everyday of the year, and I usually know what my costume is going to be on November 1.  What can I say? I live for Halloween.

Despite what you may think, Halloween is not a holiday invented by the candy companies, although it would have been genius if it was.  Halloween has a long history, and I could bore enchant you with it, but I’m too hyped up on candy.  So, instead, I’ll just tell you about my costume.  I dressed up as Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Yes, you read that correctly, but just in case you need to hear it again, I dressed up as a plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs.  I mean, would I really be The Bite-Sized Blonde if my Halloween costume didn’t revolve around food?

Although I look good enough to eat, if I do say so myself, my costume was less than edible.  So, if I got you in the mood, for spaghetti and meatballs that is, then stayed tuned for my recipe! and oh yea, Happy Halloween!

I Scream, You Scream

Except for the poor bastard who is lactose intolerant, I think everyone can agree that ice cream is one of the most sinfully seductive sweet treats around.  Oh you should know I am one of those poor bastards, but after many years of eating ice cream, I can eat it with no worries! I am not making this up; you can actually reduce lactose intolerant symptoms by eating more dairy.  True story.

Until you have tried homemade ice cream, you haven’t lived.  And this isn’t my new ice cream maker talking, although it might go down in Bite-Sized History as one of the best birthday gifts ever.  This is truth.  Homemade ice cream is so much better than store bought; it’s almost indescribable, almost.  The familiar concept is elevated to new levels of creaminess when you make it at home.   After one bite of this ice cream, the only thing left to do is be at peace with the fact that you are about to lose control.

Marmar knows what I’m talking about.  This child rapper prodigy, who raps about ice cream, is who I’d like to think I would be if I was a 9 year old boy from Compton.   Do yourself a favor, make a nice, cold pint of ice cream and watch this video.  If you do it in reverse, you will be screaming for ice cream.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

1 cup of whole milk
1/3 cup of superfine sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups crumbled Oreo cookies

Over low heat, warm the milk, sugar and vanilla together in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Let cool, then chill in the refrigerator.  Whip the cream until thick and then whisk in the chilled milk mixture.  Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Fear not, if you don’t have an ice cream maker you can still make yourself a nice pint.*

Freeze until the ice cream is nearly firm, then add the crumbled cookies and stir through gently.  Place the ice cream in the freezer for about an hour before serving.  You can store it in the freezer for up to three months.  But the longer it stays in the freezer, the colder it gets.  Go figure! So make sure to take it out about 15 minutes before serving to soften.

*If do you not have an ice cream maker: make sure your ingredients are well chilled before they’re combined.  The mixture is then poured into a freezer container deep enough to allow space for later mixing.  The container needs to be covered with a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper so it can freeze more evenly, and then topped with a well-fitting lid.  Place the container in the coldest part of a really cold freezer.  Leave for about 1 hour; then, using a fork, scrape the frozen ice cream in from the edges, and then whisk to a smooth, even texture.  Cover the container again and return to the freezer for another hour.  Repeat this process one to two more times, until the ice cream is smooth and nearly evenly frozen.  Then cover and freeze until you are ready to serve!

Recipe by:
Alex Barker, 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelatos

Soup Solution of Delicious Proportions

That feeling when you know you are about to get a cold can be one of the worst feelings.   It can be so much worse than actually having a cold. When you have a cold, there are medicines you can take to make yourself better.  When you are about to get a cold, you can feel like getting sick is pretty much inevitable, no matter what you do.  But, it doesn’t have to be.

Any Jewish mom will tell you to have a bowl of matzo ball soup; it is known as the Jewish penicillin for a reason.  But this Bite-Sized Blonde has another soup solution for your sniffles.  Carrot Ginger Soup is a not so obvious remedy of delicious proportions.

Most people know that carrots are high in vitamin a, but did you also know they are chock full of vitamin C, which is why they make such a great base for a get-well soup. Ginger is antimicrobial, which means it kills bacteria.   It also helps eliminate congestion, eases throat pain and has been known to combat chills and fever.   Sounds like a winning combo if you ask me.  This soup is even more delicious than it is beneficial, if you can believe it.  This is such a great make-ahead soup to keep in yourfreezer for a rainy day or an unexpected cold.

Carrot Ginger Soup
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup of peeled and finely chopped ginger*
1 ½ pounds of carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 cups of vegetable stock
2 cups of water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Blender (regular or handheld)

Heat 3 tbs. of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, ginger and garlic and sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add the stock, water and carrots.  Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the pot to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the carrots are very tender.  This will take approximately 30 minutes.  If you have an immersion blender, as shown in the pictures above, use this to puree the soup to your desired consistency.  If you have a regular blender, puree the soup in batches by adding portions of the soup into the blender at a time.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

*Ginger can be tricky to peel because it is so misshapen.  An easy way to peel ginger is to actually forgo the peeler altogether! Use a spoon to peel the skin away; it helps with all the nooks and crannies!

Recipe Inspired by:

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Skinny Spaghetti

There’s only one thing this girly girl likes to twirl more than a giant party skirt, and that’s a fork full of spaghetti.  If I could have one wish granted from a genie it would be that all carbs would be calorie free, and if the genie told me that was greedy, I would happily accept pasta as my calorie free carb of choice.  Or pizza? No, I’m gonna stick with pasta.  But alas, I don’t have a magic lamp to rub, so it looks like I am sh*t outta luck.

There is nothing comparable to a big old bowl of starchy spaghetti, but there are alternatives.  Don’t worry; I’m not getting all “hippie dippie tofu fake spaghetti” on you.  Yes, that is a real term.  But, I am forgoing the flour for something a little more figure friendly.  Zucchini, if cut properly can transform into silky strands of spaghetti.  How you ask? Let me tell you – the solution is simple and it’s just one word – Julienne.  Julienne is a type of knife cut in which the food is cut into long thing strips.  These thin strips usually resemble shoe strings.  But if you ask me, spaghetti sounds way more desirable than shoe strings any day of the week.  The easiest way to julienne cut your zucchini is to use a mandolin.  But since the good ones are really expensive and slightly dangerous, they aren’t the most popular kitchen appliance for the average Joe.  Of course, I have another solution for you – a julienne peeler.  Not only is this little tool effective, it is totally reasonable.  At $8, it would be silly not to buy this easy to use utensil.  And of course, there is always the option of practicing your knife skills and cutting these bad boys by hand.

No matter the tool to get the job done, the once average zucchini is now spaghetti, and that’s seriously magical.  If you thought skinny and spaghetti didn’t go together before, think again.  This recipe will fill you up and trim you down.

Skinny Spaghetti (serves 2)
4 medium-large zucchini
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of tomato sauce

Prepare a large bowl of ice water.  (Once the zucchini is cooked, it will need to be cooled down immediately to stop the cooking process.)  Boil a large pot of heavily salted water.  When the water is boiling, add the julienne cut zucchini for 1 minute.   Remove immediately and place into the ice bath for 1 minute.  While the zucchini is cooling off in the ice bath, heat 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce.  You can use my recipe for a chunky tomato sauce, or use a jar of your favorite! Once the zucchini is cool and the sauce is hot, add the zucchini to the pot and toss in the sauce.  Serve with some grated parmesan or mozzarella.

Bite-Sized Banter & Wollensky

If you happen to work or live in midtown Manhattan, you might have noticed that Smith & Wollensky has been looking a little different these days.  How different? Well for starters, the all-important Smith is no longer there.  As part of a pretty clever ad campaign, Smith & Wollenksy is replacing the “Smith” in exchange for a loyal customer’s name.  The campaign started on October 3 and will run through the end of the month.  All you have to do is make a reservation, and hope your name gets picked. 

Each day, a lucky, loyal customer gets chosen to have their name put up outside the restaurant – on the building and awning.  This witty campaign goes all the way…waiter’s jackets are also being changed with the new name, and don’t forget about the napkins and matchbooks!

The though process behind this unusual campaign?  If your name is on restaurant, it becomes yours, and then you are a customer for life.  Now that’s some serious loyalty.  I’ll hand it to them, I was even thinking about making a reservation.  Although Smith & Wollensky isn’t my steakhouse of choice,  I would love to see Bite-Sized Banter & Wollenksy in big letters on 3rd Ave.

Greece Lightning

Dare I say pleasant weather, pleasant surprise.  This warm weather has been such a nice break.  Indian Summer take 2…and hey, why not.  I’ve never heard anyone complain about too much summertime.   And speaking of summer, I know we are all dreaming about it.  So, whether you are dreaming about last summer or this coming summer, it might just be that time for a vacation, if not physical then at least mental.   Is there a food adjective that’s appropriate here? Foodal? No? I guess delicious will just have to suffice.  Come on Webster, it’s time for some new words.

I’m certainly ready for a vacation, and since I’m not heading anywhere anytime soon, I’ll just pretend.  If I close my eyes, spin around in a circle, and wind up pointing at a big, giant map, I bet I’ll be pointing at Greece.  While I don’t have time for a crazy long flight,  I do have time for a short cab ride down to the East Village.   Don’t be skeptical.  I promise this trip won’t disappoint.

Any true foodie knows the next best thing to actually going to Greece is eating authentic Greek food.  Attention restaurateurs…there is a lesson here.  Food can, and should be, transcendental, which is exactly what the food is at Pylos.  You know you are in a special place when you walk into this restaurant.  The stark white walls are accented by the bluest blue panels and decorated with copper nail heads to match the hundreds of terracotta pots hanging from the ceiling.  Beauty isn’t just skin deep at Pylos.  The food is equally as beautiful.

Pylos has some of the best pita bread I’ve ever tasted.  It’s soft and sweet yet slightly salty.   And since there are so many Greek options when it comes to dips for pita bread, why just get one?  You know this Bite-Size Blonde always thinks two are better than one.  And in this case, three are definitely better than one.  The Poikilia is a trio dipping sauces — tzatziki, taramosalata and meltizanosalata. Tzatziki is that addictively tangy yogurt sauce.  Taramosalata is a citrusy fish dip, similar to lox, but chopped up into a spread.  Melitzanosalata is rustic grilled eggplant dip that is irresistible.

It’s a fact that if you have a salad named after you, you have to be doing something right.  And the Greek’s are definitely doing this right.  Horiatiki is the authentic name for a classic greek salad, and authentic this is.   Forget the lettuce, the veggies speak for themselves.  Tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, capers and  kalamata olives combine to become an oasis of freshness.  The tangy feta cheese adds just the right amount of saltiness to this iconic salad.

The grape leaves at Pylos are familiar but not ordinary whatsoever.  They are stuffed with ground veal, golden raisins and pine nuts and drizzled in a lemon sauce.

The Italians get the most praise for meatballs; that’s for sure.  But the Greeks know a thing or two about their balls.  The seasoning is different, so you can really taste the meat.  And more than that, they aren’t camouflaged with sauce.  They are simply pan fried in olive oil and left to be admired in all their glory.   And admire I will.

Ouzo is as Greek as the Parthenon, although I’ll admit I think I like the Parthenon more.  Ouzo’s pungent flavor is not a Bite-Sized favorite, but when it’s used for cooking, the harshness dissipates, and leaves a unique concentrated flavor.  When combined with tomato sauce and cream, it makes a complex sauce for succulent shrimp.

If you’ve never tried octopus, and want to give it a shot, Pylos is the place to try it.  The octopus is charred perfectly and tossed in an acidic balsamic reduction.

If you learned anything from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, other than windex is the cure for every ailment, it’s that Greek’s love their lamb.  The lamb chops at Pylos are a Greek lovefest, grilled and served with eggplant.  This dish is comforting but satisfyingly light at the same time.

Short ribs are not usually a dish I would think to order in Greek restaurant, just like ordering steak in an Italian restaurant.  I was wrong before, and I was wrong again.  These short ribs were exceptional.  The ribs were fall of the bone tender and smothered in a sea of red wine sauce and potato puree that made me want to lick my fork clean.

Can you really say you’ve been out for Greek food without ordering a whole fish?  The jury is still out, but I don’t think so.  Pylos will filet that fish for you, leaving you beautiful, and easily edible filets of delicate fish.  Olive oil and fresh lemon juice dress the perfectly grilled fish for a true taste of Greece.

Now, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, or in my case, the Bite-Sized Blonde says Uncle.  And no one, I repeat no one, can get me to say Uncle sans dessert.  If you are thinking baklava, you are going to be wrong.  Just this once though.  The most underrated and delectable Greek dessert is the Galaktobourekakia, buttery phyllo triangles filled with Greek custard and drizzled with cinnamon and honey.   Don’t waste a single second trying to pronounce it, just point to it.

Still thinking about that vacation?  Yea, me too.  But in the meantime, Pylos is just a short cab ride away.

128 East 7th Street
(between Avenue A and First Avenue)
New York, NY

If You Wanna Be My Lobster

We all have our little litmus tests, ya know, to see if someone is worth the time and effort.   And mine just happens to be a family tradition.  You want to date one of us?  It’s rather simple.  To be my lobster, you have to eat a lobster.  And not just eat it, I mean really eat it.  If you can’t destroy a lobster, the future our relationship is questionable.  Is this shallow? No, it’s actually the opposite.  Eating lobster is about three things that are anything but shallow…hard work, pride and happiness.

Eating a lobster is totally hard work.  Sure, you can order a lobster out of the shell, but that’s just lazy.  The real way to eat a lobster is to have it served as its cooked and crack that shell one claw at a time.  Eating a lobster is seriously messy, if you eat it correctly.  And you have to be confident to get food all over your face when you eat.  Now, that’s the kind of pride I’m talking about.  And obviously this leads to happiness because delicious is a synonym for happy, or at least it is in my dictionary.

So where’s my favorite place to eat a lobster?  If you thought I was going to say Centro Vasco, think again.  I have another place up my sleeve that isn’t totally obvious.  Malaga is a small Spanish restaurant on the Upper East Side with great lobster and an unassuming atmosphere.  You know this is a place you can get a little messy.  Whether it’s broiled or steamed, this lobster is out of this world! Or should I say lobsters. Why order one when you can order two? That’s right, this Bite-Sized Blonde orders two lobsters, 1 ¼ pounds each, and I eat each and every morsel.  The lobster is always perfectly cooked, resulting in sweet and succulent meat.  Now that’s what I’m talking about it.

The lobster also comes with a salad covered in homemade house dressing, critical to the Malaga experience.  And you can’t forget the sides.  My choice, of course, is the homemade potato chips and broccoli in garlic.  Seriously yummy accessories to a great meal.

Speaking of accessories, lobster and sangria go hand in hand.  I mean, is there even another beverage option when it comes to eating lobster other than sangria? I don’t think so.  Malaga makes sweet sangria.  They also have live music on Sundays from 6:30 – 9:30.  Does it really get any better than this?

406 East 73 Street (1st Ave)
New York, NY