Tag Archives: Easy

Mandoo the Damn Thing

Mandoo
It’s not often that I am impressed. Not just by food, but by the food suggestions of others. Excited? Always. One well written food description on a menu and I am so excited that I am salivating. But impressed? Eh, it's a rarity. But today, I was thoroughly impressed, both with the food and with the suggestion of two great friends.

I have been hearing about Mandoo Bar for a while. And now that I have been, I cannot for the life of me figure out why it took me so long to get my Bite-Sized butt down to Korea Town for this tasty treat. Mandoo Bar is a small restaurant that leaves a big impression. This namesake eatery has a laundry list of dumplings to choose from. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Korean, or the art of google translate, Mandoo means dumpling.) Dumplings aren’t the only option at Mandoo, but not ordering dumplings would be like going to the gym and not exercising. Sure, you can do it. But the experts, well, they frown upon that.

While the restaurant considers itself “vegetarian friendly” they serve some of the best Pork Dumplings I have ever eaten. The dumplings are made in the front window of the restaurant. Which is a foodie’s version of the red-light district, or at least mine. Yes, I said it. Red-light district and food. Now you know what I think about.

You will be drawn in by the ladies in the window rolling out dough, and then ever so gently stuffing the dumplings with a heaping amount of pork, veggies, seafood, tofu and kimchi. And if that isn’t enough for you, cause it wasn’t enough for me, you can watch the dumplings get fried and plated too. That, is the Art of Seduction, in its truest form.

If you weren’t hungry before arriving at Mandoo, you can be sure you will be starving by the time you are seated. They don’t take reservations. So while you are patiently waiting for a table, in this small and oh so casual dumpling bar, you get to watch this enticing show, on repeat. So, while you are watching, and waiting, you can take comfort in the fact that you are witness to the art that is dumpling making – and then eating. Cause let’s be real, you came here to eat, and eat is what you will Mandoo.

Oh, and click HERE for the best Vine Video, well, EVER.

Mandoo Bar
2 West 32nd Street
New York, NY
212.279.3075

Diner, Dive In and Drive Away Happy

So it’s been a while, but I’m backkk!!! I sure hope you missed me, because I missed you!…and that you are wondering what food is bringing me back to the blog.…what restaurant could have been so noteworthy that the writer in me is ready to, well, write again? Ohh hold on tight cause this is a good one…

I was almost tempted to bury this information because, let’s be honest, I’m just not sure if I want this restaurant blowing up.  Sure, it might be selfish, but it also might be brilliant.  Keep this to myself and avoid having a hard time getting in when you all flock like seagulls to this place, sounds like the smart thing to do.   But, I wouldn’t be the Bite-Sized Blonde if I kept information this meaningful from you, now would I?

Is the suspense killing you? Okay okay, here it is…drumroll please…the restaurant so good I had to start writing immediately is…DinerDiner is well, an old diner from almost a century ago – resurrected and brought way above it’s former glory to become a superstar restaurant.   Of course, the food is the star here, but it seems rather silly not to mention the décor, because in this case, it’s what makes the atmosphere so freaking awesome.  Diner looks like a diner you would see on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives if the wrong person bought this place.  You totally could have found chicken fried gravy on this menu or something equally as “comforting” and by comforting I mean just kind of ineffectual.  But, this place is so much more that a triple D joint.  It’s seriously cool, and not just in a BK hipster too cool for school kind of a way.  It’s like cool, man.  The diner is illuminated by votives that take the usual space and make it into something so unusual people are clambering to come in.   The space might be small, but nothing else here is.

Okay, so there’s one more thing that’s small, and that’s the menu.  But remember what I’ve taught you, good things come in small packages.  Or Bite-Sized packages really. But you get the point.   If you take after your favorite Bite-Sized Blonde, then you probably want to see the menu right now.  But you can’t, because it changes daily.  Pain in the ass to reprint the menu everyday, right? Wrong! The waitress sits down at your table to write the menu on the paper tablecloth.  So casual, so cool.

We shared several dishes, because how could we not.  So, I sampled about half of the menu.  We started with the Fried Green Tomatoes.  OMG, these FGTs were SG – so good, so so good.  Green tomatoes are different than your run-of-the-mill red tomatoes.  They are denser and a little sour almost.  Which is why they are great to fry.  They maintain their integrity even under high heat.  These FGTs were something special though.  Lightly breaded and fried to a golden perfection, they were served with a side salad of watercress and mint and moisturized in aioli.  Yes, moisturized – because they had a thin layer of creamy goodness on them to keep them moist.

We also shared the Romaine Salad, which kind of sounds boring, but it was anything but.  The crispy leaves were left in rather big pieces and combined with roasted beets and finely shaved red onion and then showered in love, otherwise known as creamy basil vinaigrette.   A simple salad elevated to awesomeness is a salad you could find me eating everyday.

As a treat, the kitchen sent us a plate of crostini.  Thin slices of sourdough bread, toasted on the grill, and covered in a garlicky spread and marinated green tomatoes is anything but your ordinary crostini, and man, was this good.  Of course, it only had me begging for more…

You know how I feel about burgers – so I couldn’t resist the Special House Burger at Diner since it is the one thing that is always on their menu.  And after eating it, I know why.  This burger is so good, I’m sure the Diner regulars would be up in arms if it disappeared from the menu.  A thick juicy patty of blended meat rests comfortably on a doughy brioche bun and is then adorned with lettuce and pickled onions and served with homemade ketchup.  The pickled onions take on a cabbage-like flavor that elevates the burger so subtly.  And the ketchup is thick and sweet with a hint of cinnamon; it is truly unlike any ketchup you have ever had.  Which is why it’s the only choice in condiments for the fries.

Fries are important to a burger like a bikini top is to the bottom.  Sure, they are separate entities, but if you have one without the other, you are just half naked.   The fries are thick cut and double fried in flavorful and greasy oil and then dusted with salt to create a crunchy, salty snack that is impossible to resist.  Even after I had finished my meal, and all of my fries, I still wanted more.  Not because I didn’t have enough, but because every time a plate of fries was brought near my table, and that incredible scent perfumed the air, I found myself salivating.

Diner is more than burgers though.   We also shared a Sirloin.  It was grilled, so it had beautiful char marks, and then was sliced and plated with grilled spinach and an heirloom tomato salad.  I’m not sure who the genius is that decided to grill spinach but I need to meet this person ASAP.  Spinach takes on a whole new level of deliciousness when it is grilled.  It was so intensely flavorful but light, which made it the perfect addition to one buttery soft piece of meat.

We also shared the Pork Chop, which was grilled and served on top of a garlicy sauce.  It was juicy and hearty and so insanely delicious, I was surprised no one at the table picked up the bone to salvage the last, impossibly small pieces of meat left.

Diner’s food is comforting, but it’s not comfort food.  I would eat here when I’m sad, when I’m celebrating, when I’m starving, or when I’m totally full.  This is the food you cannot pass up.  This place is so cool, that if someone took me here on a date and I didn’t know about this place beforehand, I might just be getting undressed at the table.  Clearly the way to my heart is through my stomach, but you already know that…

Diner
85 Broadway
Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY
718.486.3077

Spring Cleaning

So, it’s the first day of Spring.  What are you thinking? If you are anything like this Bite-Sized Blonde there are two simple words that come to mind….Spring and Cleaning.  Sure, Spring Cleaning might not sound exciting, but then again, you’ve never spent Spring with me before.

If it’s time to clean, then it’s time to take out the trash.  And you know what they say about trash…One man’s trash, well, it just might be delicious.  White chocolate trash is one of those irresistible snacks; it’s like confetti with different flavors and textures.  Smooth white chocolate, mixed with crunchy nuts, salty pretzels and sweet cereal create a snack that will have you warming up to the idea taking out of trash more often.  White trash is truly the epitome of junk food; but if this is trash, then I’m okay with my tummy being a garbage can.

White Chocolate Trash

Ingredients
1 ½ cups of Peanut Butter Cheerios
1 ½ cup of Rice Chex Cereal
½ cup of unsalted peanuts
1 ¼ cups of salted mini pretzels
1 12 ounce bag of white chocolate chips

Directions
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Then, measure out all of your dry ingredients and mix together in a large bowl.  Add the chocolate chips to a separate, microwave safe bowl.  Place the microwave and cook for two minutes, removing the bowl every thirty seconds to stir.  Once the chips are about halfway melted remove from the microwave and stir until fully melted.  This will help the chocolate maintain its sheen.   Once the chocolate is fully melted, add the cereal mixture and toss. Coat evenly.  Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and place in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.  Remove the tray from the refrigerator and break the trash into small to medium size pieces. Serve and Enjoy!

A Side that Won’t Hurt Your Sides

Faux is not a word I generally include in my vocabulary.  Let’s be real, this Bite-Sized Blonde keeps it real, and that’s the way I like my fur and my food.  Faux-fur…more like faux-pas.  But there is one faux that is definitely more friend than foe and that’s faux fat.  Faux fat – as defined by the Bite-Sized dictionary is a term used to describe something luscious but low-cal; also see deceivingly distending.

I’ve been known to throw caution my waistline to the wind and eat what I want when I want.  You only live once to me really just means you eat what you want.  See here, here and here.

But sometimes, as luck will have it, some of the most dynamic recipes end up being figure friendly and seriously kind to your behind.  Case in point, Banging Brussels sprouts.  Brussels sprouts are trendy these days, probably because they are hearty and filling but light and leafy, not to mention de-li-cious.  The short, but impactful, recipe below is approachable and totally unexpected, and what you’re left with is a dish that is familiar but extraordinary.

Apple cider vinegar is an underrated ingredient.  It adds an element of tanginess that will keep your taste buds on their toes.   The crème fraiche and mustard mixture adds an element of creaminess that screams fat; but it’s faux! One tablespoon of crème fraiche is about 55 calories. Mixed with 1 tablespoon of mustard, only 30 calories, this dish is low cal – high taste that is sure to impress.

Banging Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients
16 ounces of Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbs. Crème Fraiche
1 tbs . Grained Dijon Mustard
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Wash the Brussels Sprouts. Some of them might have a long stem, so trim the sprouts that do. Make sure not to cut the stem off entirely, or the sprout will fall apart! Cut the Brussels Sprouts in half. And place in a plastic Ziploc bag with the apple cider vinegar and let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Place the Brussels Sprouts on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Place in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until they look well done. They should be dark brown and crispy. When they are completely cooked, remove from the oven. In a medium bowl, combine the crème fraiche and Dijon mustard and mix well. Add the Brussels Sprouts to the mixture and toss. Coat the Brussels Sprouts well.  Serve, enjoy, grab a fork and let the guilt be gone!

Bah Groundhog

Aright it’s officially unofficial.  The Pennsylvania groundhog says we have 6 more weeks of winter ahead of us and the Staten Island groundhog says spring is on its way.  That’s about as straight forward as vegetarian meatballs.  Bah humbug  groundhog.

Whether the weather will need to be weathered, or spring is springing up early, I’ve got a recipe for you.  Schnitzel, otherwise known as Chicken Cutlets for those of you who didn’t just get back from Israel, is one of those seriously easy but wildly pleasing meals.  There are a handful of ingredients, which make shopping for this dish a cinch.  Plus, prep is super simple and unless you have a proficiency to burn things, you got this in the bag!

Schnitzel
Ingredients
2 large eggs
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 pound of thin chicken breast, pounded
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Optional: Magic Sauce

Directions
To make schnitzel, you are going to want to make a work station! A little chicken assembly line of sorts! Set up two bowls, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet ingredients.  In the bowl for dry ingredients, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  In a separate bowl for wet ingredients, combine the eggs, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper and beat to combine.*

Dip each cutlet into the egg mixture, making sure to coat completely.  Then, place the cutlet in the dry ingredients and pat the breadcrumbs onto the cutlet until it’s completed coated.   Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet over medium – high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add 2 cutlets a time and cook until golden brown.  This should take about 3 minutes on each side, depending on how thin the cutlets are.  Once they are cooked, transfer the cutlets to a baking sheet and place in a warm oven, roughly 250 degrees, until you are ready to serve them.

You can serve them as is, or with Magic Sauce on the side! Enjoy!

*This is a great use for magic sauce! Add a little to the egg mixture to coat your cutlets!

Where the Magic Happens

In true MTV cribs fashion, I’m going to let you in on where the magic happens…But not that kind of magic.  After all, a Bite-Sized lady doesn’t kiss and tell…My kind of magic is made in the kitchen.  And magic, is exactly what’s on the menu today.  Magic Sauce get its name because, well it’s really magical.  It has the ability to transform something boring into some seriously divine.  Think Fairy Godmother, but edible.  One day you’re Cinderella, the next day you are a princess.  And by you, I mean your food.

This sauce is great for dipping, think crunchy bread.  It’s also great for eggs, potatoes, shellfish, chicken, steak and vegetables.  Really, it’s good for anything and everything.  Which is why it’s magical.  The recipe makes about ½ a cup of Magic Sauce.  But the way I use it, and the way you are sure to use it, it’s best to double the recipe right away.  The sauce, like a fine wine, also gets better with age.  So, make a batch, or two, and let the magic happen.

Magic Sauce
Ingredients
½ cup of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
1 well-crumbled bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼  teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.

While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can chop all of the ingredients together.

Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.

You can use this now, but know – the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days. Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish. It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or in a warm place for a few minutes.

Recipe from: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/magic-sauce-recipe.html

101cookbooks.com is a great collection of recipes and beautiful food photography.   If you are ever looking for inspiration, make sure to visit this site!

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

It’s no secret that I love cooking.  And researching recipes, well that’s like foreplay for me.  But not every recipe gets my attention.  What can I say? This Bite-Sized Blonde is one tough cookie, or something that sounds like it tastes better? Who came up with that saying anyway? Why would anyone want to be a tough cookie? Personally, I’d like to think I would be a soft baked cookie, preferably one that was kind of still gooey on inside.  But, I digress.  The truth is, there are a couple key characteristics I look for in a recipe, including accessible and appealing ingredients and the prep to table ratio.  The prep to table ratio is all about time management.  And a wise man once told me it’s all about time management, although I’m pretty sure he was talking about dating.  I, being a Foodie, obviously related that to what I know best.

The prep to table ratio is a tool I use to help me decide if the juice is worth the squeeze.   A time consuming recipe becomes more appealing if it can last longer.  The L word is not one I say often, believe you me, but every now and again I let it slip.   Leftover.   That’s right.  I don’t like leftovers, so my prep to table ratio really only relates to what I can freeze and make again when I’m ready.  I think the best example of this is soup.  It’s time consuming by nature because the flavors develop as the soup cooks.  But, one big pot can make about 10 servings, and with 10 plastic containers, that easily becomes 10 meals.

Have a date coming over for dinner? Heat up a soup.  Got home late from work? Heat up some soup.  Bad weather blues? You get the point.

Porcini Mushroom Soup (makes about 8 servings*)

Ingredients
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms
½ ounce of dried maitake mushrooms
½ white onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of mushroom mélange seasoning
½ lb. small new potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
4 cups water
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions
Soak the porcini and maitake mushrooms in 2 ½ cups of hot water for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside in two separate bowls.

Heat a splash of the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot, sauté the onions for a couple of minutes and then stir in the rosemary and potatoes. Add the remaining olive oil and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, the mushrooms and the soaking liquid, 4 cups of water, 1 cup of vegetable stock, salt and mushroom melange seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.  Here comes the important step: taste it!  If the broth doesn’t seem flavorful enough, play around! Add salt, pepper or more of any of the ingredients listed above and let the soup continue to cook over medium to high heat for another 30 minutes.  If the broth is too intense, you may want to add more water a bit at a time.

If you are ready to serve, sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a piece of crunchy, toasty bread.

Make sure to freeze your leftovers.  Ladle individual servings into plastic containers.  That way, when you come home on a cold, dark night, and want some soup, you can simply grab a frozen soup out of the freezer.

*I usually double this recipe so I have lots of extra to freeze! That way, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze…

Recipe inspired by http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/porcini-mushroom-soup-recipe.html