Monthly Archives: September 2011

L’Shana Tova

Happy New Year to those who celebrated!  I hope this year is marked by happiness and most importantly, good health.  To ensure a sweet new year, I bet you ate your apples and honey.  I certainly did.   The honey very obviously represents the sweet, but do you know what the apples represent?  Ancient Jews used to think apples had healing properties.  Now, you know where your mom got the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

We all know it wouldn’t be a Bite-Sized holiday party without a special recipe, and for this special holiday, I put a spin on an old classic.  What do you get when you combine apples, honey, and a Bite-Sized Blonde?  Apple Pie and Honey Ice Cream, that’s what.   What a sweet, sweet way to ring in 5772.

Honey Ice Cream (about 1 quart)

Ingredients
1 1/3 cup of milk
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
¾ cup honey
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, separated

Directions
Put milk, cream, and honey into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until honey dissolves and mixture is hot, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and then transfer mixture to a large bowl set into another large bowl, filled with ice, and set aside, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Put egg white into a clean medium bowl and whisk until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Whisk egg yolk in a small bowl until pale yellow and thick, about 1 minute. Fold beaten egg white into egg yolk until well mixed, then fold egg mixture into chilled milk–honey mixture.

Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Then, freeze for about 5 hours to the firmest consistency.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Honey-Ice-Cream

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Go Shorty, It’s Your Birthday

I know you expect to learn a few things from this Bite-Sized Blonde, but I bet vocabulary isn’t one of them.  Well, I have a word for you today.  Gradation.  No, it’s not SAT prep time, although who knows if I would have ever discovered some of my favorite words without said preparations.  Gradation is our word today because it’s an underlying theme what you’re looking at.  Gradation is the gradual passing from one shade to another, and in this case, from light pink to dark pink. 

I told you I was a girly girl right from the start, so it should come as no surprise to you that my birthday cake was pink.  Oh, did I forget to mention that it was my birthday?  This Bite-Sized Blonde just got a year older and what better way to indulge then with a great cake.  A milestone birthday is meant to be distinguished.  While other cakes have been sufficiently delicious in years past, I knew a bigger and better cake was in order this year.  No ice cream or cookie cake for this girly girl, only the biggest, pinkest cake ever created.  Like Frankenstein, but pink and delicious.  This dramatic cake fades from dark pink to light pink, and the gradation doesn’t stop there.  I got a pink glitter gradation manicure to top it all off for my perfect pink party.   I swear I turned 25 and not 12.  I might be Bite-Sized, but my celebration was anything but.

Anything But Bite-Sized Birthday Cake

Ingredients
2 boxes of vanilla cake mix
2 containers of vanilla icing
Vegetable oil
Eggs
Red food coloring

Directions
This cake is a four layer cake, so with 2 boxes of cake mix, you are going to make 4 separate cakes.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray four 8 inch cake pans with cooking spray and line each with parchment paper.  This will make removing the cakes very easy! Open one box of mix. Follow the directions to make the batter.  Then, separate the batter into two different bowls.  Add 2 drops of red food coloring to one of the bowls of batter and mix to incorporate.  Pour the batter into one of the cake pans and pop it into the oven! Then, add 5 drops of red food coloring to the other bowl of batter and mix to incorporate.  Once the batter is sufficiently mixed, pour it into a cake pan and pop it into the oven.  Then, open the second box of cake mix and follow the directions to make the batter.  Separate the batter into two different bowls.  Add 8 drops of food coloring to one bowl and mix to incorporate.  Pour this batter into a cake pan and pop in the oven.  Add 15 drops of food coloring to the last bowl and mix to incorporate.  Pour batter into a cake pan and place in the oven.  Bake each cake for approximately 32 minutes or until firm and slightly golden.  Don’t worry about the cake browning, the frosting will cover it.  Let each cake cool before removing from the pan.  Then, wrap each cake in clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours.  Once the cakes are cool, remove from the refrigerator.  Place the darkest pink layer on a cake stand.  Cover the top with frosting and then place the second darkest pink layer on top of it.  Repeat until all the layers are assembled.  If you are looking for a polished, professional looking cake, shave down the sides of the cake using a perforated knife.  If you would like a homemade look to the cake, leave as is.  Frost the sides of the cake and decorate as you wish!  I used silver sprinkles from Williams-Sonoma. 

Slice and enjoy!

Me, well I’m a Golden Delicious

Do you ever see something, and think, god that’ so ME! I do, all the time actually.  Like anything yellow or smiley.  And now, I have another object to add to my list of “So me’s.” GOLDEN DELICIOUS APPLES.  So me, right?  I mean, if I was an apple, I would be a golden delicious, it’s really that simple.

Here’s a fun fact about yours truly, I’m a champion apple picker.  If apple picking was a competitive sport, I would take home the gold medal.  It’s a skill I was born with, and then further developed as a child, and continue practicing as an adult or whatever I am now.  Apple picking is literally my favorite activity.  Forget what I said about shucking corn.

It’s a fact of life that apples taste better when they come straight off the tree.  And, it’s totally rewarding to PYO – pick your own.   It’s not only fun, but its resume booster.  Everyone has a life resume, and apple picking is a great extra-curricular, if I do say so myself.  Plus, it makes the apple pie you bake that much better.

I love to make apple pie, not only because it’s delicious, but because it is incredibly easy.  Hey, this Bite-Sized Blonde appreciates ease as much as any twenty something hormone driven guy.  And lucky for you, my recipes are just that, easy.

Easy as Apple Pie
Ingredients
1 frozen pie-crust
6 Green Apples
1 cup of Sugar
1 cup of A/P Flour
1 3/4 sticks of Butter
Cinnamon

Directions
Yes, I use pre-made piecrust.  I promise you, no one will ever know the difference, except maybe Martha Stewart, and she’s probably not coming over for dessert anytime soon.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and peel the apples.

Then, dice them into chunks, not too big and not too small.  Coat the apples with a small amount of flour, about 1/8 of  cup.  This will help make sure the pie isn’t too wet.  Then, place the apples in the piecrust.  The piecrust should be totally full.  Remember the apples will shrink during the baking process, so make sure you have enough in the pie!

To make the crumb topping, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  I love cinnamon so I use about a tablespoon, but feel free to adjust based on your taste.  Cut the sticks of butter into small pieces.  Make sure the butter is really cold before you add it to the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  You can smush the pieces of butter into the flour mixture, or you can use a food processor.  I prefer to use the food processor, but sometimes it’s fun to use your hands.  The mixture will start to look like crumb topping, which is how you know it’s ready.  Cover the pie with the topping and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake for approximately 45 or until golden brown on top.   The more apples you put in, the longer it will take to cook.  Serve warm!

Sombreros…So Smart

They say the best things happen when you least expect it, like a relationship when it’s the last thing of your mind.  Come to think of it, I think that’s the only thing they say it about.  Because what else does it really happen with?  But, I’m not talking about relationships here.  Remember this is the Bite-Sized Blonde talking, which can only mean one thing.

The last thing I wanted to eat on Friday was Mexican.  After the rather adequate meal I had at Cascabel earlier that week, I had no interest in looking at another taco so soon.  But once I heard about the amazing margaritas at Rosarito, I was in.   Oh, the sweet, sweet power of tequila.  Rosarito is a new Mexican Fish Shack in Williamsburg.  NY Mag so cleverly said “This Mexican spot wears many hats (sombreros?), moonlighting as a pescaderia, tacqueria, and a “mezcal tequila bar.”   Damn I wish I thought of that first.  Sombreros…so smart.

Since it’s not PC to be shallow, we all pretend to not judge a book by its cover.  But, let’s be real…we all do it.  And I am guilty of it too.  I walked into Rosarito and was instantly attracted to it.  Bleached wood for that beachy feeling, antique lamps and dim lighting for a little romance, and a bar full of tequila.   Let me reiterate instant attraction.  Not what I was expecting to feel after Cascabel.   But like I said, the best things happen when you least expect it.

I started with a special margarita –  reposado tequila with guava, cilantro and lime.  Refreshing and delicious.  Reposado is aged anywhere between 2 months and a year in oak barrels, giving off a richer and more complex flavor.

What’s a Mexican meal without guacamole? No, this isn’t a riddle.  I’m not really a riddle kind of girl.  Let me tell you what it is.   It’s weird, kind of like those glasses without lenses.  The guacamole was great, but the chips were unapologetically crunchy, just the way I like them.

I’ve never heard of a pescadilla before, but I knew immediately I had to try it.  I mean, how could a crispy corn quesadilla filled with red snapper, cheese and salsa verde be bad?  It was awesome.  The tortilla was crispy but the inside was delicate.  The creamy cheese made this seriously sinful.

I always thought good things come in small packages was about me until I had the Taquitos De Cangrejo.  These mini tacos were filled with crabmeat, mango and salsa and garnished with a little pickled ginger.   The light crabmeat was a perfect filling for the salty taco shells and sweet mango.

While ceviche might seem simple, a great ceviche is anything but, and I had two great ceviches at Rosarito.  The first was the sea scallop ceviche.  The scallops were thinly sliced and drizzled with yuzu and garlic oil.  Yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit with a unique twang.  Mixed with the garlic oil, it was the perfect dressing for the scallops, which were accompanied by ripe avocado, onions and scallions, and topped with toasted buttery quinoa.  The dish was smooth and tangy and crunchy all in one bite.

I didn’t think another ceviche could exist as stimulating as the scallops but then came the lobster ceviche.  The lobster was cut into thin disks and served with equal size slices of sweet strawberries.  It was dressed with yuzu and covered in scallions and the same toasted buttery quinoa as the scallops, but with one awesome addition.  This ceviche was drizzled in truffle oil.  It sounds complicated, but the dish was an oasis of flavors.  This wild dish took me for a ride and I liked it.

It was finally time for the tacos, and by then I had already forgotten my previous taco experience this week.  Cascabel who? The lobster taco was absolutely seductive.  The meat was so sweet and supple.  It was simply garnished with scallions and a little avocado cream. You know something is good when you don’t have to disguise it…like a pretty girl who doesn’t need to wear make up, which is exactly who this taco would be if it was a girl.

The taco shells need to be mentioned.  They were delicate and delicious and totally homemade.  Ingredient number 1 – love.  Yup, I could taste it.  Ingredient number 2 – steak and ingredient number 3 – beer.  Sounds like the makings of a pretty good Friday night if you ask me.

As if we didn’t order enough, there was just one more thing to finish off our meal, a steak.  The steak was marinated in adobe and served with sweet plantains.  I’ve never had a plantain before, because you know how much I HATE bananas and anything resembling them.  But these plantains were out of control.  They tasted like sweet potato candies.

Whoopsies, can’t forget about dessert, a classic tres leches cake.  Tres leches means three milks, usually evaporate milk, condensed milk and heavy cream, or otherwise known as a Lactose Intolerant person’s worse nightmare.  Because of the milk, the cake is extremely moist and sweet.  And what a sweet way it was to end a sweet meal.

Rosarito is now the third awesome BK dining experience I’ve had.  First came Brooklyn Fare, then TASTE and now Rosarito.  I never thought I would be declaring my love for another borough, but here I am saying I love you Brooklyn.

Rosarito
168 Wythe Ave.
Williamsburg, NY
718.388.8833

A TASTE of Brooklyn

If you should know one thing about Brooklyn, it’s this:  the food rocks.  And you know, coming from a Manhattan food snob that means something.  There’s so much eating to do in Brooklyn.  So much food, so little time.

One major advantage Brooklyn has over Manhattan is the space.  There’s so much of it.  And guess what the community likes to do with their open space? Host food festivals and flea markets revolved around food.  Now, this is my kind of borough.   It makes seeking out the great places to eat a piece of cake! Yesterday, I experienced a little taste of Brooklyn in a very big way, at TASTE Williamsburg and Greenpoint.  This all day food, drink and music festival was a Bite-Sized Blast.

TASTE Williamsburg and Greenpoint was exactly what the name implies, a little taste of the towns.  Some of the best local restaurants set up shop so food fanatics alike could rejoice in the glory that is delicious cuisine.  With fifty food booths and eight drink booths, a girl can get really overwhelmed.  Good thing I am seriously organized.

My first order of business, after purchasing a ticket, was to get a map of the festival and a pen. Oh yea, and have a pickleback.  A pickleback is one of those things you just have to try in order to understand its beauty, because it’s a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle juice.  Sounds gross, but it’s anything but.  The pickle juice cuts the harsh taste of the whisky and leaves you with a sweet and salty aftertaste.

So, with a shot under my belt, and my plans laid out, I walked into the festival and here’s where I went.  My first food stop was Fette Sau, obviously.   Fette Sau is known for having some of the best barbeque in New York City.  They were serving brisket sandwiches on soft potato rolls with sweet barbeque sauce.  The brisket was tender as can be and so smoky.  I could have eaten the entire booth worth of brisket.  Fette Sau – I will be back.

Next stop, BETTO, for market toast and little meatballs.  The market toast was smeared with creamy ricotta and drizzled with lemony syrup.  It was a satisfyingly simple accompaniment to the meatball.

Lodge and Urban Rustic offered wild boar ribs with a blueberry barbeque sauce.   The only thing this Bite-Sized Blonde used to know about boars was from the best show ever created, LOST.  I now understand why John Locke used to eat them; they are delicious.

I also sampled a Vietnamese sandwich from An Nhau, chicharones from Calyer, arepas from Caracas Arepa Bar and an ice cream sandwich from the Nitehawk Cinema.  This awesome movie theater has a full menu, which takes the concept of dinner and a movie to a whole new level.  Add a few glasses of Rose and beer  to the mix and my Sunday was in full swing.  On a gorgeous day, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Don’t worry if you missed TASTE, there is always the Brooklyn Flea market every weekend and Smorgasburg too!!  It’s a seriously delicious way to spend the day.  And take it from me, this won’t be your last trip to Brooklyn.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

As a single girl in the City, I’ve not only grown accustomed to dating, I’ve developed a taste for it.  What can I say? I love to date.  Of course, not every date is dazzling or disastrous.  Some dates are O.K. and the same can be said of restaurants.  Case in point, Cascabel Taqueria.

I have to admit, I was really excited about Cascabel.  My trusted sources at Immaculate Infatuation rated it an 8 out of 10…that is until last week.  They revisited the restaurant and revisited their opinion and determined that an 8 was too high.  Cascabel now has a 5.7.  After my recent visit, I understand the rating, neither high nor low.

Cascabel is an eccentric little taqueria on the Upper East Side, and what I thought was the perfect location for a night out with great friends.  Although they don’t take reservations, we were seated right away.  I heard about their tequila snow cones before I got there, so we ordered a round of cones for the table to get the night started.  Obviously.  While they were tasty, the snow cones weren’t cones at all.  They were shaved ice in a glass with tequila.  So, basically they were extra frozen margaritas.  There are a few things I never joke about, tequila included.   So, this was a disappointment.  Not enough to ruin a night with great friends.  After all, it’s not like they were trying to serve us bad tequila.  Now that would be a deal breaker.

We started with guacamole.  Each chip was one large tortilla, which I thought was awesome, a little hard to eat, but awesome nonetheless.  The avocados were so fresh but the guacamole was overly salted.   I felt myself bloating by the bite.

We ordered 4 different kinds of tacos to share – pescado, camaron, pollo chipotle, and carne asada.  For those of you who don’t remember your high school Spanish, here’s a little cheat sheet: pescado – fish; camaron – shrimp; pollo – chicken; carne – meat.  The pescado taco was filled with crispy yellowfin tuna belly, hearts of palm, olive and onion.  I took one bite of this taco and had to put it down.  I have an allergy to spicy food, and guess what was in this taco? Chiles.  A chile is typically one of those ingredients that is listed on a menu, or at least a dish with a chile is indicated as **hot**.  With no indication, there’s no stopping me.  Unhappy with the first taco, I moved onto the second: the camaron taco.  The camaron taco had roasted shrimp, fresh oregano, garlic, chili oil and black beans.   There were a lot of beans in this taco, maybe even more beans that shrimp.  Not what I was expecting, but not bad.  The pollo chipotle taco had amish chicken, avocado, green onion and chicken chicharron.  This taco was one of the better tacos we had. The chicken was packed with flavor.  The taco was one texture though.  It definitely could have benefitted from a little crunch.  The carne asada taco was my favorite, filled with grilled hanger steak, oyster mushrooms, house cream and crispy onions.  The steak was tender and satisfying.

Onto the sides…grilled corn and quinoa.  The grilled corn, which was covered in Mexican aioli, lime, and queso cotija, was sweet and creamy.  I love the taste of the grill, especially on corn.  And how could adding cheese be anything but great? Warning!! This is a “leave your manners at the door” dish, because there is no polite way to eat this corn.  Just try not to smile right away.

You know I love quinoa, but there was nothing exciting about Cascabel’s quinoa.  Mixed with a little queso cotija and cilantro, it was rather boring.  Not bad, just boring.

Just like the tequila snow cones, the churros were not what I was expecting.  Rather than churros sticks, we were served churros nuggets.  Three nuggets to be precise.  There were four of us at the table.  The worst offense though, was that they weren’t fresh.

A little tequila goes a long way, especially when it’s good tequila.  And good tequila I had indeed.  The watermelon margarita was sweet, tangy and refreshing.  Good drinks and great company was enough to make this a great night.  But the food left a little something to be desired, just like an O.K. date.

Sorry Cascabel, you seem great, you really do.  But I’m looking for something casual with you.  Ya know, every once in a while.  We can see each other, I’m just not ready to commit to you.

MORE-imoto

There are some neighborhoods in NYC that are known for great food and rightfully so, i.e. the West Village. There are other neighborhoods that aren’t known for great restaurants where you can find them anyway, i.e. the Upper East Side.  And then there are the neighborhoods that are mistakenly known for good restaurants, but really, the great restaurants are few and far between, i.e. the Meatpacking District.

The Meatpacking District is filled with pedestrian chain restaurants.  It’s like a really pretentious and expensive food court.  But in a sea of mediocrity there is one Starr restaurantMorimoto, is one of the few great restaurants in the meatpacking district.

The restaurant has that MPD feel with a large light installation that starts on the first floor and goes downstairs to the bar.  The large dining rooms are filled with a mix of small and large tables, including a communal table.  But the most outrageous MPD-like feature can be found in the bathroom.  Since a true lady never speaks about such things at the dinner table, you’ll just have to visit the bathroom the next time you visit Morimoto.  Take my word for it; the bathroom and the food are worth the trip over to 10th Ave.

The menu at Morimoto is right up my alley, so I was utterly confused as to how to pick just a few dishes.  The omakase, or the chef’s choice, is a multi-course tasting that is designed to allow you to experience the essence of Morimoto‘s cuisine.  I really wanted the omakase, but it was sold out by the time we sat down for our 10:45 dinner reservation.  The knowledgeable waiter helped me select a few key dishes that I would enjoy, as well as my friends with simpler palettes.

We started with the Waygu Beef Carpaccio, which was my favorite dish of the night.  It was drizzled with yuzu soy, ginger and sweet garlic and garnished with leaves of cilantro.  The clean and citrusy cilantro offset the sweet sauce perfectly.  It was a light yet fulfilling way to start a meal.

The Toro Tartare was a dish the waiter said we couldn’t pass up.  And after eating it, I understand why.  Toro is the fatty cut of the tuna, which usually comes from the belly.  So, it is creamier than a regular piece of tuna.  The tartare is chopped finely and placed in a thin layer on a wooden block.  It’s adorned with a dollop of osetra caviar.  As if this wasn’t perfection by itself, it is accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce, wasabi, crème fraiche, and nori paste.  Each bite was better than the last.

Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura is not a dish I would normally order at a restaurant as celebrated as Morimoto.  But, I am so glad I did.  The shrimp was served two ways, in a spicy, almost buffalo-like sauce and in a sweet, honey mustard like sauce.  They were served with a cool and creamy wasabi aioli.  What could have been an run-of-the-mill dish was anything but ordinary.

Japanese Lobster Fritters might sound like an oxymoron but these tiny little spheres of delicious were a pleasant pop of flavor.  A soft exterior envelops a creamy mixture of lobster, pickled ginger and scallion.  This is a great dish to share, if you can manage not to fight your dinner date on who gets to eat the fifth and final fritter.

Every Japanese restaurant serves sea bass, and Morimto is no exception.  The sea bass was served in a sweet sake kasu with Japanese eggplant and avocado tempura.   The fish was delicate and flaky.  While this dish was nothing different than every other sea bass you’ve had, it was delicious.

So, the next time you are in the meatpacking district, bypass the usual suspects and go straight to Morimoto.  I mean, how can you go wrong with a name that starts with more?

Morimoto
88 10th Ave
New York, NY
212.989.8883