Tag Archives: Meatballs

Chai Five For Kutsher’s Tribeca

There’s a new kid on the block, and by kid I mean restaurant and by block I mean neighborhood. Tribeca welcomed Kutsher’s with open arms, almost at the same time Demi pushed him out.  But, there’s no actual relation here.  Kutsher’s Tribeca is the new restaurant brought to you by the Kutsher Family, as in the Kutsher family who owns Kutsher’s Country Club in the Catskills.

The century old resort is infamous, well infamous to Jewish families in the tri-state area.  It’s been a second home to hardworking families, focusing on community, tradition, and of course, good food.  Just like its upstate predecessor, Kutsher’s Tribeca has the same goals of creating good food, which is exactly what it does.

Kutsher’s is reinventing what it means to be a JAB – Jewish American Bistro.   The menu is filled with nostalgic dishes that have a modern twist.   Chef Mark Spangenthal is turning old classics into new favorites.

One of my old favorites dates back to my camping days.  Kutsher’s put its spin on Bug Juice, to make an adult friendly drink for the kid inside of us. Although it’s normally made with Vodka, I ordered mine the Bite-Sized way, with tequila instead.  Tequila, home-made fruit punch and grapefruit bitters. But the most noteworthy part of this cocktail are the punch ice cubes.  As the cubes melt, the juice dissolves so the drink doesn’t get watered down.  Now that mixologist is a real mench!

We started with the Wild Halibut Gefilte Fish, which was plated with beet and horseradish tartare and garnished with a micro arugula and parsley vinaigrette.  Beet and horseradish tartare might just be a fancy way of saying horseradish, but there was nothing snooty about this dish.  The wild halibut is mild which gives the gefilte fish a subtle flavor, unlike the jarred stuff you might be used to.

I couldn’t pass up Milton’s Short Rib & Brisket Meatballs with caramelized onions and creamy horseradish sauce and can you blame me? Such a whimsical spin on an old classic cannot be ignored! My hopes were high for this dish, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.  The meatballs were tender and intensely flavorful.  They were totally reminiscent of mom’s brisket.

You know how much I love latkes, so of course I also ordered the Crispy Potato Latkes at Kutsher’s.  Well, really I asked for two orders of them, one with apple sauce and sour cream and one with caviar, in true Bite-Sized fashion.  They were crispy and dense, which made them the perfect vehicle for sweet apple sauce and salty caviar.

I have a hard time turning down Challah, so when I saw that the Country Club Chopped Salad had challah croutons, I decided it also had to be ordered.  Chickpeas, apples, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and challah croutons were mixed together on top of a bed of butter lettuce.  Tossed in a lemon honey vinaigrette, this salad was a delight, emphasis on the light.

We also ordered the Crispy Artichokes alla Judea.  The artichokes were lightly seasoned with lemon, garlic, parsley and paired with a salad of greens and shaved parmesan cheese.   The crisp greens balanced the salty artichokes and creamy cheese.  This small dish with big flavor was one of my favorite appetizers.

The Grilled Romanian Steak was intensely flavorful.  Caramelized onions and a well developed glaze made this steak unusually robust.  Each bite was better than the last.  It was served with a roasted garlic and mushroom knish that was less than stellar, but the steak was so delicious the knish was quickly forgotten.

Some girls might run at the first sign of schmaltz, but not this Bite-Sized Blonde.  A little rendered fat never hurt anyone.  Okay, it might hurt someone.  Schmaltz and Svelte are not exactly words that go together.  But in the case of Schmaltz verse Svelte, Schmaltz always wins.   So, I ordered the Duck Schmaltz Fries.  They were perfectly crunchy on the outside but light and airy on the inside, the way all good fries should taste.

I ordered the Brussels Sprouts, because let’s face it, after the schmaltz, I needed a little green. The Brussels Sprouts were roasted with rosemary and olive oil for an earthy taste.  Simple sprouts, simply good.

Dinner isn’t over until the fat lady sings, or I get dessert, but after this meal, I was quickly on my way to becoming the fat lady.  Good thing I don’t sing.

We started with the cookie plate, and yes I just said started.  You didn’t think that’s where dessert was going to begin and end did you? This was no ordinary cookie plate though.  Hamentashen, rugelach and macaroons filled this plate.  Another whimsical item on the menu that was so cleverly delicious!

The Rainbow Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae was calling my name, and I don’t even like rainbow cookies.  Well, I don’t love rainbow cookies.   You know how I feel about cookies.  Covered in vanilla ice cream and marshmallow fluff, these rainbow cookies transformed into heavenly sweetness.

But, the star of the dessert menu was the Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding.  It was creamy and seriously decadent.   I would say this was one of the best things I ordered all night, but the truth is, everything I ate was one of the best dishes I ordered all night.    Forget two thumbs up, Kutsher’s gets a Bite-Sized Chai Five.

Kutsher’s Tribeca
186 Franklin Street
New York, NY
212.431.0606

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On Top of Spaghetti…

On top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.  Children’s song or cruel, cruel nightmare?  Definitely nightmare.  The meatball is clearly the most important part of the duo.  Sure spaghetti is a great base for meatballs, and a great accessory to a Halloween costume, but spaghetti is an afterthought to good meatballs.  Good meatballs are the new boyfriend that make you forget your ex love, Carb-y ever existed.  Well not ever, I mean, I am human.   But sometimes you have to kick the carbs to the curb, and I have a recipe for meatballs that does just that.  Of course, if you aren’t ready to move on from spaghetti, that’s okay too.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

The secret behind these awesome meatballs is no secret at all, it’s veal.  Veal is a very tender cut of meat, so what you end up with is tender meatballs.  No knife required here, cause these babies are soft enough to cut with your fork.  Now that’s what I’m talking about. 

Veal Meatballs (Serves 4)
Ingredients
1 lb. ground veal
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. oregano
3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 egg
3 tbsp. Tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce
Ingredients
1 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled)
1 28 oz. can of Crushed tomatoes
1 medium red onion, diced
5 gloves of garlic
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
Start the sauce first.  The longer it cooks, the more flavor it develops.  Plus, you will finish cooking the meatballs in the sauce.   Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes or until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to whip it out! Add the tomatoes and then blend until your desired consistency.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, add the whole tomatoes to the blender and pulse until your desired consistency.  I like my sauce a little on the thick side.  Add the tomatoes to the pot and reduce heat to a simmer.*

Once the sauce is made, it’s time to start working on the balls! Add the veal to a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.  Once incorporated, roll into golf ball sized balls.  Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add some balls to the pan.  Only add a few at a time, or the temperature of the pan will cool down and the meatballs won’t cook evenly.  Brown the meatballs on all sides.  Once they are cooked, add them to the sauce.  Once all of the balls are cooked and have been added to the sauce, let the sauce simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.  Serve naked, and by that I mean without pasta.  Or actually naked, whatever you prefer.  Be careful though, those balls are hot!

*This recipe makes a lot of sauce! So, if you have extra, which you will, pour it into a plastic container and freeze it.  Save it for a rainy day, when you don’t feel like cooking.  We all know homemade sauce is so much better than jarred anyway!

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!

When I Grow Up…

When I grow up, I want to live on the corner of Commerce and Barrow. I can picture my charming apartment now, just above my Bite-Sized bakery and restaurant. It is one of the most beautiful blocks in Manhattan. It looks like it’s straight out of a fairy-tale, which is why it is the perfect setting for my storybook ending and dreams come true. Until then, I will just have to visit my favorite block when I visit one of my favorite restaurants, Commerce. Commerce is a quaint, contemporary American restaurant with a menu that is as seductive as it is robust.

The restaurant buzzes with energy from the crowd and the staff. You can tell they actually want to be there, which let’s face it, makes a world of difference in the service industry. And you know what else makes a world of difference? A phenomenal breadbasket. Commerce serves 3 different kinds of breads, right out of the oven, which goes a long way with this self-declared Carb Connoisseur. The only problem with the breadbasket? Filling up before you even get your meal! It’s impossible to resist the warm pretzel, onion and garlic rolls.

Do yourself a favor – sample each roll and then walk away from the breadbasket. Repeat after me, “Put down the rolls and no one will get hurt.” You’ll want to save room for the Roasted Sweet Potato Tortellini. The plump tortellini are filled with a sweet potato puree and tossed in a beurre noisette with toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds. Beurre noisette is brown butter, which is rich and nutty. The concentrated flavor of the butter accentuates the hazelnuts and plays off the tart pomegranate seeds to create a luscious dish.

The Summer Vegetable Fricassee with Truffle and Poached Egg is also a must have. A thin parmesan crisp sits delicately on top of a poached egg. The egg, once punctured, oozes into the vegetable stew. This creamy dish is as flavorful as it is colorful.

The Ragout of Lamb with a Soft Rosemary Pappardelle is as comforting as it gets. The wide al dente noodles are the perfect platform for this tender meat. The green hued pappardelle tastes fresh which balances out the slow cooked flavor from the lamb ragout. A bite of this dish feels like a great hug.

The Classic Veal Meatballs are actually not your classic meatballs at all. In fact, they’re paired with polenta and barbeque sauce rather than the “classic” tomato sauce. This dish was not what I was expecting, but it was delicious.

So back to the seductive and robust menu. There were at least half a dozen other dishes that I wanted to order. You know what that means, don’t you? I guess I’ll be getting to know my future neighbors sooner than later. 

Commerce
50 Commerce Street
New York, NY
212.524.2301

The American Apparel of Meatballs

If you don’t know it yet, you certainly will soon…I make an event out of every meal.  So naturally, a long, leisurely lunch is totally my cup of tea.  An afternoon of eating is an afternoon well spent in my book, and chapter 1 begins with The Meatball Shop.  Before you write me off for being a loony tune that spends an afternoon eating meatballs, hear me out.  The Meatball Shop does not take reservations.  So, nine times out of ten you are going to wait to sit down.  I am impatient as ever so that doesn’t exactly work for me.  Not only am I a food snob, I’m also a food brat.  The second I walk into a restaurant I am hungry.  Isn’t it funny how it works like that?

If you are worried about waiting for a table at this culinary treasure trove, fear not my ever-loving food friends.  The Meatball Shop has a to-go window.   My advice, which is the only way to do the MBS if it’s busy, is to put your name down for a table and then head right over to the to-go window.  The Meatball Shop offers five different meatballs at any given time, including classic beef, spicy pork, chicken, vegetable and a special ball.  Don’t think this is where your choices end, because they also offer five different sauces! You can have classic tomato, spicy meat sauce, mushroom gravy, Parmesan cream, or pesto! If you think that’s a hard decision, now try figuring out whether you want your meatballs on a hero, sliders, risotto, or if you just want your balls “naked” aka sans carbs.  The Meatball Shop is like American Apparel.  We all have the same t-shirt in every color, so why not do the same with your food?

Now, the stomach can only hold so much, so deciding what to eat must really be well thought out of you want to get the most out of your MBS experience.  I use the to-go counter as a chance to wet my palate.  This Bite-Sized Blonde recommends an order of the “naked” meatballs as an appetizer. There are so many great things to do near The Meatball Shop so after you have gotten your to-go order, walk around and make more room in that tummy of yours!  The hostess will call your cell when your table is ready.

The fun can really begin when you sit down and order your lunch.  Everything on this menu is delicious so take advantage.   My recommendation: choose a different meat than you ordered at the to-go window, and add some carbs!  But, do not forget to leave room for dessert.  The Meatball Shop makes an exceptional ice cream sandwich, and as I’m sure you’ve already guessed by now, they offer it in five different cookies and six different ice creams!!

Come hungry, and thank me later!

The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY
212.982.8895