Tag Archives: Pasta

Mmm Noodle Soup

Ohh you know that feeling when you are full? Like really, full. Make that really, really full.  But you know it’s all worth it because your belly is happy.  Truly happy.  Like I just won the lotto, never need to work again, going to travel the world and have a million puppies happy.  Yea, that’s what I feel right now.  And it’s all because of Udon West.

Food is a priority, but on a rainy day, convenience can often trump deliciousness.  Sad but true.  But, today, I found my favorite rainy day spot for lunch, and not because it’s convenient, but because it is convenient and delicious.  Udon West is a Japanese Noodle Shop in Midtown.  It’s not hidden, but it’s certainly not a standout either.  Unless you know the awesomeness that awaits you, you are probably going to pass it by.  I know I have a million times.  But today, I changed what a rainy day work lunch means to me forever.

Udon West is all about the udon, a thick flour based noodle.  The noodles take on a form of noodle unknown to the Italians.  Udon noodles are thick and doughy and so silky they are almost sexy.   These sexy noodles are not so sexy to eat though, as they are usually served as a hot noodle soup.  But this is no ordinary soup; it’s a sea of complex flavors that is a salty and satisfying expression of comfort.  Topped with scallions and a thin slice of egg, this soup is a meal in itself.  But, you know there’s more right? Of course there is.  Udon is usually topped with tempura, vegetables or meat.  When it comes to soup, this Bite-Sized Blonde is all about the veggies.

The Vegetable Tempura Udon was everything I wanted it to be and more.  The hot soup was the perfect counterpoint to this dreary day.  One sip of the warm broth and I was an Udon lover.  The noodles were velvety and slurp-tastic and the crispy tempura was music to my ears and tastebuds.  Can you think of anything better on a cool, rainy afternoon? I can’t.   This namesake restaurant brought the heat on a cold day.  There’s really nothing left to say, so I’ll leave you with an all-important quote.  In the wise words of Joey Tribiani…”mmm noodle soup…”

Udon West
150 E 46th St
New York NY
(212) 922-9677

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It’s Crunch Time…

So, its crunch time, and I’m not referring to the Captain, although I wish I was.   I mean it’s almost V-Day.  4 Days and counting.  Whether you have a new love, old love, or last minute love, you need to plan something.   Unless of course you are unattached this holiday, and in that case, you can stop reading now.

If you are looking to impress your Valentine, or at least not piss them off, I have a few suggestions for you.  Nothing says “I want to spend time with you like dinner.”  Hey, there’s a reason most people go for drinks on a first date.  But dinner isn’t just dinner on Valentine’s Day. So make sure to pick a restaurant that shows you put a little thought into this.

Here are a couple Bite- Sized Valentine’s Day picks…

Bobo.  This French restaurant in the West Village is the perfect quaint and quiet backdrop for a romantic night.  The food will impress.  Just make sure you will too.

In Vino.  This Italian restaurant in the East Village is warm and cozy.  A nice bottle of vino at In Vino is sure to set the mood.

Marc Forgione.  This rustic American bistro in Tribecca is known for their exceptional food and killer cocktails.  What more could you ask for?

Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day can be uber-annoying, especially if there is a pre-fixe involved.  Pre-fixe has me predisposed to think overrated.  Pre-fixe? More like please fix this ASAP, and get me a real menu.   So, if the kitchen is more your scene than Kittichai, then you know what you have to do.  Love is in the air, literally, if you cook at home.  You’re entire apartment can smell like love, or short ribs, which is the same thing really.

Valentine’s day is a Tuesday this year, and it’s hard to prepare a whole meal after work.  So, my suggestion, start early.  Make things this weekend you can refrigerate, or freeze, until you are ready to serve them.  Like soup, click here, here and here to see a few soup recipes.  Another recipe you can make in advance? Gnocchi!  Make the dough this weekend, precut the gnocchi and freeze them.  On Tuesday, take them out of the freezer right before you want to cook them. They will just need a few minutes in the boiling water, and voila! You will have a meal sure to impress!!

Craving a little more spontaneity? How about breakfast? This oh so important meal can be a totally unexpected Valentine’s surprise.  Start your morning with pancake hearts or a heart shaped egg in a hole.

Looking to heat things up, but not in the kitchen?  Check out Shag Brooklyn.  This unique adult store, art gallery, event space hybrid is hosting a Valentine’s event for the books.  Aphrodisiacs and Amor is a blindfolded tasting meant to tease, tantalize and tickle your taste buds.  Their words, not mine.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen sex store, and head to Nitehawk Cinemas.  This movie theater takes the idea of dinner and a movie to a whole new level.  The theater has a full restaurant that delivers your food to your seats during the show!

Great, dinner down, but one gift to go…Check out Tasting Table’s Valentine’s Shop.   Of course, this will only work if your Valentine is a foodie.  Otherwise, best of luck to you!

What are you planning this Valentine’s Day?

Why Do You Build Me Up Butternut Baby

There are some things that are so obviously winter, like gloves and snow and dreams about warm weather.  I know, I just came back from vacation but this Bite-Sized Blonde still needs a tan.  So I’m a brat and a food snob.   There are worse things, right? Banter aside, winter is all about the butternut squash for this Foodie.  This winter squash is one of my favorites.  It’s sweet yet savory, and light yet totally filling which is why it’s the perfect filling for ravioli.  A filling filling?   Now that’s one delicious homonym.

Butternut Squash Ravioli (makes approximately 40 ravioli)

Ingredients
20 ounces of peeled and diced butternut squash
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ medium white onion, diced
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Wonton wrappers
4 sticks of Butter
1 cup of walnuts

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the squash on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for approximately 45 minutes or until tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool. In the meantime, sauté the onions in olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until softened.  Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Then, transfer the onions and garlic as well as the butternut squash to a food processor. Add the cinnamon and pulse until all of the ingredients are smooth.   If you don’t have a food processor, you can transfer all of the ingredients to a blender.  Taste the butternut squash mixture to make sure you’ve added an adequate amount of seasonings.  Add more salt, pepper or cinnamon as needed.   Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

The most efficient way to make ravioli is by setting up a workstation.  You’ll need the bowl of butternut squash mixture you just made, as well as a baking tray lined with parchment paper, a small bowl of water and the wonton wrappers. Using a teaspoon, scoop a small amount of butternut squash and place it into the center of the wonton wrapper.  Dip your fingers in the water and then trace the edges of the wonton wrapper.  Then fold the wonton wrapper in half  creating triangles.  Make sure the edges are sealed tightly and then fold the corners inward to create a pentagon.  Then place the ravioli on the parchment lined baking sheet and begin again.

If you are going to serve the ravioli the night you make them, place a pot of water on the stove and heat over high until it starts to boil.  Add the ravioli to the water one at a time.   At the same time, melt 1/2 stick of butter for every 5 ravioli over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add a small handful of walnuts to the butter. The ravioli will cook in a matter of seconds so make sure to take them out almost immediately after you place them in the water.  Place the cooked ravioli in the butter sauce and toss to coat.  Serve with a smile, and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by
http://iowagirleats.com/2009/11/06/how-to-bake-butternut-squash-butternut-squash-ravioli-recipe-2/

Sorella So Really Good

I have this weird love hate relationship with the Lower East Side.  I Hate, with a capital H, that I can never get a cab anywhere in the Lower East Side.  Seriously, I think what Paula Cole really meant was “where have all the cabbies gone”?  But I do LOVE the neighborhood, and in particular, the neighborhood gems.  And one such neighborhood gem that I cannot get enough of is Sorella, because Sorella is so really good.

Sorella is a modest Italian restaurant on Allen Street that serves small plates.  This rustic yet chic restaurant is dimly lit for a touch of romance.  It has this homey feeling that makes you feel comfortable right away.   The same can be said of the service.  With a few key recommendations from the waitress, we knew we were awaiting a great meal.

Similar to tapas, small plates are meant to share.  This is my favorite way to eat because you get to try so many things, and so many of Sorella’s things are exceptional.  Don’t get it twisted, Sorella may serve small dishes, but they pack a big punch.

We started with a few meats and cheeses, because the joys of salty meat and creamy cheese are hard to pass up.  The prosciutto was delicate and mild while to soppressata was dense and salty.  Paired with creamy cheeses, honey and hazelnuts, this was the perfect way to start our meal.

I don’t know about you, but I have a very difficult time passing up Brussels sprouts.  Sure, I maybe a parent’s dream come true, but I’m really just a humble vegetable eater.  Can you just picture the devious smile across my face?  Well, you should try cause it’s awesome.  Just like the Shaved Brussels sprout salad I had at Sorella.  This salad was the perfect balance of flavors.  The mild Brussels sprouts were the perfect base for the crunchy croutons, salty capers, spicy red pepper flakes, sweet onions and creamy cheese.  Piled high, this salad was a big mountain of excellence.

After the Brussels Sprout salad, we ordered the Beef Carne Cruda.  But this was not your average Beef Cruda because this beef was imported from the Hearst Ranch in California.  That’s right, Hearst, as in Hearst Corporation.  The Owner and Chef of Sorella, Emma Hearst, imports her beef from her family’s cattle ranch in California.  Seriously cool right?  As if that isn’t cool enough, rumors are floating around about her opening a steakhouse in New York using the beef from her family’s cattle ranch too.  While these are just rumors right now, I’m still crossing my Bite-Sized fingers that this becomes a reality one day soon.  One more thing, Emma Hearst made the list of “30 Under 30” by Zagat, and no one can argue that this 24 year old is seriously deserving of such exciting recognition!

Okay, back to the beef.  The bright red, supple meat is garnished with simple fried onions and accompanied by side salad of shaved celery and radish.  So simple, yet so good.

I had never heard of Pici pasta (pronounced peachy), but after a solid recommendation from the waitress, I knew I wanted to try it.  Plus, how do you really resist a pasta called Pici?  The thick, doughy noodles swim in a bowl of hearty pork ragu, ricotta and pepperoncini.  This is an unusual dish that I would make my usual meal.

Agnolotti are ravioli, and these ravioli were Bite-Sized. No truly, they were tiny, but seriously divine.  The agnolotti were soft and pillowy.  Stuffed with beef short ribs and drizzled with sage butter and parmesan cheese, these baby ravioli were robust bites of comfort.

A side of broccoli was a must, especially after we found out it was fried and covered in a spicy aioli.  Reminiscent of Japanese style broccoli tempera, these bites were unexpected for an Italian restaurant.  It was like a surprise party for my tastebuds.

A trip to Sorella wouldn’t be complete with dessert, because dinner isn’t really done until you have dessert.  But especially because they have a gelateria next door called Stellina.  We ordered 3 scoops of gelato, and each was better than the last.  Seriously, this was THE best gelato I have ever had in the United States.

We also ordered cheesecake.  I know, I was surprised we weren’t too full also.  But, we weren’t so cheesecake we ate.  The light and airy cheesecake was shaped like a pyramid and covered in a delicate layer of smooth chocolate.

If your mouth isn’t watering, I think you might be sick.  So, please make sure to call the doctor.

Sorella
95 Allen Street
New York, NY
212.274.9595

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)
Ingredients
4 medium-large zucchini
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of tomato sauce

Directions
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.

Pillow Talk

Sometimes, after a long day of work, I just want to come home, kick my shoes off, and trade in my business casual for an apron. Strange, I know, but what can I say? This Bite-Sized Blonde loves to cook. The more complicated the meal, the better I feel. Last night I made Ricotta Gnocchi with Rock Shrimp in a Tomato Basil sauce. If it sounds time-consuming, that might be because it is. But, it’s fun as hell. And you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

Gnocchi are little dumplings. They can be made with potato or cheese. Ricotta gnocchi are especially delicious because they are light and airy. The best part of these little dumplings, other than the fact that they are mighty tasty, is that you roll them by hand. Imagine play-doh, minus the play, plus the yummy. As you roll the gnocchi out, you pinch the dough, and then cut, to make little tiny pillows. Totally ironic for a meal that won’t put you to sleep.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Rock Shrimp in a Tomato Basil Sauce (Serves 4)

Ingredients
1 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 Fresh Basil leaves, chiffonade*
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
½ lb. Rock Shrimp
8 ounces Ricotta
2 eggs
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup AP flour

Directions
Start your sauce first. Add the olive oil to a medium pot over medium heat. Then, add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes. You can pulse as little or as long as you would like, until the tomatoes are at the consistency you prefer. I personally like a thick sauce, so I pulse 3 times quickly.** Add the tomatoes with the juices to the garlic. Add a touch of salt, fresh ground black pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Add half of the basil to the sauce as well. Cover and cook over medium heat for at least 30 minutes, but up to 2 hours.

While the sauce is cooking, start making your gnocchi. First, set a pot of water to boil. Then, combine the ricotta, eggs, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of fresh ground pepper. When the mixture is evenly combined, start adding the flour ¼ cup at a time, until it becomes a soft dough. If the mixture is sticky, keep adding flour. You may end up using more than 1 cup of flour total. Divide the dough into pieces, and roll into ½ inch thick logs on a floured surface. Cut into 1 inch long pieces.

Before you begin cooking the gnocchi, drop the shrimp into the tomato sauce. Cook until they are opaque, approximately 2-3 minutes. While the shrimp are cooking, start cooking the gnocchi. Drop the pieces into the pot of boiling water. And cook until they float. This will take 1-2 minutes. Once they float, scoop them out of the water and add them to the sauce. Stir to incorporate and then serve! Don’t forget to add the remaining basil for a hint of freshness!

* Basil is very gentle, so to prevent it from bruising, chiffonade the beautiful green leaves. Chiffonade means to cut into thin, long strips. To chiffonade the basil, stack the leaves and then roll them tightly. Then, cut across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife to produce long ribbons.

** Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor. Add the whole tomatoes, including the juice, to the pot. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a fork.