Valentines Day with the Meatball Master

Valentines Day with the Meatball Master


Daniel Holzman….need I say more. If there is anyone in the NYC food scene who is the sweetest, most open hearted, talented, hard working and funny…it’s this guy.

Daniel took a classic Italian grandmother’s comfort food specialty and revolutionized it into a world of its own. A whole shop dedicated to meatballs is one of the greatest inventions New York has ever seen, and luckily, there are 6 locations in NYC from Daniel and co-owner Michael Chernow. FYI, The Meatball Shop has balls for all, from spicy pork to veggie, and all walks of life in between. OH, and the ice cream sandwiches…don’t you dare leave without inhaling one of those.

The first person on my list to call about my blog, Daniel has been a good friend of mine since I first moved to NYC. I remember meeting him and Michael at their first Meatball Shop location in the LES. It was and still is one of the most simple yet genius concepts in the NYC restaurant scene…who doesn’t love a good meatball!?! I know I do! Plus who wouldn’t love a career where you talk about balls all day?!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Daniel and I met up to cook a beautiful meatball and beet borscht.


Daniel Holzman’s meatball borscht for Valentines day

5 beets – washed

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon juniper berries

2 yellow onions – finely chopped

2 large carrots – finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

3 eggs

1 cup freshly chopped parsley

1 ½ cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

½ cabbage, medium chop

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup freshly chopped dill, plus extra for garnish

salt and pepper to taste


In a pot place 10 cups of water with the beets, bay leaf, coriander and juniper berries. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and let simmer uncovered until the beets are almost cooked through, around 30 minutes.


While the beets are cooking make the meatballs. Heat up the oil in a pan and place in the carrots and the onions. Season well with salt and saute for 5-7 minutes until all the juice has evaporated and the vegetables are translucent and sweet. Move to the side and let cool.


Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F

In a bowl place the pork, beef, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley and the room temperature carrots and onions. Season well with salt and pepper and mix. Form into ¾ inch balls and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. When they are golden remove from the oven and set aside.



I was bizarrely nervous about rolling balls next to him…odd…but true. They had to be perfect…you know, I am in the Meatball shop!


I did it! #bam


Clean the skin off the beets and grate, place in a bowl and keep to the side.

In another bowl mix together the sour cream with the dill and season with salt.

866A6377When the beets are ready, strain it, making sure to keep the stock. Place the stock back on the stove and add in the cabbage, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. When the cabbage is almost done, around 5 minutes add in the grated beets. Check for seasoning.


In a bowl place 3 meatballs and then ladle over the borscht soup. Place a nice dollop of the dill sour cream on top and garnish with the fresh dill. Serve immediately.



It such a great idea for a Valentines day appetizer or entree (you might need to add more balls for that ;)).


Very important…finish your meal. There is nothing sexier than a good appetite. Bon Appetite!


Pictures- Matan Hakimi

Written by- Alexis Bendjouia & Eden Grinshpan