Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Celebrate the Holidays RA Sushi Style

RA Sushi has introduced three winter cocktails, the Peartini, Spiced Apple Blossom, and Black Cherry Collins. They all look and sound amazing, and if you can't make it to the restaurant, you can whip one up at home. I'm partial to the Peartini myself.

Also, if you're looking for a gift for someone who already has everything, RA Sushi has gift cards available. And when you purchase a $50 gift card, you get a $10 one for yourself in return! This offer is available through Dec 31st, 2017, while supplies last.


For each drink:
4 pear slices
2 oz Absolut Pears vodka
.5 oz St. Germain liqueur
.5 oz Creme de Nigori sake
1.5 oz lemon sour

1 pear slice
1 rosemary sprig

1 cocktail shaker with strainer
1 muddler
1 martini glass

Muddle 4 pear slices in cocktail shaker until even consistency is reached. Add remaining ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain mixture into chilled martini glass. Garnish top with pear slice speared on rosemary sprig.

Black​ ​Cherry​ ​Collins​ ​Cocktail

For each drink:
2 oz Sailor Jerry spiced rum
1 oz Black Cherry Real puree
1 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz lemon juice
1 oz club soda

1 lemon wheel
1 Luxardo cherry

1 cocktail shaker with strainer
1 toothpick for cherry garnish
1 tall cocktail glass

Add all ingredients except club soda into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain mixture into ice filled glass. Add club soda to top off cocktail. Pierce lemon wheel and cherry with toothpick and place in glass.

Spiced​ ​Apple​ ​Blossom​ ​Cocktail

For each drink:
1.5 oz (1 shot) SKYY Honey Crisp Apple vodka
.5 oz St. Germain liqueur
.5 oz Wild Turkey bourbon
1 oz Lime Sour
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz Apple Juice

Cinnamon sugar for glass rim
3 apple slices cut 1⁄8 inch thick
1 cinnamon stick

1 cocktail shaker with strainer
1 highball glass for serving
Ice cubes

Circle rim of highball glass with water then add cinnamon sugar around glass and 1 ice cube inside, set aside. Add all ingredients except apple juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain mixture into ice filled highball glass. Add apple juice to top off the cocktail. Garnish with 3 apple slices and cinnamon stick.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Toys for Tots at Nickel Taphouse

The Nickel Taphouse is collecting for Toys for Tots! Just bring in a new unwrapped toy and you can get a glass of wine or a beer from Evolution for just ONE PENNY. And while you're there, enjoy some of their delicious Buffalo brussels sprouts, a tender beef on weck sandwich, or one of the many other goodies on the menu.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Lemon Chicken and an Instagram Giveaway

Although the "experts" don't recommend it, we Minxes do much of our cooking in extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil has a low smoke point, but we don't do much high-heat cooking. Or if we do cook over high heat, it's not for a prolonged period. We've never had any issues. (If we don't want the olive flavor in our finished dish, of course we use something more neutral.)

Recently, we've tried flavored olive oils just to up our game a little. Ariston lemon-infused olive oil is made in the Kalamata region of Greece from Koreneiki olives, which produce a buttery and smooth oil with a pronounced citrus flavor. It would be perfect as an ingredient in sweet dishes as well as savory. Think olive oil gelato or cake. I went a little more conventional with it, using it in a vinaigrette for the salad we served on Thanksgiving (made with radicchio, endive, roasted pears, and butternut squash) and as a flavoring for a chicken dish.

Lemon and chicken are a perfect pairing. Sometimes it's hard to get enough lemon flavor into the chicken by just using lemon juice and rind; it also can make the dish too acidic. But lemon-infused olive oil adds the lemon flavor without adding acidity. Check out my recipe using Ariston lemon-infused olive oil below.

If you want your own bottle of Ariston lemon-infused olive oil to play with, Gourmet Steve, purveyor of delicious olive oils and balsamic vinegars is giving one away to a lucky Minxeats reader. But you need to do a few things first.

1. Follow Gourmet Steve on Instagram
2. Follow Minxeats on Instagram
3. Leave a comment on this blog post (or on the photo on Instagram) about how you would use lemon olive oil if you won.

A winner will be chosen at random on December 18th and will be posted on the Gourmet Steve site on the 19th.

Good luck!

Lemon Chicken with Creamed Spinach

2 teaspoons Ariston lemon-infused olive oil, plus more for finishing
2 teaspoons regular extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
Kosher salt
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 lemon, sliced
1 10-ounce bag frozen spinach
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt to taste
Chopped scallion or chives
Pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat the 2 teaspoons of lemon-infused and regular olive oils in an ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic clove and cook it for a minute or so, until it starts to lightly brown. This will impart some garlic flavor to the oil. Don't let the garlic burn, or the flavor will turn acrid. Remove the browned garlic, chop finely, and set aside.

Place the thighs into the hot oil and sear on both sides until browned. Sprinkle each side with kosher salt. Tuck the thyme and rosemary around the chicken while it's cooking. When chicken is golden brown, remove the herbs and top each thigh with a slice of lemon. Place pan in the oven. Roast until chicken is completely cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F, 20-25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, put the spinach in a saucepan and warm gently over medium heat, stirring regularly so it doesn't stick to the pan. Once the spinach is warm, add the cream and butter and the reserved chopped browned garlic and turn up the heat a tad to get the cream bubbling. Season with nutmeg and salt. The spinach will be lightly creamy but should still taste fresh. Remove from heat and keep warm until chicken is done.

To serve: Mound spinach in a bowl or on a plate and top with a chicken thigh. Garnish with scallions, pomegranate seeds, and a drizzle of lemon olive oil.

Serves 4.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Flashback Friday - A Quick Trip to NYC

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on December 18, 2012.

I like to visit New York a couple of times a year, mostly to sniff perfume, but also to eat. I hadn't been up there since January, so it seemed like a good idea to visit the big city during the Christmas season. My train was getting in to Penn Station just before 11am, the time when Shake Shack opens, and I felt that would be a good way to start my day.

Shake Shack has been generating long lines and tons of good buzz since it opened in Madison Square Park in 2004. There are now six locations in New York, two each in DC, Connecticut, and Florida, one in Philly, and two in the Middle East (with London coming soon). The world is apparently obsessed with burgers. I love them myself and wanted to know what all the fuss was about. As with the Five Guys' hoopla, I find it's mostly much ado about nothing. The Shack Burger is a fine, tasty burger. The edges are slightly crisp, the cheese is melty, and the bun is properly squishy. It's a good fast-food-style burger. Nothing orgasmic, earth-shaking, or life-changing. I'd eat it again if it were in front of me, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to do so.

Single Shack Burger
Later in the day, I hoofed it from 5th and 58th to the Time Warner Center at 8th and 59th. Why is it that a three block walk across town feels like 10 blocks? Up several escalators, I found A Voce. (You may remember that the restaurant's executive chef, Missy Robbins, cut her finger so badly in the first episode of Top Chef Masters season 4, she had to leave the competition.) I had tried to make a reservation the day before, but was told by Open Table that no reservations were available for that evening. I decided to walk in and take a chance. If they had nothing for me, I'd head up another floor and try Chopped judge Marc Murphy's Landmarc. But the hostess was able to seat me at a two-top facing the bar, where I was attended to by a handsome and charming young waiter. The service was really quite fantastic at A Voce - attentive, yet casual. At one point, my waiter wanted to know how I was doing with my appetizer, but he couldn't get close enough to my table to speak to me, as a water boy was in the way. He merely raised a questioning eyebrow and gave me a thumb's up. I nodded in affirmation, he smiled and walked away. I didn't even have to stop chewing.

Funghi al forno: roasted trumpet mushrooms, fonduta, mache, hazelnuts
The meal started off very well. There were a number of appetizers I wanted to try, but I settled on the funghi al forno. The roasted mushrooms were almost meaty in texture, and indeed required a steak knife to slice into manageable pieces. The fonduta - a truffled cheese sauce - was incredibly rich, yet not overly so. Once the mushrooms were gone, I found myself reaching for a piece of focaccia to sop up the remaining sauce. The hazelnuts added a toasty nutty crunch to round out the dish. Really lovely overall.

Speaking of lovely, that focaccia came with a dish of whipped ricotta with fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil. Good thing there wasn't a spoon with it, otherwise I might have embarrassed myself by eating it straight from the container.

Pici: cocoa pasta, duck bolognese, golden raisins
While the first course was successful, the pici that I ordered for my entree was a total disappointment. Pici is a hand-rolled pasta, somewhat like a thick spaghetti. Imagine making a snake of modeling clay by rolling it between your palm and a table top, and you've got pici. Because they're somewhat thick and about  4" long, picking them up with a fork is like wrestling with a bowl of tarantulas. They're not easily twirled, so a fork full had random ends hanging out in each direction, some of which were happy to slap me in the face as I brought the fork to my mouth. Eventually, I used my knife to cut them into shorter bits. In any case, awkwardness was the least of the dish's problems. The sauce was a bolognese in name only. It had an agrodolce (sweet and sour) thing going on that could have been quite delicious had the sauce had any other thing going on, too. The tiny nubbins of ground duck (which could have been any meat - turkey, rattlesnake) served as a textural element only, and I couldn't taste the cocoa in the pasta. After three or four bites, I was bored with the dish. Thankfully, it wasn't a large portion, so I pushed on and finished it, knowing that a doggie bag wouldn't safely survive the three-plus hours it would take me to get home.

On the side, I had a generously-portioned bowl of beets. I suppose it was sized for the table, but I love beets so a mess of them is fine with me. They were served chilled and topped with finely chopped pistachios. Some of the beets tasted citrussy, others tasted slightly pickled - there was definitely more flavor in the side dish than in my entree.

Since I had a glass of wine with dinner, I passed on dessert. It was just as well, as I was presented with a mignardise of two very soft, house-made, limoncello marshmallows. One bite was enough sweetness for me.

I love New York. I love dining in New York. Sure, I'm disappointed sometimes, but I am always happy to have the opportunity to try popular restaurants and formulate my own opinions about them.

Shake Shack
300 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036
Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

A Voce Columbus
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
A Voce Columbus on Urbanspoon

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