Friday, April 18, 2014

Bosphorus Bistro

Several months back, the Minx purchased a Groupon for Bosphorus Bistro. I was curious to check the place out since I had never had Turkish food before and we had been happy with the pizza and sandwiches from their sister restaurant Toss. Also, Bosphorus Bistro is located only about 10 minutes from our home. Bad weather and other commitments prevented us from going for quite a while, but one sunny Saturday, we decided we had to head down York Road and try their wares.

The restaurant is quite dark with strings of lights along the walls to provide a soft glow. We were seated in one of the wood booths along the wall and settled in with the menu. Since our goal at any restaurant is to experience as many different items as possible, we decided to try the mixed mezze platter which allows you the choice four items from the appetizers list. We went with the pink sultan (mainly because the name intrigued us), baba ganoush, kisir, and dolma.

Mixed mezze platter with pink sultan, baba ganoush, kisir, and dolma
The pink sultan was a dip consisting of beets and garlic mixed in labne (yogurt-based cheese). I've never been a fan of beets, but the earthy flavor that normally turns me off seemed mitigated by the garlic and the creamy, tangy labne. I actually found myself enjoying it, especially when scooped onto the fresh pita bread. I'm also not crazy about eggplant, but I'm quite content to devour a well-prepared baba ganoush and the one served at Bosphorus was lemony and slightly smoky. Kisir was new to me: a blend of bulgar wheat, mint, onion, tomato, and pepper. The bulgar wheat gave the dip a hearty, nutty flavor while the other ingredients brought the familiar flavors of the Mediterranean. The tomato especially provided a refreshing brightness. The dolma were dense little packages of rice wrapped in grape leaves. I always love the soft texture of grape leaves.

Lamb Chops
For entrees, I order the lamb chops and Minx ordered the cizbiz kofta. My lamb chops were tender with just the right amount of sear and a fine grilled flavor. Minx's kofta were four savory lamb patties that also had a nice taste of the grill. My chops were herbacious and salty in a good way, while the Minx's cizbiz were well seasoned. Both dishes were served on a bed of buttery rice with mushrooms and a large amount of red and green chopped bell pepper scattered around the edge of the plate.

Cizbiz kofta
For someone who loves rice, I was happy to nom away on the generous portion of slightly sticky rice. However, the large quantity of bell pepper was unnecessary. Both the mushrooms and the peppers were undercooked, existing in that odd textural limbo between not quite crunchy and raw tasting, but not quite soft and sweet either. Minx and I felt that a smaller quantity of vegetables would be fine, especially if they were first finely chopped and/or roasted.

The owner greeted us at the door when we came in and he stopped by during our meal to see how we liked everything. We had a pleasant conversation and he seemed genuinely interested in our feedback about the food and the restaurant. Based on the number of customers who greeted him as they entered the restaurant, it's clear that he is building a clientele of diners who enjoy visiting the restaurant on a regular basis. We are also eager to go back and try some of their other Middle Eastern dishes.

Bosphorus Bistro
5716 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212
(410) 323-0300

Bosphorus Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company

Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company is a 100% wind-powered coffee company located right here in Maryland! Based in Crofton, in Anne Arundel County, CBRC offers high-quality, organic, fair trade coffee for your daily brew.

If you want to try one of their blends, CBRC coffee is offered in their online store and at Bread & Circuses Bistro in Towson. But they're also offering Minxeats readers a sweet gift basket containing coffee, mugs, scoops, and other coffee-drinking necessities. Just click on this link to enter the drawing:

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Matcha Sesame Blondies

We did a lot of baking over the past few months, because turning on the oven was a quick way to warm up the house. We got kinda stuck on making bar cookies though. They're fast and tasty and can be made in myriad variations. Both brownies and blondies are versatile, but there are some flavors that don't go as well with chocolate as they do without. Take green tea, for example; its delicate flavor and aroma can easily be muffled by chocolate. (Though I must confess, the warm chocolate bundt cake at Yokozuna in Ocean City, MD, tastes swell with a side order of green tea ice cream.) The same goes for sesame. And since we had both in the cupboard (courtesy of regular orders from, we combined them in a blondie-style bar cookie.

We modified the Toll House cookie recipe by cutting it in half. (Hence the odd 3/8 cup sugar measurement. Just use a cup that has a 1/8 mark on it and measure out either three 1/8 cups or one 1/4 cup and one 1/8 cup and you're golden.)  The matcha powder we used is actually a drink mix that already contains some sugar and milk powder. If you'd prefer to use the actual additive-free tea, you'll need much less than 1/4 cup. Up the brown sugar content to 3/8 cup and add a couple tablespoons of the tea at a time until it tastes the way you like. You want to taste the tea, but you don't want it to be too green or vegetal. (Or maybe you do, if you're into that sort of thing.) The sesame seeds add a subtle nutty crunch reminiscent of poppy seeds.

Matcha Sesame Blondies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/3 cup black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter, sugars, matcha tea powder, and vanilla  in large mixer bowl. Add egg, beating well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in sesame seeds.

Grease 8" or 9" square pan. Spread dough evenly into pan (it will be stiff). Bake for 25-30 minutes until no longer wet and middle has sunken somewhat. Cool on wire rack before cutting into 12 or 16 bars.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Honey Pig

After hearing about the greatness of Honey Pig's Korean bbq, we finally made a pilgrimage on a cloudy Friday afternoon. As soon as we were seated, someone rushed over with dishes of banchan, the little plates of pickles and such one normally gets in a Korean restaurant. Unlike some other places, Honey Pig's selection isn't particularly large, but it hits all the necessary garlick-y/tart/fishy/sweet notes.

As soon as we placed our order for bulgogi and pork belly, another server brought the raw goods to the table. Yet another person dumped the pork belly onto the grill and came back occasionally to turn the meat and rearrange it to optimize cooking. 

Soon everything was cooked, including a side dish of kimchi and beansprouts, and we were able to dig in. 

Both meats were tender and flavorful, possibly the best I've tasted (not that I have that much experience with Korean bbq, but I've eaten it here and there). The seafood pancake, or haemul pajeon, that we ordered as an appetizer came to the table during the Cooking of the Meat. We dug into the pancake's piping hot crispiness immediately. It was full of chewy bits of squid and scallions, and we devoured it.

Everything at Honey Pig was seriously delicious, except maybe the neon yellow lemonade, which was super sweet and artificial tasting. Next time, we'll stick to water. And we'll try other meats, the dumplings, and perhaps one of the soups or a bibimbap.

Honey Pig
10045 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 696-2426

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon
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