Monday, August 31, 2015

Become a Kahikian Giveaway!

We've written about Kahiki Foods before - in fact, we're brand ambassadors for this line of frozen Asian meals. Today, we're helping them give away a beautiful stainless steel wok!

Like this one:
Here's how it works. All you need to do is to subscribe to their newsletter. All subscribers get a $2 off coupon right off the bat, plus deals and coupons at other occasions, including birthdays. There are also easy recipes, diet and nutrition tips, chef tips, and other stuff.

But there's a catch. This is a competition for us, too. The more subscribers we get to sign up, the better the chance of getting a wok. We get a wok, and one of you (chosen randomly) will get one, too.

If you haven't tried Kahiki products before, we're also giving away three vouchers, worth a total of $22.50, to one lucky winner. Enter to win via this Rafflecopter giveaway. You can increase your chances of winning by visiting the two social media options on the Rafflecopter site.

So...that's two contests with two prizes. Subscribe to the newsletter to get a chance at the wok, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for the vouchers.

Both contests end on September 13th, so you have two weeks. Good luck!

* 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, August 28, 2015

Alewife

I've been to Alewife more than a couple times in the past few years, yet have never written about it. Full disclosure: Chad Wells, the chef at Alewife, has helped us out with more than a few recipes for our books, as well as information on invasive species in the Chesapeake for the upcoming one. He's a smart guy with a lot of passion for fishing and food, and is a fine chef to boot. And...he makes one of the best crab cakes in town--no lie--with actual local blue crab (Alewife is True Blue certified).

I work about two blocks from Alewife, and I love craft beer, yet I manage to avoid the place at lunchtime. (It helps that they're not open for lunch most of the week.) This is not to say that I haven't occasionally had a liquid lunch, but most often I go to Alewife to chat with Chad. Recently, however, I've found occasion to have dinner there. Twice in a month. Alewife just happens to be the most interesting restaurant within short walking distance of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a great place to have a beer or three and maybe a burger or something more exotic before taking in a game.

On my most recent trip, Mr Minx was my dining companion. He had never been and was eager to try a few beers and maybe the wild boar sliders or blue catfish tacos. Unfortunately for us, the restaurant had been hit by packs of rabid eaters and drinkers during the week, sucking most of the taps dry and devouring many menu items. "I'll have the [insert brewery name here] IPA, and she'll have the [insert other brewery name here] porter," was met by, "oh, sorry, we're out of that," more than once until I asked our waiter to just tell us what of the rather voluminous list of brews was still available.

Eventually we received our beers (Right Brain Fuzz Face peach ale for me, Union Perfecta pilsner for Mr Minx) and ordered some food: Thai peanut wings, brussels sprouts, egg rolls du jour, and a smoke burger to share.

I'd been craving wings and liked the idea of ones bathed in a spicy Thai-style sauce. These were good--well-cooked, not overly saucy or messy, and not overly spicy. Marinated carrots were a nice twist on the usual celery sticks, and a cilantro Sriracha sauce stood in for bleu cheese. I would have loved a handful of finely chopped peanuts on top, but  maybe the dude with the peanut allergy at the next table wouldn't have appreciated it.

Chad told us the eggrolls that day were filled with his mac and cheese, Buffalo-style. Sold! They were great--perfectly fried, with a filling of Chad's super creamy Palmyra cheddar, Gruyere, and Grana Padano-sauced rotelli pasta and little nuggets of hot-sauced chicken. They reminded me a bit of my friend Don's glorious deep-fried mac and cheese. Loved the Parm-tinged dipping sauce on the side, though the creamy eggrolls didn't really need it.

The Smoke Burger, an 11-ounce patty of local Roseda Beef topped with smoky stuff like applewood bacon, smoked Gouda, and chipotle aioli, plus Gruyere and caramelized onions, was perfect for sharing. It deserves every accolade it's received as the Best Burger in Baltimore. The meat was tender and juicy, perfectly medium, with just enough toppings. Even the brioche bun, which we usually hate because they always fall apart, worked perfectly. The accompanying duck fat fries dusted with rosemary were crisp and lovely. A great burger and fries combo.

We also had the tasty Brussels sprouts, simply pan-roasted with some bacon lardons and balsamic vinegar.

A few weeks earlier, my brother and I had pre-game nibbles that included the pork belly fries. Like the mac-and-cheese stuffed eggrolls, this is a perfect dish for someone planning to have more than a few drinks. The restaurant's customary duckfat fries are topped with mac-and-cheese, braised bbq pork belly, and pickled collard greens to cut the richness. It's a somewhat insane combination, but one that works very well, even for folks who aren't hitting the sauce.

We had the shrimp and grits (which is more like an app than an entree). Loved that the grits came in the form of crispy fried cakes. Also had the snakehead cakes, kinda like an invasive species version of Baltimore's famous coddie, served with a corn and bacon salad and dill avocado puree. (Somehow I deleted that photo. I'm sure it was blurry.) All delicious. (And if you want the recipe for the snakehead cakes, it'll be in our next book!)

All this rambling to say...wish it hadn't taken us so long to sit down and enjoy a full dinner at Alewife. Food's great, beer selection (when it hasn't been decimated) is really nice, and Chad's great, too. Go check it out, even if you have to buy Os tickets or see something at the Hippodrome (across the street) or Everyman (next door) theaters to give you an excuse.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mielbio Organic Italian Honey Lavender Loaf Cake

Honey is one of my favorite sweeteners; about the only thing I won't use it in is tea. I know, tea + honey (especially with lemon) is a classic combination, but it's not a favorite. When I was a kid, I was sick a lot, and among my mother's favorite remedies was big pots of Lipton tea with tons of honey and lemon. So it reminds me of having a bad cold. (She also loved Ben Gay, therefore, I have also developed a deep-rooted dislike for wintergreen in any form. Even root beer can be an iffy proposition.) But I do like honey on its own. And it's great for adding a bit of sweetness to a savory dish, or spread on a piece of buttered toast or a biscuit. And as an ingredient in baking.

When we received a jar of MielBio organic honey in their limited edition Mandarin flavor from Rigoni di Asiago, I knew I had to use it as a flavoring element for a cake. The cloudy raw honey syrup, from Calabria, is made by bees who sip the sweet nectar from clementine trees and has a distinct orange-y flavor. I didn't want to add more orange to the cake, thinking it would detract from the honey flavor, so instead I added a small bit of lavender flowers. They lend a herbal touch to the cake that marries perfectly with the sweet citrussy honey.

The cake gets a nice brown crust while baking; the crumb is light and airy with a delicate orange flavor. It's terrific toasted, with butter (and honey!) or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Honey Lavender Loaf Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup MielBio mandarin honey (or other light, flavored honey)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon food-grade lavender buds (We get ours from the Spice House)
2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the honey, and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and sour cream.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Beat it into the butter mixture just until combined.

Scrape into a greased 8" or 9" loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before unmolding cake. Cool on rack until at least room temperature before slicing.

* 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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Monday, August 24, 2015

Annie B's Caramels

Caramels are a homey sort of snack that makes one think of a simpler time. One that we never actually lived in but that we all like to romanticize about, like looking at a Currier & Ives painting. There's something about the rich, buttery texture and pure sweetness of a caramel that makes you pause to savor the moment. Every Christmas, I help the Minx make dozens of caramels of various flavors that we give away as gifts to our family and friends. They are always a big hit and makes all the trouble of boiling the caramel, cooling the trays, cutting up the sugary slabs into bite-sized morsels, and wrapping them in wax paper well worth it.

As for the rest of the year, going through all that difficulty doesn't seem quite as worthwhile. Thankfully, Annie B's sells a line of tasty caramels that can be had with just a few clicks of the keyboard. Annie B’s is a small family-owned caramel and popcorn company based in Kellogg, Minnesota. 

They take pride in using natural ingredients, free of gluten and high fructose corn syrup. Each individually wrapped caramel is made using local products including brown sugar, water, corn starch, butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and inverted sugar. Annie B’s caramel is slow cooked in copper pots using a small-batch method. Each piece is hand crafted with the exception of cutting and wrapping of the caramels.

There's over a dozen flavors from your traditional caramel to exotic concoctions like amaretto, huckleberry, black licorice, and coconut. The pieces are quite large, so one caramel can satisfy a quick sugar pang, and they are creamy and soft.

As I mentioned, Annie B's caramels can be purchased from their web site, but they are sold at hundreds of locations throughout the US. Take a gander at the retailer locator on their  web site to find a location near you.

* 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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Posted on Minxeats.com.
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