Friday, January 29, 2010

MinxEats Chat Group

Just a thought - would anyone out there be interested in joining a MinxEats e-mail group that could be used to discuss recipes, restaurants, food in general? If I have enough positive response, I'd be happy to start one.

Anyone? Bueller?

Recipe Roundup 1.29.2010


Here's a selection of recipes I've found while nosing around on teh Innerwebs. Haven't tried them yet, but don't they look good?

Savory:

Bacon and Aged Gouda Scones

Microwave Potato Chips

Onion Chutney Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Curried Wild Rice and Chicken Chowder

Asian BBQ Sauce

Sweet:

Pecan Pie Muffins

Crack Pie

Poppy Seed Cake

Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel

Galette de Rois (real French King Cake)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pie-ella*

My dad happened to be downtown last Friday and stopped by Tio Pepe, for old times' sake. There he was remembered by a veteran member of the staff who talked Dad into having lunch. It was restaurant week, and $20.10 seemed like a good deal for three courses. Dad always spoke highly of the place, but I've never been. I thought if Dad enjoyed this meal then perhaps Mr Minx and I should pay a visit to this Baltimore institution.

Rather than a verbal review, Dad did us one better - he gave us his doggie bag that contained half a portion of paella. And now we know there's no reason to dine at Tio Pepe's (which is what I've suspected all along). I've never had paella, but I know it's a saffron-hued rice dish with meat and/or seafood and a crusty bottom. (Ok, that part doesn't sound good, does it? But I'm imagining a crust like the one at the bottom of a portion of dolsot bibimbop). The stuff that constituted Dad's entrée was yellow-colored rice with a vague bell pepper flavor, a few green beans, and hard, arid chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast (BSCB, for short). If it wasn't for the bell pepper, I doubt there would have been any discernible flavor at all. And the BSCB really pissed me off. I hate that restaurants feel they have to pander to the dieting masses who would rather eat a lot of something that has low fat and less flavor than to eat a small portion of something that actually tastes good (because fat = flavor). Chinese restaurants that serve orange chicken made with chicken breast also annoy me - it's fried for God's sake! How many calories does eating cardboard really save? But I digress (as usual).

So my first taste of paella, if you can call it that, was a huge disappointment. Dad said the first course, a black bean soup, was "nothing to write home about" and his flan dessert didn't seem to thrill him, either.

Has anyone been to Tio Pepe recently and had a good meal? Was this lunch an exception, perhaps due to Restaurant Week? (And if that's the case, the restaurant should have been embarrassed to serve that food. It's certainly not going to make repeat customers out of the first-time curious.)

*mispronunciation courtesy of Toby Young

Product of the Week - Utz Potato Chips

Although I don't eat them very often (once every 10 days or so), I am a fan of the potato chip. Particularly the Utz brand, from Hanover, PA. There's just something perfect about those golden brown slices of crisply-fried potato that I haven't tasted in other brands.

Because they were on sale, we recently bought Herr's; the plain version tasted too strongly of cooking oil and the barbecue flavor was too salty/savory. When I was a kid, Wise was the only brand of chip available at my school. I found the plain flavor to be repugnant, but the barbecue was pretty good. Still, if I had my druthers, I preferred to eat Utz over all.

Today, my favorite Utz chips are the Honey BBQ, which, despite the name, don't seem to be as sweet as the standard Bar-B-Q flavor. Plain Utz are next, followed by the Salt and Pepper. The Kettle Classic chips are also good, particularly the Sweet Potato chips. Additionally, I *love* Utz BBQ Corn Chips - they are sweet and savory and not half as salty as Fritos. Oh, and their pretzels are decent, too.

Utz can basically do no wrong. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asian Pork Meatballs

For some reason, I either cook Asian- or Mexican-style food on the weekends. On rare occasion, I cook Italian. This weekend, I stuck with the tried and true and went for Asian flavors, kinda-sorta using this recipe.

The meatballs were falling apart as I was cooking them, so I would recommend adding an egg to the recipe. As for the sauce, we had just a smidge of black bean garlic sauce hanging out in the fridge, so I added a heaping teaspoon of Korean black bean paste to compensate. I also added a tablespoon full of peanut butter, and a splash of rice wine vinegar.

The fried rice was simply seasoned with garlic and a tablespoon of soy mixed with a tablespoon of duck sauce. And of course mushrooms were added, because that's the way we roll. It was good - I'd make it again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Say Large, I Say Venti

I was just reading a survey on Serious Eats regarding how one orders their drinks at Starbucks. A few responders say they don't use that "fake language" (grande, venti) and always obstinately order small, medium, or large drinks. Um...that "fake language" is called Italian.

If you're being pig-headed about it, why not order a large espresso drink with steamed milk and milk froth? After all, "cappuccino" is from that fake language....

(For the record, I usually get a venti half-caff Americano, which the baristas usually have ready for me before I place my order.)

Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week - Donna's at Cross Keys

Saturday night was going to include a trip to Fogo de Chao for an Orgy of Protein, Brazilian-style, but three cancellations from our original party of 5 caused us to scrap the idea entirely and have dinner elsewhere. A quick perusal of the Restaurant Week menus and Open Table reservation availability led us to dine instead at Donna's at Cross Keys. Mr Minx and I ate there once a few years ago. It's one of those places that has pretty good food, but is out of sight, tucked away in Cross Keys, and thus out of mind. Plus, there's a Donna's across the street from my office, and I've been none too happy with them for a while now.

Rather than adhering to Restaurant Week's new New York-style $35 prix fixe fee, Donna's offered three courses for $25.10. A real steal, as their food is hearty and filling, and the portion sizes are more than reasonable.

We started out with two salads - the Granny Smith apple salad and the roasted beet and arugula salad. Mr Minx wanted more dressing and less gorgonzola, and I wished the beets had been left in the oven a skoche longer (one would think that after almost 20 years of roasting veggies, they'd get it right by now), but otherwise were happy with them.

For my entree, I went with the pan roasted salmon fillet with a wild mushroom ragu and orange butternut squash puree. As you can see in the photo, the skin was hit with such high heat, it was practically blistered (a.k.a burnt). Beneath this ultra-crisp layer was succulent, perfectly-cooked flesh. I so wish I could make salmon this way at home!

Although the mushroom and tomato ragu and the butternut squash purée may have seemed too hearty a match for fish, the bit of orange both lightened and heightened the squash and made for a harmonious link between all of the elements.

Mr Minx went for the Sicilian meatloaf which came with mashed potatoes and sautéed kale. The meatloaf had a heartier/denser texture than I'm currently used to, with an interesting blend of spices, including cinnamon. The kale was nicely cooked - not leathery, but not a pile of mush, either. It was nice to see that vegetables were not merely an afterthought as they seem to be in so many dining establishments.

For dessert we had the house cheesecake, a low-rise NY-style dense affair, served with sliced strawberries and an ornamental blob of whipped cream. I prefer lighter cheesecake, but this was pretty good.

Dinner was definitely worth the price, and with two glasses of wine and tax it cost about as much as the regular Restaurant Week fee without drinks. But even better than the price was the opportunity to eavesdrop on the conversation of the women at the next table. I could really only hear the woman on Mr Minx's side, a rather portly gal with an air of pretension. I can be pretty pretentious myself, but at least I pronounce things properly. Among the gems that came out of her mouth were "keeona" (quinoa) and "pure-ee" (purée). And when our efficient waitress asked them how their entrées were, she responded, "delly-oso!"

Overall, a pretty good meal from what we should be considering a neighborhood joint. We really should eat at Donna's more often.

Donna's
Cross Keys
5100 Falls Road
40 Village Square
Baltimore, MD 21210
410-532-7611

Donna's on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 25, 2010

How the Mighty Have Fallen

I spoke of a local once-celebrity chef who owed me money in this post from 2006 (he still owes, btw). He's now working an angle he calls "advanced dining concepts," which basically means he's serving meals in a trailer. Check out this tacky-ass shit for yourself. (Warning: it's an eye-searingly ugly Powerpoint presentation.)

With the exception of some random fruit, please notice that there are no photos of food in this presentation.

Nice plates. :::eyeroll:::

Cooking with Ellie Krieger

picOnce again, the blog Food Network Humor brings the ridiculousness of that cable network to my attention. Once dedicated to food, it now seems to be competing with Comedy Central for the most laughs. For example, did you know that dietitian and nutritionist Ellie Krieger has been creating recipes using fast food?

How about a sloppy joe made from a Big Mac? Judging by the comments, people are just thrilled!
--Oh, yes. I think I'm the only person leaving a comment (so far) who has actually gone to McDonald's, bought the Big Mac and went through with the recipe. I'm not completely adverse to fast food, but the idea of buying a Big Mac only to take it home and cook something else...it's more than a little silly. The whole thing seemed so Sandra Lee-like ludicrous, I had to do it. I did it for the same reason I gulped a shot glass of sriacha on a dare. Sometimes I'm in the mood for culinary pain. Of course, I'm annoyed that the Food Network's resident granola-slinging, healthy food advocate created something like this. I'm equally insulted by Food Network shilling the products of the company which has come to represent the antithesis of healthy, homemade food. That said, this was disgusting. It tasted like what you'd imagine it would taste like. Low grade beef, thousand island dressing, wilted lettuce, beans, some aromatics and ketchup to try to mask the taste. It tasted like a sloppy joe from hell. Much like that shot of hot sauce, this is probably going to hurt worse tomorrow.
--How much did McD pay for this one? This is truly appalling. Does Food Network really have to sink that low? Very sad and disappointing. How do I select 0 stars?
How about tortilla soup made from a Taco Bell burrito? (Why not just use a can of dogfood?)
--This makes Sandra Lee's daffodil cake look like a Martha Stewart creation. At least Sandra Lee isn't lying about who she is, like Ellie Kreiger, who obviously must have gotten her dietican certification from a clown college.
--I don't need to make this to know that this, like her Big Mac Sloppy Joe, is an abomination worthy of a jail sentence. Ellie, you are a disgrace. Your ancestors and all successive generations should be ashamed to share the same lineage with you. Crap like this is why I find myself watching Food Network less and less. You should be fired and deported to a deserted island somewhere.
What's next? Morimoto is victorious in Battle Starkist? Will Ina Garten start advocating the use of "the good synthetic vanillin?"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baltimore Restaurant Week Starts Today

Baltimore Winter Restaurant "Week" is scheduled for two weeks, starting today and lasting until February 7th. Because of the puppy business, we haven't really contemplated our choices too hard yet, although we are planning to visit Fogo de Chao. Where are you going this time around? Where should we go?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meatscape

No, it's not the new name for Baltimore's annual "Artscape" extravaganza....

This incredible "landscape" is made from meat - salami, prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta - and is the work of photographer Carl Warner. Check out more of his amazing foodscapes here.

I Got a Puppy!

Meet Milo, my new personal LOLdog. He's about 4 months old and a "Heinz 57" if there ever was one.

Cute, huh?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jajangmyeon

Jajangmyeon is a noodle dish that we Minxes discovered at our favorite Korean restaurant, Purim Oak (now closed). It's a Koreanization of a Chinese dish, zha jiang mien, kind of a Chinese Bolognese, if you will. We bought the central ingredient - black bean paste - a while back and had opened it to make this amazing black bbq sauce recipe. Now it was time to use it for jajangmyeon.

I used a variation on this recipe, mixing the sauce into the noodles rather than topping them because that's the way we had eaten it at Purim Oak. And instead of using "minced" meat, I cooked up some pork belly.

The pork belly was sadly too lean and the meat came out a bit dry, even after a long slow 3-hour braise. The overall dish was pretty good, although not as good as I remembered.

It never is, is it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unexpected Combinations of Ingredients

Usually I've planned my weekend dinners in advance; I know what I'm cooking and when. But this weekend was a bit up in the air. Can you believe I was more interested in the Ravens game on Saturday and my impending puppy adoption than meal-planning? I know, me neither. Especially the Ravens part - better luck next year, losers!

Anyhoo...I had a bunch of leeks in the fridge that I knew I wanted to cook down and combine with some pre-roasted chestnuts (Melissa's, discovered in the produce section at Wegman's just before Christmas). That left the matter of protein and starch. The cupboard offered up a bag of Trader Joe's heat-and-eat wild rice. Leeks, chestnuts, wild rice - ok, that all seems to work. But a look in the freezer revealed only a package of swordfish steaks. A wild card.

I grabbed my copy of Roy's Fish and Seafood cookbook to see what magic Chef Yamaguchi worked with swordfish. A recipe with Japanese flavors (wasabi, mirin, sake) sounded good, but it involved making a beurre blanc and I didn't feel like opening a bottle of white wine. Roy's beurre blanc recipe also involved heavy cream, which I did not have on hand. So, as usual, I decided to wing it by taking the general flavor profile and doing it my way.

I marinated the fish in soy, sugar, sake, garlic, and ginger for about fifteen minutes. While the fish was marinating, I made a bit of sauce with butter, sake, onion, ginger, garlic, and because I wanted a creamy sauce - sour cream. (Yes, it worked perfectly.) I flavored it with wasabi powder, soy, and Sriracha. Although it sported the colors of Thousand Island dressing or the spicy mayo found on some sushi rolls, it tasted like neither. Surprisingly, it had the sophisticated flavor of a French-style cream sauce with some Asian aspects. Also surprisingly, it went well with the fish (which I somehow managed to cook perfectly) and the leeks and rice. It was one of those dishes that didn't even look right on paper, yet worked. But then I probably don't give myself enough credit - I see lots of combinations that don't seem plausible on fancy restaurant menus, and diners pay good money to eat them.

I would actually prepare this again. If I remembered how I made the sauce. :)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Product of the Week - Kewpie Mayo

One of my favorite products comes in a soft plastic squeeze bottle adorned with an image of a Kewpie doll. Kewpie Mayonnaise is a Japanese version of the ubiquitous condiment Americans use in everything from salads to sandwiches. Unlike the flabby white American mayo that tastes mostly of fat and not much else, Kewpie is a bit more golden in color, thinner in texture, and full of umami. To my palate, it tastes more like homemade mayonnaise, with an obvious eggy flavor and maybe a bit of olive oil.

Unless I'm cooking for a large group (for example, an office party) at which time I'll use an inexpensive American brand, Kewpie is the only mayonnaise that lives in Casa Minx. It's a perfect sandwich spread on its own, but the addition of a few other simple ingredients can transform it into a delicious sauce, salad dressing, or dip. I like to mix a couple squirts of mayo with some gochujang (Korean bean paste) and a bit of Sriracha for a perfect hamburger spread. Of course it also works well with chicken or tuna salad, and makes very flavorful egg salad and deviled eggs.

The biggest problem with Kewpie mayo seems to be its availability. Giant Food near me carried it for a brief time, as did Asia Foods on York Road. Wegman's has a large International foods section but no Kewpie. We usually have to make a field trip to H Mart and then we buy several bottles at a time. If you don't have an Asian grocery store near you, Kewpie mayo is available at Amazon.com.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Recipe Roundup 1.15.2010

Here's a selection of recipes I've found while nosing around on teh Innerwebs. Haven't tried them yet, but don't they look good?

Sweet

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chili for a Chilly Day

Even though Saturday evening had been an "Orgy of Protein," I decided to make chili on Sunday. It's a perfect dish to make on a day when my attention is turned to football. (Go Ravens!) All I needed to do was some relatively minor prep (cook onions, sear meat, open cans) and sit back and let the magic of slow braising do its thing.

I hate the dog-food texture of chili made with ground beef, so I always use beef that has been pre-cut into chunks for stewing. Except this time. The stew meat at Giant seemed really expensive to me, so I bought a rump roast that cost about $.60 less per pound and cubed it myself. The chunks were of a more manageable size, which worked out better.

If you're interested, here's my chili recipe. After nearly five hours of simmering, here is the glorious result:

A big bowl of red, garnished with chopped sweet onion, shredded Cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. I also made some cornbread, using the recipe on the back of a bag of Indian Head White Corn Meal, with some changes. I like to add corn and cheese to my cornbread, which caused it to be quite raw inside at the original 20-minute cook time and required a time adjustment.

White Corn Bread

2 c Indian Head Corn Meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c milk
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
1 c fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice)

Preheat Oven to 450 F.

Combine dry ingredients. Combine milk, eggs, and oil. Add to dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Add corn and cheese and mix until combined. Pour batter into a 8" or 9" square pan. Bake 30 - 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. (If you find the cornbread is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 10-15 minutes, or, lower the oven temperature to 400 F.

This recipe makes a really moist, non-sweet, bread with a crunchy crust. If you like your cornbread on the sweet side, I'm sure adding a bit of sugar wouldn't hurt.

How do you like your chili? With beans or without? Prefer your cornbread sweet or not? I'd love to share recipes. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today Show Cooking School

If you enjoy the food segments on The Today Show, you'll be happy to know they've launched a new food and recipe site called Today Show Cooking School. The site contains recipes, videos, and cooking tips from "celebrity chefs" like Tyler Florence (bah) and food experts. There's some "web-only" video available as well. Like this one:


And if you're so inclined, you can also get the content on mobile devices – so you can download recipes on the go right to your phone. Not that your phone is going to do any cooking, but some people like that sort of thing. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Protein Orgy - Chinese Style

For several years now, my friend LaRaine has been hosting a winter hot pot party at her place. A "hot pot" is sorta like Chinese fondue, in which bits of raw meat and seafood are cooked at the table in a pot of hot broth and then dipped in a sauce before eating.

For this particular party, there were eight attendees and enough food for at least a dozen. Check out the spread.

On the left side of the table, we have a divided pot, one side with vegetable stock for the two vegetarians in attendance, and the other side with seafood stock. Surrounding the pot are individual dishes of thinly sliced pork, chicken, beef, tuna, flounder, sea bass, scallops, squid, shrimp, smoked tofu, fried tofu, firm tofu, fish balls and shrimp balls. It's not all protein - there were also 3 or 4 kinds of noodles, greens like napa, spinach, and watercress, enoki and king oyster mushrooms, plus cucumber, zucchini, and bell pepper. Oh, and homemade dumplings and chunks of taro root.

Whew!

On the right half of the table, we have more of the same, but with a cauldron of a completely different stock.

Notice that the place settings each have a bowl, chopsticks, and a wire basket. The basket is used to place individual servings of meats into the water to cook. Every kind of meat had its own fork so there would be no cross-contamination. Other items were dropped into the hot liquid as communal foods, so when you lifted your basket, you might find a bonus fish ball or chunk of tofu on top. And occasionally you'd get the even bigger bonus of another diner's shrimp that had floated out of their basket and conveniently settled on yours.

In the bowls, diners mixed their own dipping sauce from a selection of Chinese BBQ sauce, a sambal oelek-style chile sauce, and a soy-based sauce with scallions.

Once the meat is cooked, I like to dump it directly into my bowl of sauce, using the chopsticks to then transfer the items into my greedily open maw. After several baskets-full of stock-dripping protein, the sauce gets watered down to a soupy consistency that I sometimes eat with my spoon before replenishing with more sauces. At the end of the meal, everyone is supposed to partake of the cooking liquid, which after having so many meats simmering in it for the past hour or so has become rich and flavorful. However, by that point, most of the diners are dangerously full and few if any can even stomach the thought of adding the liquid to the dregs left in their bowls and consuming still more.

This year's feast was an especially convivial one, fueled by Viognier and Rosé, and several filthy minds who enjoyed making puns on the word "meat." And a good time was had by all. I'm already looking forward to next year. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why Should I Eat This?

I just saw this on Facebook:

What? Someone honestly thinks they can futz around with good old-fashioned, fat-laden recipes and make them low-calorie? Can they possibly taste good? Exactly how big is a 43-calorie brownie?

Seriously, how can we trust a chef who uses jarred apples in a recipe for apple crisp?

Will you buy this book?

Hot Buttered Rum

In the late 80s, my family started a new tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve (possibly because Mom never could wait to hand out gifts). Because our house was so big, we set up the tree in the hallway near the front door to make sure everyone could gaze upon its Santa-festooned glory and mountain of gaily-wrapped packages on a frequent basis. The hallway was always drafty (as was the whole house) so I came up with the brilliant idea of drinking hot buttered rum as we tore through the wrappings.

We all enjoyed the warm, creamy libation - particularly my Cocker Spaniel. I had set my mug on the floor behind me and didn't notice that he had consumed several ounces of rummy goodness. Within minutes, he became a mean little drunk, snarling at the family and eventually hiding under a chair in the living room, far from the rest of us. (He apparently liked a good stiff drink on occasion and had once helped himself to a Pimm's Cup during a croquet party held on the front lawn.)

While not recommended for your canine friends, I do recommend that grownups partake of a nice steaming mug-full of hot buttered rum on a cold day. I like to keep a tub of "mix" ready in the freezer - just add rum and boiling water.

Hot Buttered Rum Mix

1 lb room-temperature butter
1 lb powdered sugar
1 lb brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 quart room-temperature vanilla ice cream

Cream all ingredients together and store in a covered container in the freezer.

For each drink

1 1/2 ounces rum
boiling water
freshly grated nutmeg

Add rum and 2 tablespoons of batter to a mug (more if your mug is large) and top with boiling water. Stir together and garnish with nutmeg.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Next Vitaminwater Flavor

Remember back in September when I posted about creating a new flavor of vitaminwater? The results are now in, and the winner is vitaminwater connect, a black cherry-lime flavor (which sounds pretty good) made with caffeine and 8 key nutrients.

Five winners were each awarded a $5,000 prize. (Now don't you wish you had entered?) Connect will be available in stores nationwide in March 2010.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What Is It?

I was entertaining myself by reading old blog posts (sorry, but I find myself to be highly amusing) and came upon this Choice Bites entry. Loyal reader Kristine :::waving to Kristine::: commented that the first link cracked her up. Not remembering what it was, I clicked on it, bringing up the annoyingly perky Kelsey Nixon's (Next Food Network Star) site. And near the top of the site was this image:

I'm not quite sure what that image is saying to me. In fact, I don't know what those things are. I'm assuming cookies of some sort, but what are they filled with? Sea urchin roe? Vomit? Probably something perky and pedestrian like apricot jam, but the lighting says otherwise.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cooking With Sandra Lee

I love reading the blog Food Network Humor, which of course skewers the personalities on FN. One recent entry about the comments left on Sandra Lee's recipes on the FN Web site had me in stitches. These are real comments, from real people who have tried making the "Semi-Ho Made" crap that Sandy advocates. I went to the FN site and found a few gems of my own.

For instance, check out this comment on her "wonton soup."
-I never liked Oriental food until I started making Sandra's recipes. I used to hate eating in Oriental Restaurants because you never quite knew what you were eating or how it was made. And all those sauces just confused me. But I watched her make these great recipes on her show and they really didn't look anything like what I was served in the Oriental Restaurant so I decided to try them myself. And I am so gald I did! None of Sandra's recipes taste anything like the food at the Oriental Restaurant!! Plus, I know what is in them and they don't have complicated sauces. THANKS SANDRA LEE!!
"Oriental," eh? Racist much?

This one is for her "Chinese Braised Short Ribs."
-...I did the very same thing...MADE THESE FOR MY BOYFRIEND and I haven't seen him since. He has also parental controlled my TV--his exact words, "NO MORE SLOP FOR YOU." I guess my sweetie has standards when it comes to his ribs.
And these are for a recipe called "Chicken Masala" which calls for condensed cream of chicken soup.
-I LOVE Indian food, so I was excited about this recipe, but much to my dismay, this was just gross. Somewhere between the coconut milk and the creamy chicken soup and the overkill of curry, this was a disaster. The result was an ultra-rich, slightly sweet chicken entree which found its way right into the kitchen trash within 5 minutes of being cooked. The curry smell lingered in the air for days, and stunk up my kitchen for a week.

-No recipe deserves one star. This one deserves zero. But unfortunately that wasn't an option.

-Nothing says Indian like condensed cream of chicken soup. Except maybe booze in yogurt. Sandra, must you be as stupid as all your fans?
Ugh. Just looking at her recipes makes me queasy. Why would anyone attempt them? And don't give me that bullshit about "quick and easy" and "I don't have time to cook." Just admit you're lazy as hell.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Food Pr0n or Art?

Check out the accompanying photo to this recipe from Chef Eric Ripert in the January issue of Food & Wine and tell me what you think.

Nothing Like a Hot, Steamy, Plate of...

Pasta! Gemelli with Italian sausage and meatballs, to be exact. And I managed not to be obscene with my arrangement of meats. :)

Home Cookin' 2009

Looking back on MinxEats over the past year, it seems I did a lot of cooking, but that's not necessarily so - Mr Minx is still the primary chef in our house. What happened is that I bought some nice white plates and started to take more interest in how the food looked as much as how it tasted. I took more photos of the results and blogged about it.

That said, I think we ate better at home than in restaurants in 2009. Christmas dinner, for example.


The Black BBQ sauce from the penultimate issue of Gourmet was unbelievably good, and a recipe I will definitely consult in the future.

My sweet potato-and-bacon concoction for Thanksgiving might become a holiday tradition.

The tapas feast we prepared for my brother's birthday had some particularly tasty treats, especially the empanadas and the romesco sauce.

Mr Minx's linguini and white clam sauce is always delicious, as is his spaghetti and meatballs. Most of my attempts at ricotta gnocchi were damn fine as well.


Another dish of which I tried multiple successful variations was chiles rellenos. (The most recent version used Christmas leftovers - a stuffing of duck, duck guts, rice, leeks and wild mushrooms, and a drizzle of the lemon mayo from the sweetbreads, gussied up with a bit of cumin.)

A dish based on a challenge basket on Chopped yielded this shrimp, apple, and peanut butter combo. The flavors go remarkably well together.

And my first experience with cooking parsnips, in this variation on Top Cheftestant Stefan Richter's chicken pot pie, has made me a fan for life. Of parsnips, that is.

Here's hoping that 2010 brings many more occasions of deliciousness from the Minx kitchen!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

For You Top Chef Fans....

Check out the new items at the Bravo store! (A Parody, by Minx)

The Best Restaurant Dishes of 2009

Although we probably ate out as much as in any other year, there were far fewer outstanding restaurant meals in 2009 than in the past. We dined most often at the Nautilus Diner (which can produce a pretty tasty meal if you know what to order) and Red Robin (a convenient place to grab a Tuesday-night burger before grocery shopping). Other than that, we did a lot of chowing down on Chinese food (particularly Grace Garden and dim sum at Asian Court) and lamented the lack of good non-Chinese ethnic food in our area.

Here are a few of the highlights of our other restaurant meals, in no particular order.

Oysters Rockefeller Bisque from Cajun Kate's. We ate this at home, but it wasn't home-made, so it counts.

Lemongrass-"crusted" filet mignon at Roy's. Cooked sous-vide, it was tender and moist and full of lemongrass-y flavor.

Basil Duck at Thai Luong. You've read my raves about it enough times already.

Just about everything we tried at Sake Bar Hagi in New York was terrific, but particularly the fried gobo chips and the stir fried noodles.

I loved the tuna tartare and Salmon Imperial at Kyodai in Towson.

The simply prepared halibut at Volt was one of the best pieces of cooked fish I've eaten in a while. I also enjoyed the sweetbreads, the Cherry Glen Farms goat cheese mousse in my salad, and the dessert quite a bit. Oh, the whole darn meal was delicious.

Overall, we weren't impressed by the overpriced offerings at RA Sushi, but there were two standouts during the happy hour we attended: 1) the crispy spicy tuna was a fabulous melange of textures; 2) the $4 Ketel One Saketini was pretty fab, too. But again, those were Happy Hour prices - not sure they would have made the list at full price.

And perhaps because it's clearest in my memory, but the New Year's Eve dinner we had at Crush was pretty wonderful. Mr Minx started out with the always-delicious "bacon and eggs" risotto which seemed to be extra-special bacon-y that evening. My short ribs with sautéed mixed cabbages and parsnip/celery root purée was outstanding (celery root - where have you been all my life?), as was Mr Minx's seared tuna with "everything bagel" crust.

For a walk down my own personal memory lane, here are my favorite dishes of 2008 and 2007.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Return of Gino's

Who besides me has fond memories of going to Gino's? For those who don't remember, Gino's was a fast-food restaurant founded in Baltimore in 1957 by Colts players Gino Marchetti and Alan Ameche. Originally a drive-thru, Gino's introduced inside dining in 1969. Eventually the chain expanded to over 500 restaurants in the mid-Atlantic region. In the early 80s, the chain was purchased by Marriott, who transformed them into Roy Rogers restaurants. And now they're gone forever. Or are they?

I always preferred going to Gino's over McDonald's not only because I thought the burgers tasted better, but also Gino's was the home of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was nice to have the option of burger or chicken when the family went out for a quick meal. And back then, KFC was pretty much the only game in town when it came to crispy poultry parts, other than grandma's cast iron skillet.

After nearly 30 years of life without Gino's, the restaurant is attempting to make a comeback. Burger joints are the new bagel shop or coffee bar; even celebrity chefs are getting into the act. Hubert Keller, Bobby Flay, Richard Blais, and Spike Mendelsohn all have specialty burger restaurants. So why not ride the wave and bring back an old regional favorite, this time as a fast-casual (e.g. Five Guys, Chipotle) sort of place rather than trying to compete with fast food juggernauts like McDonald's and Burger King.

While I think it's probably pretty easy to make a good burger, I wonder if they'll be able to produce chicken as good as KFC. I, for one, look forward to finding out.

The new endeavor hopes to open its first restaurant sometime in 2010. Read more about it at their Web site, http://ginosgiant.com.

And for nostalgia's sake, click here to listen to a jingle from 1969.
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