Friday, October 29, 2010

A Scare - But Not for Halloween

Last weekend, I had what I am going to call - for dramatic purposes - an "attack." I was on the Light Rail, heading to M&T Bank Stadium to take in a Ravens game with my dad, when I felt a tightening in the center of my chest. The discomfort (can't really call it "pain") quickly radiated up my neck and into my jaw.

I thought, "is this what a heart attack feels like?"

I had experienced this same sensation two or three times in the past and I dismissed it as indigestion. I usually have some antacids on hand and one or two of them takes care of the problem. But this time, the word "angina" popped into my head.

Angina is bad. It can mean a heart attack is imminent. So sayeth the health nerds on Teh Innernets. So I got myself checked out. After donating many vials of blood to the cause and enduring multiple EKGs and chest x-rays, I got the verdict.

My heart is a gorgeous specimen that gave the doctor no concerns. (Whew!) What I experienced was probably Esophageal Spasms, which feel a lot like angina. But isn't. I was told to continue taking antacids, but if the spasms became more frequent, I could start taking Prilosec or similar.

And I was given a list of foods to avoid:

sodas that contain caffeine
chocolate and peppermint
spicy foods like pizza
acid foods like oranges or tomatoes
fried and fatty foods
alcohol

Oh, you're kidding me, doc. Killing me, too. If I avoided everything on the list, I'd be reduced to eating boiled chicken breasts with a plain baked potato and washing them down with Sprite.

And you know that is not going to happen.

While I have no problem with cutting caffeinated beverages from my diet (I barely drink soda at all and switched to decaf coffee a few years back), I cannot give up chocolate. Or pizza, citrus, or tomatoes. "Fried and fatty" is one of my major food groups, and while I will cut back, I will not remove it from my diet. As for alcohol - let's just say that sometimes it's...necessary.

I mean, if I'm have to avoid my favorite foods, I may as well have a heart condition. But I don't.

(Whew!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Minxeats in Baltimore Magazine

One page from the article, featuring photos
of my empanadas and bruschetta.
I'm excited to announce that Minxeats is in the November issue of Baltimore Magazine, as one of three local bloggers (along with Kit of Mango & Ginger and Dara of Dining Dish) who contributed dishes for a feature on Potluck Dinners.

In the article, which starts on page 226, you can find photos of my Chocolate Linzer Tart, BLT Bruschetta with Bacon Jam, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and Sweet Potato Empanadas, which are based on a casserole recipe I concocted last Thanksgiving. The tart and bacon jam recipes are linked above, and here's the recipe for my sweet potato empanadas, which I thought were nice and Fall-ish. To make them even more appropriate for the coming season, one could add some chopped cooked turkey meat and perhaps a cranberry-based dipping sauce.

Sweet Potato Empanadas

2 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons diced onion*
olive oil

1/4 heavy cream
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
2 slices of bacon, crumbled*
2 packages Goya empanada shells "discos"
1 egg

Scrub sweet potatoes and prick all over with a knife or fork. Place on microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 15 minutes until the potatoes are very soft. Remove from microwave and set aside to cool.

Sauté onion in olive oil until softened.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop flesh into a bowl. Add cream, chipotle, brown sugar, and cinnamon, stirring well to combine. Stir in scallions, cooked onion, and bacon. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove discos from packaging. Place a scant tablespoon of sweet potato filling in the center of each. Fold ends over to form a half-moon, and crimp closed with the tines of a fork. Place empanadas on a nonstick cookie sheet.

Beat egg with a teaspoon of water and brush onto tops of pastries.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 20.

* 2 tablespoons of bacon jam may be substituted for the onion and bacon

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cupcakes


Oddly enough, I've never made cupcakes before. Muffins, sure, but not cupcakes. You might ask, "what's the difference?"

Frosting.

I'm not a big fan of frosting. I don't like the tooth-aching sweetness of most varieties, and I am especially offended by the gritty texture of confectioner's sugar against my teeth. I do, however, like a good French or Italian buttercream but the thought of making a meringue and sugar syrup is extremely intimidating. I am not, after all, a pastry chef (nor any other kind of chef for that matter, although in the privacy of my own tiny kitchen, I like to pretend that I am).

And then I read Wendi's post about buttercream frosting made with marshmallow fluff and a relatively tiny amount of confectioner's sugar. Suddenly the "no cupcakes" restriction in my brain was lifted and replaced by motivation to enter the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest again this year.

I can't reveal the recipe here, not at this time, but I will say these quite unusual cupcakes turned out better than I imagined. They don't look like much, but they were bursting with exotic flavors in not only the cake but also the filling and the frosting. Yes, I used Marshmallow Fluff - we just so happened to have about seven ounces hanging around the house - and it produced something remarkably akin to a fussier frosting made with egg whites.

But much, much easier.

My brain is now virtually bursting with cupcake recipes. I even dreamed about them over the weekend. Looks like Marshmallow Fluff is going to become a really good friend over the next several months.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Choice Bites 10.25.10

José Andres is opening a restaurant in Las Vegas that will mix the flavors of China and Mexico. Two of my favorite cuisines...sounds like my kind of joint!

Pizza Flowers. Esoteric, but wow!

It's Fall, and Fall means pumpkins. While some folks prefer to relegate them to sitting on the stoop (hon) and acting decorative until the squirrels have their way with them, some of us prefer to eat these hard-shelled curcubits. Endless Simmer offers 100 ways to cook a pumpkin in this article.

It's not like they're serving Cream of Bin Laden or anything, but Campbell's Soup has managed to piss off activists with an Islamic connection.

Will you be voting first, or chowing down on a McRib first, come November 2nd?

Heaven forbid this church decides to have a pancake supper....

If you find the sight of a food service worker wearing gloves comforting, think again. Ya still gotta wash yer hands!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breyer's Sundae Contest


I posted this pic last month in my "Food Pr0n" post, and now I can give you details. This sundae with chocolate/bacon/caramel and toasted salted almonds was my entry in the 2010 Breyer's Sundae Showcase. The grand prize was a trip to Chicago, a cooking lesson with Gale Gand, and $10K.

I didn't win. :(

Caramel Surprise Sundae

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 oz of your favorite high-quality milk chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and diced

¼ cup roasted salted almonds, chopped
2 cups Breyer’s French Vanilla Ice Cream

Place sugar in a dry 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat and cook until it begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel, about another minute. Remove caramel from heat and carefully pour in heavy cream, which will cause the mixture to bubble. Return pan to heat and whisk constantly to remelt the caramel and incorporate the cream. Once mixture is smooth, turn off the heat and whisk in chocolate and butter until melted and well-blended. Stir in bacon.

Scoop ½ cup of Breyer’s French Vanilla ice cream into each of four serving dishes. Top with 1 tablespoons of warm bacon caramel sauce and a teaspoon of the chopped nuts.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet

Lest you think the Minxes only like throwing down big wads of cash for dinner, we want you to know that we are also big fans of cheap eats. The other day we tried the Hibachi Grill in Parkville because: 1) we were curious about all of those positive reviews on Urbanspoon; 2) we are serious about providing a public service to you, the Minxeats reader; 3) we were feeling gluttonous.

For the low, low price of $9.99 (not including beverages), an adult can overindulge in a large variety of Asian and American-style foodstuffs. And tons of fried foods. The evening we dined chowed down, we found hoards of people availing themselves to all manner of fried stuff - zucchini, chicken wings, fish, chicken nuggets, spring rolls, egg rolls, scallops, shrimp. It was a little appalling to watch the parade of towering plates bearing brown crunchy items as we carefully contemplated our own selections from the vast array of rainbow-hued foods.

I like the "one of each" approach to buffet dining, whereupon I select a small piece of several different items on my first tour of the bar. One stuffed mushroom cap. One piece of General Tso's chicken. One piece of broccoli. One spring roll. One fried scallop. One salt-and-pepper shrimp. One piece of fake crab from the bin marked "crab with cheese." One piece of fried fish from the bin marked, "fried okra." On my next trip, I tried one piece each of three varieties of inside-out sushi roll, more broccoli, and a big pile of the salt-and-pepper shrimp.

While others raved about the sushi, I thought it was largely forgettable. Fresh, but nothing special and not worth the trouble unless one is particularly fond of cold sushi rice. The broccoli however, was perfectly cooked, bright green and pleasantly crunchy. And while the heads-off shells-on shrimp were a bit on the salty side, they were decently sized and nearly as tasty as those we regularly eat at dim sum. I also liked that the General Tso's had some actual heat, and the stuffing in the tiny mushrooms smacked of Old Bay.

One last trip to the bar involved dessert - a small slice of sponge cake, a tiny wedge of cheesecake, a spoonful of 'nanner pudding. On the way past the salad bar (which I had ignored) I noticed there was a vat of kimchi and another of octopus salad as well as a heap of whole crawfish waiting to be pinched and sucked.

There was nothing earth-shattering about Supreme Buffet, certainly nothing deserving of the several "awesome" comments by UrbanSpoon members, but I'd go again. Ten dollars ($7 at lunch) is a pretty good deal for all the shrimp and octopus salad one can eat, and if you're feeling really cheap, here's a dollar-off coupon good until the end of November, 2010.

Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet
2033 E. Joppa Rd
Parkville, MD 21234
(410) 882-8278

Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Candy Corn

I gotta know - does anyone like the stuff? Personally, I've always hated it.

Chowdah


What should one do if one has about 3/4 cup of leftover white clam sauce, four small red potatoes, and some cooked leeks and mushrooms in the fridge? Make chowdah, of course! I also threw in some corn, scallions, and parsley.

Chowdah

2 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and chopped
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups clam juice
2 cups water
1 Knorr's fish bouillon cube
4 small red potatoes, cut into large dice
3 cans chopped clams
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
chopped scallions
fresh parsley

In a stock pot, sauté leeks and mushrooms in butter and oil over medium heat until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic. Raise heat and add clam juice, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a simmer and add potatoes; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in clams, corn, and cream, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook until clams and corn are heated through.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions and parsley.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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