Friday, May 17, 2019

Flashback Friday - Savory Oatmeal

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on May 7, 2014.


I have never been a big fan of oatmeal. The snotty, somewhat gelatinous texture always turned me off. Fortunately, my mother never liked it, either, so she didn't force us kids to eat it. In fact, Cream of Wheat ruled in our house, at least until I hit school age. Because I usually had a hard time waking up in the morning, instant oatmeal was occasionally called into play to get me fed and out the door, pronto. (We tried instant Cream of Wheat, too, but that was like eating sawdust soaked in hot water. Truly horrible stuff. My mind can still conjure up the malevolent taste of the apple cinnamon flavor.)

I managed to go decades without ever touching oatmeal again, but when the spectre of high cholesterol loomed, I thought I'd give the stuff another chance. Mr Minx was also of the yay Cream of Wheat/nay oatmeal way of thinking, but he was willing to give it a try as well.

The snotty texture of oatmeal is due to the whole boiling and stirring technique of cooking. With those two elements eliminated, the stuff is actually quite palatable. Turns out, oatmeal just needs to rehydrate, and that can be done quite efficiently with the heat off. Just bring water to a boil, turn off the heat, and stir in the oats. Allow them to rest for 10 or 15 minutes and they will absorb all of the water without getting slimy.

I first tried savory oatmeal at Blue Grass Tavern. It was served as an accompaniment to a sausage-stuffed quail topped with a poached egg and hot sauce. A riff on breakfast, if you will. I liked it, but wasn't sure if I should try it at home. But I realized I was getting tired of the usual weekend breakfast of either oatmeal with Nutella or oatmeal with maple syrup. Out went the sweet stuff and in went some cheese and hot sauce. The usual pat of butter was replaced with a spoonful of bacon fat. And it was delicious.

Savory Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon bacon fat or butter
1 heaping tablespoon grated cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Splash milk

Place 1 cup of water in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in oats. Cover pot and walk away for about 10 minutes. If the oats haven't absorbed all the water after that time, give them another few minutes.

While oats are "cooking," place bacon fat or butter and cheese in a bowl. Top with hot oats and stir well. Season with sriracha, salt, and pepper to taste, and add a bit of milk to the bowl to loosen the texture a bit.

Serves 1

Posted on

Monday, May 13, 2019

What's Your Beef?

What’s Your Beef in the kitchen?! Throughout May, in celebration of National Beef Month, join our friends at Keystone Meats as they invite fans from all over the U.S. to vote daily on their biggest kitchen problem. Keystone is ready and willing to solve it with recipe-ready, all-natural beef. When you vote, you will be entered to win a year’s supply of Keystone Meats!

If you’ve got a beef in the kitchen, tell us about it! After years of headaches, vote on your biggest kitchen beef and you could win!

My personal beef: cooking in the summertime. I want to eat flavorful meals that come from my own kitchen, but don't require a lot of cooking. This means we default to cold things, like salads, sandwiches, and gazpacho. But with Keystone products, all of the heavy lifting has been done for us--we just need to embellish the meat. (No, that's not a euphemism.) Take this relatively lazy bibimbap. It involved making a sauce, warming the meat in said sauce, and serving it over rice with some veg. We have a rice cooker, so that part was a no-brainer, but if you don't, I won't tell if you buy pre-cooked microwave rice, or use leftovers from Chinese carry-out. In any case, none of it heated up the kitchen, and we had a super tasty dish that was both hearty and light in not a lot of time.

Easy Bibimbap
The sauce can be made a couple of days in advance. If you are only feeding 2 people, you can make half the sauce, or make the whole recipe and use it on something else, like roasted cauliflower or broccoli.

For the sauce:
1/2 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper bean paste)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 green onions, both white and green parts chopped

To serve:
2 14.5-ounce cans Keystone All Natural Beef
Cooked rice
Sliced cucumber
Shredded carrot
Baby spinach
More chopped scallions for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir. If you're making it in advance, keep it in a lidded container in the fridge until ready to use.

Put the beef (with juices) in a saucepan with the sauce. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat until about half the liquid has evaporated and is looking somewhat glossy. Remove from the heat.

Place a mound of rice in the bottom of a bowl (drizzle on some sesame oil, if you like). Top with a portion of the warm beef, and add piles of the cucumber, carrot, and spinach. Sprinkle on some scallions and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

To eat, mix everything up with your chopstick (or fork) and enjoy.

Makes 4-5 servings.

* 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!

Posted on

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flashback Friday - Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on May 2, 2014.


We have a ton of stuff on our freezer. Other than ice cream, I mean. There are several quarts of gumbo from Cajun Kate's, leftover pork shoulder from that 8-lb behemoth I cooked last month, half a roast duck from the Great Wall grocery store in Catonsville, a leg of lamb, pasta sauce, various types of sausages (chorizo, andouille, lap cheong, hot dogs), ground beef, a skirt steak, bags of nuts, yeast, coffee, and bread, and more. And this is one of those standard above-the-fridge freezer jobbies, not a big ol' chest freezer. (So don't believe me when I say we have nothing in the house to eat. What I really mean is that there's nothing that I feel like defrosting and cooking.)

There was a pound of ground chicken in there too. I can't remember why we bought it exactly, maybe to make some laab, but there it was, looking slightly freezer-burned, buried under a pile of other foodstuffs. I determined that if it was not indeed funky with freezer burn, I'd make chicken burgers with it. And not just chicken burgers, but Thai red curry chicken burgers. We had two open jars of Thai Kitchen red curry paste in the fridge, and I've been looking for a way to use the stuff up. We also had a partial jar of  Maesri "chilli paste with basil leaves" and a jar of sliced Kaffir lime leaves. I love that chilli paste stuff and have used it in a number of things over the years. As for the lime leaves--have you noticed how difficult they are to find in the supermarket? And when you do find them, you have to use them right away or they'll go bad? Then I found sliced ones in a jar at H-Mart. They're not quite as powerfully-flavored as fresh, but they'll do in a pinch. And I think their flavor is an essential match to red curry paste.

So...back to the burgers. Ground chicken can often be unpalatably dry, so I always add some chia seeds soaked in water to add moisture. The omega-3 boost doesn't hurt, either. The curry paste also helps to make the meat moist. In fact, the raw mixture will be very moist, so don't be anal about trying to get perfectly round patties. Refrigerate them for a while before cooking so the flavors meld and the patties firm up a bit.

These were a big hit. The burgers were not only moist, but also super flavorful. We ate them both on bread and as-is with a salad, using the special sauce as dressing.

Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers

2 teaspoons chia seeds soaked in 1 tablespoon water
1 lb ground chicken
1 tablespoon coconut milk powder
4 teaspoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste
2 teaspoons finely minced Kaffir lime leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well to incorporate the chia and curry paste. Form into patties, between 4-8, depending on the size of your rolls, number of guests, or appetite. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavors will meld.

Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the chicken patties. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Serve with Special Sauce.

Special Sauce

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Maesri Thai chilli sauce with basil
1/2 roasted red bell pepper, diced
2 scallions, white and green part, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Serve with Thai Red Curry Chicken Burgers.

Posted on

Monday, May 06, 2019

Cranberry-Blood Orange Limoncello Muffins

* The Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello mentioned in this post has been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.  
Fabrizia Spirits sent me three bottles of limoncello last month. The stuff is so good, I've killed half of each bottle. But I'm not only drinking it - I'm cooking with it. This month, I've done a riff on the classic cranberry-orange muffin. Rather than use fresh cranberries, I've used dried ones plumped up in blood orange limoncello. The booze picks up a nice pink color from the cranberries, which in turn makes the glaze (made with the plumping liquid) pink-ish, too. And tasty.

Want the recipe? Here you go!

Cranberry-Blood Orange Limoncello Muffins

For the muffins:
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of one large tangerine (Minneola) or the zest of 2 oranges
1 and 3/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons reserved Fabrizia Blood Orange limoncello
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Combine dried cranberries and limoncello in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the berries to macerate for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the berries and reserve the liquid.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line two 6-count or one 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter on high until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and tangerine zest, beating until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved limoncello and the milk, stirring by hand with a wooden spoon until the batter is combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F. Bake for 16-18 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove muffins from pan onto a cooling rack.

While muffins are cooling, combine the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoon of the reserved limoncello. (There will probably be a few tablepoons left over. Drink it - cook's treat.) Drizzle the glaze over the muffins, and immediately top with a few of the almonds.

Posted on

Friday, May 03, 2019

Flashback Friday - Skirt Steak and Watermelon Radish Tacos

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on May 12, 2014.


We almost never see skirt steak in the average supermarket, so when we did see it, we bought one and tossed it in the freezer for later. And then promptly forgot about it.

Digging through the freezer some months later for something else entirely, I stumbled upon the skirt steak and figured it was high time to put it to use. I wanted to make something fajita-like (the word fajita actually refers to skirt steak) but not exactly. After an inspirational online search, I thought something in an Asian vein might be tasty and put together a marinade with various Asian elements like miso, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. I also added honey for sweetness and a ton of garlic. Because what doesn't taste good with a ton of garlic? (Don't tell me--chocolate cake.)

After briefly contemplating frying some onions, I was lazy and chopped scallions to use raw. I also saw this to be a good time to use the watermelon radish we bought at MOM's Organic Market a few days earlier. Quick pickling seemed like the way to go. And of course, homemade corn tortillas, because they are so easy and better than store bought.

The resulting tacos had nicely spiced and garlicky meat, and a nice sweet/tartness from the pickle. I stirred some powdered coconut milk (from a trip to H Mart) into a bit of Greek yogurt to use in place of crema, and threw together a simple tomato and scallion salsa. However, the best addition to the steak-and-radish taco was a bit of crumbled feta cheese, which added a nice bit of funky saltiness.

Asian Marinated Skirt Steak

1 tablespoon red miso
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1-lb skirt steak

Combine first six ingredients in a bowl. Place the steak in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over. Massage the marinade into the steak for a few seconds, then close the bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat your broiler. Place oven rack in highest position. Remove steak from marinade, wipe off any chunky bits and place steak onto a baking sheet with sides. Broil 3-4 minutes per side, to medium-rare. Remove steak from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before cutting against the grain into thin slices.

Serve as a filling for corn tortillas, with some pickled radishes, feta cheese, and sour cream or crema.

Pickled Watermelon Radish

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 watermelon radish, cut into thin rounds

Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the radish and toss well to coat all radish pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Drain liquid before serving.

Posted on

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sullivan's Steakhouse

Mr Minx and I generally aren't steakhouse people, but we do like a good chunk of meat on occasion. When we received an invitation to try Sullivan's Steakhouse, we immediately said yes.

We started our meal with the lump crab cake appetizer. Don't expect a Maryland-style cake at Sullivan's. Theirs contains bell pepper and is breaded with panko. But it's moist and lumpy, and the crisp crust is a nice addition to a familiar dish.

The lobster and shrimp bisque is a must-try. It has a deeply-flavored shellfish stock base, with a hint of tomato. There's not much in the way of actual chunks of lobster in the soup, but the ones we found were very tender.

Mr Minx went for the 22-ounce cowboy rib eye, and I had the roasted rack of lamb. The steak was a bit shy of medium rare, tender, with a nicely seasoned crust. The chops were a little over mid-rare, but still juicy, and bathed in a lovely, slightly sweet grain mustard/rosemary glaze with a hint of mint.

We also had the classic steakhouse sides of creamed spinach and white cheddar and bacon au gratin potatoes. Both were impeccable. (I can eat creamed spinach all day.)

For dessert, we had the Chocolate Meltdown: a flourless chocolate torte topped with chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries and concealed by chocolate dome. At tableside, the server pours hot chocolate sauce over the dome, which melts it and reveals the treat inside. Generally, this is an Instagrammable moment, but our hot chocolate sauce was too thick and lumpy to pour properly, and the end result was a big chocolate mess on the plate. Not too pretty, but it tasted great, which of course is the most important thing, right?

In addition to their regular deliciousness, Sullivan's is bringing back Prime Rib Sundays. Every Sunday starting at 4pm, guests can dine on 12- or 16-ounce portions of hand-carved prime rib served with garlic horseradish mashed potatoes and a selection of Sullivan's signature sides.

Note: Several Inner Harbor-area restaurants have closed in the last year, some blaming it on crime. The real crime is the cost of parking. Parking in downtown Baltimore is shamefully expensive. Up to 2 hours can cost $24! That's no way to attract local diners. Pro tip: use a parking app, like Parkopedia. I found a garage that offered 3 hours for $9, and it was around the corner from the restaurant (1 West Pratt garage). Do your wallet a favor and try reserving your space in advance.

Sullivan's Steakhouse
1 E Pratt St Ste 102,
Baltimore, MD 21202

* 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!

Posted on

Friday, April 26, 2019

Flashback Friday - Sausage and Peppers Lasagna

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on April 11, 2014.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store, seen a random ingredient, and then come up with a completely weird dish in which to put it? For instance, have you picked up a bulb of fennel and thought, "I'm going to make lasagna?"

I have. Yeah, it didn't make sense to me either. Fennel isn't exactly a typical lasagna filling. And of course fennel alone might be a bit strange, so I decided it needed to be combined with sweet Italian sausage (which is flavored with fennel) and roasted red peppers. Why not? Why does lasagna have to be made with the same traditional ingredients every time? Ok, because it is delicious that way, but it can be delicious with other ingredients, too. Like sausage and peppers and fennel. (Oh my!)

I picked up a package of Giovanni Rana brand fresh pasta sheets on that same grocery store excursion. The fresh stuff cuts out the whole messy step of precooking dry pasta and carefully separating out the individual noodles so they won't stick together when they cool. I won't use the no-boil kind; they require far too much sauce and make for a lasagna that seems drowned. And while a besciamella (béchamel sauce) may be more traditional, I like to use ricotta cheese mixed with a bit of Parmesan to make my lasagna nice and creamy.

Really, I think anything goes in a lasagna, as long as there's plenty of cheese.

The result of my madness was actually pretty great. The fennel married nicely with the sausage, and even though the ingredients were non-traditional, it still tasted like lasagna.

This recipe makes a ton. Enough for 10 normal people.

Sausage, Pepper, and Fennel Lasagna

1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bulb fennel, sliced thinly
1 12-oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on their size and how much you like garlic, crushed
24 ounces of your favorite marinara, homemade or jarred, 1 cup reserved
generous pinch red pepper flakes
generous pinch of fennel seeds, crushed lightly
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces fresh lasagna noodles (NOT the dry "oven-ready" noodles)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Put a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage meat from its casings and add to the pan, breaking it up into smaller pieces with the end of a spatula. When the sausage starts to let off some of its fat, add the onion. Stir occasionally, continuing to break up the sausage into smaller pieces, until the onion is translucent and sausage is mostly cooked through and browned. Add the fennel, roasted peppers, and garlic, stirring to combine. Pour in the sauce (except the reserved cupful) and add the red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to low. Cover pan. Cook until meat is tender and sauce is somewhat reduced, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

Combine ricotta and Parmesan in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Put a few spoonfuls of the reserved sauce on the bottom of the pan, then cover with a layer of pasta. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out chunky bits of sausage and vegetables from the sauce and layer these on top of the ricotta. Lightly sprinkle with some of the mozzarella cheese. Top with another layer of pasta, the remaining ricotta cheese, more chunky bits, and a bit more mozzarella. Add the final layer of pasta, a layer of sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes until bubbling and browned.

While the lasagna is baking, reheat the rest of the reserved sauce (combined with any leftover sausage/fennel sauce) to use at the table if the lasagna seems dry.

Allow the lasagna to rest about 10 minutes before cutting into servings.

Posted on

Monday, April 22, 2019

Blood Orange Manhattan

Fabrizia's blood orange limoncello is as delicious as its lemon version, only, you know, orange-flavored. It's a great post-dinner sipper, and can also be used in recipes, like the one for limoncello balls posted here the other week. Of course, it also works well as an addition to a cocktail, as in this simple blood orange Manhattan. It's light and orange-y, not too sweet, and perfect for warm weather.

Blood Orange Manhattan

2 parts Bourbon
1 part Fabrizia Blood Orange Limoncello
a few dashes blood orange bitters
Fancy cherry (or a regular Maraschino) and blood orange slice for garnish

Stir together the bourbon and limoncello and add a few dashes of bitters. Pour into two lowball glasses with ice. Garnish with the cherry and blood orange slice.

Easy peasy, light, and delicious.

* Fabrizia Spirits sent us product and compensated us for this post. However, the opinions within are our own.

Posted on

Friday, April 19, 2019

Flashback Friday - Maple Bacon Baked Donuts

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on April 28, 2014.

A few months back, I received a cookbook to review. It was full of gluten-free donut recipes, and I wanted to try at least one before I said anything about the book. But each recipe called for several ingredients that we didn't normally have on hand, and it took a while to compile them all. Eventually, everything was in the larder and we were eager to eat some delicious, home-made donuts.

I whipped up a batch for breakfast one day. They looked really pretty, but they were horrible. Dry and flavorless, despite the insane amount of vanilla in them. What a disappointment. (Celiacs, you have my sincere sympathy.)

So now we had these special donut pans that were taking up precious room in the one small cabinet that we use for baking sheets and muffin and cake pans. I had to use them again (and again), but this time, we were going to skip the gluten-free business and going straight for the good stuff: wheat flour. Real sugar. Butter. Forget the applesauce (every damn recipe in that book had a minuscule amount of applesauce in it). An Internet search revealed a recipe for relatively plain baked donuts flavored with nutmeg and I decided to use it as my base. The nutmeg is key in this recipe--it's what makes the donuts taste like donuts. And since we had a few slices of bacon left over from dinner the night before, I sprinkled them on top, with a layer of maple syrup-flavored glaze in between.

Oh so good!

Ok, so while baked donuts aren't exactly like the fried kind, they are pretty damn delicious. The texture is somewhere between a honey dip and a madeleine. Spongy, but not spongecake. Not at all like a cupcake. I'd love to find a recipe for a denser, cake-donut-type baked donut, but I'm pretty happy to eat these until I find one.

Maple Bacon Baked Donuts (adapted from Joy the Baker)

For donuts:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Splash vanilla
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 slices bacon, chopped

To make donuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 6-well doughnut pans and set aside. (I use this one by Wilton.)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, and vanilla together. Add melted butter and whisk again. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir together just until everything is combined and no flour bits remain.

Spoon batter into a small zip-top bag, Squeeze out as much air as possible without squeezing the bag too much and seal. Use scissors to cut off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe batter into as many donut wells as you can fill halfway. If you're using the Wilton pan linked above, you should be able to fill all twelve. Don't overfill, otherwise the donuts will rise too much and the holes will close.

Place pans in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pans to a rack and allow to cool completely before unmolding donuts.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cream until smooth.

Once the doughnuts are cool, dip top-side-down into the glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with bacon. Eat immediately, or, if you want to put a couple away, wait until the glaze has set and wrap each donut separately in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Posted on

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fogo de Chao Adds New Items For Spring

For serious meat lovers, Brazilian steakhouses like Fogo de Chao are sheer nirvana. One can simply sit at the table while waiters arrive with skewers of various grilled meats. For one set price, meat lovers can gorge on steak, pork, chicken, and lamb in all varieties until they cannot eat another bite. Fogo is also good for people on low-carb diets as, in addition to all the meats, they offer a huge self-serve bar full of vegetables and salads.

When the warmer weather sets in, some might feel that a meal heavy in proteins might be too rich for the rising temperatures. However, Fogo is introducing seven new items for Spring with lighter cuts of meat, seasonal vegetables, and a new tribute wine. The Minx and I were recently invited to try out these new menu items.

I started out with their new Blood Orange Manhattan. Buffalo Trace Bourbon is mixed with a splash of Carpano Antica and dashes of blood orange and angostura bitters, then served over rocks. While it did remind me a bit of a Manhattan, this cocktail had a bright citrus touch.

Fogo has also unveiled “Eulila,” a red wine blend that pays tribute to Eulila “Selma” Oliveira, Chief Culture Officer of Fogo de Chão. She was born and raised in Brazil, but moved to the United States in 1985, determined to achieve the American dream. Following a chance encounter with the founders of Fogo de Chão while in Dallas, Oliveira joined the company as the brand’s first female manager and, ultimately, executive. Oliveira is affectionately known as the Fogo matriarch; the wine was named in her honor for her unwavering affection, passion, and appreciation for every restaurant guest and team member.

Specially created for Fogo by the award-winning winemakers at Viña Vik, Eulila the wine is a blend of 48% Carmenere, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 22% Syrah. Carmenere is a new varietal to me, its fruitiness balanced nicely by the Cabernet and the Syrah. Though full-bodied, Eulila is not particularly tannic and pairs well with Fogo's meat selections.

Now it was time to get to the food. The Minx and I started with Fogo's new Carrot & Ginger Soup. This light, vegetarian friendly, gluten-free soup is made with baby carrots and spicy ginger, blended together with fresh herbs and coconut milk.

Although Fogo is known for its grilled meats, they also offer several seafood options. We decided to order one of our favorites - the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. Jumbo shrimp are served in a huge bowl of ice and paired with a malagueta cocktail sauce. In the background of the picture, you can also see ttheminx's go-to cocktail, the Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha. The hibiscus-infused cachaça is mixed with muddled strawberries and lime to create a refreshing warm weather drink.

Before we started in with the meat, we visited the bar for our vegetables. The Roasted Cauliflower Salad is made of cauliflower that has been oven-roasted with olive oil, garlic, and black pepper, and finished off with scallions and sesame seeds. The Brazilian Kale & Orange Salad is composed of fresh kale, crunchy red onion, juicy oranges, and is topped with a citrus-honey vinaigrette. I also picked up some asparagus, green beans, hearts of palm, and potato salad, but the Market Table has so many more fruits and vegetables to choose from.

With the preliminaries out of the way, we were ready for the meat. We flipped over our cards from red to green, notifying the waiters that they could come over with their skewered of grilled goodness. The Pork Picanha is butchered and prepared with the same simple style as traditional Picanha, then carved right at the table. I was particularly impressed with the spicy Linguica Sausage, a pork sausage with red pepper, garlic,and fresh onion. I also had to partake of the beautifully cooked sirloin. All the meats were tender and juicy. (Also featured in the above photo is a beautifully pink chunk of rib eye.)

Fogo has also created a new dessert for Spring, the Crème de Coconut. Freshly-shredded coconut is combined with condensed milk and cream, baked in the oven, and then served warm with ice cream and a little lime zest. I'm usually not a fan of shredded coconut, but the incredible coconut flavor made me overlook the chewiness that I normally dislike. Also, the ice cream and lime zest provide a refreshing coolness to the dessert.

Fogo de Chao has always been a great place for meat-atarians, but they also have a lengthy menu of options for everyone's palate. If you have been debating about visiting Fogo de Chao, these new Spring items are worth checking out.

Fogo de Chao
600 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 528-9292

Posted on

Friday, April 12, 2019

Flashback Friday - Rice Salad with Chinese Sausage and Roasted Broccoli

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on April 30, 2014.

Have you ever read a food magazine and felt the urge to cook one of the recipes RIGHT NOW? As in, drop the magazine and run to the kitchen immediately? I had that feeling when I spotted the recipe for savory granola in the April 2014 issue of Bon Appetit. I had just turned the oven off 10 minutes earlier after removing a tray of roasted broccoli and knew I wouldn't have to wait for the thing to pre-heat (it takes forever, which can be a real buzz-kill during a cooking frenzy). We had most of the ingredients--old fashioned oats, walnuts, sesame seeds, fennel, seeds--and I substituted for a couple others (pumpkin seeds in place of sunflower seeds, skipped the pistachios entirely). I mixed up the ingredients pronto and banged them into the hot oven.

Now you must recall that I had just roasted broccoli. At 450°F. So the oven was a wee bit hotter than it needed to be, hence the charred appearance of my salad topping (some of the black bits are black sesame seeds though). No matter, even slightly burnt, the granola was AMAZING. It took all of my willpower not to shove handfuls of it into my face hole. The combination of nuts + fennel seeds is delicious and I wish I had thought of it myself.

Rather than eating all of it right then and there (it makes about 3 cups), I decided to use it as a component in the dinner I was preparing--cold rice salad with Chinese sausage and a peanut butter vinaigrette. Oh, and roasted broccoli.

I wanted the salad to have a peanut sauce flavor, but not a standard sweet peanut sauce. Instead, I made it ultra vinegary, using both rice wine and Chinese black vinegar (also called Chinkiang vinegar). Chinese black vinegar is, as Isaac Mizrahi is fond of saying, EVERYTHING, Darlings. It's mellow, malty, and woodsy, with a burnt caramel aspect. If you're a vinegar fan (and I know not everyone is...weirdos), then you have to try it. I then added a bit of agave syrup, soy, and sambal oelek for heat. (We use Huy Fong brand, the company that makes the ever popular "rooster sauce" sriracha. Oelek is different in that it's just crushed chiles in vinegar and salt, no garlic or sugar.) It was perfect on plain steamed rice garnished with Chinese sausage and scallions.

I tossed the broccoli into the salad after the sauce was added, because I didn't want the broccoli to have soggy florets. And then I sprinkled a bit of the granola on each serving.

So. Good. I need to make this again very soon.

Rice Salad with Roasted Broccoli

Roasted broccoli:
3 broccoli crowns
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
5 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
1/4 teaspoon salt

To assemble salad:
3 cups cooked, room-temperature rice (Jasmine is nice, or basmati)
3 Chinese pork sausages, sliced into coins, lightly fried, and drained on paper towels
1/2 cup julienned carrots
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Savory granola (optional, but delicious)

To make broccoli: Preheat oven to 450°F.

Remove thick stem from each broccoli crown. Break the floret into small pieces. Cut the stem into lengthwise slices. Toss both florets and stems with olive oil and salt and arrange in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning broccoli halfway, until tender and browning in spots. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make peanut sauce: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Taste for seasoning--it should be vinegary, lightly salty, and lightly spicy. Add more salt and sambal if you wish.

To assemble salad: Using a fork, stir rice into prepared peanut sauce until well-coated. Add the sausages, carrots, and scallions and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature with a helping of broccoli and a sprinkle of the savory granola.

Posted on

Posted on

Monday, April 08, 2019

Limoncello Balls

When I was approached by Fabrizia Spirits to promote their limoncello products, I jumped at the chance. For one thing, I love limoncello. For another, booze! And while limoncello is a fine drink all on its own (particularly after dinner, in place of dessert), it's also an excellent spirit for cooking. And for drinking while cooking.

I've tried many limoncellos in my day, and Fabrizia is among the very best. It's light, not super sweet, and very smooth. Their limoncello cream, too, is excellent, as is their blood orange limoncello. Mr Minx and I had fun tasting and re-tasting each spirit, which inspired us to create some recipes for each.

The first, using the regular limoncello, is a riff on a bourbon (or rum) ball. For the uninitiated, they are somewhat like tiny adult cakepops, minus the stick and icing. Bourbon balls can pack a real boozy wallop, but a lower-alcohol drink like the Fabrizia limoncello (27% abv) makes the end product a lot milder. And easier to eat!

Limoncello Balls
Folks who like lemon bars will love these tiny treats!

12 ounces vanilla wafers, finely crushed
1 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Scant 1/2 cup Fabrizia limoncello
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Finely ground zest of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar, for dredging

Combine the cookie crumbs, almonds, and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the limoncello, corn syrup, and zest and stir well. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour to allow the cookie crumbs to soften.

Place 1 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl.

Knead the crumb mixture a bit with your hands to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Form small balls and roll in the bowl of powdered sugar to coat evenly.

Store completed balls in a covered container in the fridge.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. This is a paid promotion, however, all opinions are my own.

Posted on

Friday, April 05, 2019

Flashback Friday - Pulled Pork with Peaches

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on March 28, 2014. I know Lent's not over, but whatever - I don't participate. So pass the pork!


The February issue of Saveur magazine has several interesting recipes for peaches, which seems odd when there's snow on the ground. But canned peaches can be just as tasty; indeed the focus of the article was canning. And while I don't do any canning myself, Del Monte, Libby's, etc., does.

When I spotted a relatively inexpensive pork shoulder at the grocery store, I decided we needed to try the peach-braised pulled pork. Once home, I realized the recipe called for a 3 lb boneless shoulder, and we had just purchased one that weighed 8.5 lbs, bone-in. It also called for whole cloves, smoked paprika, and lager beer. We had ground cloves, no paprika, and a couple bottles of my brother-in-law's home brewed ale. So I do what I always do--make substitutions. Allspice works just as well as cloves when it comes to matching with peaches, and as long as the beer wasn't stout, it would be fine. As for the paprika--I could have sworn I had a big bag of it in the cupboard, but I suppose I'll have to order more from Penzey's or the Spice House. There's really no substitute, so I just skipped it completely.

I knew from the get-go that 3 hours wouldn't be enough cooking time for the porky behemoth we bought--but what would be?

Three hours into cooking, the meat was cooked but still a little tough. I decided to hack the shoulder into chunks, to help it along. By four+ hours, I was getting impatient and hauled the thing out of the oven. It was plenty tender, but not tender enough to shred with two forks. Instead, I chopped it up with a big knife, all the while sampling it to make sure it was good. I'm all about quality control.

The magazine calls for using only half a cup of the pan juices. There were at least 2 cups, and it seemed like a real waste to toss it (and the onions, garlic, and peaches within it) because it tasted so rich and porky. So I emulsified the whole mess with a stick blender, added half a cup of brown sugar and the rest of the peaches and peach syrup, and boiled it vigorously for about fifteen minutes. And instead of serving it with sauteed onions and peach jam, I made some slaw with brussels sprouts, because that's what we had.

It was great, but we had pork for days and days. And days. Not complaining, but 8.5 lbs is a lot of pork for two people.

Peach-Braised Pulled Pork, adapted from Saveur

3 tbsp olive oil
3-8 lb boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
2 (12-oz.) bottles beer
1 (1-qt.) jar canned peaches in syrup, drained or use store-bought
1/2 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325°.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a baking pan or dutch oven large enough to hold your meat.

Season pork with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides, about 10–12 minutes. Remove meat from pan and add allspice, bay leaves, garlic, and onion to pan; cook until browned, 6–8 minutes. Add beer; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, 10–12 minutes.

Return pork to pan and add half the peaches. Bake, covered, until pork is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into pork reads 190°, 3–5 hours. Let cool. If pork is tender enough, use two forks to shred the meat, otherwise, chop it with a sharp knife.

Pour two cups of the pan juices, plus any solids (minus bay leaves), into a sauce pan. Puree with a stick blender. Add the remaining peaches and their juice and the brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for fifteen minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir chopped meat into the sauce. If you are using a huge shoulder, like we did, save some of the meat for other uses, like pasta sauce.

Posted on

Friday, March 29, 2019

Flashback Friday - Tuna Casserole

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on March 7, 2014.

I was raised in a Polish Catholic family, so Lent was a big deal when I was growing up. I hated Lent. I resented that I had to give something up. I disliked the whole weekly standing/ kneeling/ chanting torture known as the Stations of the Cross. And I hated the customary Friday suppers of either fish sticks or tuna casserole. Back when I was in grade school, my mother wasn't a very imaginative cook, so we were stuck eating either Mrs Paul's (later Gorton's, which were much tastier) or a combination of canned tuna, noodles, and Campbell's cream of celery soup every Friday for six weeks. A relatively short amount of time, but it felt like an eternity to someone who just didn't want any part of it.

It's been at least 25 years since I've eaten tuna casserole. By the time I graduated high school, my mom was a more creative cook and also felt we could fix our own Friday dinners. Yay for adulthood! Honestly, I'd rather have egg salad or fried eggs or pancakes or a veggie burger than fish sticks or tuna casserole on a Lenten Friday evening. (Even more honestly--I'd rather have a steak.)

Not long ago, I decided to try making a tuna casserole. Mr Minx had been spared the lifetime of horror but he was still completely dubious about the idea of hot tuna + noodles (although he did like the noodle part on its own). I wanted to make my Mom's casserole--partly to see if it was as scary as I remembered, and partly because (more honesty here) I did occasionally enjoy it--but I couldn't find her recipe. I was pretty sure she used the one on cans of Campbell's cream of celery soup, but the recipe found there now, labeled "classic," involves pimientos and peas. Yuck. Lets not make things worse, shall we?

I did remember that Mom's dish had cheddar cheese and crushed pretzels in addition to egg noodles and that soup, so I went with that. Part of me hoped when we went to the grocery store that Campbell's had discontinued the cream of celery variety. Alas, it was there, in a low-sodium version that had no flavor at all, celery or otherwise. I added some sauteed onion and celery to the dish to make it taste like something other than hot tuna.

Surprisingly, the flavor-less soup was actually not a bad thing at all. I think the strong celery flavor was what made me dislike the casserole more often than not. The rest of the ingredients were spot on though, really evoking a taste of the 70s. But in a good way. The real trick is to season that bland soup. Dress it up with herbs and spices, add onion and garlic, some cayenne or Tabasco. If you're not averse to a little more work, make a couple cups of bechamel and use that instead.

Mr Minx actually enjoyed the casserole, as did I, and we ate the whole thing over the course of a few days. And I'd actually make it again, maybe for Lent. But more likely we'll be having steak instead.

Tuna Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 10 1/2-ounce can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
Pinch cayenne
2 6-ounce cans tuna (in water), drained well
1 bag of egg noodles, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Thin pretzels, crushed into small pieces to equal 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a 3 quart saucepot, cook onion and celery in the butter until vegetables are soft. Stir in the soup and milk. Season with dill, onion powder, pepper, salt, and cayenne. If you think it needs more flavor, add more of the above, or even other stuff. A pinch of tarragon might be nice. Stir in the tuna.

Add cooked egg noodles to the pot a few handfuls at a time, stirring to coat with soup mixture. You will not need all of the noodles, so hold back a cup or two.

Pour half of noodle mixture into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over about 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Top with the remaining noodle mixture and the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle the crushed pretzels on top. Bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the edges of the noodles are getting brown.

Serves 6

Posted on

Posted on

Friday, March 22, 2019

Flashback Friday - Observing Lent

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on March 14, 2014.

Lent is upon us, and for you practicing Catholics, it's time for Friday fasting. No meat for you!  To help you with Friday meal planning, here are some of my favorite meat-free (but not seafood-free) recipes from Minxeats.

Alton's Mac & Cheese
Asian Pasta Salad
Avocado Soup with Crab Salad

Black Bean Ragout
Black Bean Soup
Clam Chowdah

Corn, Crab, and Coriander Fritters
Crespelle di Mare e Pesto
Drunken Noodles with Seafood a la Minx
Gagooch (fried zucchini with eggs)

Greek Shrimp Pasta
"Healthy" Spinach Lasagna
Mushroom and Tomato Ragout with Polenta

Oatmeal Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
Panfried Tofu with Asian Caramel Sauce
Parisian Gnocchi with Caponata
Seafood Louis

Shellfish Etouffee
Simple Black Bean Burgers
Spicy Fish Soup
Spicy Korean Tofu
Tomato Bread Pudding

Warm Tofu with Spicy Sauce

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Posted on

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Stroll Down Bleecker Street

Even before my first trip to New York, I was somewhat obsessed with Bleecker Street. It all started while I was in college, studying visual communications. A very famous illustrator who probably made pretty good money was a guest speaker at my school. During his talk, he dropped the fact that he lived on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Though I knew I didn’t quite have his talent, my life goals suddenly involved living in NY in an apartment on Bleecker. Looking back, I realize: 1) I had a bit of a crush on the guy; 2) He probably lived over a restaurant and existed in a constant fug of melted cheese and oregano. But what’s so bad about smelling like pizza all day every day? (I could probably rationalize it then. Now, not so much.)

I never did move to New York, but most of my visits to that city involve a stroll down Bleecker. In the days when a friend of mine worked at a now-defunct restaurant in the West Village, I liked to explore the neighborhood before meeting up with him for dinner. I would emerge from the Christopher Street station and, ninety-nine percent of the time, walk down a block and turn left onto Bleecker. A right turn would mean walking up the more expensive end of Bleecker, the one lined with clothing boutiques that are far less-interesting to me than restaurants. If you’re a Sex and the City fan, the original Magnolia Bakery is on that end, at W. 11th Street, but that’s about it as far as food is concerned. Unless you want to want to purchase pricey togs and accessories, head southeast.

There are also boutiques on the next two blocks of Bleecker, and I skip them all. Let’s face it--I’m a realist. I know I can’t afford anything in those shops, so there’s no use torturing myself by looking at any of it. But there are restaurants, too, like A.O.C., a little French joint where one can sit in an outdoor garden and enjoy a croque madame or duck confit while pretending to be in Paris. Modern Greek cuisine is offered down the street at Nisi Estiatorio. I like that I can get baklava oatmeal or grilled octopus for brunch and lobster moussaka for dinner.

Continue down to the next block for more food, though the walk can be mildly confusing with the criss-crossing of streets. The next intersection involves both Barrow Street and 7th Avenue. As you’re heading south(-ish, Manhattan isn’t on a straightforward N, S, E, W grid because the whole peninsula slants to the northeast), you’ll see Hummus Place and Bleecker Street Pizza on the left, though both are actually on 7th Avenue. Just keep walking straight. Once you’re across 7th Ave, you’ll see O. Ottomanelli & Sons, an old-school meat market that has been around forever. Next door is Ghandi Cafe, where the rather large menu of Indian favorites belies the rather cramped space. Bantam Bagels comes next, but you won’t find the NY classic with a schmear here--they specialize in bite-sized bagel nuggets filled with flavored cream cheese. Across the street you can eat sushi at Kumo, or, if you prefer your seafood cooked, there’s Fish next door. Craving pizza? John’s of Bleecker Street has been making coal-fired pies since 1929. You can’t get a slice there, only whole pies, but it’s worth a visit if your ultimate goal is similar to mine: taste all of the pizza NY has to offer (a lofty goal, I know.)

If you’ve ever had a hankering for ice cream flavored with, say, corn, or maybe sweet potato studded with bits of brie cheese, then you should hit up Cones. This shop specializes in helado--Argentinian ice cream similar to gelato--and sorbets, sometimes in unusual flavors. But also more familiar ones like pistachio, mint chocolate chip, and passion fruit.

Back across the street is Kesté, but this time the pizzas are wood-fired and Neapolitan-style. The crust is thin and blistered or “leopard-spotted,” and the toppings are plentiful. The menu boasts over 40 variations of white, red, and specialty pizzas including ones topped with housemade truffle burrata or porcini mushrooms and a walnut cream. There are over a dozen gluten-free pizzas, and a cheese-free vegan pie available, too. Also on this side of the block is my favorite tea shop, David’s Tea. The Canadian chain has three locations in Manhattan, but this one is my favorite. I like to snag something iced (or hot, depending on the season) to sip as I wander around, but usually end up buying quite a bit of loose tea as well. (Cardamom French Toast black tea and Coffee Pu’erh are two of my current faves.)

Murray’s Cheese is in the next block, next to Amy’s Bread, the perfect places to stock up for an impromptu park bench picnic in one of the green spaces nearby. If you’d rather eat your cheese indoors, Murray’s has a Cheese Bar up the block. The menu is predictably cheese-tastic, with items ranging from fondue and lobster mac & cheese to brie and mushroom soup, Buffalo cheese curds, and raclette for two. The dessert menu includes cheesecake, of course, but also s’mores made with a Spanish cheese called Arzua Ulloa. And now I’m seriously craving cheese, but as I’m on Whole30 right now, it’s verboten. [sad emoticon] [crying emoticon] [cheese emoticon]
A massive slice at Joe's
I have a couple of favorite places in the next block: taco joint Tacombi (with other locations in town if you can’t make it to this one); and Pasticceria Rocco. Going to Rocco’s is practically a tradition in my family; my Dad used to bring home boxes of their Italian cookies when I was a kid, and now I do the same. Their vaguely chewy hazelnut biscotti are one of my all-time favorite cookies, and I have a soft spot for their pignoli and meringue cookies as well. Rocco’s has gelato, too, but if that’s what I’m after, I go to Grom, on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine Streets. I’m a sucker for the pistacchio, but am happy with any flavor they offer. On that same block of Carmine is Joe’s Pizza, home to one of the best slices in the city.

While there are lots of tasty places on Bleecker itself, don’t be afraid to wander down one of the side streets. The first cross street after Christopher is Grove Street, and if you don’t wander, you won’t find Buvette or Via Carota, serving French small plates and rustic Italian fare, respectively. Turn left on Carmine after visiting Grom, cross 6th Ave, and you’ll find yourself on Minetta Lane which takes you to Macdougal Street and Minetta Tavern (home to one of the best burgers in the city), the enormous slices at Artichoke Pizza, plus several other eateries and cocktail lounges. The whole area is lousy with bars and restaurants that make up the many reasons I find myself exploring this area over and over again.

Posted on