Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Happy and Merry Merry!

Minxeats is taking a holiday break...see you next year!
   Have a safe and happy holiday. :)

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Pork Chops Milanese

I had purchased some thin pork chops in order to make mini roulades, but then I got lazy and didn't want to deal with making stuffing. Plus the chops had bones. Everyone knows the tastiest meat is attached to the bone, so why remove them before cooking?

I poked around through the pantry and found Trader Joe's 10-Minute Barley. I boiled up some of that and added a few dribbles of heavy cream, a blob of butter, and some Parmesan cheese. It reminded me of risotto, so I decided to go Italian with the pork. They'd get coated with crumbs and fried until crisp, a preparation known as Milanese.

To accompany the meat and starch was our one and only harvest of Brussels sprouts. We put one plant in the garden in April, not knowing what to expect. They took forever to form, and while the stalk grew fairly long, the sprouts didn't get very big at all. The largest was probably the size of the nail on my index finger, and the smallest was about half the size of my pinky nail. Truth!

I sauteed them quickly in olive oil with a couple tablespoons of chopped pecans and a sprinkle of salt. I was tempted to add some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, but really wanted to taste the sprouts.

Pork Milanese (adapted from a recipe from Food & Wine)

4 thin pork chops, about 3/4 - 1 lb total
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
Olive oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, for serving

Salt and pepper the chops. Mix the panko, cheese, and seasonings and put them on a large plate. Put the flour on another plate, and beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Dredge each chop in flour, dip them in the eggs, and then coat them with the panko.

Heat a large skillet and add about half an inch of olive oil. When shimmering, add the chops to the skillet (you may need to do this in batches) and fry over high heat, turning once, until both sides are crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes total.

Drain chops on paper towels, give them a sprinkle of salt, and serve with lemon wedges.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Year's Eve at Waterfront Kitchen

Here's another dinner option for New Year's Eve....

Waterfront Kitchen is offering a five course feast including goodies like caviar, foie gras, and bacon maple pumpkin pie. You can see the whole menu here.

There are two seatings, 6:30pm and 9:30pm. The 6:30pm meal is $100 per person, or $135 with wine pairings. The 9:30pm seating is $125 or $160 with wine, and includes a Champagne toast and fireworks.

For reservations, call 443-681-5310 or visit Open Table. Waterfront Kitchen is located at 1417 Thames Street in historic Fells Point.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Korean-style Noodle Salad

Holiday party time rolled around once again and I had to come up with something to serve at our work shindig, AKA food orgy. After doing this for a decade and a half, I have come up with a list of criteria that makes this project a little easier on me. Or is that...more complicated?

1. The dish must be served cold, to avoid having to use one of the two puny microwaves in the kitchenette.
2. The dish must be vegetarian-friendly, as we have 2 or more veg-heads on staff at any given time.
3. The dish must be easily portable, as I take public transportation.
4. The dish should not need refrigeration, because the kitchenette fridge is always full, and usually smells bad.

There is one dish that fits: an Asian-style pasta salad. It's cold, it contains no meat (but certainly can be altered to include any protein), and the ingredients are not particularly perishable. Indeed, they can certainly sit on a cold windowsill for a couple of hours without harm.

In the past, I've made pasta salads representing many Asian nations. The best-received utilized Thai chili basil paste. I thought to make that one again, but as my Thai co-worker was bringing pad Thai, I looked to Korea for this year's inspiration. Bibim guksu is a popular cold noodle dish served in the hot Korean summers. Soba noodles are more traditional, but I went with linguine, because I like the texture of flat noodles in a cold salad. It was delicious - spicy, sweet, toasty - and I was happy to see almost all of it disappear during the party.

Cold Korean-style Noodle Salad

1 lb linguine noodles
5-6 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
6 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 bunch green onions cut in thin bias slices
2 cups broccoli slaw mix
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water until noodles are at room temperature.

Combine gochujang, rice vinegar, honey, soy, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Dump the cooked and cooled linguine on top and mix well with two forks to combine sauce and pasta. Add the green onions, broccoli slaw, and cucumber, and toss.

Serves many.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spend New Year's Eve at Roy's

On December 31st, Roy's restaurant in Harbor East (720 Aliceanna Street) is offering its annual New Year's Eve prix fixe dinner. Diners can choose one appetizer, one soup or salad, one entree, and one dessert; the price is based on the cost of the entree.

Mr Minx and I have done this for years now and have never been disappointed with the selection, which includes new holiday dishes like the Shellfish Hot Pot and classic Roy's favorites like Misoyaki Butterfish and the Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé. Just take a gander at these photos - I want that hot pot right NOW.

For reservations, call 410-659-0099. (For non-Baltimoreans: all Roy's restaurants, apart from the Hawaii and Pebble Beach locations, are offering the same decadent four-course New Year's Eve dinner. Find your local restaurant at

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Ale

In a previous post, I talked about how I got my brother Craig involved in brewing beer when I gave him a home brewing kit that The Minx and I received from Smithwick's. After attempting a red ale using a kit with pre-measured ingredients, Craig decided to tackle a Christmas ale using a recipe from the how-to book included with the beer making kit. Since I was curious to see how the process worked first hand, I came over to his house and we set about making Christmas ale.

Craig had already purchased all the ingredients and equipment necessary from Annapolis Home Brew. We started by measuring out the crystal malt and the black malt. The grains were mixed with 1.5 gallons of purified water and put on the stove to heat to 160 degrees F. Once it reaches the desired temperature, the mixture must be kept between 150 to 160 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Craig attached a candy thermometer to the pot to watch the temperature. After the 30 minutes was up, we transferred the wort to a separate pot for boiling. During this process, all the equipment must be kept clean to prevent bacteria from getting into the brew. Craig kept a bucket of water mixed with PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) on hand to clean everything as we went along.

Weighing the ingredients
While all this was going on, I was busy preparing the flavorings. I zested the peel from four oranges, chopped up a large knob of ginger, measured out some cardamom, and got a cinnamon stick ready. Honey and malt syrup would also be added to the wort, so we warmed those ingredients by immersing the containers into a hot water bath. Once the wort had boiled for one hour, we added the honey and malt syrup, stirring to incorporate. Then we added some cascade hops. Another 30 minutes of boiling and we added the orange zest, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. After another 10 minutes boiling, we added a half ounce of saaz hops for aroma.

At this point, the wort needed to be brought down to room temperature, the faster the better so as to avoid bacteria development. Some people do this by putting the pot in a tub of ice, but Craig purchased a nifty device called a wort chiller. Basically, it's a coil of copper tubing with plastic tubing running off each end. One end of the plastic tubing is attached to the water tab, and the other end is placed in the sink. The cooper coil is plunged into the pot and the cold water tap is turned on. As the water flows through the copper coil, it makes the copper quite cold, thus cooling the wort quickly. Of course, the water flows back through the plastic tube and dumps into the sink. It was amazing to watch the temperature drop on the candy thermometer. We had the wort cooled from boiling to room temperature in 20 minutes.

Cooling the wort with a wort chiller.
With the wort cooled, we strained the liquid into a plastic bucket. The ingredients kits put the grains in steeping bags, but since our ingredients were loose, we used a giant strainer placed over the mouth of the bucket to catch all the gunk. We also used a siphoning tube to drain the wort from the pot to the bucket so we could control the flow. A few times in the process, we had to stop and empty out the strainer because there was so much detritus in the wort. Eventually, we got all the wort into the bucket. Then more purified water was added to bring the mixture up to five gallons.

Aerating the wort with a bubble making thingee for an aquarium.
The how-to book we were using recommended that the wort be agitated to incorporate some air in the mix. A stirring wand was provided with the home brew kit, but Craig channeled his inner Alton Brown and bought an electric bubble making device used for aquariums. After a few minutes of bubble making, Craig took a reading of the wort with a hydrometer.

In order to ascertain the alcohol percentage by volume of your brew, you must measure the original gravity* when the wort is first made and then measure the fermented gravity after the wort has fermented. You run these two numbers through a special formula to reach the alcohol percentage. The two measurements are taken with a hydrometer. Simply drop the long stick-like device in the bucket and read off the number at the surface of the liquid.

The final step is to pitch the yeast in water and add that to the wort. Then we put the lid on and added the airstop. The airstop is filled partway with water. After 24 hours, one should see bubbles in the water, an indication that fermentation has begun. The bucket needs to be stored in a cool, dark place for six days. We used one of Craig's closets for that.

After six days, the wort is transferred to a clear jug known as a carboy. They come in plastic or glass, but glass is better because it can be more thoroughly cleaned between uses. The airstop is placed in the carboy and the fermentation continues for two more weeks.

The final step is to add sugar to start carbonation and pour into bottles. Once the beer is in the bottles and capped, it should sit for at least another two weeks to develop full flavor. Although we started this process in September, we decided to wait until Thanksgiving to drink the beer. I was disappointed that the cinnamon flavor was not more prominent, but it had an interesting flavor all its own. The Minx described it as a cross between Coca-Cola and beer. We used it to make shandies for our Thanksgiving dinner and they were quite tasty.

* Gravity refers to the relative density of the wort compared to water at various stages in the fermentation. It largely depends on the amount of sugar in the wort.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Flashback Friday - 12.13.2013

This post was originally published on December 23, 2011.

Believe it or not, people have been asking for my fruitcake recipe. I usually just give guidelines but have finally put the whole thing in one place. Please to enjoy - it really is good! (And I normally hate fruitcake.)

Minx Fruitcake

1 1/2 cups of assorted dried fruits (chopped apricots, chopped figs, cherries, pineapple, blueberries, raisins, currants, candied ginger, cranberries)
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup candied orange rind
1/4 cup chopped neon green or red cherries for fruitcake (optional)
1 cup assorted roasted unsalted nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, filberts)

Put dried fruit in a microwave-safe bowl and pour over the rum. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap, and nuke on high for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a loaf pan with release spray and set aside. Combine the first five ingredients in the bowl of a mixer (or use a hand mixer) and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and spices. Add the macerated fruit (plus the rum) and nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

With the fruitcake still in the loaf pan, poke holes in it with a toothpick. Pour over about 1/4 cup booze of your choice (rum is nice). Allow to soak in. Add another 1/4 cup or so after the cake has cooled a bit. When cake is completely cool, remove from loaf pans and wrap tightly in foil.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Year's Eats at B&O Brasserie

'Tis the season for making reservations for New Year's Eve! Several local restaurants are pulling out the stops and offering sumptuous multi-course menus for the occasion. One of our favorites, The B&O Brasserie, not only has 3- and 5-course dinners on the menu for that night, but they're also hosting a Hangover Brunch on January 1st.

We've never tried the hangover brunch (because we try not to drive all the way downtown when hung over!) but we've had a lovely NYE dinner at B&O in the recent past.

New Year’s Eve at B&O
Dec. 31, 2013
Seatings at 6:00, 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.
3-course dinner ($65) plus pairings for an additional $20
5-course dinner ($90) plus pairings for an additional $30
Complimentary glass of champagne for all dinner guests

Hangover Brunch
Jan. 1, 2014
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Greasy, greasy menu items; bottomless mimosas and
Bloody Marys for $10; hair of the dog cocktails

For reservations, call 443-692-6172. The restaurant is located at 2 North Charles Street at Baltimore Street.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Red Beans & Rice

Back in the early 90s, my friend Marshall and I decided to throw a grand Mardi Gras party. We actually expected our guests to wear black tie, because we were pretentious like that, plus we lived in Guilford (with our parents), where most people already own formalwear. But neither of us had any money, so we decided to be frugal with the eats. Red beans and rice is cheap poor people food, but it tastes great, and if we spent the bulk of our pennies on alcohol, who would notice that they were eating stewed beans and ham hocks?

So the two of us spent one early February afternoon cooking up a huge vat of red beans, enough to feed 20 people or more. We carefully packed the beans into Tupperware containers and put them in the fridge for the big day. All we'd need to do for the party is dump it all back in the pot and reheat it, plus make rice. Easy peasy.

But when the day of the party arrived, so did major ice storms. We had sleet for a day or two prior to the party, and on the day of, the neighborhood was glistening with ice. Everything sparkled. Truthfully, it was very pretty. Pretty annoying. Marshall's sidewalks and front steps were glazed with an inch or so of the stuff, and as soon as the buckets of hot water we poured on to melt the ice hit the ground, it froze, too. We didn't have any salt on hand, and didn't want to venture out into the mess to get some. Neither did we want our guests to risk their necks in high heels and evening slippers to attend our fete.

Sadly, we cancelled the party. Not postponed, cancelled. Some of our less-pretentious friends were annoyed that they had to return party clothes to the store, unworn. I had purchased a black, strapless, floor-length gown and was looking forward to showing off my newly-svelt bod. I had purchased it on a deep, deep discount (I think it cost me $36 bucks) so I kept it.

In addition to the the bottles of alcohol we had purchased for the occasion, we also had several gallons of red beans that weren't going to be eaten. Not by party guests, at least.

For months afterward, whenever I got a call to join Marshall and his family for dinner, I knew I'd be facing a feast of red beans and rice. Fortunately, the family had a chest freezer in the basement, and the beans went to live down there until we managed to finish them off. Eventually, it got to the point that I never wanted to see red beans and rice again. In fact, I didn't eat them for 19 years, until I decided to make them for dinner one Sunday evening.

Some recipes involve tomatoes, andouille sausage, and all sorts of extraneous ingredients, but I think it's best to keep it simple: just trinity, beans, and ham hocks.

Red Beans & Rice

2 onions, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound dried red kidney beans
3 smoked ham hocks
3 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce
Steamed white rice
Chopped green onions

Place the onion, bell pepper, and celery in a large stock pot with the olive oil. Cook vegetables over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are softened. At that point, add the beans, ham hocks, bay leaves, and enough water to cover beans by an inch or so. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the beans for 2-2.5 hours, stirring occasionally, adding additional water if necessary to keep beans covered.

When beans begin to fall apart and the cooking liquid has become creamy, the beans are done.

Remove ham hocks and bay leaves. Cut the meat from the bones and chop it into small pieces. Add meat back to pot.

Season beans with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Serve with white rice and garnish with green onions.

Makes about 2 quarts.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Dim Sum at Asian Court

Dim sum is one of our favorite restaurant meals. Like Spanish tapas, dim sum is basically a series of small dishes to be enjoyed with a beverage, in this case, hot tea.

We try to do dim sum every few months or so but don't actually get to Ellicott City as often as we'd like. It's a pretty filling occasion, so it probably behooves us that we don't gorge ourselves on dumplings too often.

Over the years, we've come up with a list of favorite dishes that we *must* eat. On our  most recent trip to Asian Court, long our favorite dim sum destination, we were lucky enough to get most of them within minutes of being seated. The servers wheeled their carts directly to our table before we were even properly situated and had requested tea, which is much better than having to wait for food.

The photos below are largely of our must-haves. This includes Chinese broccoli, cheung fun (steamed rice sheets filled with shrimp and topped with a sweet soy), salt and pepper shrimp, and soy sauce noodles (steamed and fried to a nice chew). I'm partial to the shark fin dumplings, which likely don't include shark fin, but do include a nice melange of meat and seafood. The hom sui gok, a chewy fried football-shaped glob of sticky rice dough stuffed with pork, are another favorite of mine. Mr Minx likes anything dumpling-shaped, so we make sure to order as many varieties of those as roll by. I find the siu mai (open faced dumplings) at Asian Court to be some of the best around. They're bigger than average, and their porky stuffing has a nice chunky texture.

Chinese broccoli
Cheung fun with shrimp
I'm the only one who eats the cheung fun (unless our friend LaRaine joins us). Apparently the soft and slippery texture of the rice crepe is an acquired taste.
Left front - shark fin dumplings, Right front - shrimp balls
Rear - siu mai
Front - steamed dumplings, Middle - har gow (shrimp dumplings),
Rear - soy sauce noodles
Spicy pork stir fry
We had never seen this dish before at dim sum, a stir fry of pork with scallions and snow peas. It was quite good, almost Grace Garden-caliber, and very spicy.
Lo mai gai (sticky rice in lotus) and hom sui gok (fried glutinous rice dumplings)
Salt & pepper shrimp - yes, you eat *everything* - shell too.
If you're a fan of Chinese food, particularly dumplings, you may enjoy dim sum. There aren't many places in the Baltimore area that serve dim sum. Zhongshan in Baltimore City does, and Asian Court in Ellicott City, but that's about it. There are plenty of places in Montgomery County, but we don't feel the need to drive so far when we have a restaurant that we really enjoy sorta kinda almost under our noses.

Asian Court
9180 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Asian Court on Urbanspoon

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Friday, December 06, 2013

Multi Chile Chili

It's football season, and that usually means my Sundays are consumed by Ravens' games. Since most games start at 1pm, they cut into my normal Sunday afternoon cooking and baking time, which means I have to come up with something that doesn't involve a lot of prep or a la minute cooking for dinner. My go-to Sunday dish is chili.

I feel like I make chili a lot, so I find myself trying to alter my usual pretty-darn-good recipe so I don't get bored. One week, there was a surfeit of poblano peppers at the local farmers' market, so I bought a bunch. I figured I could make a chili that had several kinds of peppers in it, since I usually do have various dried chiles in the cupboard and always a jar of chipotles en adobo in the fridge. I also added a couple different chile powders, including the smoky-flavored pasilla negro powder I recently purchased at Spices Etc.

The resulting bowl of red was meaty and spicy, which more than made up for the Ravens' lackluster performance.

Five (or More) Chile Chili

6 poblano peppers
4 dried New Mexico chiles
2 onions, chopped
pinch salt
3 lbs ground beef
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons pasilla negro chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 chipotles en adobo, minced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish

Roast poblanos over an open flame until charred all over. Place charred peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin, remove the stem and seeds, and cut the peppers into small pieces.

Snip stem end off New Mexico chiles and shake out seeds. Soak chiles in boiling water to cover until chiles are pliable. Break into pieces and put in a blender or mini-prep food processor with enough of the soaking water to make a puree.

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the onions in a bit of oil and a pinch of salt until onions are translucent. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic and spices and stir well to combine.

Add poblanos, New Mexico chile puree, tomatoes, Sriracha, and beef broth to the pot and bring chili to a boil. Turn heat down to a bare simmer and cook for about 2 hours, or until meat is very tender. Add more cumin, coriander, and chile powders to taste, along with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with chopped scallions.

Serves 8-10

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

The chill in the air and the discovery of a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard made me want pumpkin bread. I wasn't exactly in a baking mood at the time, but the only other way to satisfy my craving would be to hand over $2.25 to Starbucks for one lousy slice. (Not that their pumpkin bread is lousy--on the contrary, it is quite good.) 

As much as I love sweet treats with pumpkin in them, I rarely, if ever, bake pumpkin bread. I wracked my brain to remember the last time I made one and could only come up with a pumpkin fruitcake that I concocted a couple years ago. (That was pretty tasty, in a fruit-cake-y kind of way.) So I fooled around with a couple of different pumpkin bread recipes until I came up with one that I liked. It's very moist, and nicely spicy, with a bit of nuts and fruit for texture. You can certainly omit them, if you want, or swap the walnuts and cranberries out for pumpkin seeds, pecans, dried apricots, or dried apples. Raisins, too, if you must, but the raisin-hater in me does not approve.

Spicy Pumpkin Bread

2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until well-combined. Stir in the pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.

In another bowl, soft together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, making sure there are no lumps. Stir in the pepitas, dried cranberries, and walnuts.

Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick, when inserted into the cake, comes out without crumbs on it. Alternately, pour batter into (3) 5 3/4 x 3-inch mini loaf pans and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cool cake in the pan for 10 (5) minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool the rest of the way.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Cookbook Review - Cheers to Vegan Sweets

While I don't bake often, I do enjoy whipping up something sweet and cake-like from time to time. I have plenty of baking cookbooks on my shelves, but couldn't pass up a review copy of Kelly Peloza's new one, Cheers to Vegan Sweets: Drink-Inspired Vegan Desserts: From the Cafe to the Cocktail Lounge, Turn Your Sweet Sips Into Even Better Bites! Talk about a specialty cookbook! Not only are the 125 recipes for cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and cakes inspired by beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), but they're all vegan.

Vegan, of course, means no butter or eggs. Instead, the recipes call for vegan margarine (like Earth Balance, which is actually very good and far far FAR tastier than any other of those margarine products that taste like fake-butter popcorn topping), and in some cases, coconut oil, both available at Whole Foods and some larger supermarkets. As for egg replacers - there are none, which makes this cookbook accessible for pretty much everyone, since there are few hard-to-find ingredients.

I wanted to try every recipe, well, all of them except for the Kool-Aid cookies, but started with the bourbon banana bread, as I had three very ripe bananas begging to be turned into something. The result was pretty delicious, with strong banana flavor and a hint of bourbon, and the texture was moist and fluffy. Rather than bake it in a large loaf pan for 1 hour, I used three smaller ones that I baked for 35 minutes. They were perfect.

If you're vegan, have vegan friends, or aren't vegan at all, Cheers to Vegan Sweets might be a fun addition to your cookbook shelf. After all, one can certainly substitute real butter for the vegan margarine if they want.

I won't tell.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey and pumpkin pie, photo by Jean-Francois Riviere. Gorgeous.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Salad

I usually look forward to Thanksgiving, until I remember that I cook most of the food for the holiday. Mr Minx and I celebrate with our combined families at his brother's house. Brother-in-law makes the turkey and stuffing, and my brother usually contributes pies to the occasion. But all of the side dishes--cranberry sauce (no I won't buy canned), corn pudding, Brussels sprouts, green been casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole--fall to hubby and me.

I usually spend the day before Thanksgiving in the kitchen, prepping everything. All we really have to do on Thanksgiving day is pop casseroles into the oven (or in the case of the corn pudding, the microwave). Except with the Brussels sprouts, which must be cooked a la minute. Typically, we separate the leaves from the sprouts, give them a rinse, steam them for a few minutes in the water that clings to the leaves after rinsing, season and serve. While it's fairly easy, it takes up a burner on the stove and even though they're cooked at the very last minute, the sprouts are cold by the time people get around to eating. Then I found a couple recipes for shaved raw Brussels sprouts salads and thought it could be the answer. It's not much more work on the day before, but on the day of, all I need to do is to remove the cover from the bowl and put it on the table.

It tastes pretty good too, although, like kale salad, raw Brussels sprouts give the jaws a workout.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Adapted from a recipe found on The Kitchn

3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, the larger the better
1 small apple
4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted almonds
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Cut off the stem ends of the sprouts and remove the outer dark green leaves. Cut each sprout in half and remove the core. Slice the rest very thinly, putting slices in a large bowl. Alternately, you can slice them with the slicing or grating blade on your food processor, or with a mandoline.

Peel and core the apple and slice it very thinly. Toss with half the lemon juice.

Place the butter in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until browned and nutty smelling. Pour it into a ramekin or bowl to stop the cooking.

In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining lemon juice, agave, and salt. Slowly add the browned butter while whisking to combine. Then add the vegetable oil, whisking until emulsified.

Toss the dressing with the shredded sprouts. Add the apples to the bowl and toss again. Add the nuts and toss yet again. Allow the salad to sit for half an hour or so.

Serve topped with shaved Parm.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Bistro Lunch Box Food Truck

The food truck explosion continues! One that hit the streets for the first time this summer is Bistro Lunch Box. This truck offers a few fancier items that still fulfill those lunchtime cravings for cheesesteaks, burgers, and fries. For example, their cheesesteak features thinly sliced lamb, rather than beef, and their burgers are occasionally topped with their specialty meat of the day. On one occasion, it was brisket that had been slow cooked for 12 hours. That brisket was also available as a sandwich on its own, rolled in a burrito, and atop an order of fries. I tried the burrito, and found the meat to be melt-in-the-mouth tender and full of flavor.

There are several variations on the simple french fry, including a version topped with a cheese fondue. Bistro Lunch Box also serves fish, like a seared tuna wrap that was offered this summer, and salmon prepared different ways.

Lamb Cheesesteak
A visiting friend ordered the seared salmon salad, which came in a Chinese take-out-style box. The salmon was flavorful but maybe a tad overcooked; it was rescued by the creamy dressing and crisp salad greens.

Salmon Box
All in all, pretty good, high-quality, food.

Bistro Lunch Box

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