Monday, November 27, 2017

Foodie Book Review: Cake, I Love You

I wish I had more time to bake, because I would make every single one of the cakes in Jill O'Connor's new book, Cake, I Love You: Decadent, Delectable, and Do-able Recipes. Every. Single. One.

My birthday was a week ago, and I chose a recipe from Cake, I Love You as my special cake. I was sick, so Mr Minx put it together for me and did a smashing job. It involved a brownie-like nearly-flourless chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, and candied nuts. It was everything a sick person could want on a birthday or any other day of the year. Funny thing about this recipe, though it had four separate components and involved 24-ounces of chocolate, I didn't feel that it was overly involved nor expensive to make. Oh yeah, and it had a lot of booze in it, which also made it great. The only thing missing was some boozy whipped cream to dollop on top.

I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from Cake, I Love You and might just whip a few somethings up for the various holiday parties coming up in the next month or so. In the meantime, here's the recipe for the cake shown above.

If you need to buy a holiday gift for someone who enjoys baking, I highly recommend this book.

Heartless Bastard Break-Up Cake

If broken hearts have an edible remedy, this is it—a little chocolate, a little booze, with a few crunchy bar nuts thrown in for good measure. The cake is easy to prepare, but baking it is absorbing enough to distract from weightier woes. You can use the combination of spirits I suggest, or just choose one or two of your favorites to make things easier. I love the texture and added zing from the bar nuts, but go ahead and skip them if the added complication causes distress.

Serves 6 to 8 (on a good day)/ Serves 1 (on a bad day)

Quickie Milk-Chocolate Mousse:
12 oz [340 g] milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup [240 ml] heavy cream
2 Tbsp chocolate cream liqueur (such as Godiva or Mozart)
2 Tbsp bourbon, dark rum, or Irish whiskey

Boozy Chocolate Sauce:
3 to 4 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup [80 ml] brewed coffee
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz [170 g] coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate, or chocolate chips (56 % to 62 %
1 Tbsp Irish whiskey
1 Tbsp dark rum
1 Tbsp chocolate cream liqueur (such as Godiva or Mozart )

Sweet-and- Spicy Bar Nuts:
1 cup [140 g] unsalted fancy mixed nuts (any mixture of pecan halves, whole almonds,
cashews, and pistachios)
1 Tbsp salted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp Irish whiskey or bourbon
1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt for sprinkling

Cake Batter:
6 oz [170 g] coarsely chopped dark chocolate (60% to 62% cacao)
3/4 cup [165 g] unsalted butter
3/4 cup [150 g] sugar
3 eggs, separated, plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp Irish whiskey or dark rum, or a combination
1/3 cup [45 g] all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

To make the chocolate mousse: Place the chopped milk chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the cream until very hot and small bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan. Just before the cream comes to a boil, pour it over the milk chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute for the chocolate to soften, then add the chocolate liqueur and bourbon and whisk until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 or 3 hours or up to overnight. If you don’t want to wait, pop the chocolate cream into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until very cold (but not frozen.). While the chocolate cream is chilling, make the Boozy Chocolate Sauce, the bar nuts, and the cake.

To make the sauce: Combine the sugar, coffee, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Reduce the heat to low and add the chocolate, stirring constantly until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the whiskey, dark rum, and chocolate liqueur and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly to room temperature.

To make the bar nuts: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C].

In a medium bowl, toss together the nuts, melted butter, sugar, cayenne, and whiskey. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove the nuts from the oven and transfer to a medium bowl. Crush the Maldon Salt with your fingertips, sprinkle over the nuts, and toss to combine.

To make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F [165°C]. Coat a 9-in [23-cm] round or square cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, and sugar. Heat on high for 1 minute. Stir, return the bowl to the microwave, and heat on high for 1 minute longer. Stir until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk the egg yolks, one at a time, into the warm chocolate mixture. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon. Sift the flour and fine sea salt into the chocolate mixture and gently fold in by hand, using a rubber or silicone spatula, just until smooth.

Place the egg whites in the medium bowl. With an electric hand mixer set on low speed, beat the egg whites until they are opaque and frothy. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until they form soft, fluffy peaks and triple in volume, 2 to 3 minutes. With a rubber or silicone spatula, fold one-third of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it, and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to deflate them. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist, fudgy crumbs clinging to it.

To finish the cake: Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely. The cake may sink slightly in the center.

Right before serving, whip the chilled chocolate mousse with an electric mixer set on low speed just until it holds soft peaks. Spoon the mousse over the top of the chocolate cake, mounding it in the center. Drizzle with the Boozy Chocolate Sauce, and sprinkle with a few coarsely chopped sweet-and- spicy bar nuts. Devour.

Can’t finish it all by yourself? Refrigerate any remaining cake for up to 2 days.

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

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Flashback Friday - Saffron Rice and Beans

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This post originally appeared on on December 4, 2012.

Here's another quick weekday recipe from Mr. Minx.

Probably half of the dinners I cook during the week are pieced together from leftovers. One of the things I always hated as a kid was when my mother would serve reheated leftovers in the same form as they were served originally. Nine times out of ten, the meal was a pale imitation of the original, so I always prefer to reinvent the leftovers into some other type of dish. Besides, there's almost never enough food left over to serve exactly the same way. Case in point, a meal I put together the other day.

When I opened the fridge, our leftover inventory consisted of a container of steamed rice, some tomato sauce, and four thin slices of pot roast that Minx had ordered at our favorite diner a few nights earlier. My usual plan when I'm confronted with rice is to do a Chinese-style fried rice dish, but we had eaten Chinese food the night before, so I thought about other cuisines that use rice. That's when paella popped into my head.

Of course, paella is way too complicated, and I didn't have all the ingredients for it anyway, but I thought by adding saffron to the rice, I could build on the paella inspiration. Digging through the pantry, I found a can of black beans and, in the freezer, our usual stash of frozen peas. Rice and beans are a classic, and saffron rice tastes great, so this could actually work. Cooked all together with onions and garlic, the dish was homey and comforting, while having a touch of the exotic thanks to the saffron. I sprinkled the chopped pot roast into the dish for meaty goodness, but the recipe below excludes the pot roast because a) not everyone will have leftover pot roast in the fridge; and b) the recipe works great as a vegetarian dish.

Saffron Rice and Beans

2 cups cooked rice
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of butter
A few strands of saffron bloomed in 1/2 cup of warm water
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
15 oz. can black beans
4 oz. tomato puree or tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen petite peas
salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro and scallion for garnish

Place a few strands of saffron in 1/2 cup of water to "bloom," or turn the water into a nice yellow color. While that's going on, open a can of black beans, dump them in a colander, and rinse the starch off under running water. With that prep work done, chop a medium onion and saute it in a pan with olive oil and melted butter. Once the onions are translucent, dump in the cooked rice and mix together. Add your garlic and the saffron water. Mix everything together well so that the rice takes on a yellow color. Add the tomato puree, and then add the black beans and the petite peas. Once everything is incorporated and heated through, season with salt, pepper, and the fresh oregano. Once on the plate, sprinkle some cilantro and chopped scallion on top for garnish.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Whole30 Pork and Mushroom Omelet

Over the past couple of months, I've become addicted to the Milk Street Radio podcast. Milk Street is Christopher Kickball's new gig, after America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country. Recently I subscribed to the new magazine and was excited by several of the recipes, particularly those I thought could easily be converted to Whole30. Like this pork and mushroom "omelet," based on a Cambodian dish called pong mouan snol. The authentic recipe folds a traditional flat omelet over a meaty filling, but Milk Street combines it all into one dish to make something more like a frittata.

The recipe only had two forbidden ingredients: soy sauce and sugar. Both are easily substituted with legal items like coconut aminos and dates. I made a few other adjustments as well, because I do like my food to be flavorful and I didn't think 1 tablespoon of fish sauce was enough. Nor did I think that 3 tablespoons of oil were at all necessary. Pork is plenty oily.

The result was delicious--spicy, savory, lightly sweet, and packed with protein. And leftovers made for fabulous breakfasts, eaten at room temperature or warmed up.

Cambodian Pork and Mushroom Omelet (adapted from Milk Street)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
8 ounces ground pork
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coconut aminos, divided
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
3 dates, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Ground white pepper
4 scallions, finely chopped
8 large eggs
Lime wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper-middle position.

Add the oil to a 12" non-stick, oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan and cook mushrooms and onion with a pinch of salt over medium high heat until the mushrooms give up all of their moisture and the onion is translucent. Add the pork and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut aminos, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, the sambal, dates, ginger, and white pepper, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the pork is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add some or all of the other tablespoon of fish sauce. You can also add more sambal to taste, if desired. Sprinkle the scallions over the meat.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, beating well with a fork. Season with the teaspoon of coconut aminos. Pour the eggs over the meat in the pan and cook, stirring from the edges to the center, until the eggs begin to set, 2-3 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the top is set, 5-7 minutes.

Put the skillet on a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes. Run a rubber spatula around the edge and under the frittata to loosen. Slide onto a cutting board and cut into 8 wedges.

Serve with lime wedges.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Flashback Friday - Cherpumple Pudding

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This post originally appeared on on November 16, 2012.

Cherpumple. It's a funny word, isn't it? Kinda like "turducken." Exactly like turducken, as a matter of fact. That particular funny word is a portmanteau combining letters from the words turkey, duck, and chicken; the dish it refers to comprises a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck which in turn is stuffed into a deboned turkey. Poultry on poultry (on poultry) action, and an interesting dish to serve for Thanksgiving dinner.

Like the turducken, the cherpumple combines multiple elements into one over-the-top dessert. This combination of cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies bound by cake was created by humorist Charles Phoenix after noticing that his family tended to take small servings of each of several desserts served during a typical holiday meal.

While I'd happily eat turducken, I think three pies, each baked into a layer of cake, and covered with cream cheese frosting, is like a nightmare starring Paula Deen. Or maybe Sandra Lee, considering that the original recipe calls for frozen pies, cake mix, and canned frosting. BUT...I think the combination of flavors, at least of the pie components, would make for a pleasant holiday sweet.

Rather than dealing with pies and such, I opted for a much simpler solution: pudding. A nice tapioca pudding, flavored with pumpkin and spices, and topped with a compote-like mixture of sauteed apples and dried cherries.

Cherpumple Pudding

1 large egg
2 3/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried cherries

Beat the eggs and milk together in a saucepan, then stir in sugar and tapioca. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Mix together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. When tapioca has cooled somewhat, stir in the pumpkin mixture. Pour into a bowl that has a cover, or cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed down onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Cook apple with butter and brown sugar until the fruit is tender and the sugar is syrupy. Stir in the cherries and cook an additional few minutes, until they plump up. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

When ready to serve, spoon some of the tapioca into a bowl. Top with some of the apple and cherry mixture. Garnish with a dollop of freshly-whipped cream, if desired.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

B&O Brasserie Springs into Fall with New Menu

Along with all the other holidays that populate this time of year, one of the biggest causes for celebration in the Minx household is when B&O Brasserie puts out its new Fall menu. We always look forward to seeing what Chef Scott Hines and his sous chef Tyler Johnson have created with all the robust Fall ingredients and comforting flavors that we associate with Autumn. Since we were also finishing our Whole 30 diet, the chance to finally indulge our cravings for bread, sugar, and alcohol was pretty tempting.

We started with the first cocktails we've had in a month. The Minx chose a full-bodied blended red wine while I picked something from their special Fall cocktail list. The "Monkey Business" matches Monkey Shoulder scotch with one of my great-grandfather's favorites Drambuie, along with Ramazzotti amaro, Fernet Branca, and black walnut bitters. A bruleed banana slice is cheekily perched on top to round out the monkey theme. The scotch and scotch-based Drambuie add a smoky quality while the amaros and black walnut bitters bring a touch of bitterness to balance the almost maple-like sweetness.

We were then treated to a collection of new appetizers starting with the housemade seasonal sausage, (which on this particular evening was a cheddar andouille) served with a red cabbage"sauerkraut" that was more sweet than sour, and an earthy mustard made with black mustard seeds and black garlic. All this dish needs is a bit of crusty bread and it could be a meal unto itself.

Restaurants aren't always successful in selling offal and other unusual animal parts to their customers, like the sweetbreads Chef Hines put on the menu earlier in the year. They were amazing, but diners aren't always receptive to trying new things. The Buffalo pigtails are doing well so far, and we could see why. They're the B&O's take on all of the various "Nashville" and "Buffalo"-style spicy meats that are popular right now, but with bits of succulent pig tail taking the place of the usual chicken. The tails are brined before frying, which makes them crispy on the outside and unctuous on the inside. They are coated with a spicy sauce that was just right for our palates. One has to be careful of the many small bones, but it's always fun the dig into this kind of dish. Housemade bread and butter pickles and celery hearts add touches of crunch and acidity.

Given sous chef Tyler Johnson's Italian cooking background, there's bound to be some pasta on the menu and the pumpkin raviolo is a terrific Fall entry. The al dente pasta is stuffed with calabaza pumpkin, goat cheese, and a perfectly runny duck egg yolk. Each bite is rich and creamy with the comforting flavor of pumpkin. The raviolo is topped with a hazelnut picada (a Spanish pesto-like sauce) and crispy Brussels sprouts and herbs are sprinkled on top. I could go for three or four of these as an entree.

Speaking of entrees, the Minx ordered the coffee-crusted pork chop. Chef Hines told us he was channeling his Jewish heritage with this dish--at least part of it--through the large potato latke at the bottom of the plate. Traditional accompaniments for latkes are applesauce and sour cream, and he chose to riff on those with a smoked apple butter glaze and a charred leek cream. Of course adding a fat pork chop to the dish, one with a fine grilled flavor, throws the whole homage out the window. No matter, it is a delicious sacrilege.

In Maryland where there is an over-abundance of deer, venison is about as Fall as you can get, so I ordered the rack of venison with juniper spaetzel, braised red cabbage, and bing cherry bordelaise. Venison can be a little tricky to cook because it's rather lean, but my venison was tender and juicy. The spaetzel was redolent of juniper berries and a hint of orange while the red cabbage brought acidity and the bordelaise added the right amount of sweetness. I tried to restrain myself, but I picked up the bone and chewed off every last bit of meat.

Although it wasn't officially a new Fall menu item, we were also treated to a plate of their carbonara. While it doesn't contain bacon like traditional carbonara, this dish does have garlic cream, delicata squash, Swiss chard, and grana padano cheese. The pasta itself is made in house with a chitarra, a device that creates ribbon-like strips of pasta somewhere between linguini and fettuccini. This was about as perfect a bowl of pasta as I've ever had, and I don't say such things lightly.

The Minx and I were concerned that, after not having any sugar or dairy for one month, the desserts might cause us some upset, but in the interest of food blogging, we soldiered on. I ordered the dark chocolate mocha cake and the Minx had the sticky date pudding. Choosing dark chocolate over milk was an inspired choice since it brings a deeper, less sweet flavor to this fluffy cake. The accompanying chocolate cremeux adds a richness, and the mascarpone ice cream offers another creamy texture. I particularly liked the bit of crunch provided by the generous scattering of cocoa nibs. I would've eaten it all if the Minx hadn't given me the evil eye.

Her sticky date pudding looked like a mini bundt cake and was quite sticky as advertised. It also came with whipped cream and toffee sauce, but the real surprise was the tuile made with bacon fat. The bacon flavor really came through and added an almost savory quality to break up the sweetness of the dish.

Fall brings a great many delights that we look forward to every year, not the least of which are the hearty meals associated with the Autumn harvest and the colder weather. Once again, B&O Brasserie has a Fall menu that will give you the warm, comforting feels that are so much a part of the season.

B&O Brasserie
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland, 21201

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Flashback Friday - Kofte with Pistachio Sauce

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This post originally appeared on on November 19, 2012.

You may recall from my recap of Time Machine Chefs back in August that I expressed admiration for chef Silvena Rowe, of the restaurant Quince in London's May Fair Hotel. Her ballsy attitude on the show made me check if she had any cookbooks available in the U.S. - and yes, she does! A couple, actually, and I chose to buy Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean, mostly because I liked the idea of purple citrus. :) While no actual purple citrus were harmed during the reading of that book, by the time I was done with it, I wanted to cook every recipe. I even bought a jar of grape leaves, which I have never used before.

The recipe that stood out most for me was for lamb kofte with pistachio sauce. Kofte are meatballs or small patties made from ground meat, and I just happened to have some ground lamb in the freezer. There were also pistachios and tahini kicking around for the sauce, as well as the last vestiges of our garden's fresh mint and all of the recipe's required spices. (Find the recipe here.)

Toasting and grinding the pistachios was the most difficult and time consuming part of the process. Well, not that either the toasting or the grinding part of the equation was difficult, but cleaning out the coffee grinder that I used for the purpose was not fun. (We have two - one for coffee, one for other stuff.) The sauce ended up tasting more of the tahini than the pistachios, which was a little disappointing, but the kofte were wonderful. I had swapped out the currants in the recipe for dried cherries, and they lent a lovely sweetness to the savory spice- and mint-flavored patties. I also chose to serve some home-made preserved lemons as a garnish, and their juicy salty tang was a perfect accent.

I hope to try other recipes from this book over the coming months and will post my adventures here. In the meantime, do try the recipe for yourself.

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Monday, November 06, 2017

Spotlight On - The Brewer's Art

Not sure if anyone knows, but I've been writing a restaurant column for the City Walker App Blog. The purpose of the app itself is to give visitors a local's-eye-view of a city, so they are able to experience it in the same way residents do--on foot. (Not that anyone actually walks anywhere anymore.) The blog offers a bit more detail; I have endeavored to take users on a stroll through the city while pointing out restaurants along the way. In addition to the walking posts, I have been writing others that put certain favorite restaurants of mine in a spotlight. I thought I could share those here with you.
If you find yourself in the Midtown Baltimore neighborhood of Mount Vernon looking for a place to indulge in some serious food and even more serious beer, go to the Brewer’s Art. Named Esquire Magazine’s “Best Bar in America” for 2009, it also made the list of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Bars in America 2015, and Gayot’s Top 10 Brewpubs in the US 2017. As far as I’m concerned, the place deserves every kudos.

Brewer’s Art has 60 or so seasonal beers, many in the Belgian style. My personal favorite is the GPT, an intoxicating 9% ABV tripel spiced with green peppercorns that is available for a very short time in the winter. I’m also a fan of their regular year-round also-available-in-stores Resurrection (a full-bodied abbey brown ale) and Beazly (a golden “devil” ale). The latter was originally named Ozzy, after the Black Sabbath singer and MTV reality star, until a cease-and-desist letter from Mr Osbourne put an end to things--ten years after the brew was introduced. I guess it just took him a while to notice. (Note to our neighbors with the dog named Ozzy: you may be next.) And lest you think the Brewer’s Art is only a beer bar, I can reassure you that there are fancy house cocktails (and any classics you’d like) and a modest wine list as well.

Situated in an elegant rowhouse mansion on a somewhat quiet block of North Charles Street, the Brewer’s Art also shows a fair bit of artistry in the kitchen portion of the establishment. The restaurant’s chef is Andrew Weinzirl, who worked previously at Maggie’s Farm (which he also co-owned), the Wine Market, Chameleon Cafe, and the Dogwood, all very well-regarded Baltimore-area restaurants with strong farm-to-table sensibilities. The menu at Brewer’s Art has, in the past, had strong European influences but Chef Weinzirl’s approach is a little more on the global side. One can still get a dish of pierogies or steak frites, but a recent menu also offered red lentil croquettes in a curry laksa broth that got rave reviews from foodies. Weinzirl has also incorporated beer into several menu items, including a soup of Beazly with celery root, chicken, and dill creme fraiche. He also uses Beazly to steam spicy sambal cockles and to brine the pasture-raised chicken available on the lunch and bar menu. Obviously a very versatile beer, that one. (I’d have no problems if it had been named after me.) Weinzirl has even used spent grain left over from the brewing process in a cornbread appetizer. As they say, waste not want not!

Among always-on-the-menu favorites are the rosemary garlic fries. For some reason, people have gotten it in their heads that they are cooked in duck fat, but that’s never been the case. Isn’t rosemary and garlic enough? They’re delish nonetheless, and come with a side of mayonnaise, in the Belgian style. The frites are available in both the dining room and in the bar, but that’s about all their menus have in common, at least at dinner time. If you have a hankering for a burger (the beef comes from local Roseda Farms) with cheddar, beer onions, horseradish pickles, and BA’s version of “animal sauce,” then you’ll have to eat it in the bar. That also goes for the cheesesteak sandwich. And it’s not just any old beef cheesesteak (this ain’t Philly)--it’s a lamb cheesesteak, topped with smoked provolone. And roasted mushrooms. And broccolini. When faced with a difficult decision such as this--eat in the dining room or eat in the bar--sometimes the deciding factor is the noise level. On a rollicking evening (pretty much every evening), the decibel level in the bar can be high. Those of us with more sensitive ears might prefer to eat in the dining room, which is a little more reasonable as far as noise is concerned.

No matter what you end up doing at the Brewer’s Art--spending some time at the bar tasting various of their fine beers or having a full-blown meal--it’s definitely a place worth stopping by, even if you’re not already in the neighborhood.

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Friday, November 03, 2017

Flashback Friday - Madeleines and Remembrance

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This post originally appeared on on May 17, 2011.

We tried madeleines for the first time in Paris in the mid-70s. My mother fell in love with the rather plain, buttery, cakes instantly. Back in Baltimore, where the most exotic cake around was a butterscotch Krimpet, madeleines remained a memory. That is, until I bought a madeleine pan and made them at home.

Somehow they didn't taste the same, but I think Mom mostly loved their shape and size.

I made a double batch for her on what proved to be her last Christmas, and she insisted on feeding them to my parakeet, Cuervo, rather than eating them herself. Without me in the house to remind her to eat them, they got stale and eventually had to be thrown away. It still saddens me that she did not enjoy them all.

I use the madeleine pan now more for cornbread than anything. But recently I was looking through my copy of Martha Stewart's Cookies for simple recipes that I might alter with a dose of one of the two non-sugar sweeteners I have for baking experimentation. Madeleines use relatively small amounts of butter and flour, both of which were in short supply, so they became the cookie of choice.

While I used Xylitol in a hot fudge sauce recipe last week, this time I decided to try Erythritol. Like Xylitol, it's is a sugar alcohol, in this case actually made from sugar; however it's only 70% as sweet as sugar. It has only 0.2 calories per gram, and a glycemic score of 0, making it safe for diabetics.

I thought they turned out great - light, cakey, lightly-sweet, with a nice orange-y flavor. I used a non-stick pan and a lot of release spray, but still they stuck a bit. Not sure if that was a result of the sweetener, or maybe of the bumps of pecans.

Erythritol apparently caused baked goods to become hard if they're exposed to air for long periods of time, so make sure to store your madeleines in an air-tight container as soon as they're cool.

Pecan Orange Madeleines (adapted from Martha Stewart)

4 1/2 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup Erythritol (or 1/4 cup sugar)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Preheat oven to 325F.

Brush the molds of a madeleine pan with butter (I like using the wrapper) or spray well with release spray.

In a microwavable bowl, melt butter on high for 1 minute. Stir in honey and vanilla and set aside until cool.

Place flour, baking powder and Erythritol or sugar in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and butter mixture until well combined, then add pecans and orange rind. Spoon batter into prepared molds, about halfway, and smooth with the back of a spoon (batter is stiff).

Bake until bottoms of cookies are golden and tops are springy, about 8-9 minutes. Remove pan to a wire rack, and after cooling for a few minutes, remove cookies from pan onto another rack. Allow to cool completely.

Store in a covered container. Makes 2 dozen.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

National Nacho Day is November 6

Next Monday, November 6, is National Nacho Day, and to celebrate, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina® is offering two authentic nacho tastes for 50% off, no coupon or code necessary, while supplies last. Order either of these two favorites (or both!) to dine in or to carry out.

Stacked Nachos: Piled high with classic nacho flavor, this crowd-pleaser features seasoned ground beef crumbled over crispy made-in-house tortilla chips and refried beans, smothered with queso, and topped with sour cream, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, and guacamole.

Grande Fajita Nachos: Perfectly packed with plenty of toppings on each bite, choose between mesquite-grilled chicken or steak, sliced and served fajita-style atop house-made chips and refried beans, and covered with melted cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, and guacamole.

50% off pricing is available on orders of Grande Fajita Nachos or Stacked Nachos on Monday, November 6th at all participating On The Border restaurants, while supplies last. No substitutions or upcharges. No coupon required. Price and participation may vary by location. Offer valid November 6, 2017 only.

*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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