Girls on Food

Stephanie

My career identity is at a bit of a crossroads these days. I have been a salesman since I was eighteen years old, I’ve sold cars, diamonds, clothes- you name it. I’ve always been fairly successful and I love sales in general, but, living in the South Dallas suburbs, every job I’ve ever had has come with an excruciating, hour(s) long commute in Dallas traffic and a schedule that allowed for practically zero family time. For years I’ve been missing precious hours with my family, sitting at a desk, staring at their photograph. It got to the point where I was literally crying everyday, missing them. About five years ago I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a thyroid condition that causes your thyroid to produce way too much hormone. (Your thyroid controls just about every function of the body.) In 2013 my health took a really bad turn. I had been working while sick for too long. Then, last year, I was forced to leave my job in Sales and Marketing due to the illness. My family and my love of cooking for them are the things that help me through all this health nonsense. Fast forward to today, by the Grace of God, my health is finally improving and I’m now a stay at home mom. My blog www.SouthDallasFoodie.com chronicles my adventures in becoming a food blogger aND I also share Dallas area restaurant and entertainment reviews. While I’m not a professional Chef, I did have the privilege of being taught the fundamentals of cooking by three of the best Chefs that ever lived; my mother and her parents. They raised me on huge, southern style Thanksgiving dinners, stews, chili’s, fried chicken, chicken fried steak and country gravy. In my kitchen I like to create classic dishes that are simple and delicious. I like to take classic recipes and use simple substitutions to make them uniquely mine. I love dining out and the Dallas restaurant scene has plenty to offer but nothing frustrates me more than spending 30 dollars on a plate that comes out with three, teeny, pretentious bites. I look for the places in DFW that serve decent sized portions of delicious food, for a fair price with a good selfie mirror in the bathroom. And also, I’m obsessed with 90’s sitcoms, coffee, pop culture and cats. :)

Dr. Mark Deuber of RHOD Cooked For Me!

A few months ago I caught wind on Twitter that Heather McDonald was coming to Dallas to do a set at the Hyena’s Comedy Club at Mockingbird Station.

south Dallas Foodie and Dr. Mark DeuberOne of my absolute very favorite comedians David Jessup is usually the featured performer at that club, so you didn’t have to tell me twice to go, plus word on the street was all the Real Housewives of Dallas were going to be there. Let me say the night did not disappoint.

After Heather came out and did her set, everyone stood up and started to mingle a little bit. I stood up and began to walk around thinking I would take a few more pictures of people talking after the show and then I just happened to back right into guess who? None other than Dr. Mark Deuber, husband of the incomparable Cary Deuber.

He and I had been friendly on Instagram and Twitter since the show first started. He had seen that I had written about the show and wasn’t a “horrifying blogger type” like they were used to. I was very excited to see him in person. We chit chatted a little bit about Heather’s set, The Real Housewives Of Dallas and then all of a sudden it just came over me, (“I MUST EAT HIS FOOD. THE FANS MUST KNOW IF IT’S GOOD OR NOT. THIS IS MY DUTY”). Mark saw the look on my face like I wanted to ask him a question but was hesitating.

“Go ahead, ask your question.”

I sort of blurted out:

“I don’t suppose there’s any way you would ever consider cooking for me and I could cover it for Girls On Food? I know there’s a lot of Bravo fans that would love to see that side of you! But I’m sure you’re very busy.”

Mark could not have been nicer about the request.

“Oh yeah, I would love to do something like that! I’ll have Cary give you her email address, and we’ll set it up!”

yaaaaskenya

Then I got to meet Cary, she was the sweetest thing ever and can I also say, as gorgeous as she is on TV, in person the girl is absolutely #flawless, warm and genuine. I told her what we wanted to do and she seemed to be all about it. We exchanged email addresses with promises to get in touch soon and get all the details together.

The date was set for this past Saturday night. I can only imagine that he decided to take pity out on poor little ‘ole me, block out two and a half hours to prepare a next level, gourmet, three-course meal for me.

He just told me "We're not going to cook the lobsters yet, we're going to kill em first."
He just told me “We’re not going to cook the lobsters yet, we’re going to kill em first.”

img_5734The first course was Sous Vide Lobster. I learned about sous vide when I attended a media dinner put on by Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak & Chop House a couple of months ago. Sous vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a or a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times. The result is the most tender, juicy, delicate, delicious piece of meat- whether it be fish shellfish or beef- it doesn’t matter.

Sous-Vide cooking is what's up. That's what I'm saying.
Sous vide cooking is what’s up. That’s what I’m saying.

I asked Mark how a man, as busy as he is, can find the time to cook this well? I had just assumed that most surgeons ate out after every shift? Surgeons have no spare time.

Mark explained to me that as he was growing up as a kid dinners were prepared by his mom and he was always eating at home as a family (kind of the way my childhood was). Another thing Mark and I have in common is he loves to go to a restaurant and order a fabulous meal and then come home and try and figure out a way to recreate it.

Butter poached lobster with eggplant, tomatoes and burrata.
Butter poached lobster with eggplant, tomatoes and burrata. Inspired by Marea in NYC.

Next, Mark pulled out two amazing pieces of beef that were 50% Wagu/50% Kobe, with marbling that made my mouth water. Served with pureed parsnips and kohlrabi- which I’ve never had before but, oh my Lord, it is superb.

deubersteak
Apparently, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to remember to shoot the steak BEFORE I eat the damn steak. It’s just never gonna happen.

docsroastedchicken
The next course was all the proof I needed to know that this man is absolutely after my own heart. It was an old-fashioned roasted chicken slathered in butter, anise, fennel, thyme and garlic, on top a bed of mirepoix. It was amazing. The entire house smelled incredible. The side dish was mashed potatoes that were so creamy they tasted like clouds. The method that he used to crank out these bad boys was so innovative to me- I would never have thought of it in my kitchen.

course3He boiled golden potatoes then ran them through a grater to make them like cylindrical. Then he mixed in a little heavy cream and pushed the mixture around in a sieve. Then pushed it through the sieve into a pot with more warm heavy cream. Check out the two videos we made on the process here and here.

They say don’t meet your heroes. The Deubers are a class act. This was an experience that I will never forget and I cannot wait to be served by the good doctor again in the future. Chefs of Dallas, look out. If Dr. Deuber ever decides to change professions; Bravo may have to transfer him to Top Chef.

Lauryn’s Barbeque Sauce Review By @SouthDallasFoodie

This week I was enlisted by my super awesome Editor, Julianne, to try out Lauryn’s Barbecue Sauce and try to come up with some recipes.

So much pressure you guys, but it was so worth it. I’ve spent the last three weekends messin’ around and now I am here to share with you, our loyal Girls (and boys) on Food, my findings.

south dallas foodie review
Lauryn’s Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce y’all.

Over the course of three weekends, I used the sauce in three different ways. My litmus test with all BBQ sauces is how well it works for chicken wings. I was not disappointed.

south dallas foodie
Maple Bourbon BBQ Chicken

Lauryn’s Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is probably the best sauce I’ve ever used on wings you guys.

I’m not crazy about wing sauce that is super spicy or overly vinegar-ish, but this sauce has a kick to it and rounds the sweetness out so well.

It’s not too sweet, not too tangy. It’s perfect.

Then last weekend my adorable foodie husband bought a teeny new grill to play with this summer. We christened the grill with the sauce and a huge rack of baby back ribs.

south dallas foodie
Step one – Sauce and Bake the ribs

Recipe for mouth watering, fall off the bone ribs By SouthDallasFoodie:

Salt, pepper then sauce them bad boys up.

Place ribs on a wire rack inside a roasting pan.

Fill the pan with water, about an inch deep. You don’t want the water touching the meat. Cover very tightly with foil and bake for two hours at 325.

You’ll know they’re ready when you can see the bones poking out.

Then sauce them again and either put them under the broiler on low (continuously monitored) for about 2 minutes, OR…

south dallas foodie
A little hickory wood smoke always does the trick.

…give them a few moments on the grill. All we’re trying to do is get these babies nice and caramelized so just about five minutes or so should do the trick.

Today, the hubs and I had friends and family over for Memorial Day. I decided to enlist one of my own little Girls On Food, my Goddaughter – Emma, to help me with the most fun and most delicious recipe in the whole experiment.

south dallas foodie
This gorgeous girl is going places in the kitchen y’all. She’s a natural Chef.

This recipe is not just delicious and fun but also super easy.

Take about 1/2 a cup of Lauryn’s Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and mix in about 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

Now lay some bacon out on a roasting pan and brush the mixture on.

Bake at 350 for 5 minutes then baste again…

south dallas foodie
My oven is a battlefield of charred food crumbs.

You’re gonna do a baste, bake five minutes, baste, bake five minutes thing here. About twenty minutes should do it; it just depends on how crisp you like it.

When you’re done, VOILA, you have Maple Bourbon Candied Bacon Strips. If you’re looking for a unique appetizer, then look no further.

The maple flavor with the bacon was off the hook. A super unhealthy/delicious snack for any occasion.

south dallas foodie
I love you, Lauryn.

Lauryn’s is available for sale online here. Other flavors include Honey Mustard, Pineapple Heat and Bite of The South.

Let Lauryn know Girls On Food sent ya! Happy cookin’.

Stephanie D. & Dawn Take on the Dallas Observer Iron Fork Challenge 2016

Dallas Observer Iron Fork 2016
Centennial Hall at Fair Park, 1001 Washington St., Dallas, TX 75210
http://microapp.dallasobserver.com/ironfork/2016/index.php

dawn and stephDawn: Fellow GOF Stephanie D. and I took part in the Dallas Observer Iron Fork tasting event Wednesday night. We were able to sample a TON of food. I mean a TON. I am still full. The venue was packed with local restaurants and wine, beer and cocktail vendors aiming to please our taste buds with delightful yummies. While we were snacking a DJ was spinning tunes for us to chew to.

They had it all. From BBQ to bundt cakes, salad to stew, crepes to crab cakes…it was all represented. We are each sharing our top 3 bites. The bites that our minds and mouths say, “More, more!”

Stephanie D.: I’m not ashamed to admit; I left Iron Fork barely able to move. Partially because I was wearing ridiculously high heels but mostly, because the food offered up for sampling at this event was so off the chain, I never stopped eating. So many great restaurants were represented and man they came out guns a blazin’.

DawnBack Home BBQ served up a piece of turkey and their Earl’s sausage. The turkey was tender, smoky and juicy. The sausage had a spicy bite. The smoky meats were served over creamy, well-seasoned mashed potatoes. No salt or sauce required. Not that I won’t try some sauce when I visit their restaurant!

dallas observer turkey
Turkey with Earl’s sausage
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Pulled Pork Slider – Top Golf Dallas

Stephanie D.: One of my top three favorite bites was the very first bite I took and boy howdy, did it set the tone for the deliciousness that would ensue throughout the evening. Have you had the Pulled Pork Slider from Top Golf Dallas? If you haven’t, grab your golf racket, or pucks, or whatever and go immediately.

It’s that good.

This slider had slowly smoked, shredded, BBQ pulled pork, a secret mop sauce, beer slaw (SO delicious) on a freshly toasted sweet yeast roll.

Honey, I’ve never been much of a golfer, but if you’re gonna feed me stuff like this, I might just decide to turn pro.

dallas observer pretzel
Pretzel with beer cheese. To. Die. For.

Dawn: I am a big fan of the pretzel. Sweet or savory – I want it. This plate, from The Common Table, was sublime. It was loaded with Bavarian pretzel bites. They were great on their own: soft and warm. It only got better, because on top of those babies was beer cheese. This cheese was creamy, earthy and tangy. THEN on top of that a sprinkle of herbed parmesan. My oh my. I would have gone back for more (and more), but I was taught as a kid only to take my fair share. Darn it!

South Dallas Foodie
Imagine what my life would be like had I not hung a Louie at the stage and discovered these babies. Scary.

Stephanie D.: I’m a “dessert first” kinda girl, so my primary mission for this little shin-dig was: Find Chocolate. I followed my nose to a gorgeous table that had the most delicious, pure, organic homemade chocolate I have ever tasted.

Chocolate Secrets Chocolatier was in the house with a sampling of their Bonbons, bark and macarons.  They even had full-size handbags and shoes that were hand-made, entirely out of chocolate. When you combine accessories and chocolate, It makes me love you more.

The best bite at this table was hands down the macarons. I was able to sample the Espresso and Popcorn flavors. Oh my God, you guys.  So light and chewy. I’m gonna be breaking their door down for a private tasting very soon. This is next level stuff here. It’s not just chocolate; it’s art.

Yummy, creamy, chocolatey art.

rabbit stew dallas observer
Rabbit stew from LUCK

Dawn: This one, from LUCK, was a surprise. I walked up and saw these yummy, baby biscuits. Then this beautiful, inviting pot of awesomeness. Then the handsome, bearded gentleman said it was rabbit stew. I smiled and took the plate knowing I was NOT going to eat rabbit. No, sir! Then the aroma hit me. That was all she wrote. I couldn’t resist it, and I am so pleased I didn’t. This rabbit stew was incredibly scrumptious. The gravy was thick and savory. I could see carrots, celery, and mushrooms. The meat was tender. Think of it as chicken and dumplings made with rabbit.

South Dallas Foodie
Can’t talk. Food.

Stephanie D.: Of all of the amazing little bite-lets I had at Iron Fork, one stood out so far ahead of the rest.

Well hello there, Back Home BBQ.

This was the last thing I tried and talk about saving the best for last. Man alive, their barbecue is fantastic.

They served me a little basket with a full serving of their Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, a slice of smoked turkey and a nice slab of some of the most amazing brisket I’ve ever tried.

 

 

South Dallas Foodie
I seriously wanted to smuggle some out to take home for a sandwich, but my purse was too tiny.

The mashed potatoes were perfectly smooth and creamy.

The turkey was full of flavor and NOT DRY AT ALL. <– That never happens.

The brisket was beautifully balanced with sweet, savory, salt and smoke.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the next time my family has a barbecue, I might just order some Back Home and take a day off from the kitchen.

xoxo

 

Sunday Brunch at Riverwalk Cantina in Gaylord Texan Resort

About seven years ago, while pregnant with Haley, I started having the most fantastic, recurring dream.

I’m in a big box store that looks and feels exactly like Costco. The place is massive, with dozens of racks that stretch from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Each rack has diagonal shelves like you see in a bakery. On each shelf are rows and rows of trays. On each tray, in perfectly lined rows, are hundreds of teeny, tiny, little desserts. Little fruit tarts. Little chocolate cakes. Little apple crisps. Little cream puff pastries.

I’m not ashamed to admit that when I have trouble sleeping, I lie with my eyes closed and visualize my magical little dessert store. This dream is my happy place.

This Easter, my family, took a break from our usual tradition of a low-key Mexican buffet and decided to get all gussied up and have Easter Brunch at Riverwalk Cantina, nestled in the coziest corner of the atrium in The Gaylord Texan Resort.

There, I got to experience my dream in real life, and it was so much better than my imagination could ever conjure up. In my dream-come-true, I got to have all of the little desserts as well as a sampling of some of the best New American cuisine I’ve ever had.

Riverwalk Cantina at The Gaylord Texan Resort
1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051
Riverwalk Cantina on Facebook

The Dorns’ are a buffet loving family, and I consider myself to be a well-qualified connoisseur of the genre. I love a cruise ship buffet, a country club buffet, a cafeteria-style buffet, a well-stocked salad bar I’m all in as long as the food is delicious and well prepared.

Zeb Hartline - Executive Chef Riverwalk Cantina
Zeb Hartline – Executive Chef Riverwalk Cantina

This Easter Buffet was, without a doubt, one of the very best, if not THE best buffet I’ve ever had. I was even able to meet and chat with the Executive Chef, Zeb Hartline and he gave me a personal tour of the whole operation.

Chef Zeb is a brand new Texan, who just moved here a little over a year ago having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. It seems that Texas suits Chef Zeb just fine. He’s even part of the Texan Smoke Bandits, an award-winning, Gaylord-Sponsored, competitive BBQ team. Chef Zeb brings a classic and refreshing culinary point of view to Dallas.

His Easter buffet menu is a masterpiece. It is creative and ambitious, delicious and totally relatable. I would love to see more Chefs like him in Dallas.

When it was time to make my first plate my head was spinning. Culinary sensory overload was at a ten. Luckily, I had everything all planned out ahead of time.

 

Jan’s Easter Buffet Action Plan

  • Avoid the bread, pastries and breakfast items. I’m sure they’re all wonderful, but I can’t have a Texas shaped waffle taking up precious space in my stomach.
  • Save desert for last so I can have it with coffee.
  • Eat two bites of everything until my Spanx give out.

Right in the heart of the Cantina were three huge caldrons of shrimp, oysters on the half shell, and crab claws over ice. I decided to start there.

Shrimp, oysters and crab claws
Shrimp, oysters, and crab claws, oh my!

I limited myself to two shrimp and two crab claws. If that’s not self-control than I don’t know what is. Then, just past the seafood, lie a table of awesomeness the likes of which, I’ve never imagined. Stretched across a twelve-foot table, piled up in adorable, “please eat me” pieces were eight different kinds of cheese.

Assorted artisan cheeses
Assorted artisan cheeses

Eight perfect little, deliciously stinky, cheesy mountains interspersed with rustic loaves of bread, jars of house made pickles and hills of Texas chorizo, capicola, and prosciutto.

Heaven, y’all. It was cheese HEAVEN.

My plate of amuse bouches.
My plate of amuse bouche.

I took one piece of each cheese and one slice each of the prosciutto and capicola. I stopped at the soup table, got a ladle-full of the lobster bisque and headed to the table for round one. It was almost impossible not to eat and walk, but I restrained myself.

So, you know how sometimes, you bite into a piece of cheese, and it’s so good that you forget how to think for a few minutes?

No? Just me?

Well, that’s absolutely what happened to me when I tried the Red Dragon whole grain cheddar. This cheese was on another level. If Arsenio had tasted this cheese, he would have been furious.

Arsenio wants to know how good the cheese is, well in advance.
Arsenio wants to know how good the cheese is, well in advance.

The shrimp and crab were cooked perfectly. I’m adding cold crab claws to my party appetizer menu.

The lobster bisque was so rich and creamy that I was mysteriously incapable of eating it without closing my eyes. My bowl should have had a bit more lobster in it, but unfortunately, the gentleman in front of me had fished out all the big lobster chunks before I could get to it.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good and nowhere near full. Main course(s) time.

Scallops and Taco Action Stations
Scallops and Taco Action Stations

In the main courses area, the Chef had different action stations set up. At one station chefs were preparing Pan Seared Scallops with sweet corn puree, brussels sprouts with ghost peppered caviar. At another, he had Braised Chicken Tinga and Rock Shrimp Salad Tacos. Familiar foods with an elevated touch made the place feel so much more lively than your standard, Easter Buffet Snoozefest.

Chef Zeb had the basics very well represented. The ham, prime rib and lamb were perfect, and this is not an overstatement. All of it was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Perfect sauce pairings. I was beyond impressed.

Oven Roasted Airline Chicken with fingerling potatoes, balsamic, onion, smoked gouda
Oven Roasted Airline Chicken with
fingerling potatoes, balsamic, onion, smoked gouda

Of all the main dishes, the Pan Seared Salmon with farro, fava bean, rainbow chard and the vegetable mole was my favorite; I ate every last bit of it. I’ve never eaten or cooked with fava beans before, and Chef told me of the painstaking process involved in double peeling the beans for close to one thousand diners. Well bless the man’s heart, I sure do appreciate the effort. I can’t wait to incorporate them into my recipes.

Finally, finally, finally, it was desert time. The Executive Pastry Chef at The Riverwalk Cantina is Chef Arthur Surman. This man made my dream a reality.

I almost died when I saw these.
I almost died when I saw these.
Strawberry mouse
Strawberry Mousse

Little mango mousse tarts. Little key lime pie. Little chocolate brownie. Little cream puff. Little chocolate eclair. Next to my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the greatest day of my life. I put one of everything on my plate. I got some funny looks from folks on the way back to the table, but I didn’t care. I was about to enjoy 15 different deserts, and my Spanx were holding up beautifully.

IChef Art's Assorted Mini Deserts.
Chef Art’s Assorted Mini Deserts.
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Kid’s Buffet

Chef Zeb couldn’t have been kinder, and he is a talent that I will be watching closely from now on. I can’t wait to see how he grows in the future, and I will be back to The Riverwalk Cantina. I also want to thank him for going the extra mile for us parents by setting out a very impressive kids buffet. I appreciated the consideration so much as did my kids, Chloe and Haley.

Also, thanks, Mom and Dad, for deciding to do something different and special with us this year. xoxo

 
Riverwalk Cantina - The Gaylord Texan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato