Girls on Food

Dallas

Kaizen & Cocktails: Uchi at Parliament Pop-Up in Dallas

Three forces collaborated to produce one heck of an event dubbed Kaizen & Cocktails. The Uchi Dallas team brought their culinary smarts to the Parliament team of all-star Adult Beverage Chefs (I suspect they hate being called mixologists) for Japanese-inspired cocktails and food all in the name of charity. A $25 ticket gave guests a choice of one out of five out-of-this-world cocktails and unlimited bites from Uchi. While that price seems quite high for one cocktail – additional drinks only cost $5 each – 100% of the proceeds went to an outstanding non-profit, Promise of Peace Gardens (P.O.P.), a group that transforms unwanted land into thriving gardens.

Kaizen and Cocktails Pop-Up.

Additionally, P.O.P. teaches low-income families about sustainable living and portions of produce grown in P.O.P. gardens supply several Dallas-area food pantries. Eddie “Lucky” Campbell, the mega-star Dallas bartender with a personality to match tells it better here.

How did this idea come to fruition? Hold on tightly…Elizabeth Dryer, founding director of P.O.P. tells me that Alex Astranti, current Chef de Cuisine at Uchi Dallas leased two garden plots from P.O.P. when he worked at Top Knot. According to Dryer, Astranti and his team would come to garden while his wife and baby sat on a picnic blanket. Astranti then moved to Uchi and met current Uchi Sous Chef Chad Graybill, who falls in love with Parliament upon moving back to Dallas. Listen to Graybill describe the rest of the story here. 

Uchi                                                      
2817 Maple Ave, Dallas 75201
http://www.uchidallas.com

Parliament
2418 Allen St., Dallas 75204
http://www.parliamentdallas.com

Black lava salt, watermelon and tequila.

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Garden to Table Dinner: Independence Gardens Hosts Dinner For a Good Cause

I love eating food, but when all that noshing is for a good cause, it tastes even better. That is exactly what happened last weekend at the Garden To Table Dinner hosted by Independence Gardens. Sarah Allen is a first grade teacher at a school with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. The students live in an area referred to as the “food desert” because of the lack of grocery stores within walking distance from their homes. The need for access to healthy foods and the knowledge of nutrition is heartbreakingly real. When she heard about Independence Gardens and their mission she knew she had found the perfect partner. I am a first grade teacher as well. I have seen first hand the effect lack of nutrition can have on children. I was beyond excited to receive an invitation from Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens, to attend the event.

The six course menu was inspired by the fruits and vegetables growing in the community schools gardens and each course was cooked by a different local chef. It was an absolutely beautiful night to eat outside and the entertainment put on by the students was stellar.

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The Morning After, A Dallas Observer Brunch Event

The Morning After
A Dallas Observer Brunch Event
http://www.dobrunchthemorningafter.com/

morning after brunch, Dallas ObserverIt was a picture perfect day here in Dallas for the inaugural Morning After, a Dallas Observer Brunch Event hosted by Whole Foods Market.  I am here to tell you these people know how to put on a food festival. This venue was the best. The brunch was held at the Dallas Farmers Market. The shade from the open-air shed was needed on this unseasonably warm and sunny February Saturday. More than 20 of Dallas’ shining brunch stars were out cooking up free samples to chow down on. Oh, did I mention free drinks and music too.

Here are just a few of my faves…in no particular order!

Lucky’s Cafe: Chicken and Waffles with a side of gravy AND syrup. This boneless chicken needed nothing. What was in that crust?

Jonathon’s Oak Cliff: Peppered biscuits, peppered gravy and kabob of smoked sausage, ham and bacon glazed in coffee. GLAZED IN COFFEE. Am I in heaven?

Asian Mint: Fried rice for breakfast? Well, of course! Especially if it is loaded with bacon, eggs and a little sriracha sauce.

Full Circle Tavern: Biscuit with sausage gravy and candied peppered bacon. A perfect bite.

Hypnotic Donuts: The Canadian Healthcare will put you in the hospital it is so good. This maple-glazed donut is topped with…wait for it…BACON. 

Ida Claire: First up, mini blueberry pancakes, blueberry-cardamom compote, butter and yogurt whipped cream. Followed up with superseed granola, honey greek yogurt, seasonal fruit and basil. Neither with bacon…they were sublime without it.

Amazing food, amazing venue. Can’t wait until next year. I might not eat until then!

Oysters for People Who Hate Oysters: Fish City Grill in Dallas

Fish City Grill
18149 N. Dallas Tollway, Dallas, TX 75287
http://fishcitygrill.com/

Confession time: I don’t like oysters. I have tried them raw, fried, smoked and all the other ways imaginable. Really! I just can’t stomach them. Well, that has all changed since I chowed down on the Oyster Nachos at Fish City Grill. These babies are exquisite.

First, the fresh oysters are coated with a cornmeal batter and fried crispy. Then the little babies are nestled on a dollop of chipotle tartar sauce on a tortilla chip and sprinkled with with fresh pico de gallo. The perfect bite: crispy, savory, smoky and sweet. I know these are an appetizer, but I find it really hard to share these. Fish City thinks these nachos are so good they are guaranteed: “Love ’em, or we’ll buy ’em.” I doubt they have ever had to buy them!

I like to split the nachos with a friend and finish up with Raphael’s Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. Picture a shrimp cocktail on vacation at a resort in Cancun, Mexico. Loaded with shrimp, avocado, jicama, tomatoes and onions in a spicy cocktail sauce. So spicy, so buttery, so peppery. Sabroso!

Moral of this story: Forget what you know about oysters and head over to Fish City Grill for a new interpretation. You can thank me later.

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.

Dawn Does Tacolandia in Dallas

Tacolandia
City Hall Plaza
1500 Marilla Street, Dallas, TX 75201
http://microapp.dallasobserver.com/tacolandia/2016/

tacolandiaMan, I love some tacos! I was so excited to attend the 2nd Annual Tacolandia hosted by The Dallas Observer and Tabasco, held at City Hall Plaza. It was a great spot with plenty of room to move around and flow through 40 taquerias serving up some amazing tacos. Here are my top picks from the festival.

Numero Cinco: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – A corn tortilla topped with spicy  pork then topped with lettuce, tomato, cilantro and feta cheese. A good, solid taco and the feta was a nice twist.
fuzzys

Numero Cuatro: Taqueria La Ventana – This calabacitas taco was the only veggie option I came across. It was seasoned well and substantial. A nice change of pace from all the meat offerings!ventana

Numero Tres: Gas Monkey – I don’t think of  Gas Monkey when I think of tacos, but they delivered. The wagyu beef taco was tender and juicy. It was topped with queso fresco, pickled onions and cilantro. One note of caution: the salsa was HOT. Have a libation on hand to chase it down.wagyu-beef

Numero Dos: El Padrino –  Man, this taco was good. This was your classic barbacoa—juicy and tender with all the flavor that comes from cooking in its juices. All that served up on a corn tortilla with cilantro, onion, green salsa, and a little lime. barbacoa

Numero Uno: Digg’s – Winner, winner taco dinner. This taco was spot on! It was aptly named the Smokey Porkinson. The taco was filled with savory pork and laid on a pillow of a flour tortilla. Then it was topped with slaw, cilantro and salsa. The squeeze of lime added just the right amount of acidity.  This taco got my vote for the day. diggs-smokey-porkinson

Already marking my calendar for next year!gates

Getting Chocolate Wasted at the Dallas Chocolate Festival

Dallas Chocolate Festival
Addison Conference Center
15650 Addison Road, Addison, TX 75001
http://dallaschocolate.org/

dallas chocolate festival, just eat it up, dessert, dallas, foodieThe Dallas Chocolate Festival was everything I thought it would be and more. This year marks the 7th year of the festival. They kicked off the festival on Friday night with a first-ever movie night. They screened the documentary Bean to Bar: A Film About Artisan Chocolate and it was an excellent way to segue into the festival. I considered myself having a better-than-average knowledge of chocolate, but this film proved I was a novice. Let’s just say I was schooled. The film takes you on a journey from the pollination of the cocoa flower to the completion of the final chocolate product. Artisan chocolate has a vernacular of its own. I was introduced to new terms such as conching and winnowing but discovered new associations for other terms. One example being fermentation. Did you know that cocoa beans go through a fermentation process? It is truly an amazing process. Chocolate artisans are passionate about what they do. They are chocolate pioneers in a sense forging into a new era of chocolate changing it for the better. They accomplish their goal through better quality chocolate and better quality relationships with the farmers. It was a treat to listen to the Q&A session with the film’s producer, Bob Ridgely, Art Pollard (Amano Chocolate) and Rob Anderson (Fresco Chocolate). Oh yes, I almost forgot. Did I mention all the sweet and savory treats we got to sample before and after the film? What a great night!fullsizerender_1Bright and early on Saturday morning I headed over to the DCF. I was handed a box for all my goodies, and I opened the door and entered heaven. The room was bustling with over 40 chocolate makers, chocolatiers, candy makers, bakers, and chefs. I took a chocolate tour of the world. I tried it all! I was provided with a chocolate sample checklist. While I meandered about sampling, each vendor would check their name off my list. Very orderly! I love checking off a list…especially if it involves food! img_7517Tickets are sold with a scheduled entrance time. This was an ingenious idea. It allowed for staggered entry rather than a mad rush. I never felt rushed nor did I have to wait too long in any one place. I was able to visit with the different artisans and learn more about their particular specialties. While browsing, sampling and chinwagging the mistress of ceremonies, Madame Cocoa, was conducting interviews with the various vendors which were broadcast on a big screen. Nice touch.

dallas chocolate festival, dallas chocolate, addison, foodie, dessert, sweets, dallas, whole foods
Freshly dipped sandwich cookies and pretzels from Whole Foods.
dallas chocolate festival, dallas, kate weiser, chocolate, foodie
Kate Weiser Chocolate’s sweet potato chocolates.
dcf-yellibelly
Yelibelly’s wonders.
dallas chocolate festival, dallas, dessert, chocolate, foodie, Fera Wyn
Matcha chocolates from Fera Wyn’s.

cookies, dallas chocolate festival, wadkym's, dessert, dallas, foodie

Wackym’s Kitchen was there with all of their wonderful flavors.

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Chocolate chip cinnamon rolls from RoRo’s Baking Company.

In addition to all the artisans, DCF held workshops on Saturday. I was able to attend two of them. The first was Unlocking Chocolate’s Many Flavors with Roasting and Conching by Rob Anderson of Fresco Chocolate. Rob explained the differences in roasting and conching and how they affect the depth and flavor of chocolate. We were able to taste and compare chocolates with the same percentage of cacao but roasted or conched for different lengths of time.
fullsizerender-2

The second workshop was Chocolate Coming Attractions with Tessa Halstead (Chocolaterie Tessa), Art Pollard (Amano Chocolate), Ben Rasmussen (Potomac Chocolate), Carla Barboto (Pacari Chocolate) and Pam Eudaric-Amiri (Chocolate Secrets). I learned about the evolution of chocolate and how this craft has evolved and the why they are so passionate about buying from a particular grower with high standards to produce the best chocolate possible.img_7536

I left with a box of yummy goodness. This is what made it home…the rest was eaten.
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What I learned:
Chocolate melts at a temperature of around 93 degrees. The universe designed it to melt in your mouth.
Chocolate is an appetite suppressant.
Dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease.
Chocolate prevents tooth decay.
Chocolate was originally consumed in liquid form, not solid.
White chocolate is not white, and it is not chocolate. It is sweetened cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter is what gives chocolate its creaminess. Most non-artisanal chocolate makers use wax.
I love people who love food.
I will NOT miss next year’s festival. Head over to Dallas Chocolate and sign up for the chocolate updates, so you don’t either!

Dawn and Stephanie attend the Farm Shed Dinner at Dallas Farmers Market

dopest chef, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers marketStephanie: The August Farm Shed Dinner at Dallas Farmers Market was unlike any of the previous dinners put on by the incredible minds behind Tres Dallas. Typically Farm Shed dinners are prepared by Chef Mike Kelly and Chef Chris Waltman while #GirlBoss Tia runs front of house but this month they enlisted the brilliant talents of a private chef team from Houston, TX.

foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers marketChef’s Alejandro and Masaru are behind PACHA Private Chefs And Creative Catering. Known in Houston for their unique Colombian and Asian flavors, as well as, for their incredible Ceviche and Taco Bar Pop Up events that often feature DJ performances and almost always sell out.

We were all very lucky to be able to experience their talents before they blow up making it harder to try anything they create.

Ready. Set. Eat!

Mini Arepa, waffle bacon fried chicken, cilantro butter, bourbon honey, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers market

Dawn: First Course – Mini Arepa Waffle, Bacon Fried Chicken, Cilantro Butter, Bourbon Honey
The amuse was Texas-sized. Bigger than a bite, but I shoved all of that goodness right in! Tender chicken breaded with a blend of dehydrated waffles and maple bacon. It was fried until crispy and nestled into the arepa pillow with cilantro butter. So perfectly comforting.

quinoa salad, season fruit, mint, poppyseed, lychee dressing, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers market

Stephanie: Second Course – Quinoa Salad, Seasonal Fruit, Cucumbers, Mint, Poppy Seed & Lychee Dressing
This salad was so simple, but it was still one of the most impressive things I’ve ever had. I would never have thought to mix Quinoa, cucumber, peaches and lychee!? It was wonderful.

Ceviche Nikkei, salmon, panca yuzu leche de tigre, strawberries, radish, cancha, sweet potato, chorizo oil, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers market

Dawn: Third Course: Ceviche Nikkei, Salmon, Panca-Yuzu Leche de Tigre, Strawberries, Radish, Cancha, Sweet Potato, Chorizo Oil
Oh. My. Goodness. This dish was exquisite. There are seriously no words to describe how good it was. The salmon was swimming in the fresh and spicy Leche de Tigre. The strawberries and sweet potato brought in sweetness and depth that was sublime. The cancha and choclo added a chewy, crunch. Leche de Tigre should be bottled and sold. It was the thread that wove this rich tapestry together. If I had been alone, I would have licked the dish.

Mini Bandeja Paisa, beef tenderloin, chicharron, red beans, jasmine rice, ahogado, torched avocado, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers marketStephanie: Fourth Course Tenderloin, Chicharron, Red Beans, Jasmine Rice, Torched Avocado
This course was another fantastic example of how good Chef Alejandro and Chef Masaru are at mixing unexpected components. The red beans and jasmine rice were just amazing, so creative and it worked so well with the beef. Beautiful dish.

Guanabana Panna Cotta, lucuma manjar blanco, chocolate sponge cake, foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers market

Dawn: Guanabana Panna Cotta, Lucuma Manjar Blanco, Chocolate Sponge
This dessert was ecstasy. Do not laugh or scoff because you have no clue how good this was. The guanabana cooked cream flavored was creamy and sinful. On top of the pannacotta was the manjar blanco infused with lucuma. Try to imagine a fruity cajeta. All served with just enough chocolate sponge cake. I believe it was dark chocolate with few sprinkles of salt. The sponge cake was a brilliant way to offset the sweetness of the rest of the dessert.

 

foodie, farm shed dinner, pacha chefs, tres dallas, dallas farmers marketBravo to Tres Chef and Pacha Chefs! The food, the people, and the venue were stellar. I never thought I would ever say I was jealous of Houston, but I am jealous that they have Pacha!

Below is a glossary in case you weren’t sure of ingredients:

Arepa – a flat, round, unleavened patty of soaked, ground kernels of maize, maize meal or maize flour that can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled or steamed and stuffed with good stuff.

Bandeja paisa – the national dish of Colombia. A dish characterized by a variety of foods including red beans cooked with pork, white rice, ground meat, chicharrón, fried egg, plantain, chorizo, arepa, hogao sauce, black pudding, avocado and lemon.

Cancha – a sort of popcorn made from a particular variety of corn called maiz chulpe. This popcorn is not like regular popcorn. Think corn nuts but much lighter and softer.

Choclo – a large-kernel variety of field corn from the Andes. It comes on a cob like regular corn, but the kernels are substantial. A corn kernel on steroids. They are sweet and chewy.

Guanabana – also called soursop, is a fruit found on an evergreen tree found in South America. The guanabana starts as a flavor combination of pineapple and strawberry then evolves into a milder creamy coconut/banana.

Leche de Tigre – translated tiger’s milk. A Peruvian marinade that is citrus-based and used in ceviche containing juice, onion, and chiles. Oh, and it is an aphrodisiac!

Lucuma – or eggfruit, has a flesh like a hard-boiled egg yolk. It tastes like a sweet potato infused with maple syrup.

Lychee – a fleshy fruit covered by a pink, inedible, rough rind. The interior is a layer of sweet, translucent meat.

Manjar Blanco – is South America’s version of cajeta or dulce de leche.

Nikkei – a South American culinary tradition with cultural influences from Japan and Peru. For example, fresh fish combined with limes, corn, peppers, and yucca.

Panca – a South American chili that is deep red in color and three to five inches long. It has a sweet, spicy and smoky flavor. The peppers are often made into a paste or dried and used in fish dishes.

Yuzu – a fruit similar to an orange, but not often eaten on its own. Its flavor is tart. Think about the offspring of a grapefruit and mandarin orange. The juice of the fruit often is used as a seasoning.

tredallas tablesetting

Dallas Chocolate Festival 2016 Media Preview Night

Dallas Chocolate Festival
Addison Conference Centre
15650 Addison Road, Addison, TX 75001
http://dallaschocolate.org/dallas-chocolate-festival-saturday-event-2016/

dallas chocolate festivalMark your calendars because you are not going to want to miss this. Saturday, September 10 is the main event of the Dallas Chocolate Festival. The festival includes over 30 chocolate makers, chocolatiers and other masters of confection. Don’t just stop there. This year they are kicking off the festival with a movie night. They will be showing Bean to Bar: A Film About Artisan Chocolate. After the screening, there will be a Q & A session with the producer and stars of the film. Why not make it a home run and gets your hands sticky in some chocolate-making classes. Oh yes, you know you want to. You would be a fool not to!

I was lucky enough to attend The Dallas Chocolate Festival’s media preview night at Whole Foods Wednesday night. I was able to meet some wonderful chocolatiers and treat-makers and sink my teeth into some out-of-this-world goodies.

jalapeno, chocolate, dr. sue's, dallas chocolate festivalMy first stop was Dr. Sue’s Chocolate. Get this. Dr. Sue is a REAL doctor! Yep, you read it right. The real deal. In her fight against obesity, Dr. Sue has funneled her talents into making chocolates that taste great and have healthy benefits. Now that’s a prescription I would refill. I sampled the Rosemary Olive Oil Meltaway made with locally-sourced olive oil from the Grapevine Olive Oil Company. The layers of flavors are subtle but unmistakeable. It was a tasty bite. Next up was the Texas Mendiant. Think of it as a meltaway with treasures! This dark chocolate is topped with candied jalapeño peppers, pecans, applewood smoked sea salt and coriander. I swear Texans can figure out a way to put a  jalapeño in anything! And this bite is the perfect place for one. Not only was it crazy good…it is good for you.
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Next up was Isabelly’s Chocolates and Sweet Treats. Isabelle Albert uses chocolate as a medium to creatively express herself. I sampled her Turtle Bar. Composed of a creamy filling of caramel in between two layers of chocolate with pecans. There is an excellent ratio of chocolate to caramel. Then I spied what appeared to be a chocolate covered pepper. Could it be? Were my eyes deceiving me? There it was in all its glory: Chile de Arbol dipped in chocolate. Not a piece, not a slice, but an entire chile. It was sweet, smooth, chewy with a bite. Nice job!chile de arbol, isabelly's, dallas chocolate festival

praline bar, chocolate, dallas chocolate festivalEileen’s Pralines was up next. These are not the traditional pralines. I like a traditional praline, but these babies are substantial in size and taste. One bite and you can taste the 30 years of experience in them. I sampled both the chocolate and the coffee praline bars. I would describe the bars as graham crackers with all the praline ingredients drizzled and layered on top. They were scrumptious, but the coffee was awesome.  The coffee beans were toned down with the brown sugar, pecans, and butter. Oh, that butter. You can taste it in every bite. Real butter. The only thing I needed was a cup of ice cold milk.

Next up on the menu was Wackym’s Kitchen. Since 2008, Wackym’s has been mixing and baking up some not so ordinary cookies, but on tonight’s menu was the seasonal Hatch Chocolate Chip. Tis’ the season for some chiles! Flavored with a combination of red and green Hatch chiles in this chocolate chip cookie, the heat of the chiles subtly hides behind the sweetness of the chocolate which segues into a nice kick of heat. Wow is all I can say.hatch chile, chocolate chip, cookie, wackym's, dallas chocolate festival, whole foods IMG_7131

As I moved along on in my chocolate journey, I met a dietician, a belly dancer, and chocolatier, yes all in one. Yelibellly‘s artisan chocolates are works of art but not for long. They are too good. I tried the habanero chile infused bon-bon. Yeli takes the time to use an immersion blender to ensure the pepper is smooth and creamy. This creaminess solidifies the union of sweet and heat. Decadent and lovely. habanero, yelibelly, chocolate, dallas chocolate festivalIMG_7118

pot de creme. haute sweets , chocolate, dallas chocolate festivalLast but not least was Haute Sweets Patisserie and their pot de creme. Chef Gianni Santin’s live demo was informative and fun. The pot de creme was the best way to end the night. I was light and dreamy.

Aren’t you hungry now? Have a craving for chocolate? You can have all these sweet treats and many, many more at the Dallas Chocolate Festival 2016, September 9-11 at the Addison Convention Centre. I am going to sweeten the deal a little more! Use promo code “chocolategirl” for $5 off either Friday’s movie night or Saturday’s festival night. Buy your tickets here. See you there. I better start fasting!

Everything’s Peachy with Dawn

peach, mozzarella, basil, summer saladPeach season is in full swing. I prefer to wait until freestone peaches are available before I shop. I do not have the time OR the patience for the cling style. Too much waste. I always buy a half bushel. I freeze 2/3 of the bushel. I peel and slice the peaches then lay them on a cookie sheet and freeze them. After the individual slices are frozen, I transfer them to a freezer bag. I can then grab what I need! Here are just a few of my favorite peach recipes. Enjoy!

Peachy Caprese Salad
Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 peach, peeled and cut into dice-sized pieces
1-2 ounces fresh mozzarella
2-3 fresh basil leaves, torn
Balsamic glaze, drizzle

Gently toss the peaches, mozzarella, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy.
Options:
Add some vine ripe tomatoes.
Replace basil leaves with mint.

green tea, peach, smoothie, healthy, summerPeachy Green Tea Smoothie
Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 cup brewed and chilled green tea
1 peach, peeled and sliced
1/2 banana, frozen
1 tsp. agave nectar

Place all ingredients in a blender and blender until smooth.
Options:
Replace 1/2 cup green tea with 1/2 cup greek yogurt.
Add one scoop of vanilla protein powder.
Add one tsp of ground flax seed.

peach, almond, crisp

Smitten Kitchen’s Almond-Crisped Peaches
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
4 ripe peaches
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter cubed
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut peaches in half and discard the pit. Put peaches, cut side up, in a low-sided baking dish. Stir together almond flour, sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Add butter and combine with other ingredients with a fork or in a food processor. Spoon the mixture into the center of each peach and press flat. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the tops are crisped and fork tender.

I eat these babies for breakfast with an egg and a slice of toasted raisin bread or for dinner next to a yummy pork chop.
peach, almond, cinnamon

peach chutney, summer recipe

The Porch Restaurant’s Peach Chutney
from Southern Living Off the Beaten Path Second Helpings
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients:
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups peeled and diced fresh peaches

Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in the oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add brown sugar, black pepper and ground red pepper. Continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add vinegar and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in peaches. Process half of the mixture with an immersion blender. Stir the pureed mixture into the remaining peach mixture. Put in another bowl and chill for at least 2 hours.

The Porch serves this with fresh burrata and garlic toast. This chutney is good on everything! I have even put it on ice cream.

Norma’s Cafe 60th Birthday Celebration in Dallas

Norma’s Cafe
17721 N. Dallas Parkway, #130
Dallas, TX 75287
http://www.normascafe.com

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Ed Murph, Norma's CafeA Dallas icon just celebrated its 60th birthday! Happy birthday to YOU Norma’s Cafe! In 1956, Norma Manis opened her namesake cafe on Davis Street in Oak Cliff. For 60 years, Norma’s has been plating up quintessential comfort food. Some years later Oak Cliff native, Ed Murph, began eating at the cafe. He loved it so much that when he heard the cafe was for sale in 1986, he snapped it up.

Over the years many things have changed, and restaurants have come and gone, but one thing remains the same…if you want a great home-cooked meal, you can head to Norma’s and get just that. Norma’s is an institution in Dallas. And like most locals, it is a tradition passed down from one generation to another. I have been eating at Norma’s for too many years to say. I ate at Norma’s with my mother and have passed on the love of the food to my daughter.

On this 60th birthday, Norma’s took us back in time and served up three of their classics for $1.79 each. Eaters chose from either chicken fried steak, meatloaf or chicken and dressing served up with sides of green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh rolls, and cornbread. I was lucky enough to dine with Norma’s Marketing Director, Katy Anderson, for the event. What did we order? Well, chicken fried steak of course! It was perfect: juicy, tender Angus beef breaded and fried up crispy. I love that the creamy gravy is ladled into the center of the steak allowing the chicken fried edges to stay crunchy and yummy!chicken fried steak, green beans, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, Norma's Cafe, north Dallas, comfort food

A birthday celebration would not be complete without cake. A Birthday Cake Oreo Pie cake that is! Okay, wrap your head around this! A homemade pie crust with all its buttery perfection. Then pour in the filling you would use for a pecan pie, but instead of pecans throw in Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies. The Oreos are soft and chewy. It tastes like a party!birthday cake, Oreos, Norma's Cafe, Dallas

Norma's Cafe, Oak Cliff, Dallas, FriscoEd Murph and Norma’s employees are a family in itself. They treat each other like family; they treat their customers like family, and they treat the community like family. Norma’s gives back to the community by donating and volunteering for different organizations like The North Texas Food Bank, The Red Cross and The Happy Birthday Project, which provides birthday celebrations to children and families who are experiencing economic hardships.

So, what’s next for Norma’s? Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day on October 26, which Murph and an another chicken fried steak lover conceived a few years ago. In the meantime head over to Norma’s and get yourself a bellyful of greatness. Happy 60th Norma’s! It was a pleasure to celebrate with you!Norma's Cafe, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, happy birthday

Norma’s has three locations: the original in Oak Cliff, Frisco, and North Dallas. They are opening a 4th café next month in Caruth Plaza at North Central Expressway and Park Lane.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas, TX

I may be “living the dream” in Los Angeles, but I’m a Texan at heart and when I visited the greatest state in the union this spring, I knew I was going to have to check out some local beer. A week before my trip I heard a interview with the head brewer of Deep Ellum Brewing Company on The Business of Beer Podcast and immediately added them to my list of places to visit while I was in Dallas.IMG_0723

 

Deep Ellum Brewing Company
2823 St Louis Street, Dallas, TX 75226
http://www.deepellumbrewing.com

Maybe it’s just because I was out of the beer scene when I lived in Texas, but my memory of beer was pretty much Bud and Coors- Lone Star or Shiner were for when you were feeling fancy. But the craft beer scene in Dallas has absolutely exploded, and they are turning out some amazing beers. Deep Ellum Brewing is definitely leading the pack, with a commitment to quality beer and a great beer community. They are located in the heart of Deep Ellum, right on a strip full of great bars and restaurants. It’s an ideal spot to stop in for a few pints after dinner.

IMG_0720The tasting room itself has a great atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating. They’ve done a great job of embracing the industrial feel of the area, but making it a really interesting and dynamic space. For those of you from out of the state- be aware that Texas has strict ABC laws, which caught me off guard. Six packs of beer are only for on premise consumption and they don’t do tasting flights at certain times. But it is 100% worth your time to come by and grab a few pints.

IMG_0719I was head over heels in love with the Dreamcrusher Double IPA. Coming from the west coast, I’m used to super hoppy IPAs, and I’ve had a million of them. So finding a fantastic IPA brewed in Texas was a such an unexpected surprise. The also have a brown ale brewed with coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, which filled me with nostalgia since I worked in that neighborhood for several summers in college. I was also a huge fan of both the Rye Pilsner and the Praline Porter. The rye gave a nice kick to the pilsner, which was crisp and refreshing. The Praline Porter was basically everything I wish for in a porter- robust, but with a wonderful malty sweetness. That was only a smattering of what I got to try though- they have a really solid list of year round beers plus some wonderful specialty and seasonal beers. Being a Dallas native, it was wonderful seeing such a great brewery innovating and making such great beer. If you are ever in the Big D, make sure you give these guys a visit.

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