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…
…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.
This recipe is not just delicious and fun but also super easy.
Enter the doors of Table 13 and you enter another era. In the style of early 1960s Vegas, it is elegant. It is classy. It is upscale. Totally Rat Pack and Sinatra. We were greeted by a Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe and many, many more celebrities…well, their framed black and white photos anyway.
The decor is spot on. Sleek tufted black leather booths with silver buttons. Tables dressed in white starched tablecloths. Clean white and black decor punctuated with industrial brick and pops of color here and there. Oh, and the pin-ups! Tastefully framed pinups with seductive quotes like the one over the bar, “I really do appreciate the new negligee, darling, but I know that later you’ll just try to talk me out of it.” Nice touch!
No detail is left to chance. Check out the black and white painting of old blue-eyes himself with the blue accents. I swear he watched me all night.
First up was cocktails….a margarita and a cosmopolitan. Both tasty with little mermaid hanging off the sides of the glasses. Again with the special touches.
For appetizers, we chose the calamari. The calamari was just as good. At first glance, I thought they had forgotten the dipping sauce. These babies did not need sauce. The calamari was not alone. The chef added artichokes, cherry peppers, tomato and fried pickles. All of this in a herb butter. Scrumptious.
For a salad, we picked the classic wedge salad. It did not disappoint. The iceberg lettuce was crisp and topped with a Roquefort dressing. The dressing had a hint of smokiness. The salad was topped with pancetta, egg, blue cheese, tomato and pickled red onions. Prepare for an extreme close up!
On to the main event. How about a little surf and turf? Of course. It was enough for an army. Perfectly cooked, rare steak served on fluffy, garlic mashed potatoes and a buttery, tender lobster tail. Decadent.
The sea bass was coated with seasoned potato flakes and served on leek fondue. The creamy fondue was a buttery compliment to the sea bass. The sea bass was flaky and moist.
The Salmon Meunier was impeccable. The rustic sauce of brown butter and lemon was added a nice acidity to the richness of the fish. It was served over green beans amandine. The beans were crisp and fresh.
Table 13 has live music every night. We were serenaded with swingin’ tunes like “The Girl From Ipanema”, “Luck Be a Lady” and “The Best is Yet to Come”. The service was attentive but not pushy. No rush to turn a table here.
The storms cleared in Dallas just in time for the 2nd Annual Taco Libre Festival. I was there when the gates opened. This girl was ready, I came prepared with: cash, camera and a list of the taquerias I wanted to try. Taco Libre is a festival of tacos, music and Lucha Libre wrestling. I have, to be honest, I was there for the tacos; although I did listen to the music as I tacoed. Unfortunately, no wrestling for me. Masks freak me out. The 21 taquerias at Taco Libre were hand-picked by taco aficionado, Jose Ralat. Check out his website called The Taco Trail. There were traditional and non-traditional taco choices.
The first stop on my list was Tacodeli. Robert Espinosa opened his first Tacodeli in Austin, TX in 1999. I, for one, am so glad he did. I ordered each of the three tacos on the menu for the day. I started with the vegetarian El Frijolero. This taco was crazy good. The flour tortilla was filled with organic refried beans and sauteed poblano-onion rajas. Then on top of that was a creamy, rich slice of grilled queso fresco. I paired it with their Salsa Dona. Next up was the Frontera Fundido Sirloin. This taco is made with tender, grilled sirloin, jack cheese glaze and some more of those crispy, sauteed poblano-onion rajas. This taco was great with the Salsa Roja. The last taco at this stop was the Barbacoa. This was the classic red chile braised barbacoa with a distinctively savory flavor with the freshness of the cilantro and onion on top. No salsa needed on this baby.
Next up was El Come Taco. I ordered the Fajita Taco. The meat was grilled perfectly and served street-style on a flour tortilla with cilantro, onions, salsa verde and a slice of lemon. I also ordered and a churro. The equivalent of a mid-meal sorbet. It was piping hot and loaded with cinnamon sugar. Yay!!!
My last stop was the Revolver Taco Lounge. I tried the Pollo de Mole taco. The mole sauce was not too bitter or heavy for the moist chicken. This taco was topped with pickled red onion and queso fresco. I was really pleased with this choice.
Taco Libre is a cool way to try a bunch of awesomely different tacos. Seriously, 21 taquerias in one location selling their best tacos for $2 a piece. You can’t beat it. Main Street Garden is a great location. Parking is available in a garage a block away for $3. Two tips for those planning on attending next year:
Buy your tickets early – they have sold out both years.
Dawn: 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’.
Dawn: Back 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Stephanie D.: Of all of the amazing little bite-lets I had at Iron Fork, one stood out so far ahead of the rest.
When I was young, I spent my summers visiting my grandparents who lived in a small, south Texas town. They owned a restaurant, and I spent hours and hours there. I watched, and I learned. The most important thing I learned during those summer visits was that a successful restaurant isn’t just about the food…it is about the people. Last Friday night a friend told me about a new ice cream shop called Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream. After visiting the website and watching this video, I knew I had to go because this place isn’t just about the food.
Howdy’s Homemade owner, Tom Landis, has a passion. It is “to provide delicious homemade ice cream and create jobs for special needs employees”. Landis also employs workers with special needs at his Texadelphia restaurant. He takes the time to identify each employee’s learning difference and uses their abilities to put them in a position that allows them to be successful. Unfortunately, investors were wary of the unconventional ice cream parlor. That did not hinder Landis. He started a GoFundMe account to raise the needed funds and Howdy’s celebrated its grand opening on February 6.
I was greeted with a smile from a young gentleman who was sweeping the floor. He immediately struck up a conversation asking about my school shirt; where and what grade I taught. He explained all the ice cream flavors while another gentleman behind the counter gave me samples to try. Howdy’s offers ice cream flavors ranging from conventional to unusual. Their signature flavor is Dr. Pepper chocolate chip. I also ordered the Hot Tamales ice cream. All the ice cream is made in the store. It is creamy and dense like gelato. The Dr. Pepper chocolate chip was greatness. A very subtle Dr. Pepper taste with crunchy, chocolatey chips. The Hot Tamales ice cream was not hot as expected, but more of a cinnamon creaminess.
This print sits on the wall of Howdy’s, and it says it all. I left with a full belly and more importantly a full heart. Thank you, Mr. Landis and your employees! I can’t wait to try more of your ice cream!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Buddy is coming! Buddy is coming!” The words rang out all over the city. Carlo’s Bakery was coming to Dallas! The city was excited…heck I was excited. I arrived at 6:30 AM to get my place in line for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting at 8:30 AM. The line had already looped around the block once. The ribbon was cut, and the line began to inch along. Unfortunately, to no fault of the bakery, there was no crowd control. People began line-skipping and got a tad aggressive. After 3 hours, I threw in the towel and drowned my sorrows at The Theodore down the street. They must have a fantastic business energy quote to be able to create such lovely treats that so many people line up for it. With should an enthusiastic customer base, having a reputation management software might help the bake shop keep on top of what their customers think of them. Maybe they discovered their quote through Utility Bidder? I hear the do some great business energy comparison.
BUT, I will not be denied! I made the trek back over to Carlo’s the following Wednesday. There was a line of about 30 folks ahead of me. A very nice server came out and greeted everyone in the line. She passed out line numbers and menus. I mentally prepared my order and waited. There was a system in place, and the line was moving. The servers were patient and worked individually with each customer answering questions and explaining the many choices. My turn arrived, the server took my order, and I waited for my order to be boxed up.
I heard a commotion and turned around to see Grace Faugno (Buddy’s eldest sister) and Lisa Valastro (Buddy’s youngest sister). What?! They came in and greeted all the employees like they were one big family. Grace and Lisa went to work immediately. They autographed shirts and aprons, stopped for photos and organized other merchandise. The next thing I knew Grace called my number! I calmly walked up and paid. On the outside I was calm; I was screaming on the inside. I paid and gleefully skipped out the door with the motherlode.
The first item I ate was the legendary lobster tail. Just look at them. LOOK AT THEM. The pastry is paper-thin layer after layer of buttery goodness. It is crispy and filled with a heavenly combination of pastry and whipped creams. Seriously, what is in this filling? It is like ice cream but not. I could drink it. If this stuff were put in a syringe, I would no longer have a fear of needles. It is THAT good. They are going to make so many baked goods every day that some sort of powder processing equipment would certainly be required to make production efficient.
I also purchased a pound of assorted biscotti. This girl loves her crunchy biscotti. I ordered chocolate almond, chocolate pistachio, chocolate hazelnut, vanilla almond chocolate chip, vanilla almond, pistachio milk chocolate and pistachio with white and milk chocolate. Perfect with a cup of milk or an espresso.
Cannoli? Yes, please. The shells are made with a dough flavored with a touch of cinnamon. They also add white vinegar to give it those little bubbles in the shells. The shells are then fried and filled with an incredible mixture of ricotta and cream cheese. Oh! Don’t forget chocolate chips. Oh dio mio!