Let’s just cut to the chase here. If you’ve ever tried to blindly create anything with coconut flour, it’s highly likely you ended up angry, frustrated, confused, and most definitely hungry. Continue reading “Coconut Flour Pancakes”
Summoned by the Empire: Buffalo Bacon Sammy
Every year, D Magazine puts out a “Best of Big D” list – it’s basically a “where to find the shiznit” list of anything and everything in Dallas. It was no surprise this year when Empire Baking Company was named Best of Big D Bakery for Bread. Having run full-production bakeries in a past life and having been schooled on more than one occasion by some of the most passionate, tattoo-covered, lovable, foul-mouthed, “bread is life,” under cover of night, master baker beasts, I can tell you, Empire has some killer bread.
So, as you can imagine, when Empire’s blog posted a Back to School Sandwich contest focused on using their bread, I was all over it. The contest ends Friday, August 19th; so, I still have another day to submit more sammies, but this one deserves to be shared even if I don’t win. The rules are: 10 ingredient limit, serve cold/room temp, and make it simple, nice, and tasty. Here’s what I came up with…
Servings: Yours and Only Yours
Time: 10 mins
– 2 Tablespoons Butter (softened)
– 1 Teaspoon Buffalo Hot Sauce
– 2 Slices Empire Baking Company Pane Paisano
– 1 Celery Stalk
– 2 Tablespoons CHUNKY Blue Cheese Dressing
– 3 Slices Bacon (that fourth one can be used as a snack; that’s what I did)
– 4-6 Deli Slices Buffalo Chicken Breast
– 1/2 Cup Baby Spring Mixed Greens
Cook your bacon until it’s crisp, set aside the bacon, and discard the bacon renderings. Or, save the renderings if you know what’s good for you. Don’t wipe out the skillet! Just be patient, my friends. Glorious deliciousness awaits you. Take the skillet off the heat for this next part. Mix the Buffalo sauce and the softened butter together just to combine. Don’t freak out when the vinegar doesn’t play nice with the butter. Just keep stirring around to incorporate most of the sauce. Then, take a butter knife and slather one side of each Pane Paisano slice with the Buffalo butter (I like that – “Buffalo butter”), then place the buttered side down in the skillet where you cooked the bacon. Then, return the skillet to medium-high heat to toast up only that one side of bread. That’s right. I said one side only. You’ll see…
Once the one side is golden brown, remove from the skillet, and place the two slices of bread aside, leaning on one another to cool. This just makes the process go faster. While your two toasted slices are cooling, take your celery stalk, and slice it thinly on the bias. The idea is that you’ll be adding the celery for texture, but it can’t fall out of the sammy. Thus, no dicing.
Once the Pane Paisano slices are cooled, place them toasty side down, and spread the chunky blue cheese dressing onto the soft side of the bread. The softer side will absorb the blue cheesiness, and the chunks of blue cheese will fall into the wonderful crevices and pockets of joy in the bread. If you had toasted both sides, you’d have to smush the crispy bread to spread the blue cheese. See? There you go. One-sided toasting is muy importante for this sammy.
Now, take your thinly sliced celery, and cover one side of the sammy, making sure you are strategically placing the celery so that every bite gets that textural crunch. The blue cheese will act as your glue here so the celery won’t slide off.
Next, layer your Buffalo chicken deli slices, bacon, and baby spring mix. Close up the sammy with the other slice, and enjoy the tangy zing of the Buffalo sauce against that creamy blue cheese and salty, smoky bacon. I can’t wait to turn this bad boy in for the contest… wish me luck!
UPDATE: Verify Road Trip will air the week of September 12, 2016 on all Texas stations listed in the video below!
If you’ve been anywhere even remotely close to my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages lately, you noticed I’ve been on a two-day breakfast taco adventure by way of WFAA’s David Schechter and his new show, Verify: Road Trip. I can’t shut up about it and for good reason! This experience was thuh-SHIZnit! It was the bomb diggity damn, and I absolutely loved every second of it!!
Wanted to offer up a little recap of our adventures and also give a HUGE shout out to David Schechter, Alex Krueger, Chance Horner, and Cameron Gott – the elite – the ultimate newscrew/superhero photojournaling/wicked Cirque du Solei balancing/mutli-task wizarding/kung-fu masters of bad-assery team who invited me into their inner circle for two days.
These guys were non-stop, and this was IN ADDITION to other things they were juggling from the home office in DFW while we were on the road. PLUS, they were super cool, funny, and they not only let me ask a million questions, but they offered up some killer advice within their responses. I was taking a friggin’ master class for two days with these guys – a la Oprah, yo. Just amazing.
We have NO IDEA how much work goes into news reporting, folks. No idea. It’s long hours, hard work, integrity-driven commitment to responsible research, and the ability to go with the flow. Be prepared for anything was the motto.
I got a taste of it for two days, and it was so flippin’ awesome but so flippin’ hard. These guys are quick on their feet, so intelligent and witty, constantly churning out ideas and working on the fly – their writing is just off the hook, and their camera work is crazy awesome. The two days were incredibly exhausting, and I just sat in the A/C most of the time while they were scouting locations and carrying equipment around in 90+ degree weather.
I have nuthin’ but love for these guys. Just killer. Nuthin’ but love.
So, here’s a sneak peek at what we did for two days, but if you want to know who reigns supreme as the breakfast taco capital of Texas, you’ll just have to watch any of the Texas stations listed in the video at 10pm during the last week of August!
Livin’ La Vida Taco
My head’s about to explode.
Four days ago, I was scrolling down Facebook and noticed a video in my feed with the title, “Are you a foodie?”
Naturally, I hit pause on the cat video and clicked on the foodie link. It was ABC affiliate WFAA’s David Schechter and a producer, Alex Krueger, asking for one foodie viewer to join them on a road trip to help determine the true breakfast taco capital of Texas.
If ever there were a task I was thoroughly qualified to exceed at, this was it.
To be chosen, you had to fill out a three-question survey and submit a video talking about why you should be the one taking up that last seat in the mini-van.
Here’s how it went down…
YOU HAVE ONLY ONE HOUR TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM A ZOMBIE ATTACK, WHAT DO YOU DO?
I would fry bacon, eat the bacon, and use the hot, rendered fat as a weapon against the zombies, in the hopes that I wouldn’t run into any vegan zombies where pork fat as a weapon would clearly be futile. I would leverage social media and the news outlets to spread the word and help others defend the world using the same method. This way, no matter what happened, people would either die happy or at least not waste pork fat before dying.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MEAL?
In Madrid, Spain, we were fortunate enough to eat at the oldest restaurant in the world, Restaurante Botín. It opened its doors in 1725, and there’s a reason it’s still open and even made its way into Hemingway’s novels. The crisp skin of the roasted suckling pig (cochinillo asado), the fascinating subtleties of the blood sausage (morcilla), the deeply rich and creamy chicken/ham croquettes (croquetas), and the noble cured ham (jamón ibérico) were like food of the gods. Sitting in those tiny chairs, pressed up next to our neighboring tables, listening to Madrileños whip their way through conversations, purposely closing my eyes with every succulent bite, imagining that very room where thousands of patrons had enjoyed a very similar experience… it was something I will never forget.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
Wow. Where do I start? So many colorful spices have been simmering a long time in the magical sauce that’s my life! Caroline McNinch, my smoking, 400 pound, denture-wearing, narcoleptic babysitter, introduced me to the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley when I was just four years old and spent hours teaching me the magic of spoken poetry, all while making the most amazing potato bread that she would promptly toast with a pat of butter straight from the oven. Once seated at the red, retro four-top in the middle of her tiny kitchen, we would swap turns coating the still-warm pillowy delight with sweet, homemade blackberry jam. She taught me how to enjoy life and find joy and humor in all things. My Grandma Ollie still inspires me today at age 97. She’s a pistol and loves to party. Frying bacon in a cast iron skillet on a brisk and fog-laden early morning at the ranch, my Grandma would have five-year old me watch from a stool as she prepared my Grandpa’s breakfast. She taught me love comes in many forms and can be leveraged as a seasoning. And, quickly after breakfast was done, she and my Grandpa would head out to work the ranch, teaching me hard-work and discipline combined with laughter, song, and love. My Grandpa was a World War II veteran and instilled a respect for our country and a passion for education in each of us. He introduced me to PBS, long before cable came to our town, and there I met Julia, Jacques, Rick, Paul, Lidia, Jeff, Martin, Ming, Charlie, Joanne, Sarah, Daisy, and many, many more amazing chefs, all focused on teaching me magnificent skills! I was hooked.
I was incredibly fortunate to have such powerful role models lay the groundwork for me at such an early age. While I could say I’ve been inspired by many a talented and remarkable chef, leader, and mentor, by far, the most inspirational were the ones who nurtured the sparks they could see when creativity met food met love met me.
We’re going on a road trip, baby!
Don’t worry – I won’t embarrass the family… or maybe I will… nowadays that makes for good television.
Ida Claire This a Winner
Holy mackerel, is this place good.
Look, I will be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for anything fried, chocolatey, or bacony; so, Ida Claire already had a leg up on the “OMG! Love!” list with me, but I’m no sell-out. Just because you say you’re deep fried and delicious doesn’t mean I’m taking the bait.
Okay, so technically I had to take the bait because I needed to try it, but that didn’t mean I was gonna like it! Continue reading “Ida Claire This a Winner”
Get Mash’d, Hold the Spuds
I’m alive! It’s been too long; I know. So, here’s what gives: I have zero excuses, and I simply ate/cooked a great deal, took pictures, took videos, posted to social media and totally ignored you. I’m an honest engine – what can I say? It’s the truth. I’m also good at dusting off, moving forward and trusting you can do the same; so, let’s virtually shake hands, make up and get Mash’d!
Four words: Fried Chicken and Ribs.
I’ve known about this place for a while and thought it was about time I went in to see what all the hub-bub was about.
Mash’d features American fare with a twist, infusing a library of house-made moonshines into a variety of unique offerings across the menu. Their bar and beverage menu is killer. Every drink we ordered stealthily delivered a mighty wallop with every smooth and graceful tasty sip. They incorporate infused moonshine into just about everything, and it works. Watermelon-infused moonshine, blueberry-infused moonshine, vanilla bean house-infused moonshine – good Lord, these people have caramel moonshine for those special occasions where you need a little more sugar with your alcohol! It’s brilliant!
Their moonshine magic also works its way into their mussels and bbq sauce. Mmmmm, bbq sauce. Their Bootleg Ribs are no less than spectacular. I’ve eaten a lot of ribs. These moonshining masters know what they’re doing with these babies. They’re fall-off, lip-smacking, finger-kissing, hum-while-you’re-chewing spectacular. And, it’s not like bbq-place ribs. Totally different animal. (well, not different animal but you know what I mean) These are more like “slow-roasted, basted in moonshine bbq and finished on the grill individually” sort of amazing. The flavors are sweet and spicy, tangy and salty, smoky and rich but not smokehouse sort of ribs. And, they’re served with a fresh and crisp coleslaw and “MASH’D tators” that need a little MASH’D makeover.
Those potatoes were the ONLY thing on the menu we tasted that were sub-par in comparison to the bar the other dishes had set. The appeal was that they were named as if they were some sort of special treat, and when they reached the table, they were just plain ol’ slightly garlic and cheese enhanced potatoes plopped on by a scoop that someone at Luby’s may have lost. They were just out of place, man. Totally out of place with everything else they had going on. So, if you get any dishes with the spuds, sans the Shepherd’s Pie, sub them out with coleslaw. Believe me, you’ll be happier for it and not feel like you just saw your childhood hero pick up a $20 bill someone else dropped and put it in his own pocket. Those tators were just wrong for the brand this place has clearly worked hard to build. All it would take is a little lemon zest – just sayin’.
But, let’s move on because that little side dish incident shouldn’t deter you from enjoying every other damn thing on the menu. And, let me say that the use of the potatoes on the Shepherd’s Pie is fabulous. They slather spiced meat and veggies on a pastry crust and top it all off with Parmesan-loaded mashed potatoes, a huge punch of flavor in a creamy bite.
Another killer dish was The Chicken. They serve up hot, crispy, juicy marinated fried chicken atop a soft bun with fresh, cold coleslaw and pickles. Chick-Fa-Who? Chick-Fa-What? This sandwich is just what the doctor ordered – she may not be AMA certified, but trust me – she wants you to eat this.
Overall, a killer vibe, outstanding service and badass food that will require some serious naptime after consumption.
Beans, Bacon, and Bravo TV’s Best New Restaurant
Today has been a pretty awesome day. A few days ago, I was notified that I was chosen as one of the top five finalists for Bravo TV’s Best New Restaurant “The Mentorship” contest. And, today, they posted my video submission to their YouTube page. On March 9th, we shall see who gets to spend the day with Chef and Restaurant Entrepreneur, Tom Colicchio. He will be mentoring one very lucky individual, and my friend Mary has advised me to “start packing my bags” because I’ve already won. I love the positive thinking, and I couldn’t agree more with having a winning vision. While I’m a huge fan of Top Chef and Best New Restaurant, this opportunity is way more than just being a fan. It’s an incredible chance to change dreams to reality, as my Bear and I have long dreamed of owning our own restaurant.
At the very same time, the DFW area has been blasted with snow, frozen pellets of ice and other cold weather phenomenons that require copious amounts of hot chocolate and warm food to be consumed. So, this morning, I got the cast iron skillet out, heated up some butter tortillas from Central Market, got some bacon in the pan, and took my already-created Borracho Beans (drunk beans) to task with a masher to make refried beans!
The combination of bacon, beans and Bravo TV’s finalist news was the absolute perfect combination to celebrate while staying nice and toasty inside. I’m also posting today because my friend, Kerrie, has been asking about this Borracho Bean recipe for months now and will hunt me down to kill me if I don’t post sometime soon. So, here we go!
1 lb dried pinto beans
1/2 medium white onion chopped
1 large tomato (or 1/2 package of cherry tomatoes will do)
3-4 uncooked bacon strips chopped
1 bottle of Mexican beer (Negro Modelo or Dos Equis preferably)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
Salt to taste
6 quart pot (cast iron enamel preferred but not required – the pot will be roomy for the beans)
Separate then discard any broken or unappealing dry beans, as well as possible rocks or inedible pieces from the dry beans. Rinse the beans in a 6 quart pot with warm water, slush around and discard the water, leaving the beans in the pot. Add water to the pot to cover the rinsed beans, then place the pot on a stove top and boil rapidly for 45 minutes. Be sure to watch the pot and add water if it reduces too much. The beans must stay completely covered during this process.
Once the beans have boiled for 45 minutes, remove from the stove top, carefully discard the water only and gently rinse the beans again. (You can use a sieve, but I find that covering the top with the pot cover and being careful over the sink with pot holders usually does the trick.) Add the chopped onion, tomato, bacon strips, and beer to the pot, then cover the rest with warm water until the beans are completely covered with about an inch of water above bean level. Return the beans to the stove at medium heat.
In a separate skillet pan on medium heat, lightly toast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns until they become aromatic. Add the toasted cumin seeds and peppercorns to a molcajete (mortar and pestle). Roughly chop the peeled garlic cloves and add them to the molcajete. Crush the cumin seeds, peppercorns and garlic together until they become a paste. You can add a little water to make it easier once the peppercorns are broken up. Add the mixture to the beans, adding more water to the molcajete to help motivate the paste to leave the surface. Gently stir the simmering beans and leave to cook for another hour.
Towards the mid-end of the cooking process, add salt to taste. This is a controversial thing, as some say adding salt at the start makes the beans hard and others say you can’t add salt at the end because it doesn’t flavor anything. Well, I add right towards the middle of the end and it usually does the trick – happy medium. I’m positive there is a scientific reason for each method out there, but my way works. And, if it ain’t broke…
At this point, if you’d like to add salsa, jalapeños or additional seasonings like garlic powder, cumin powder or onion powder, you can. You can even add roasted green chiles which make a flavorful addition. However, I have found that simple really is best, especially if you want to make refried beans with the borracho beans. And, let them simmer but don’t boil to mush. The flavors must develop but the beans will get too soft if you keep them simmering for too long. Just keep an eye out and a spoon handy for tasting.
To make refried beans (the right way, in my opinion), fry up some bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove the bacon, leave the drippings in the pan and add the borracho beans, liquid and all, to the pan and let out all your aggression with a potato masher, creating a creamy, textured, bacony bean to eat with tortillas. The longer they sit on the heat, the thicker the beans will become, and that’s what you want. Don’t serve the beans too runny. That’s never fun for anyone. Add bacon to the bean-smeared tortilla, and you have my very favorite breakfast celebration taquito in your hands, my friend.
Here’s to hoping there’s another celebration taquito in my future. I’ll keep you posted!
Happy Elvis French Toast
This morning, as I was staring at the “end of the week” pantry contents with coffee in hand, trying to pep up and think of what to make for breakfast, I distinctly heard (okay, maybe imagined) Elvis talking to me…
“Listen here, little lady… what you need here is a peanut butter’n nana sandwich with bacon. Uh-huh-huh…………uh-huh-huh… ooooooohhhhh, yeeaaah.”
And, I agreed. Continue reading “Happy Elvis French Toast”