Tag Archive : Central Market

OMGs DFW Food - Cocktail Party Hordeurvres

Do y’all remember The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? It was that Sandra Bullock film where a group of lifelong friends attempts to rescue a relationship between a mother and a daughter. The movie was a’ight, but more importantly, the part I want to focus on is actually having a Ya-Ya Sisterhood, that group of “ride or die” friends who would do just about anything for you.

Every month (or the first available moment the planets align with all of our schedules), two of my lifelong sister-friends and I hang out for a Ya-Ya Get-Together. It’s when we unplug, forget about the craziness in our lives, and relax with copious amounts of wine and hors d’oeuvres. There are only two rules: each Ya-Ya has a rotation as Get-Together hostess, and the hostess must provide a bottle(s) of wine none of the Ya-Ya’s have tried so we can try it together.

Basically, we have created an excuse to have a mini-cocktail party for just the three of us as often as possible. You get the picture.

This particular spread was my turn hosting a Ya-Ya Get-Together that just happened to double as a birthday celebration for one of the Ya-Ya’s!

OMGs DFW Food - Cocktail Party

Don’t judge. I know this may appear a little overboard for three of us, but you have to remember this is at least a four-hour affair. That’s a long time to be talking and laughing – we need sustenance! Plus, this was special birthday party Ya-Ya material.

In order to prepare for the evening, I took a little trip to one of my absolute favorite culinary destinations in Texas, Central Market. (While I used to work there many, many moons ago, I have zero affiliation with them now, aside from the fact that I’m completely in love with them and still openly profess my love for everything Central Market.)

In less than one hour, I had everything I needed to set out a spread worthy of the Ya-Ya’s. Plus, I even had time to make a pitcher of some lovely Lemon Mint Water.

For the appetizer bites, I bought ready-made mini tart shells and filled them with Central Market’s uh-MAZING Pimento Cheese and creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip. To make it my own signature snack, I fried up some bacon and crumbled the smoky bits neatly over each spinach hors d’oeuvre, then minced up some parsley and sprinkled the parsley over the cheesy pimento tarts.

OMGs DFW Food - Cocktail Party Hordeurvres

For the center cheese board, all I did was take my handy-dandy John Boos cutting board and line up five different cheese options, a hard, soft, goat, cheddar, and smoked, onto the board. Grapes, figs, pears, and strawberries will always find a buddy on the cheese board, and with a little peppered salami, sweet cured salami, and cracker choices, we were set to go! The decorative pieces were simply rosemary sprigs and a few small bowls of Marcona almonds and olives. Simple, quick, and easy!

Pastries were there because of the birthday celebration, but if you’re in Texas and looking for some incredible individual desserts for birthdays or just because you deserve a slice of chocolate cake, Central Market has the hookup!

North Texans, if you haven’t ventured into one of their five DFW locations, RUN; don’t walk! And, go on a Saturday to have the full experience of Foodies offering samples at every corner and of local bands playing live music while you shop! Everyone else in the world, Central Market has several locations across our great state. So, please be sure to visit a Central Market if you come to Texas!

Needless to say, post Ya-Ya Get-Together, in the wee hours of the morning, not a morsel was left. I love my Ya-Ya Sisterhood and our Get-Togethers, and I certainly hope this inspires you to start your own Ya-Ya Get-Together tradition with your friends, lifelong and new alike!

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Lemon Mint Water
2 Large Lemons Sliced
2 Bunches of Mint Leaves Roughly Chopped
Water
Ice

Muddle the sliced lemons and chopped mint leaves at the bottom of a pitcher. Add water and ice to fill. Then, enjoy this refreshing beverage!

OMGSDFWFOOD - Chef Francis Mallman

The last few days, I’ve been in a fog created by too much thinking and an overload of ideas. While that may sound very productive and possibly exciting to some, my general interpretation of this reoccurring event is like being strapped to a power grid for days with electricity coming out your ears and then having to sift through the lingering smoke to identify any remains of a usable thought. I get on these “I need knowledge” kicks and dive deep into culinary literature, documentaries, kitchen experiments and new restaurant discoveries. Most of the time, I end up with a new trick or two, a week’s worth of dirty dishes to clean and sometimes even something worthy to write. I start to think about everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing and then work backwards from there to illuminate my next steps from where I stand. And, for the first time in a while, yesterday the universe not only illuminated my steps but put a hand out to escort me over.

Just last week, my husband Bear and I decided to get Netflix. I know, VERY late to the party. We do Amazon Prime and never felt the need to add another subscription to our list. Anyway, the day before yesterday, I watched Chef, one of my favorite “feel-good and makes you want to make a grilled cheese sandwich afterwards” movies. P.S., my post-movie sandwich was crunchy, buttery, and amazing.

After the movie ended, Netflix auto-suggested a documentary series called Chef’s Table, the one everyone’s been buzzing about but I hadn’t seen since I didn’t have Netflix. What began as a curiosity quickly transformed into a profoundly intrinsic experience that left me desperate to latch back onto the power grid.

Essentially, for those who have yet to acquire Netflix (no judgement here), it’s a series focusing on chefs and their restaurants making a substantial impact on the culinary world in one way or another. They seek out the top restaurants in the world and bring light to the creation of their being. Season one highlights the journey of six iconic chefs, their gastronomic philosophies, creative insights, purpose, missteps and the reason behind their passion.

For anyone who just enjoys food and likes watching cooking shows, you might find this series fairly interesting. For those of you who live, breathe, work, and dream food, someone like me, this series will change your life. I watched all six episodes back to back. The first episode with Chef Massimo Bottura completely blew my mind and make me feel like a complete creative failure in life, all at the same time (in a good way), and somewhere around 3am, I got to the episode with Chef Francis Mallmann who, again, blew my mind then made me question some of my life decisions (in a good way) and flung me into the conclusion that true freedom is releasing those safe and invisible shackles which only you have the key to, so that you may fly as high as you’ve ever dreamed of flying.

“To grow and improve, you have to be there at the edge of uncertainty.” – Chef Mallmann.

Massimo Bottura TweetAfter getting about two hours of food-filled dreams, I reached out to Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore via social media to which he generously and graciously replied with a retweet (in my excitement, I forgot to include the word “the” in my tweet, but he responded so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to delete and resend – yes, I’m justifying an error).

And shortly thereafter, I noticed another tweet in my feed, but this time, from Chef Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian culinary icon who had, just hours before, inspired me to stop holding myself back from any part of my food-inspired dreams.

Francis Mallmann TweetLo and behold, there was the hand of destiny, calling me to come over and experience what I would consider a chance of a lifetime, a moment to a) personally thank Chef Mallmann for sharing his inspirational journey with the world and b) capture that moment plus any words of wisdom from this legendary figure.

 

I was less than an hour away from the Central Market location and was determined to not let this opportunity pass me by for any reason. So, I called the location to inquire further about his arrival. After speaking with the operator, calling again to speak with a floor manager who then said I needed to speak with the culinary school manager, all I ended up with was the ability to leave a message. I called three more times only to find out finally from the operator that Chef Mallmann was actually there for a private event which is why I couldn’t find anything on their website about his arrival.

He had inadvertently posted his visit… or had he?????

At this point, I knew that only I could unshackle myself from the confines of “private event” and risk that uncomfortable and awkward status of “stalker.” How could I allow this moment, this right-in-my-backyard moment, to slip away!?!

Then, the phone rang. It was Michelle, the culinary school manager from Central Market returning my original message.

Could it be that the food gods were moving pieces in my favor???

“So, that’s why I have received so many messages,” she said. “I’m sorry; it is a private event.”

I begged for a window and asked about possibly catching him once the event was over or perhaps when he might have a scheduled break. And, there it was, “He might have a moment between 3pm and 4pm, but that’s no guarantee you’ll get to see him.”

That’s all the encouragement I needed.

It was just before 3pm, and I needed to hurry to beat traffic. Yoga pants, t-shirt and ponytail uniform ready, I called my friend Bianca to join, warning her there might be a slight chance of being removed from the premises. She’s a rule-follower, but in true friend fashion, she reluctantly agreed and got into my vehicle since I was already parked right outside to get her.

For whatever reason I decided to take a different route to Central Market and allow Bianca to navigate the heavily trafficked waters of the tollway – something I never do. I used to work for Central Market many moons ago; I know exactly where I’m going and yet, we found ourselves barely arriving at nearly 5pm.

I’d missed it. I had missed my chance at being in the presence of an authentic culinary guru.

I didn’t care. I got out of the vehicle, quickly made my way in, and wrapped around the hidden stairs at the entrance. Straight up to the culinary school, determined to keep after the goal, I went – all while Bianca aggressively whispering, “We can’t go up there! It’s a private event!”

There he was. Standing at the top of the stairs, with a glass of wine in the middle of a group of people was the chef who had lifted my hesitation and breathed a draft of wind into the embers of my partially fulfilled culinary dreams, like a wooden bellow tending to its fire.

“I’m not coming up there,” whisper-shouted Bianca, as she poked her head around the corner of the stairs. I retreated back down and told her that she HAD to come up! I wasn’t going to let this moment pass, and someone had to take a photo!

Just as I got right back up to the top step, he had broken away from the crowd and was standing no less than two feet away from me and heading towards the hallway. So, I called out to him, “Chef Mallmann!”

With a beautiful grin and what appeared to be a sincere interest, he spoke with me for a few moments and allowed for a photo. I honestly can’t even remember if I told him my name, but what I do remember is that I did thank him for his inspiration, told him that I’d seen his tweet and that I knew I had to come meet him.

 

OMGSDFWFOOD - Chef Francis Mallman

While we should all understand that our strengths and abilities to achieve our dreams stem from our own ability to believe in ourselves, I am exceptionally grateful for the hand that destiny lent yesterday. Everyone needs a little inspirational reminder now and then to usher us along our path of destiny. Perhaps, the power grid session sparked more than I expected. I could not have imagined a better 24 hours of encouragement.

Marys VisionToday 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!

Borracho BeansBorracho Beans

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
Water
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.

Refried BeansTo 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!