Picadillos

Our beloved Matt Martinez Jr of Matt’s Rancho Martinez passed on a while back.  But, we still reference his cookbooks constantly.  This is one of my favorite cheap, quick weeknight meals.  You can add more or less water depending on how thick you want it.  The recipe calls for 4 cups, but I usually just add 3.

3 Tablespoons oil for browning the meat
1 pound ground beef (or any other ground meat you like)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (I like red)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
(I like to add a couple of teaspoons of chili powder, too)
3 Tablespoons flour
4 cups water (or less)
1 (4 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen peas
1 large potato, quartered and sliced thin

Brown the meat in the oil and then drain off extra oil.  Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and seasonings and cook until the vegetables start to get soft.  Add the flour and let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes.  Then add the water, tomato sauce, corn, peas and potatoes.  Cook until the potatoes flake with a fork.  I cook mine a little longer to let it thicken up a bit.  Serve warm with tortillas or chips and salsa.  

I love the stuff!

Underground Dinner with Ryan Barnett

You’ve heard of those underground dinners, right?  Pop-up restaurants?  Well, Hub and I were unexpected stand-ins for a good friend of ours who couldn’t make it.  I had always wanted to attend an event like this but never really gotten around to it.  Such fun!

It was held at My Private Chef in Deep Ellum by Chef Ryan Barnett.  There were two communal tables and a four course dinner.  Delicious!  Ryan likes to focus on locally sourced food.  The freshness and purity of the flavors really showed through in each dish.

Our first course was a chilled mussel salad with peach and grapefruit.  A light vinaigrette and the bitterness of the greens perfectly complimented the shellfish and the fruit.  I would have never thought of a mussel salad, but I will from now on.  It was very nice.

Next, a veloute’ of sweet Texas corn topped with a little crab and some thinly sliced green onion.  And sweet it was.  It was delicately, yet fully flavored.  Creamy and smooth, delicious with the little touch of crab.

I wanted to pick up the bowl and drink it.  But, I behaved and used my spoon!

Next on to the fish.  Flounder served with an assortment of local squash.  Very nice.  A squash blossom was a lovely touch, as well.  The flounder was cooked perfectly.

So good.  I love fish.  But, what I don’t usually like at all is lemon desserts.  I am glad that I’m not the type that won’t even try something I have disliked in the past because the lemon tart was fantastic!  Not overpowering.  Tender crust.  It really was excellent.

Chef Ryan will be doing these dinners every two weeks.  We went to the first one on the 3rd.  So check in with him for more info… ChefRB@me.com.  Request to be on the mailing list if you want to be notified of new dinners.  This one was $50 for four courses. It was BYOB with wine service provided.  The service was great.  Conversation was lively and the food…  wonderful!

Like Chef Ryan on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/ChefRyanBarnett

Del Frisco’s Grille for Lunch

What’s better than a free brunch at the new Del Frisco’s Grille?  Not much!      Hubbard and I were treated this Saturday and loved every bite.  This is the steakhouse’s answer to a bar and grill.  Very stylish and a great location.  The patios is spacious.  They even have an patio upstairs in their second dining area.  Bonus:  they serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  I love that.  I’m always craving something delicious on Saturday afternoons.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll be craving it, too!

I’m a sucker for deviled eggs.  With truffle-chive vinaigrette?  Are you kidding?

Hubbard is still talking about these cheesesteak eggrolls.  They really were delicious.  Tender beef.  Cheesy, crunchy.  Great idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Carbonara Flatbread.  Isn’t it lovely?  Prosciutto, Parmesan, cracked black pepper cream sauce.  Kind of like a ham and egg pizza but better.  And we still haven’t gotten to the the entrees yet.

Want a drink?  How about that white Sangria?  So light and refreshing.  Makes you want to drink it all day!  The Bloody Mary comes with a tray of garnishes that you can use to fix up your own glass.  I never got to that because I was actually just interested in tasting the mix.  I hate a dull Bloody Mary and this one was nothing but dull.  Not too spicy, still full of flavor.  Of course, the brunch punch isn’t too bad either.

Bacardi, Malibu, orange and pineapple juices, grenadine… yum!

When I go to a new place for brunch I always try the Benedict.  This one was particularly good.

Sitting atop white cheddar and scallion biscuits, topped with chipotle hollandaise, the eggs were perfectly prepared.  I’m pretty picky about poached eggs.  This was a great entree and very filling.  Hubbard had to try the chicken fried steak.  He makes a mean chicken fried steak here at our house.  So, he can be critical when it comes to CFS.  Not much to complain about when it’s made from ribeye!

The chorizo gravy gave a nice full flavor to the dish.  Hub liked it a lot.  The steak was very tender and not chewy or fatty at all.  And yes, the crust says on the meat when you cut into it!  Delicious fries.

Yes, they are really called Sea Salt and Parmesan Frites.  Call them whatever you want.  They’re really good.  Maybe not as good as the desserts.  But, damn close!

This was my favorite.  Coconut cream pie.  Delicious!

Bread pudding?

Lemon cake?

Oh, come on!  You know you want it!  We’ll be going back for sure!

Celebration for Lunch

I had been meaning to visit Celebration forever.  Evidently it’s been there since 1971.  It’s an old house converted into a restaurant and all the rooms are separate little dining rooms.  It has a full bar and some really good food.  It’s the kind of place you could take your grandmother.  She’d love it.  The food is wholesome and satisfying.  Hubbard said, “It’s what Black Eyed Pea wants to be”.

Basket of Mixed Breads

Basket of Mixed Breads

The breads were warm enough to melt the butter.  Freshly baked.

Field Greens with Red Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnuts with Lemon Garlic Dressing

I paid a dollar extra to have this as one of my three sides.  Worth every penny!  Actually, much better than I was expecting.  Kind of elegant.

Chicken Fried Chicken with Jalapeno Cream Gravy

I was very impressed with this.  I don’t usually order chicken breast because I hate dried out chicken.  This was moist and juicy.  Perfectly done.  The gravy had just a hint of spice.  Not hot or anything.  Mashed potatoes and roasted beets on the side.

Burgundy Pastures Chopped Beef with Mushrooms and Onions

Hub was pretty well into his plate before I got him to stop and take a picture.  He ate it all and liked it quite a lot.  Then he ate about a third of my chicken.  He loved that chicken.  Mashed potatoes and corn on the side.

Coconut Cream Pie

For sure someone’s grandmother made this.  It was delicious!   It all tastes homemade.  What’s not to like about that?

We both had a glass of wine and the bill was $49 before tip.  Keep in mind, the wine we chose was $9 a glass.  So, without the wine, that’s a pretty good price for a very good lunch.

Central Market Purchase of the Week

Besides the $9 a pound fresh Gulf shrimp I grabbed up, I like this living basil.  Questions:  Will it last long?  Will I be able to plant it outside when it’s for sure warm enough?  Will I just eat it all instead?!

Let’s See that House-Cured Bacon One More Time

Makin’ Bacon

Yes, Hubbard and I are the proud parents of a home-cured and apple wood smoked 3 lb slab of bacon.

Our pork belly spent it’s first 7 days covered in a dry cure made of Kosher salt, pink salt (nitrite) and dextrose (sugar).  Rubbed the bacon with the dry ingredients and then poured about half a cup of pure maple syrup over it.  Sealed it up, stuck it in the fridge and turned the meat every day or so.

Rinsed and ready to go.

Light a fire in the Big Green Egg.

Add some soaked apple wood chips to the fire.

Set up an indirect smoking rack.  We put down the pizza stone.  Shallow pan on the stone to catch juice.  Roasting rack with bacon.  Use your incredible Big Green Egg skills to get the unit to sit on 200 degrees for the next two hours.

There’s our toasty, roasty baby.  Nothing left to do now but…

Fry it up in pan!

So, what do we do with this 3 lbs of heaven?  Any ideas?