Uncategorized, Baking Recipes, Cape Cod, Seafood, boston, Savory

Seared Scallops with Corn Summer Salad

Hey there readers! It is summertime which means one thing for this Critiquing Carnivore…Cape Cod! That’s right, as per usual, I’m back on the glorious Cape and serving up some delicious local fare and eating at the best spots. With my newfound inspiration (and obsession) with Bon Appetit Magazine, I have been waiting for moments to recreate some of their seafood recipes. Today, we’re talking scallops.

The day we made this recipe my mom and I were sitting on the beach and she mentioned getting seafood of some kind for dinner. I love scallops, like yum yes please, so I simply sat there and prayed to the scallop gods that they would be a reasonable price at the fish market. Obviously, it worked! Scallops were bought and I got myself on Bon Appetit’s website.

Chef Carla Lalli Music (@lallimusic) developed this Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce recipe and it very quickly became our inspiration! There is a YouTube video on this recipe to follow along with Carla as she is making the dish, too!

Like I said, this recipe served as inspiration so we tweaked and added some things. First we seared the scallops, we used olive oil while the recipe suggests either that or vegetable. Scallops don’t take that long to cook so, as the recipe video describes, keep an eye on how they turn opaque as well as the sear on the top, flat side. Three to four minutes on the first side should do, you’ll only need two on the other.

In our version, we sautéed spinach in the delicious aftermath of the scallops to serve as our base. Spinach is awesome because it works with anything and is so healthy and good for you!

Then we started with the brown butter and lemon sauce. I highly recommend referring to the recipe video for how to cut the lemon membrane. It’s easy once you see it, but the wording can make it a little confusing. When you add it to the brown butter the lemon practically melts and the aroma is spectacular. As you swirl and stir the sauce, I recommend lightly pressing the bottom of the spoon you’re using. It just sort of helped the lemon to dissolve fully in the pan. Instead of capers we used parsley, which Carla suggests as a substitute in the video.

Paired with the scallops, we prepared a simple corn, tomato, onion, and cucumber salad. Fresh, light, summery, perfect.

This was a great summer dish, it was so light and bright with the lemon sauce giving so much lemon flavor and acidity. After tasting the sauce, my mom and I immediately agreed this sauce would be fantastic on pork, chicken, anything! The lemon bits really heightened the lemon flavor and it was fun learning a new technique from Carla!

I highly recommend this recipe for the summer, the additions we made elevated the recipe and created more of a cohesive meal rather than just a main dish of scallops. If you’re a lemon fan like me get to the kitchen and start cutting those lemons! Bon Appetit!

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Bakery, Baking Recipes, Cookies, Sweets, Uncategorized

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey readers! Today is a glorious day because the great Bon Appétit magazine has published and graced our kitchens with a new BA’s Best Recipe…the best chocolate chip cookies.

Chris Morocco who, if you have never watched any of Bon Appétit’s YouTube videos, is the man everyone turns to for advice and help and is the creator of this amazing recipe. When it came out, I knew I had to get in the kitchen and try them out!

I’ll start with this: chopped bittersweet chocolate versus chocolate chips. Both are great and the chips are the classic look, but the chopped up chocolate gives you chocolate in literally every bite and makes the cookie much more gooey, oozing with chocolate. Morocco is great and instructs that you can use chocolate chips, giving you all the options and measurements for both routes.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that you brown the majority of the butter, heating it in a saucepan and letting it bubble and, well, brown! Typically recipes call for room temp butter, but melting the butter gave it a really smooth texture right from the start. Along with the melted butter Chris Morocco calls for a lot of dark brown sugar compared to white sugar giving the batter a great, rich dark color. As you add the egg and egg yolks, the color softens and mellows out giving you that classic brown color.

If you are familiar with the BA Test Kitchen then you probably know that these chefs love their salt. Like the “pinch of salt” they use is like a mountain on my computer screen (even though it probably isn’t that much salt), so with that said when I saw this chocolate chip cookie recipe called for three quarters teaspoons of kosher salt (not your typical table salt folks) I was a little…😳. But y’all that salt in the end adds such a nice saltiness to the cookies that pairs perfectly with the sweetness and ratio of the chocolate. It really isn’t too much and I’m sure Chris Morocco spent time figuring out the perfect amount of salt for this recipe.

When it came to baking I usually start with the least amount of baking time to see how they do, how my oven is affecting them, etc. At the eight minute mark they were still a little too under-baked so I gave it nine minutes and thirty seconds. I think that ended up being a great time for the cookies…not over cooking them, but still giving you that gooey center. In the end I also got 27 cookies 🤷🏻‍♀️ some I made the big bakery style cookies that Morocco has been posting on his Instagram and others I did a more classic, smaller size hence the odd number. In any event, he says you get 16 cookies, but there is definitely enough batter to make much more than that! The cookies really expanded and grew out so that also helped with the size, getting bigger cookies!

This really is one of the perfect recipes (I am still biased towards the classic Hershey recipe) and this is definitely going to become a staple, go to recipe. Chris Morocco is a saint and I love Bon Appétit and all the chefs, but Morocco has my heart because of this fantastic cookie recipe. Go and try it out and enjoy the gooey goodness that Chris Morocco has graced us with.

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American, Dallas, Fort Worth, Italian, Seafood, Uncategorized

The Charles- Dallas, TX

Driving through the Design District in Dallas on a Saturday night the streets are quiet, barely lit from street lighting appearing to be…lets say questionable. My friends, Diana and Jonathan, are finally taking me to their favorite spot. They’ve constantly talked about this vibrant, dashing Italian inspired restaurant. The Design District, being dark and my first time in the area, made me curious about the spot based on the surroundings (although I could be wrong). Then you walk into The Charles and you are immediately transported into a different world.

It’s 8:45pm and the party is just getting started here at The Charles. The bar full to the brim, every seat filled with happy faces of satisfied and hungry customers. It takes me a moment to adjust to the crowd as we made our way to the bar, where we wait for our table. Every server is squeezing by and weaving through people, kindly acknowledging everyone they may accidentally tap. The bartender, who comes to help us, greets us with a smile and energy that is too hard to explain- an electric charge that exudes around him. One of the collaborators, Chas Martin, knows my friends and makes a point to say hello, give us each a kiss on the cheek, and give off the energy ten times bigger than the bartender. You can tell he has put his heart and soul into the restaurant. You see him fluttering from table to table, person to person, making a point to connect with everyone in his establishment.

The decor of The Charles is like entering the fantasy of someone’s innermost dreams. Exposed beams create an industrial look, light fixtures that resemble bubbles or balloons adorn the ceilings. Dainty wallpaper on one wall contrasts with the leopard print chairs and benches. Boars heads, ancient Italian vases and corbels, and feather looking chandeliers all contribute to the fantasy image that one embarks upon entering The Charles. A different feel and vibe than any other Italian restaurant and I loved every bit that I took in.

When our table was ready, our sweet waitress took the time to explain the concept and idea of The Charles- family style dinner where you order several different courses and share. How very Italian. She, like the other bartender and staff, had a “je ne sais quoi” that is something you have to experience there for yourself. My friends and I all agreed, there must have been extensive or precise training for the staff to have gone through to all make the experience an incredible and special one.

The chef, J. Chastain, and Martin traveled to Italy together to immerse themselves in the Italian culture, look, and food. I learned this from my insider friends who know what’s what, especially in the Dallas food scene. You can tell by looking at the menu that this trip struck inspiration because it exudes Italian inspired items. The chef did his research and created a menu that is exquisite, rustic while also being elegant.

We started with wood fried oysters and I must say that I do not like oysters, but my friends convinced me that these are not your typical oysters. These are wood fired topped with crispy pepperoni and parsley- these will most likely be the only oysters I will ever eat in my life. The texture is not that of a raw oyster, but rather lightly cooked and not the usual slimy touch. The other item that was a first for this carnivore was beef tartare- the theme is that I don’t typically eat anything raw. This tartare was divine though, the bed of beef on top of a toasted piece of garlic bread and adorned with pepper chips and served with ricotta. These menu items I highly recommend for your starters and both are a good introduction to raw proteins.

Our next few courses came out and they are true stars. I’ll begin with the pastas:

Our first pasta is the veal ragu cappelloni which appears to be a fan favorite when you look up The Charles on Instagram. Served in a Parmesan cream sauce the cappelloni was stuffed with ragu and paired beautifully with the light sauce. Secondly we ordered the spicy creste di gallo which is a spicy shrimp, red sauce based pasta dish. The spicy kick compliments the dish as a whole and doesn’t leave your mouth on fire or with that kick stick in the back of your throat. Lastly to round out the pastas we couldn’t resist getting the cacio pepe fritters that had a delectable garlic fromage base and hint of lemon. Each pasta dish was cooked to utter perfection. Having been to Italy before each dish had that Italian inspiration with a twist to it and I felt like I could tell the chef knew what he was doing when it came to cooking the pasta. I highly recommend each of these dishes, but for me the creste di gallo takes the cake.

As for our main entree dish the pork spoke to all three of us. Fathoming this much food was a bit daunting, but the menu really has so much to offer and we couldn’t resist. Thank goodness we didn’t let the daunting task win because this pork was some of the best I’ve had. Boasting fennel, mushrooms, and orange twist the pork was a beautiful pink color inside, juicy and oozing flavor. It cut like butter and as soon as it graced my taste buds I was in heaven. It was extremely flavorful and to my delight immensely, but not overpoweringly, peppery. While there are several eye catching entrees, I would return solely for this pork dish alone (but we all know that I wouldn’t get just the one dish either). The chef really took my breathe away with this pork, to the point where I wish I had bread to collect the sauce (I would say that is the one and only downside to the restaurant, I wish I had something to soak up all the sauces and creams from each dish, seeing that licking plates in public is not necessarily acceptable).

By the end we were stuffed, the idea of dessert out of the question. But this meal was so special and we didn’t want the night to end so dessert was ordered and again we made a great choice. We tried both the infamous olive oil cake and the tiramisu. This tiramisu had a much darker color than the typical one, but still had that the great rich flavor everyone loves. The olive oil cake was moist and fluffy, drenched in almond tuile and bedazzled with grapes and a blanket of mascarpone.

The food at The Charles is obviously the principal of the show, but the soloists and corps de ballet frame the principal to create a performance that is technical, fluid, and stunning. From the interior decoration, the personalities and hospitality of every single person working there, and the attention to detail is what really makes The Charles an experience that you will forget. Accompanied with the great company of fantastic friends, The Charles is a place everyone should treat themselves to, whether it be a quiet date night or a fun night out with a group of friends. Either way you will be welcomed with open arms, just as the Italians do.

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American, Baking Recipes, Italian, Savory, Uncategorized

The Risotto Fiasco

This is the story of how I messed up, improvised, and succeeded at making risotto.

Okay, first of all, this is why I bake. I love cooking and I love how I can be experimental and try new things and make it up as I go, but sometimes it bites me in the ass.

In this case, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m about to go into the craziest time ever with a triple bill where I’m dancing all three pieces first cast (if you’re new to the blog, I’m a professional ballet dancer…yeah hi) so I wanted to make something really special. I’m single, I have the weekend to myself to rest and recoup so I wanna do a little “treat yo-self”.

When I first thought of what I wanted to make I immediately thought of my mom’s risotto. Creamy and perfectly cooked- my mom is an amazing cook, the best actually. I figured I could totally do this and boy was I wrong.

I called my mom roughly seven times- SEVEN- about how to make it, what kind of rice to get, why is there only organic shit, what kind of wine do I use, etc, etc.

So in the end, I had decided I wasn’t going to make this. I just was too in over my head. And then I found myself in the food store, wandering the rice aisle, and I grab a box that says “Risotto”. I call my mom and try to figure out what kind of wine to get and mention that the box says to add water. My mom said to me, “what did you get, I use chicken broth and it’s a long process. It takes time to make risotto.”

I BOUGHT THE WRONG STUFF. I am a Cancer zodiac sign too so you know I started getting upset and mad at myself. I spent all this money to make a dish that I don’t know how to make and had bought the wrong ingredients. I even had a freak out about having the wrong pot to make this risotto.

I was stuck- but this Critiquing Carnivore rallied herself together. I am my mother’s daughter and I can figure this out as I go and…improvise! *cue jazz hands*

Firstly, I bought Lundberg family farms organic arborio risotto- basically instant risotto instead of plain arborio rice. The instructions on the side say to use 2.5 cups of water, but instead I used 2 cups of water and half a cup of white wine. My mom said to use Sauvignon Blanc, naturally I had already gotten Pinot Grigio (at least I’m sticking to character with getting the WRONG INGREDIENTS). I also added a little lemon juice to add some acidity to it. With classic risotto instead of water you usually slowly ladle in chicken broth a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid. My mom adds in the white wine and lemon juice for taste.*

In the end I added some chopped onions I had quickly sautéed as well, just to add some texture (and I love onions).

So moral of the story is mom’s know best and the risotto fiasco ended up working out. The boxed stuff came out okay (definitely not the same as my mom’s) and once I stirred in extra Parmesan cheese and top it off with parsley, I still felt like a Top Chef Queen.

*the risotto stayed pretty soupy up until the 15 minute mark- if you go the boxed risotto route DO NOT WORRY. The rice will absorb all the liquid in the end and if not just remove the pot from heat. If you cook it too much and the risotto looks dry, I would recommend adding more water…or wine 😉

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY INSTAGRAM: @CRITIQUINGCARNIVORE

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American, Beef, Burgers, Fort Worth

Knife Burger- Fort Worth, TX

Hello readers! Wow, I’ve been in a ballet hole for a while therefore I’ve been neglecting this fun little blog. Thank you for your continuous support and reading, be sure to follow my Instagram!

Now to the meat of the blog (I’m quite punny) I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for this: the Fort Worth Food Hall is officially open! This has been a huge topic in Fort Worth and with it open now I had to get myself in there!

Located in the West 7th district of FW, the hall boasts everything from shawarma to poke bowls and cheesecakes to decadent waffles. These chefs mostly came into the food hall after operating food trucks, so a strong name was needed to spear head the project…Knife Burger.

The baby of Knife in Dallas, Knife Burger is owned by John Beard award winning chef John Tesar. Some of you may also know him from his Top Chef days! I’ve been dreaming of going to both Knife and Knife Burger, so when I found out Tesar’s baby was coming to the Fort I made a point to get myself there ASAP!

The entire food hall is incredible, but Knife Burger takes the cake. Featuring a bar next door and holding the most space you know they are the anchors for the food hall. The cubicle type spacing is small, but an appropriate size.

The way Knife Burger works is you have two options: pink or no pink. They don’t do any in betweens, so for the first time I did a no pink Ozersky Burger which is their classic American cheese burger with red onions. Naturally I got fries to go with it! These burgers are a little on the expensive side, but remember it’s a James Beard award winning chef’s restaurant.

The burger itself was quite small, a bit of a disappointment. I definitely could have gotten a double and finished it off. The cheese was incredible, gooey and melted over the burger. The bun was toasted perfectly and was fluffy. The meat was good, but because I went the no pink route it was a bit overdone for my burger liking. I definitely would like to try their pink burger and see how rare or medium it really is. The burger bun was really salty, which for me I didn’t mind, but for others I could see it being too salty.

These fries…these fries are the crispy strands of goodness. Every fry was fried to perfection, crispy and soft inside. And every single one was crispy, no mushy French fries were found! Praise! These fries were very salty like the burger bun, but I like a salty fry! I could see it being too much for some though, something to consider as a chef/restaurant. Overall, I will definitely be going to Knife Burger for my 1am salty fix!

Knife Burger met my expectations, even if it did fall short in some areas. The burger was a bit small and the restrictions on the cooking level are not ideal, but all in all Knife Burger was great. They were timely firing food out as well and the workers welcomed you and took your order with a smile. I look forward to coming back and trying some of the other burger options and soon other options in the Food Hall.

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Baking Recipes, Savory, Uncategorized

Chickpea Stew Recipe

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and frankly it’s been a while since I’ve made something from a recipe! I’m definitely one of those cooks who makes it up as they go, but sometimes you need a little inspiration. I’ve recently become obsessed with chickpeas and I’ve been wanting to find a recipe that’s both easy and delicious using them! Thank goodness for Pinterest because I found an awesome recipe that’s also vegan and gluten free! I know, I’m pretty proud of myself. 😋

I used canned chickpeas, solely because it’s easier and takes less time, but be sure to soak your chickpeas overnight if you aren’t going the canned route! This recipe was so easy and simple it will definitely become a staple in my house. It was very delicious and full of flavor that this carnivore didn’t miss the meat! I recommend pairing this with some rice, I chose jasmine rice in this case, to really soak up the flavors!

I highly recommend this recipe from Healthier Steps for your next family dinner, it’s definitely a keeper!

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Beef, Fort Worth, Mexican, Seafood, Tacos, Uncategorized

Bartaco- Fort Worth, TX

Y’ALL. I’M SORRY.

I know it’s been over two months since I’ve posted an actual blog, but I’ve been eating lots of delicious foods this summer that have been documented on the ‘Gram (@critiquingcarnivore) Nothing has been really blog worthy…so lame and a poor excuse, but that’s what it is. Anyway, I’m back and back in the state of Texas and how else was I going to spend my first night in the heat than spend money I don’t have and eat some great tacos! One of the newest additions is Bartaco.

Across from HG Sply, along the Trinity in Westbend is Bartaco, the white building catching your eye walking by the river. You walk inside and it has a Mexican beach look, wicker notes and white plank walls. The hostess was inviting and accommodating while we waited for a table, although the front is pretty tiny and not great for several parties to be waiting for a table. However, the bar is located directly to your left as you walk in, inviting you to pull up a chair and have one of their amazing cocktails while waiting.

We were sat down and our waitress was cute and asked if we had been before. Two out of four of us had not, but she didn’t care to explain the system of how things work thoroughly. She explained some how to order, but some things she wasn’t clear about. I understand, half of us did know, but regardless an explanation of the different kind of service offered is always welcome for newcomers. With that said, she did explain that you order almost the way you would sushi. You mark on a personal piece of paper what you’d like to order with a pencil, marking the item and quantity. Upon completion, I later figured out, you place a card to flag your server (you do this almost every time you want their attention). They go through everyone’s order to confirm and you’re done! It’s a different way for ordering tacos, but for the kitchen it may be easier to help fire food.

If you don’t know this about me then here you go: before going somewhere new I always check them out on instagram beforehand. One thing I learned from instagram is that the drinks are incredible, fun combinations and well made. One drink that has had some recognition is called Smoke on the Water. With mezcal, watermelon, lemon, and mint this drink is super refreshing and not sweet! For a hot day it’s perfect and overall the prices were not astronomical. Also, they make for cute pictures…look how pretty!

A couple of things pertaining to the tacos. These guys are small, only four inch tortillas. I recommend at least three, maybe four plus. They also aren’t full of lettuce or tomato, it’s loaded with your main ingredient and topped with herbs and some extra flavor enhancers. Another tip…keep track of who got what. They brought the tacos out at once and some orders were put on the same trays. Make sure everyone got the right amount and right options. Then, divide and conquer.

Guys, look at me eating seafood in Texas! Yes, I just saw the cod and couldn’t say no. It was a nice piece of fish with a good fry to it, but I would’ve loved some more cilantro or something with it. Definitely recommend adding some pepper sauce (there are three different kinds on the table, jalapeño and habanero are two options) to add some flavor. I would’ve added some pepper for seasoning as well. Prepared well, just needed some kick.

Next up, pork carnitas! A taco staple, carnitas are slow cooked pork, shredded to delicious perfection. These carnitas were delicious with some more condiments and flavors coming together than the fish. The tangy mojo sauce added some nice elements, this was a favorite of both instagram and myself.

Lastly, the fan favorite of all is the chicken pastor: achiote marinated chicken with grilled pineapple this is definitely the most flavorful of the three tacos. The chicken was grilled and marinated wonderfully, the pineapple adding that acidic tang to balance the taco. By far this was the best taco, I was sad I only got one.

Overall Bartaco is a great new spot for tacos in Fort Worth. With killer cocktails and an array of taco options (duck, redfish, pork belly, oh my!) this will soon be THE stop along the Trinity. All the bikers and runners will flock here to recoup, taking a breather and being sure to stay hydrated! 🍹

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