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Restaurant News for April

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints


Serves 4 to 6

Smoked Corn Vinaigrette:

3 ears corn

1/4 cup cider vinegar

Pinch of saffron

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Soft-Shell Crab Tacos:

6 soft-shell crabs, cleaned

Olive oil, for brushing

Creole Spice (recipe follows), for dusting

12 Fresh Corn Tortillas, (recipe follows), warmed

1. Prepare a grill for indirect heat with a solid coal bed heated to 300 degrees. Bank the coals to the outer edge of the grill and nestle a small block of wood in the coals to smoke, then replace the grill grate.

2. Remove any dry or dark exterior leaves from the corn, leaving the bright green leaves intact. These leaves will give the corn layers of protection from the heat.

3. Lightly grill the corn on the side of the drum grill with hot, banked coals until the corn is golden and smoldering, then move the corn to the cool side of the grill, lower the grill lid and smoke the corn for 30 minutes. Oxygen is the fuel of the fire — you want the wood and coal to smoke and smolder — so if there is flame flare-up, close the vent and move some coal ash over the wood to snuff it out.

4. Before you close the lid on the grill when starting to smoke the corn, place a small saucepan with the vinegar and saffron over the banked coals. Simmer to steep the saffron for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the grill and let it stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the vinegar to develop color and flavor.

5. Remove the smoked ears of corn and allow them to cool at room temperature until they can be handled. Peel back the leaves and brush away the corn silk (use a towel if necessary, but do not rinse them — it will diminish the smoke flavor), exposing the interior cob. Stand an ear of corn on end inside a very large bowl, and use a sharp knife to slice from top to bottom of the ear, as close to the cob as possible, removing the kernels. Rotate the ear and repeat the process until all kernels have been removed. You should have about 1 3/4 cups kernels.

6. Combine the saffron-vinegar mixture and corn kernels with 1/4 cup water in a blender and puree until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and slowly stream the oil in to emulsify the vinaigrette and give it a smooth consistency. Season with salt to taste.

7. To cook the crabs, brush each one with oil and dust with Creole Spice. Toss the crabs on the hot side of the grill, shell side down, and cook for 2 minutes on each side, being careful not to let them burn. The crabmeat will be steamed inside the shell, and the shell will be charred. Transfer to a platter. To plate the dish, cut the crabs in half, allowing one half for each taco. Serve them family-style on a platter with fresh corn tortillas and the smoked corn vinaigrette.

Creole Spice:

Makes 3 cups

2 cups BBQ Paprika Pork Spice (recipe follows)

1/4 cup whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons dill seeds, ground

2 tablespoons celery seeds, ground

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons granulated onion

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, using your hands to break up any clumps. Do not refrigerate. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, such as your cupboard.

BBQ Paprika Pork Spice:

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1/3 cup curry powder

1/3 cup dark chili powder

1/3 cup smoked paprika

1/2 cup kosher salt

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, using your hands to break up any clumps. Do not refrigerate. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, such as your cupboard.

Fresh Corn Tortillas:

Makes 48

8 cups masa flour (preferably Maseca brand)

1. Measure out the masa into a large bowl. Add 6 2/3 cups water, 1 cup at a time, and work the masa with the water aggressively by squishing it through your fingers, until you get a dough that holds together without crumbling. Tortilla dough really depends on the weather; sometimes you will use more, sometimes less, water.

2. Cut out two 6-inch squares of waxed paper and set them aside. Measure out the dough into 2-ounce pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball shape.

3. If you have a tortilla press, lay one square of waxed paper down on the open press, set a ball of dough in the middle of the waxed paper, and place the other square of waxed paper on top of the ball. Close the hinged top of the press and apply even pressure, flattening the dough into a thin tortilla. If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can achieve the same goal using the bottoms of two heavy saute or omelet pans with the waxed paper.

4. Once each tortilla is pressed, remove the top layer of waxed paper. Using the bottom layer of waxed paper to handle the tortilla, place it on a hot cast-iron surface (such as a skillet). Sear the tortilla for about a minute on each side, until lightly brown in spots, turning with your fingers if you’re skilled at it or with a spatula. You don’t want to cook the tortilla too long — it should remain pliable.

You can press all the tortillas in advance: Keep them divided by squares of waxed paper so they do not stick together, then wrap the stack in plastic wrap. Place the tortillas in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. (They are best if cooked the same day.) Cooked tortillas may be stacked on top of each other without paper dividers, and you can reheat precooked tortillas when you are ready to serve. — From ‘Smoke’ by Tim Byres

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We've wondered what took so long. Campisi's, Dallas' iconic pizza kitchen that is nearly seven decades old and that has eight locations that expand into Plano, Frisco and Rockwall, is finally opening its first Tarrant County outlet this month in a shopping center in Fort Worth's Ridglea neighborhood. Owner David Campisi learned the family business from his grandfather, Joe, who, along with his brother, Sam, served Dallas its first slice of pizza in 1946, the restaurant says. Dedicated customers lovingly refer to the Mockingbird Lane original as "The Egyptian" (for the old sign out front from a former business) and swear by the landmark pizzeria's oval-shaped pies, like the All the Way, with sausage, salami, mushrooms, green peppers and green onions, or the muffaletta, with salami, Canadian bacon and olive spread. Campisi's newbies should know that the restaurant also serves nonpizza entrees like Italian-style strip sirloin (topped with mushrooms and butter sauce), grilled pork chops and eggplant Parmesan along with pastas, soups, salads and sandwiches. Expect a mid- to late-month opening. 6150 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, www.campisis.us.


There's a new source for sugar rushes in Fort Worth. Sugar & Frosting, Old Town Keller's sweet spot for baked treats, has added a second location near Hulen Mall while expanding its enchanting offerings to include gourmet popcorn and bulk candy. Pastry chef Melody Fitzgerald and her husband and business partner, Daniel, who also run Keller's Southern Breeze Market & Cafe, took over the former location of Sweet Boutique on Overton Ridge Boulevard, keeping the former store's sweet and savory popcorn and nostalgic candy selections. Popcorn flavors like jalapeño ranch, toffee almond, dill pickle and traditional caramel and kettle corn are now offered at both Sugar & Frosting locations, while cupcakes and bakery items are brought in every morning from Keller to Fort Worth. Melody says baskets with cupcakes, cake pops, colorful popcorn and candy have quickly become popular gift items. 4801 Overton Ridge Blvd., Suite 124, Fort Worth, 817-292-4040, www.sugarandfrosting.com.


Kenny Mills became known as a burger buff when his Chop House Burgers in Pantego was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives last year. But Mills says he's really a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy. He has more than 25 years of steakhouse experience, including stints at Capital Grille and Sullivan's Steakhouse in Dallas, and is ready to show off his grilling skills when he opens Chop House Steaks & Seafood this month. "The kitchen and dining room has a '70s and '80s steakhouse feel," Mills says. "We're going after the type of restaurant Steak & Ale was back in the day, but more Texas-themed." The steakhouse will offer a 15-foot salad bar, mesquite wood-grilled Texas steaks, Texas wine and Texas spirits. Prices will hover around $30. Chop House Burgers fans will still see plenty of Mills. "With the locations just five blocks apart, I can still keep my hand in both places at the same time." 2230 W. Park Row, Suite A, Pantego. www.chophouseburgers.com.


With chic, modern interiors and a focus on top-notch service and fresh cuisine, Dallas-based Howard Wang's China Grill is not just another Chinese hole-in-the-wall or fast-casual eatery. Southlake diners can see for themselves when the restaurant opens a location in the Shops of Southlake late this month. Renderings show spacious six-person booths, low-hanging crimson-red lamps, bamboo-covered walls and a private dining area, separated by a curtain. Standout items from the seafood-heavy menu include prawns in a spinach-infused sake sauce and thick scallops stir-fried in black peppercorn oyster sauce. Visit and toast the opening with Howard Wang's signature cocktail, the red lotus -- an Asian-inspired cosmopolitan with fresh lychee. 1471 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, www.hwrestaurants.com.


Denton diners will get a new a taste from Tim Love this month when he opens Queenie's Steakhouse, a tribute to his mother, Margaret, in a former Love Shack burger eatery location. "My mother has been an inspiration for everything I have done," says the Fort Worth chef, who is the youngest of seven siblings. "She deserves 20 restaurants to be named after her." Love says patrons will see his mother's influence across Queenie's fine dining menu, from the mac and mornay cheese to the texture of his steaks, which will include a 20-ounce bone-in Kansas City strip and a Kobe outside skirt steak. "She used to make the best version of bresaola and béchamel over toast -- creamy, crunchy from the bread and a little chew from the shaved beef," he says. "I try to accomplish the same thing with my steaks -- crunchy crust on the outside, velvety tenderness on the inside." Queenie's will be open for lunch Friday and for dinner Thursday through Saturday to start. 115 E. Hickory St., Denton, 940-442-6834.


Last year, the Boomstick, the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington's two-foot, $26 loaded hot dog that requires its own carrying case, gained national attention for its gargantuan size. This year, Texas Rangers concessionaires are aiming to fuel the fire of the big-food craze with even more giant-sized selections, like the Beltre Buster, a 24-ounce hamburger named for Adrian Beltre, and the Murph-A-Dilla, a 24-inch quesadilla created to honor David Murphy. Find the colossal selections at 24, one of the Ballpark's new concessions where all items are either 24 inches or 24 ounces. We're most excited about Chippers, a new kiosk featuring freshly fried potato chip nachos, including an island-style option topped with pineapple salsa, shredded coconut and sweet pepper rings. But we're even more thrilled to cool off with one of the Ballpark's new beer floats. Shock Top Lemon Shandy and Hoegaarden stout will top Blue Bell ice cream, creating a sweet and savory way to endure those hot summer nights. 1000 Ballpark Way, Arlington, 817-273-5222, www.texasrangers.com.


Fire is Tim Byres' favorite kitchen tool. The Dallas culinary star was named best new chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2012 for the primitive cooking techniques used in the simple yet intricately prepared dishes found at his acclaimed restaurant, Smoke. Now Byres illustrates his passion through his new cookbook, Smoke: New Firewood Cooking (Rizzoli, $40), set to release April 30. "The book is not about the restaurant but the journey to get there," says Byres, who writes that he found his "food voice" while experimenting at Smoke. "It's about getting back to real cooking again with a focus on handmade and homemade." Byres gives readers recipes for entrees like plank-smoked trout salad and chile-grilled quail along with pickles, relishes, breads and spice blends. Step-by-step illustrations are also offered for building a fire pit, smokehouse or spit at home, as well as carving a brisket. "The goal is to demystify some of these things," he says. On Indulgedfw.com, Byres shares his recipe for soft-shell crab tacos with smoked corn vinaigrette, which he recommends serving with squash blossoms and squash relish. "This kind of food is really primal, so you kind of get a personal relationship with what you're doing." Make the entire dish from scratch by using Byres' sub-recipes for Creole spice and fresh corn tortillas.


"Cumin and garlic are good for you, so we use a lot of it," says Mary Perez of her vibrantly fresh, preservative-free enchilada sauces, which have sold at Central Market, Roy Pope Grocery and grocers across Texas for nearly two years. Now the bubbly Fort Worth native has opened Enchiladas Olé, a small neighborhood restaurant named for her award-winning jarred sauces, located near historic Oakhurst and the burgeoning Race Street. "We already have a nice little group of regulars," Perez says, adding that some visit twice in a day for breakfast and dinner. The brightly painted eatery has generated buzz (and a visit from Mayor Betsy Price, we hear) for its refreshing take on traditional Tex-Mex. After one toothsome bite, we now regularly crave Perez's smoked chicken enchiladas smothered in her sweet yet nutty, ancho chile-based molé sauce. "I top the enchiladas with sesame seeds and use sesame oil in the sauce," Perez says. "It's just like cooking at home. We don't cut corners." 901 N. Sylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 817-984-1360, www.enchiladasole.com.


Macaluso's Italian Restaurant, a red-checkered-tablecloth casual eatery from former Fortuna manager Zeke Jusufi, has moved into the former Grady's space on Forest Park Boulevard. The lengthy, reasonably priced menu offers a stuffed mushroom appetizer, baked pastas, fettuccine with salmon, and veal six ways. Open for lunch and dinner. 2443 Forest Park Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-921-2200, www.macalusos

restaurant.org. Twisted Root Burger Co. now has a location in Bedford. The family-friendly eatery is known for its handmade shakes and half-pound burgers, including turkey, black bean and wild game meats like venison, elk, emu and even kangaroo. 2820 Central Drive, Bedford, 682-444-5650, www.twistedrootburgerco.com. The Cowtown Farmers Market's downtown location is open for the spring season. The producers-only market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Tuesday at Federal Plaza Park, offering local produce, bread and baked goods, soaps, tamales and more. 1000 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth, www.cowtownmarket.com. The Botanical Research Institute of Texas will launch a farmers market April 6, taking place on the first Saturday of the month. The market will be open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at BRIT, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth. Live music and food trucks are planned. 817-546-8691; www.brit.org. The initially unstable Buffalo West has hired Darrin Green, formerly of Ridglea Country Club, as the new executive chef. Green has updated the menu to include casual cuisine like Monte Cristo and grilled chicken sandwiches as well as upscale entrees like roasted duck and herb-crusted lamb rack. The restaurant will begin lunch service daily by month's end. 7101 Camp Bowie West, Fort Worth, 817-732-2370, www.buffalowestfw.com. Café Modern will host "A Tour Through California Wine Regions" on April 12, featuring a five-course dinner from its executive chef, Dena Peterson. Wine pairings include a 2008 Atlas Peak cab and 2009 Etude pinot noir. $89 per person; reservations required. 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth, 817-840-2157, www.themodern.org. Downtown Granbury will host the fourth annual Granbury Wine Walk on April 25-27 on the historic square plaza. Wrist-banded guests can enjoy live music, vendor booths and wines from 15 Texas wineries. The event will begin April 25 with Sip & Savor, a tasting featuring bites from big-name chefs like Dallas' Tiffany Derry, and Fort Worth's Lou Lambert and Molly McCook. Two-day tickets are $20 online and $25 at the event. Sip & Savor tickets are $100. www.granburywinewalk.com. Central Market is taking customers to South America during its Passporte Brasil event -- a celebration of Brazil's cuisine and culture. Brazilian truffles, coffee, cheese bread and seafood recipes of Rio de Janeiro will be featured at both the Fort Worth and Southlake stores, along with Brazilian wines exclusively imported by Central Market. Renowned Brazilian chefs will visit to host cooking classes, including cookbook author and TV host Yara Castro Roberts (April 27 in Fort Worth, $75), who will sign copies of her cookbook, The Brazilian Table. April 24-May 7, www.centralmarket.com.

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