Texas is big and hot, and it does not have my old friends in it. But there is Tex-Mex – a great cuisine that combines some of the best Mexican and American ingredients. During one of my recent trips around the state, I got a recommendation from a new Houston friend to try the Reata Restaurant in Fort Worth. Fort Worth was a nice surprise. Robby and I really liked it and felt that  it’s underrated among Texans. Reata was a highlight of the trip there. So I brought their cookbook back with me to Maryland and joined my old friends for the March Cook Book Club. Joanne was gracious enough to let me use her house to cook, host the dinner, and stay the night. We ate a wonderful breakfast the next day on her patio in the perfect spring weather.Untitled

Maria is always so organized; she showed up with a wonderful shrimp ceviche. It was fresh and very addictive. I even had some for lunch the next day, and it was perfect. This will definitely be added to my normal rotation at home.
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I went to Totilleria Sinaloa in Fells Point and reminisced about walking there from my house. I bought chips to snack on and tortillas for my enchilada dish. The ladies also made some homemade tortillas that we fried and used for the ceviche and soup.
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Alayne made a Caesar salad that was rich but not heavy and used — surprise, surprise — vegan mayonnaise. She didn’t tell us until after we were enjoying it. Which was a good idea because I probably would have been prejudiced against it. It was a great salad.
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I made a drink called the Caramel Cowboy. Butterscotch Schnapps, Amaretto, and bubbly. It was so tasty that it elicted this statement from a CBC member: “I will ride this Cowboy all night long.” Enough said.

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Although I made a few of the entrees from the book before CBC, I decided to make a dish I ate at the restaurant but did not test: Ancho Chili Steak with Cheese Enchiladas.
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While the enchiladas were cooking, we enjoyed some unexpectedly delicious cream of jalapeno soup made by Joanne. She poured an ungodly amount of cream into it, and we were all a little worried but it turned out delicious and not too creamy.
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Julie choose to make the beans as a side dish to go with my steak. She added an entire six-pack of Negro Modelo to the beans and could have used more if we had more time for beans to absorb the beer. They tasted a little bitter, but I liked how it contrasted with the rich food.
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The steak was a bit of a disappointment to me. I ate it at the restaurant, and I remembered it as really tasty, dark, intense and flavorful. I marinated my steak all day but it came out a little bland. The recipe does not call for salt in the marinade, so next time I might add some.

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Elizabeth chose the fruit tacos for dessert. They were fun and challenging to make. She made some kind of dough then spread it out on a baking sheet to cook. The hard part was rolling the shells while they were hot.
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Next, they were filled with ice cream and marinated berries. We placed them on top of melted chocolate and topped them with shaved white chocolate.

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One of the most fun parts of the evening was recording the quotes that poured out of everyone’s mouths. It may have been the Caramel Cowboy’s we were drinking, but more likely we ladies were just being goofy and having a great time together.

See if you can guess who said what:

“At least I know I’m crazy.”

“From my butt to the pot.”

“There’s not enough goodness on my plate.”

“You keep me from dancing, you are an idiot.”

“The best Wal-Mart’s are in Florida. No one wears any clothes there.”

“So take this as a learn. P.S. I am not being insulting.”

“That’s not right. It looks like dandruff.”

“I got dandruff on my taco.”

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