kitchen catch-all

eating in

  • For St. Patrick’s Day, I made Tartelette’s Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Creme.  Tartelette is also a Charleston resident, and her site is full of gorgeous photography and delicious baked goods, and definitely worth checking out.  She features a lot of gluten free recipes, so especially check her out if you’re looking for gluten free food.  This Pots de Creme recipe combines a couple of my favorite things: whiskey and chocolate.  The recipe is really similar to the Hominy Grill Chocolate Pudding recipe I’ve written about previously, except this recipe is sweetened with honey instead of sugar and obviously, involves whiskey.  Despite the whole baking-in-a-waterbath thing, the recipe is pretty quick to put together, and the result is DELICIOUS.  Thick, richly chocolatey, not sickeningly sweet, with a warm hint of whiskey. If you, like me, are a big chocolate pudding fan and/or big whiskey fan, check this recipe out.
  • Saturday morning I decided to be fancy and make the Sticky Lemon Rolls that had caught my eye on The Kitchn this week.  First and foremost, let me say this: if you want to have these rolls on a Saturday morning, start them on Friday night. They need two separate one-hour rises, plus 30 minutes of bake-time, so the time to start them is not 9 am on Saturday if you want to have them for breakfast. Despite the long prep time, these rolls are DELICIOUS.  I didn’t have the called-for cream cheese to make the cream cheese frosting, so I made a simple glaze with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  They weren’t as sweet or pretty as they would have been with the cream cheese frosting, but they were still a unique and tasty treat.  I even took some pictures for y’all:
  • I’m not too proud to admit that I make an occasional Rachael Ray recipe. I cooked a lot of her recipes when I was first starting out as a cook, and many of them remain favorites.  On rainy Sunday evening, I made her Sweet Onion Mac and Cheese, which is basically an extra cheesy French onion soup meets pasta. It was delicious.

eating out

  • Wednesday we went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday with dinner at Wild Olive, an Italian restaurant on John’s Island.  Wild Olive is a newer venture from the people who brought us the Fat Hen, a French restaurant very similar to downtown’s Rue de Jean, another favorite, where the owner of Fat Hen and Wild Olive was once a chef.  One of my favorite things about Wild Olive is the $25 carafes of house wine.  I also love that, much like Rue and Fat Hen, they have a delicious mussels appetizer– Wednesday I tried the white wine, fennel, and sundried tomato variety, and, as expected, they were delicious, with a yummy, buttery sauce that we ate up by soaking bread with it.  The beef carpaccio was also quite good.  For an entree, I decided to try something new and went with ricotta gnocchi with wild boar ragu.  It was delicious!  Any readers who visit Charleston would do well to remember that all the good restaurants aren’t just down town, and both Wild Olive and Fat Hen are worth checking out.
  • Saturday we checked out a place in Mount Pleasant called Crave Kitchen and Cocktails that I had never heard of until friends asked if we wanted to go.  While I’m not sure it ranks in my top 10 or even 20 Charleston restaurants, and it had a fairly generic atmosphere, Crave’s food was prepared well and presented beautifully.  I’m a huge fan of mussels, and we tried both varieties of the mussel appetizer, one in a coconut red curry broth similar to one I’ve had at Atlanticville, the other a more traditional white wine broth like I’ve had at Rue de Jean and the Fat Hen.  Both were large portions that would be a bargain at the regular price of $10, even more amazing at a half-price special they were running.  I had a cedar-planked salmon entree which was served ON the plank with a Greek spinach salad featuring artichokes and olives and feta.  It was pretty good, though the fish was a little dry and could perhaps have used a marinade or sauce of some sort. Jon had a burger, which he said was very good, and our dining companions had sea bass, which was very impressively plated, and butter-poached seafood, which featured some really tasty lobster claws.  Just goes to show that even a Charleston restaurant that fails to blow me away still provides a darn good dining experience. I’ve yet to have a bad meal in this town.

food for thought

  • I started a new tab up top, Charleston Eats, to track all the places I’ve tried and have yet to try in this town.  It’s full of links and mini-reviews, so if you haven’t already, check it out.
  • I’m not much of a vodka drinker, and I confess I’ve never had limoncello.  Having read the Manhattan Food Project’s post about making homemade grapefruit limoncello, though, I might have to remedy this.  Anyone else ever made their own limoncello?
  • Apartment Therapy featured a peek inside the Maker’s Mark distillery kitchen.  It’s 1950’s retro, it’s full of my favorite color, red, and I LOVE it!  I already have a kitchen full of red, featuring a black and white checkered floor, so maybe now I’ll be inspired to try some robin’s egg blue accents.
  • New York’s schools are having a battle over bake sales.  If you ask me, officials are looking in the wrong direction if their concern is childhood obesity.  An occasional baked-good is essential to a healthy life, I personally believe.  Not to mention, most homemade items contain real ingredients instead of corn syrup and preservatives, and beat out most processed foods.  If we are really concerned about what kids are eating, we need to focus on reforming the school lunch program.  Right now, students are fed sub-par food and a minimal amount of fruits and vegetables. Most of their food is pre-packaged and re-heated, not fresh.  Getting fresh produce into schools and getting processed foods and vending machines out would go a long way toward making our students healthier.  So would ensuring that they have an hour of physical activity per day.

an embarrassment of riches

I write all the time about what a great food town Charleston is.  It’s mostly because of the food (but also because of the beach, and yeah, ok, fine, because of our friends, and the beauty of this old city) that I’m so sad to be moving. I’ve been working on a list of all the restaurants (using The Charleston Chef’s Table as a sort of guide) we’ve tried here and all the ones I’ve been meaning to try, and thought I’d make it a post, and perhaps it’s own page on this site. So, if you look up top, there should be a new tab of Charleston Eats where I list most restaurants I’ve heard I should check out, with ones we’ve actually tried checked off.  Sometime when I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll write up blurbs about all of them, but for now you just get a list.  It’s amazing to me how long it is, how many we’ve tried, and how many we have yet to try. It’s also amazing how many other places aren’t even on the list– this is just a serious food town, and if you like to eat, I recommend coming here for at least a week and trying to eat your way through it.

CSA: Charleston– the season ends

Almost two weeks ago, we got our final Pinckney’s Produce CSA box of the fall season.  It has taken me this long to get a post up about it because without another box’s arrival to give us a deadline, we had the opportunity to eat the last shipment of veggies at our leisure, which, though I did freeze a little bit of it, proved my theory that each box was at least two weeks’ food for us.  Here’s what we got:

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 bunch collards
  • 3 bunches spinach
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 eggplant
  • lots of green beans
  • lots of tomatoes

The first night I made a variation on one of our favorite dishes, Rachael Ray’s Italian Tuna Casserole (I have the cook book this recipe is from, but someone recreated it here).  Tuna casserole is one of my comfort foods, and I’m a big fan of this recipe.  Jon suggested adding in one of the heads of broccoli, and so this recipe used up one of those as well as two of the bunches of spinach.  This recipe fed us for a couple of days, plus at least one lunch for me.

The kale was used up another night in this pasta with sausage and kale, which was almost as good as the bacon and collard linguine we’ve loved this season. Continue reading “CSA: Charleston– the season ends”

CSA Charleston: BEETSFAIL and collards FTW

another bounteous harvest
another bounteous harvest

Yet another gorgeous week’s worth of deliciousness from our Pinckney’s Produce CSA!  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch collards
  • 1 bunch lettuce
  • 5 ears corn
  • 5 large carrots
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 3 turnips
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 5 radishes
  • 2 winter squash
  • 3 ears decorative red corn

The first night I used the tomatoes and bell peppers to make a variation on shakshuka (which involved some canned tomatoes, an onion, and garlic which I had on had), which was served with a salad made from the lettuce, some of the radishes, and a carrot, and some Shorter No Knead Bread.  Jon has now taken to calling shakshuka his “favorite.”  We had the leftovers the next day. SO GOOD. Continue reading “CSA Charleston: BEETSFAIL and collards FTW”

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