kitchen catch-all

My Kitchen Catch-all posts are a roundup of what I cooked, where I ate, what I’m thinking of cooking, and what’s got my brain cooking each week.  Let me know what you think, and tell me what you’ve been cooking lately!

eating in

This isn’t everything I cooked this week, but more of a highlight reel.

  • The best dinner I made all week was this French Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart. (At the time of writing, this link was giving me “database errors” but I swear it’s where I got the recipe.)
  • The same night we ate the tomato tart, I also made us a fancy dessert: Honey Lemon Pots de Creme.  Usually, you see chocolate pots de creme, and though I love them, they’re not very summery.  This recipe makes a VERY lemony, tart, creamy dessert. Jon wasn’t crazy about them, but I was a fan. Be sure to grate the lemon zest very fine or it will make for a strange texture.
  • Berries in Meringue bowls with Orange-Scented Chocolate and Vanilla Cream: Because the pots de creme used a bunch of egg yolks, I had a bunch of whites left over.  I had seen an episode of Jamie Oliver this week where he made a big meringue with pears and chocolate and cream and decided to try something similar.  My vision was to have little bowls made of meringue, filled with summery berries and drizzled with orange-scented chocolate and sweet vanilla cream.  To make the meringue, I whipped my six egg whites until they formed firm peaks, then added about a cup and a half of sugar and a pinch of salt and whipped on high for about 8 minutes.  I formed the meringue into 6 little bowl shapes on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and baked for about an hour at 300.  I filled each bowl with blackberries, and drizzled them with chocolate (the chocolate was bittersweet chocolate, melted with the zest of 1 orange and thinned out with a little cream) and topped them with a vanilla cream (1.5 cups heavy cream whipped with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla). SO YUMMY.

    Ok, so, you can't see the berries, the cream would look better if it had been piped on, and the chocolate wasn't thin enough for pretty drizzling. STILL. This was amazing.

eating out

Much like I did for Charleston restaurants, I plan to make a running list of places I’ve tried in Little Rock.

  • Wednesday night I joined some girlfriends from church for a girls’ night at Salut Bistro on University.  The restaurant is a little hard to find, as it’s in the first floor of what seems to be a tall office building, and the entrance isn’t clearly marked.  I had a yummy $6 glass of Kung Fu Girl riesling from Washington and enjoyed a beef brisket sandwich with a side of fries.  The sandwich was tasty, and the fries were well seasoned.  The menu was a bit scattered, but the food was good, and I think everyone I was with enjoyed their meals.  They also have a late-night menu that looked pretty good– might have to go back and see what that’s like sometime.

food for thought

  • I’ve been meaning to try my hand at making my own pitas for a while. Now I’ve got my eye on making some tzaziki sauce to go with them (Serious Eats).
  • My favorite restaurant in Charleston was the Glass Onion.  Located just around the corner from our house, the GO was a regular haunt for us. I liked things there that I wouldn’t eat anywhere else, including biscuits and gravy and meatloaf. Their delicious Southern food is also deeply local, and they served as the pickup point for our CSA. All this to say, they have a blog, and word is they’re going to be putting out a cookbook.  I was happy to see they shared their Country Captain recipe and plan to make it soon. It’s a Southern curry dish– yes, there is such a thing!
  • I’ve also been dreaming of replacing my non-stick KitchenAid cookware for a stainless steel set. Serious Eats says the Tramontina sets sold at WalMart are basically as good as 5 x’s pricier AllClad sets.
  • First cupcakes, then macarons, then whoopie pies. Apparently the next big dessert trend, according to The Kitchn, is Moon Pies.
  • From The Atlantic, a theory about why we love food TV so much.

kitchen catch-all

So, I’ve been slacking on the blog a little this past week.  I expect posting to be lighter than usual for the next few weeks, as I work at a college and the end of the term gets a little crazy, and on top of that, I’m trying to get things ready for a new person to take my job, trying to sell a house, and working on coordinating our move to Little Rock, AR.  That said, we’re still eating and cooking and working extra hard to try as many restaurants in Charleston as we can before we leave, so Kitchen Catch-Alls will definitely continue!

eating in

  • Didn’t do a ton of cooking this week, but one thing I did make was a spring fish and veggies dish loosely based on Rachael Ray’s Spring Fish in Parchment.  Loosely because I used salmon, asparagus instead of green beans, and didn’t have enough parchment, so I cooked them in foil packets instead of paper.  Still, a yummy dish!  I had to make a quick run to the liquor store to get white wine for this recipe, which brings me to my next point…
  • We tried Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon this week.  Firefly is a local vodka company, best known for their Sweet Tea Vodka, flavored with tea grown here in Charleston.  We’ve been to their distillery and tried every single one of their products!  I’m not a huge vodka drinker, but I am a whiskey girl, so I’m PUMPED that they’re now making a sweet tea flavored bourbon.  I find the warmth of the bourbon is a nice compliment to the flavor of the sweet tea, and my favorite way to drink it is watered down with a big of homemade iced tea.  I haven’t tried it mixed with lemonade yet, but I’m sure that would also be tasty.
  • Also this week, I got obsessed with popping popcorn on my stovetopApparently there are ingredients in microwave popcorn which can cause lung disease.  This, on top of my concern at producing so much waste (a plastic wrapper and a paper bag) every time I pop a bag of microwave popcorn, was enough to make me give up microwave popcorn.  My first two attempts at stovetop popcorn turned out a bit burned and once, very much oversalted.  By the third attempt, I’d figured out that lower heat works better, and sesame oil is a better oil to use than olive oil.  It’s a little more time consuming, but I figure shaking the pan burns off some of the calories from the OMGREALBUTTER I like to put on top, right?
  • Sunday we were hungry and the fridge was slim pickin’s as we had reached the end of the week and I’d yet to shop for this week’s groceries. Glancing in the fridge, I saw a few random veggies (half a red onion, half a green bell pepper, half a pint of cherry tomatoes), some eggs, and some bacon, which I threw together into a brunch of veggie-bacon frittata served with a dollop of Greek yogurt. If you have eggs and a veggie or two, you always have the makings of a meal.
  • If you look in the “eating out” section, you’ll see that we tried Baked this weekend, and I was so impressed I plunked down $30 (which, don’t be dumb like me, buy it for $18 off Buy.com) for their cook book.  Sunday afternoon, I made their Root Beer Bundt Cake, and, given that the blurb before the recipe says to expect an “avalanche of root beer flavor,” I was expecting some serious root beer taste.  But this was not the case. While the cake was rich and chocolatey, and the “fudgy” frosting was so thick it was literally like smashing fudge on top of a cake, there wasn’t even a hint of root beer flavor under all the chocolateyness. All in all a great chocolate cake, and worth trying, but certainly not the “avalanche” of flavor it’s billed to have. Perhaps if I try again, I’ll use root beer schnapps as suggested for more intense flavor.

eating out

  • On Tuesday we checked out Aluette’s, which bills itself as “holistic soul food.” Though I’m sure some would argue with a pork-free restaurant that calls itself “soul food,” I found the place plenty soulful. Aluette herself, along with Chef Absalom, prepared our meals, and chatted with us while things were cooking. We enjoyed fried shrimp in a light, almost tempura batter, along with fries and coleslaw, and a delicious lamb dish served with rice and collards. Everything was plenty tasty, but a bit pricier than I’d be willing to pay for what we got without a restaurant.com certificate.
  • Crossing another restaurant off my list, we tried Bambu in Mount Pleasant this week.  I had a Thai Basil dish with tofu, Jon tried General Chang’s Chicken, and our friend had Green Coconut Curry.  We also sampled the potstickers, which were pan fried for a really satisfying crunch on one side. All of the food was excellent, the patio we sat on was lovely, and if I weren’t trying to try so many restaurants before leaving town, I’d say we’d definitely go back.
  • Friday night, after a dinner of leftovers at home, we met friends at McCrady’s for another 25 cent cocktail night.  After giving our waitress the password, “beep beep,” we received our 25 cent sidecars.  A sidecar is a drink made with brandy, and I’m not a huge brandy drinker.  The sidecar was probably a little sweeter than I’d order regularly, and would definitely not top my list of favorites on McCrady’s cocktail menu (I think my favorite is still the Blood and Sand, or maybe the Ward 8), but it was still a tasty drink.  We also enjoyed fried green tomatoes with green goddess dressing, and Jon and I shared an apple tart with bourbon ice cream (I wasn’t kidding about my love of bourbon).
  • After McCrady’s, we decided to head across the street to Baked for still more sweet treats.  Baked originated in Brooklyn, and when they expanded, chose to add a location in good old Charleston, SC (apparently one of the owners has family here). Baked is not a frilly, frothy, pink and white sort of place.  The entire shop is themed in orange, brown, and white, with some seriously trendy elements like antlers and lots of knotty pine.  Their desserts are not typical.  Each person in our group got a different dessert, and they were all passed around the table for everyone to try.  Among the things we sampled: salted brownie (OMG, I will have to fight the urge to put salt on all my brownies from now on), strawberry whoopie pie (I confess I’d never had a whoopie pie before, and it was darn tasty), key lime bar (I’m always a fan of key lime), cherry cream cheese bar (this was my choice– a bar with a crushed pretzel crust, a thick layer of caramel, and a fluffy layer of cream cheese and cherry goodness on top), and a cashew bar (I’m not a cashew fan, so I didn’t try this one.)  I loved everything so much that I bought their cookbook, so you can expect to see some Baked goods on this blog, probably sometime soon! (You can score their Red Hot Red Velvet Cake recipe right here.)
    image via Baked

    image via Baked
  • Saturday morning we met friends for brunch at Virginia’s on King.  Virginia’s is one of the best brunch spots in a town that is seriously all about brunch (other great options include Hominy Grill, the Glass Onion, Fleet Landing, Lost Dog Cafe).  One perk of Virginia’s? $9 bottomless mimosas.  And our waitress’s stated mission was “to get you sloshed.”  Man, I love this town.  We downed so many mimosas we lost count, shared fried green tomatoes, and some of the braver among us tried fried chicken livers (our waitress brought us a complimentary plate of them)– I admit I did not try them after witnessing 3 people recoil and describe the aftertaste as “like dog food.”  I had a plate of biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns.  I have to tell you, I didn’t like biscuits and gravy until I moved here, and I’ve realized it’s because they make actual sausage gravy, not that gloopy white stuff of unknown origin.  Jon tried the fried chicken with collards and mashed potatoes, and though he got some funny looks for tearing into it like a caveman (but seriously, who eats fried chicken with a fork? Only stuffy people, that’s who!), but it was darn good.  After all those mimosas, we wandered around on King Street until the buzz wore off.  A great way to spend a Saturday.

food for thought