Going to Carolina in Your Kitchen: Charleston Recipes Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
The coastal town of Charleston is teeming with folks who want to feed you and feed you well. Indigenous ingredients like cowpeas and Carolina Gold rice are ubiquitous, and the best chefs can coax them from mere sustenance into something more sublime. The same can be said for the plentiful seafood of the region: razor clams and blade oysters start many menus here. Shrines to the culinary arts are numerous in the Holy City – Sean Brock’s HUSK and McCrady’s, Mike Lata’s FIG and The Ordinary. But once you’ve checked those spots off your epicurean bucket list, where else should you NOT miss?
Herewith, a few of our favorites, and a recipe or two to tide you over.
Stars Restaurant Rooftop and Grill Room
Voted the best new Charleston restaurant of 2013 by the City Paper, Stars Restaurant Rooftop and Grill Room satisfies the crowds of locals and visitors alike with a bar on its main floor, multiple outdoor rooftop bars and an event space on the second floor. With a unique 360-degree view of the city, you may never venture anywhere else. Chef Nathan Thurston’s 1930’s grill-room atmosphere is the backdrop to fine Southern cuisine, much of which is prepared on the custom-built live-fire grill, also known as the Grates of Hell. You could well be tempted to eat only his Oysters Bull’s Bay (baked with spinach, Asiago cheese, garlic and brandy) but then you’d miss out on such items as his plancha-seared diver scallops or lobster and grits. Vegetarian diners will go crazy for the wild mushroom bruschetta. Oenophiles delight in the restaurant’s Vintap system, a unique “wine on tap” system that ensures a controlled, temperate environment for each glass. The restaurant offers 16 different wines on tap as well as an extensive collection of bottled wines. If beer is more your thing, order the Westbrook White Thai and ask for a wedge of lemon.
Wood-Grilled Mushroom Bruschetta with Goat Feta, Autumn Greens, and Truffle Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced parsley
½ teaspoon sugar
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons black truffle oil
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
3 cups assorted mushrooms (Oyster, Shiitake, Maitake)
sea salt, as needed
freshly cracked black pepper
8 slices multi-grain bread, ¼“ thick
2 ounces goat feta cheese
2 cups washed and dried greens, cut into 1” pieces (Mustard, Romaine, Mesclun)
1) Make truffle vinaigrette by combining vinegar, shallot, parsley, salt and sugar in a bowl. Combine truffle oil and olive oil in a measuring cup. Slowly add the oil mixture to the vinegar mixture, whisking constantly to emulsify. Set aside.
2) Fire up your wood, gas, or charcoal grill and proceed as you would to cook a couple of steaks, chicken, etc.
3) Clean your mushrooms of any dirt or debris and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon truffle vinaigrette. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper; let rest for at least 20 minutes. Grill mushrooms over moderate heat until well browned and tender. Right before your mushrooms are complete, brush each piece of bread with olive oil and salt, then grill on both sides until golden brown.
4) While the bread and mushrooms grill, toss your greens in a little bit of olive oil and salt. Grill until lightly wilted. Remove all components from the heat and assemble: top each slice of bread with mushrooms and wilted greens. Add crumbled goat feta.
Arrange bruschetta on a platter and drizzle with remaining truffle vinaigrette.
The Glass Onion
Chris Stewart and Sarah O’Kelley of The Glass Onion are getting a lot of attention these days. Their simple approach to great food represents the way so many locals eat here. Start with the best ingredients and don’t fuss them up beyond recognition.
The fried pig ears are legendary, the shrimp perlou with Benton’s bacon is comfort on a plate, and the pimento cheese is the ideal. Chef O’Kelley notes, “I am crazy about pimento cheese, and so I naturally put some heart into creating our version. Obviously, this is a simple treat, but sometimes simple is best. My only stipulation is that Duke’s mayonnaise makes a delicious difference! At the GO, we serve this on brioche from Normandy Farms Bakery as a grilled sandwich, and at brunch, as an omelette, but all you really need are some nice buttery crackers for a perfect snack.”
The Glass Onion’s Pimento Cheese
Makes about 3 cups
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
½ cup canned or jarred pimento peppers, drained and chopped
¼ cup chopped green onions
½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Dash of hot sauce
Combine cheddar, pimentos, and green onions in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine mayonnaise, pepper, salt, cayenne, and hot sauce in a medium bowl; whisk together.
Add mayonnaise to cheese mixture; gently stirring together using a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. (The only real mistake you can make here is overworking the pimento cheese; hence, we suggest that you “gently stir.”)
The Original Ms. Rose’s
Like The Glass Onion, The Original Ms. Rose’s is located just outside of downtown. It has been said that not many spots can get chefs to leave the “peninsula” of Charleston-proper but culinary folk flock here. The menu is accessible and the architecture is fun. They make a killer Jamaican meat pie and their kale salad will have you jonesing for more. But it might just be the cocktails that have locals coming back again and again.
Ms. Rose’s Cucumber Martini
.75oz Basil Syrup
.75oz Lemon Juice
1.5oz Cucumber Infused Vodka
Muddle mint with syrup and lemon juice. Add ice and vodka; shake well. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Make Cucumber Foam by skinning and juicing one cucumber. Pour juice into a container with a sealed lid for shaking. Shake and skim foam off the top with a spoon.
Top drink with cucumber foam; garnish with a cucumber round and a basil leaf.
Ms. Rose’s Strawberry Spritzer
1.5oz Strawberry Infused Vodka
1oz Triple Sec
.5oz St. Germaine
Combine Vodka and Triple Sec in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a Champagne glass with a cut strawberry resting in the bottom. Top with Champagne and a floater of St. Germaine.
If you are looking for something a bit more elegant and maybe unexpected, we encourage you to check out Tristan, where Chef Nate Whiting is doing some very creative things with traditional ingredients. His olive oil jam can be found in a seasonal tomato-mozzarella salad or on a charcuterie platter or even over fresh grilled fish. He shares his recipe here; have an open mind and see where this one takes you.
Olive Oil Jam
5 grams salt
255 grams sugar
1 whole egg
5 egg yolks
250 grams (8.6oz) extra virgin olive oil (Chef’s note: at the restaurant we use Holy Smoke,
Smoked olive oil, from John Island S.C.
1) Place the salt and sugar in a large stainless steel bowl. Add egg and egg yolks and whisk to combine.
2) Wet a kitchen towel and twist it up tightly. Then on the counter top, form the towel into a circle that is slightly larger than the diameter of the bottom of the bowl you are using to cook the eggs. (Chef’s note: This step will aid you in whisking and pouring at the same time in step 4.)
3) Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, to create a double boiler. Whisk continuously to cook the egg mixture. Remove the mixture from the heat once an instant read thermometer reads 70°C/158°F.
4) Set the bowl inside the wet towel circle where it should fit snugly. Whisk with one hand while slowly drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil, to create the emulsion. (Chef’s note: You may opt to place the cooked egg mixture in the bowl of a food processor and drizzle in the oil to create the emulsion.)
5) Allow the jam to cool to room temperature and serve. Refrigerated jam will keep for one week; let come to room temperature before serving.
Wild Olive Restaurant
Need one more recommendation? Head out to Wild Olive Restaurant on John’s Island where the chefs combine traditional Italian preparations with regional ingredients. Local shrimp, Sea Island purple cape beans, and Mepkin Abbey mushrooms are equally at home with agnolotti and guanciale.
Bucatini with Ramps and Pangrattato
1 pound bucatini pasta
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
6 ounces ramps, leaves cut in half and small dice the stems
3 ounces butter
½ cup grated Parmesan
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Chile flake, to taste
1) Add bucatini to 6 quarts of boiling water seasoned with 2 tablespoons salt. While the pasta is cooking, heat 6 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the smashed garlic cloves and brown in the sauté pan. Once brown, remove the cloves with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan. Discard garlic or reserve for another use.
2) Add ramp stems to the pan. Sauté on medium heat but be careful not to brown. Add chile flakes, cracked black pepper and ramp leaves. Add a ladleful of pasta water to the pan and hold until bucatini is finished cooking.
3) Once the pasta is al dente, add the drained bucatini to the sauté pan, (be sure to reserve at least a cup of the pasta cooking water) and increase the heat. Add another half cup or so of pasta water to the sauté pan and continue to cook the pasta so that the bucatini absorbs all of the flavor.
4) Once the liquid has almost completely evaporated, add the butter to the pan and emulsify the sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese and salt and toss. Divide the pasta into 4 bowls. Finish pasta with some of the grated cheese and top with pangrattato (recipe to follow).
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 cups dried/stale bread, torn into small pieces
Zest of 1 lemon
1 small chile (Fresno or Thai), finely diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 salted anchovy in oil, diced
Salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2) Add the extra virgin olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Place the dried bread pieces into the oil and add oil if needed (the bread must be completely coated with a little oil to spare). Add salt and pepper, stirring until golden brown and crispy.
3) Add all remaining ingredients and toss until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from the heat and place on a baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bread cubes have dried and absorbed all of the flavored oil.
Southern food and lifestyle writer Christiana Roussel lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She is still nursing a biscuit-hangover from last week’s Southern Food Writing Conference and International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. This year’s event featured a private dinner at acclaimed Blackberry Farm and a field trip to Benton’s Smoky Mountain Hams and Bacon; she encourages you to mark your calendars for next year’s event, May 15-17, 2014. She runs the cooking blog, Christiana’s Kitchen.