Odom in the House!

Crockheads,

You’ve seen him around town, you’ve heard of him on the blog, and you know the name, now coming to you live from Charleston for Friday Feature……. ALEX ODOM!!!!!!!!!! snaps snaps snaps.

“Having never blogged before I hope you all can hear my writer’s voice.  It’s more of a yell so be glad this isn’t a podcast. What a true honor to have Susu relinquish control of CPT and author a Friday Feature! Big shoes to follow in with Richard (literally, he’s huge) and Mr. Kassel… but I’m no slouch so here we go. Having read CPT since the Manhattan days and helped Su work her way through Charleston’s finest restaurants (Zaxby’s anyone? Kidding, Charleston Grill is where it’s at) this is a true honor. I have been in Charleston for the last 2 years working on a Master’s degree at MUSC, but have been cooking since childhood. Coming from a family of well-fed individuals if you wanted to eat, you had to cook. Or at least contribute. And in honor of the upcoming Gamecock football season—139 days y’all—I decided on Cajun Boiled Peanuts. The original Redneck Candy and perfect for tailgate.  Beautiful in its simplicity, all you need are a few ingredients and a little patience and you will wow even the snootiest of Clemson fans.
 
Ingredients:
1 bag or RAW peanuts… do not get green, they are terrible
3/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Hot sauce
Enough water to cover the peanuts, adding as needed
Heavy plates
*All ingredients are to taste, so this is just a guideline
 
Wash peanuts in a colander and place in crockpot with plain water covering the nuts. Place heavy plates over the top and let soak for at least 6 hours. Leave crockpot OFF.

plates
Remove plates and add all seasonings. Replace plates and set crockpot to LOW.
Let peanuts cook for 15-18 hours. The plates need to stay on for a while to cook evenly. But when the color darkens you can remove the plates and just stir occasionally. in pot

Remember this is an all day affair and peanuts are extremely hard to mess up.
Approximate cook time for this batch was 18 hours, and they were perfect I must say. The longer they cook the stronger the flavor.
Serve with a fine craft beer such as Bud Light.

beer 
A bike delivery for Su and Kendall at the Charleston Place makes for very jealous co-workers.Su See you all in August, Go Cocks!

These boiled peanuts were cooked perfectly! Kendall and I destroyed them at work…and I could handle the heat! Odom, thanks for the Friday Feature…what’s next on our bucket list? I’m not canoeing to Edisto…1546364_10201851009865506_1373382752_n

Elliotborough Mini Bar

If I lived in the Elliotborough neighborhood…. I would ride my bike home from working at Charleston Place, park the bike in the back of my cute sea-foam colored two-story skinny house with ground level and second level white porches, I would go inside the back door to the kitchen, go up the stairs to my bedroom and drop off my bags and change out of my black skirt and top from work, put on something a little more comfortable, go back downstairs,  walk  through my first living room to get to the front door, exit and cross the street, and enter the doors of what I would like to think as my second living room: Elliotborough Mini Bar.

inside pic

Imagine living in a wild, crazy, hectic city such as New York City. You are dodging the public and tourist with major anxiety and stress, and then you find the coziest, small bar tucked away from the main avenues. You have a moment of ‘this is the place!!!!’ and upon walking in the door, your heart beat immediately relaxes and you feel you’re in a safe haven with just familiar faces, perfectly dim lighting enhancing the beautiful rustic wooden walls, a local musician in the corner playing all of your favorite songs, and the scent of comfort that reminds you of your own home. The bartender immediately caters to you, and maybe even recognizes you, and asks beer or wine?music

Okay, maybe a little exaggeration here. I did not have to hustle down Ashley street with a quick right on Bogard to get to Mini Bar. However, all the other emotions are accurate. Mini Bar does pull you into an oasis unlike any other bar/restaurant I’ve been to in Charleston. I have always wanted to go here on a Tuesday because this is the night the bar serves food from a guest chef from town. All other nights Mini Bar just has drinks and a few appetizers. The only way to get the deets are by calling or checking out their facebook page.

This past Tuesday, I met Alex and Catherine at Mini Bar for Guest Chef Night. girlsAfter our first glass of Sauvingnon Blanc and laughing over high school memories, two more familiar faces surprisingly walked in and joined us. boysSee what I mean now?? At this point I was in my element and so excited for dinner to begin. Erin Plasterer, who is a sushi chef, was on deck. menuErin’s sushi was amazing. She set up in the small kitchen behind the bar and rolled the sushi fresh to order. When remembering back to each bite, what first comes to mind is how fresh each roll tasted. We ordered the Seaweed Salad, The Veggie Bliss, The Spicy Tuna, The Under the Sea, and the Gangsta and all was beyond delicious. My favorite roll was the Gangsta.seaweed

sushi

After our meal Erin came out and introduced herself and we were able to tell her in person how much fun we were having and how awesome her sushi was. At that point, Alex says give her your Crockpottuesday card! I started to look through my purse and suddenly began feeling like an unpreparred fool as I realized I didn’t have any on me. Then like a flip of a hat (is that the right saying?), Alex and Catherine BOTH pulled out my card from their wallets eager to pass over for me to give to Erin. I cannot even explain how tickled and almost proud I was at that moment. It was such a cool thing and I was just overall happy. Erin gave me her card as well which states, “I’ll roll to you!!!” Check her out and even hire her for an event- RollingwithErin@yahoo.com 843-810-0837.

So, for now, I will continue to drive or ride my bike to Elliotborough Mini Bar, but once I move into my sea-foam house on Bogard I will let yall know!

Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen

Crockheads! Hello and Happy Crockpottuesday day. I haven’t posted recently and I’ll tell ya why, I’ve been in a cooking drought. It all started with Trader Joe’s. My friend and co-worker, Carlos, has been training me at the gym recently (Insert:briefly shows off arm muscles) and after, we’ve been
making treks to Trader Joe’s. I have been taking advantage of the cranberry chicken salad, the mangos, the strawberries, the sliced deli meat, the yogurt with chia seeds, the list could go on. My point being, I haven’t been crocking or really cooking, or dinning out for that matter, but instead indulging in fresh Trader Joe’s produce. Then, last night, dinner happened at Lee Lee’s Kitchen! I called up my crew of Odom, Danielle, and Shannon and we all met uptown at 218 President Street.

restaurant

The menu is remarkably extensive starting with appetizers, soups and salads, and then chicken, seafood, beef, and vegetable dishes with rice as well as noodles. Our waitress went over the menu and explained that the portions are family style and to order plates to share. Right off the bat along with our drinks we put in appetizers of the vegetable spring rolls, Sichuan dumplings, the scallion pancake, and the crab ragoons.

The spring rolls were light and crispy and served with a bright orange plum sauce-Mom you would have really liked these. For the dumplings, the table decided on the spicy version. Recently, I have been working on my spicy palate so I was game. After eating one, I have to say this was probably my favorite appetizer. Danielle said they weren’t even hot, but I’m still going to give myself credit here. I like dumplings because of the soft, delicate pasta that surrounds the meat. The sauce here is also what made this dish, a spicy pepper sauce with peanuts and green onions.

dumpling

Next to come out were the ragoons and the pancake. Ragoons are always a favorite of mine, crispy wontons stuffed with a crab and cream cheese mixture. They were served with homemade sweet and sour sauce, also my favorite. The scallion pancake was served like a quesadilla with a giner-soy dipping sauce. The pancake didn’t have a lot of flavor to me, it tasted like a fried pita with scallions. I made sure to dunk it extra times in the sauce though to make up for it and I was happy.

appss

Then for some reason we decided to all order our own entrée because isn’t that what you do at a Family Style restaurant? I went with a Susu classic and ordered the Cashew Chicken. This is a stir-fried dish served with water chestnuts, carrots, peas, zucchini, and roasted cashew nuts served over white rice. Cha-Cha use to make Stir-Fried Chicken all the time when Jake and I were growing up and this is what it reminded me of- good ole comfort (American) chinese food. Shannon went with the Chicken with Broccoli which was similar to mine, but with different vegetables. Danielle ordered the General Tso’s Chicken which was my next favorite dish. I liked that the chicken was crispy compared to my boiled chicken and it was served in their signature spicy sauce. And for Odom, he ordered their chef’s specialty -Black Pepper Beef served with onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a black pepper sauce.

dinner

The best part about Lee Lee’s, for all that food and a drink each, AND leftovers, it was only $25 a person! I would say that is certainly a deal for downtown Charleston in a competitive food market. My only complaint would be that there was no dessert. I’m not a dessert person, but of course Danielle had to bring it up and then I was already committed to the possibility. Instead the waitress gave us fortune cookies and mine read, “Every man is a volume, you must learn how to read him.” Okay fortune…I had to eat my cookie to wait and read that?? Regardless, Lee Lee’s we shall be back!

group

After dinner Odom and I hopped on our bikes and road back to our houses after a lovely dinner with great company :)bike

 

My Pops in the House!

Ladies and Gentleman, Happy Friday Feature! Coming to you now my number 1 man, my main inspiration, and where all this cooking and crocking derived from. All the way from Columbia, South Carolina my very own poppas John Kassel on Crockpottuesday!!!  (aroooooo the crowd goes wild!)

CrockPot Barbecue Ribs? Yes, Really!the_finished_ribs     The season is changing. It is getting warmer and the days longer. When I got home from work the other day, it was still light out. And it wasn’t raining! This change effects how I like to cook. As we move toward spring and summer, the grill beckons. My charcoal cooker sits on the back deck. The beautiful weather pushes me outside. But before I devote luxurious time and attention to cooking over outdoor fire, it is time for one last crockpot meal to make. My faithful crockpot has kept me warm and nourished all winter long with Susu’s delightful recipes of cranberries and pork, beef chuck roast, and of course, Boston butt. (“What’s in that bad boy!”). I love coming home from work, opening the door, and being greeted by wonderful aromas, as if someone had been cooking all day. That is the beauty of the crockpot. So, it is only fitting to present a crockpot recipe of a southern, summer favorite: BBQ ribs. Yes, ribs can be cooked in a crockpot. It is true that the iconic smoky flavor is missing. But the ease of unattended cooking and the sweet tenderness of the finished meal cannot be beat. So, for this Friday Feature, let’s talk ribs.

Cooking ribs in a crockpot could not be easier. This recipe is a little more elaborate because I am trying strenuously to make it harder than usual…trying to coax out as much flavor as possible. So, for the ingredients:

At least 3lbs to 4lbs of  ribs. The amount is really determined by the size of your crockpot. I have loaded mine up and still got good results. The choice of ribs is a matter of preference. I am using St. Louis style ribs because that was what the Publix had for sale. But you can use any sort of ribs; country-style, spare ribs, baby back ribs. They are all pork ribs but different cuts. Try different ones.                                              uncooked_ribs            Spice mixtures: Have on hand salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, brown sugar. Notice I did not list amounts. Up to you.

spices            Favorite BBQ sauce: 2-3 cups. You can make your own, or use a store bought brand. You can add it to the crockpot or put it on afterward. I tend to do the latter.

Assembly: Lay the ribs out on your counter. You can remove the membrane from back of ribs or leave it. Remove any excess fat with a sharp knife. Don’t gouge the meat. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the ribs.

patting_on_spices

You can tell if you performed the task perfectly by the telltale darkened spots on your fingertips.                                   dirty_handsPlace the seasoned ribs in the crockpot with the meat side placed up against the inside wall of the crockpot. This will help develop a fine sear on the ribs.                                ribs_in_the_crockSome folks add their BBQ sauce to the ribs before placing the ribs in the crockpot. I wait instead. I think it produces a better caramelized effect to put the sauce on later. Cook for 8-10 hours on low. You want the meat falling off the bone but still have some chew left to the meat. I tend to cook longer times because I put the crockpot up in the morning and do not return till evening after work. If you have a crockpot with a timer, set it for 8-10 hours. At the appointed time, the crockpot will automatically revert to a warming cycle. Remove ribs from the crockpot and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Smear with BBQ sauce and place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Pull out and re-lather the ribs. Place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The layering builds up a gorgeous looking lacquer.                             painting_sauce_on_ribsPull out the ribs and serve as bundles of 3-4 ribs. Have plenty of paper napkins around. I like sides of coleslaw, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, or corn on the cob (wait for summer). A cold beer works well.  Crockpot BBQ St. Louis style ribs. My ode to summer!

the_mama_with_ribs                     the_group_shot            Special thanks to Jim Work, master craftsman, who helped with the preparation of this meal. We enjoyed having Robert and Jane Key, who came by to help eat these beautiful ribs.

Dad you’ve done it again. Looks amazing and the pictures are beautiful. I have to say i’m intimidated to follow that!

Thanks for reading Crockheads! Whose next??

Susu Honey Sesame Chicken

chix 1Crockheads. I think this might be the best crockpot meal yet. Honey Sesame Chicken. So simple even Odom can do it. (Just kidding, Odom just liked it so much he made the recipe the following night for his brother.) I found this recipe from pinterest and tweaked it a bit with the hopes of using it in the South of Broad Living magazine if it turned out okay…well, I’m happy to say you’ll be seeing this one in April.

Ingredients: 
7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 cup Arborio rice (2 cups waters)
Sesame seeds
Green beans

Yields: 3-4 servings

First salt and pepper thoroughly your chicken thighs and place them in the crockpot.raw chix

Next combine in a bowl the onion, garlic, red pepper, soy, honey, olive oil, and ketchup to create your sauce.

ingredients

Pour the sauce over the chicken in the crockpot and set the timer for three hours on low.

in the pot

After cooking for three hours, cook for an additional 30 minutes on high. Then remove the chicken thighs and cut into large bite size pieces.

cut chix

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water and slowly mix into the crockpot. This will help to thicken up the sauce. Let the sauce cook alone for 10 minutes on high and then place the chicken back in, stirring everything together.

Finally, saute the  green beans in a skillet with olive oil and garlic salt. Splash some of the sauce from the crockpot into the skillet and let it cook out. Serve the chicken on top of the cooked arborio rice with the green beans and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

“CHEEEEEESE”

susu 2

My guests for the evening were Catherine, Kelley, and Danielle. Kelley also served with dinner her famous fried okra which you can find on her blog Costal Kelder. And I might as well tell yall and call myself out, I made the exact same meal the next night too for Odom and Kendall. I still had a pound of chicken thighs left in the freezer so why not! Telling yall, you need to make this recipe and please let me know what your think!

Stay Classy Crockheads.

girls 3