Recently, I had a Crockpottuesday dinner with Christine, Catherine and Brett. The menu was Cilantro and Basil Mango Mojitos, Fruit Bruschetta, Black Bean Tacos with a Creamy Avocado Dressing, and Grilled Corn. I have been craving grilled corn all summer, but there has always been one problem-I don’t own a grill. I can’t wait til the day that I have an actual yard allowing for a grill. #1-Keeper will finally be in the picture and I’ll be over the moon and #2- a grill will open up so many new cooking doors. Indulging in a plate full of foods straight off the grill is such a satisfying summer feeling. Also, eating delicious, colorful foods while wearing cut of shorts and a light weight tank top is why summer is the best season—I could definitely live in summertime 365 days a year. Give me a huge slice of red juicy watermelon with large black seeds, a cold pitcher of tropical juices with cilantro and basil leaves, a fresh avocado, and the hot summer sun and I’ll be set.
Good food, good drinks, and good friends.This is such an ideal night off work for me. Enjoy the recipes and get to cooking and grilling before summer is over!
Cilantro and Basil Mojitos
1 oz. simple syrup
1.5 oz. Rum
2-3 lime wedges
2 tablespoons cilantro and basil, chopped
3 mango slices mango, chopped
This is the recipe we found for one individual mojito drink. After all of us having comical views on the proper way to go about making the cocktail, we decided to make one large community pitcher. We said to heck with the measurements and just mixed everything together using our taste buds as guidance. There were no complaints. This is a great summer drink to enjoy out on the porch and share with friends. Even Moe was intrigued!
1 loaf French Bread
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves
1 Log blueberry Goat Cheese
Place the fruit and basil leaves on a cutting board and dice everything into small pieces. Combine in a bowl and drizzle on the balsamic vinegar. Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the French bread and bake for 8-10 minutes until toasted. Spread blueberry goat cheese on each slice of French bread and then carefully place fruit mixture on top. Ready to serve immediately and makes for a great appetizer.
Black Bean Tacos with Creamy Avocado Dressing
Flour or Corn Tortillas
2 15oz. Cans Black Beans
1 Cup Salsa
1 tsp. Cumin
(for the sauce)
2 Small Avocados
1 Small Jalapeno
¼ Cup Cilantro, stems removed
1 Green Onion-diced
1 Clove Garlic-diced
Juice from 1 Lime
¾ Cup Buttermilk
Salt and Pepper to taste
To make the Avocado Dressing, pour all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside in refrigerator and begin making the tacos. In a pan over medium heat, add beans, salsa, and cumin. Keep beans on a low heat setting and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, take tortillas and warm them for a few minutes in the oven. Once beans are ready, begin platting the tacos. Place the tortilla down first and then add the beans, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and spoon on the Avocado Dressing. The dressing is my favorite and has been great for additional meals I’ve been making . It certainly has a kick and is a bit on the spicy side. Also-Catherine, thank you for your artistic picture taking skills of the below tacos!
As for the Grilled Corn, we set six ears of white corn on the grill. Once some of the kernels showed beautiful blacked grill marks, within about 7-10 minutes, we transferred them to a plate. The corn was so fresh the only thing it needed was some good ‘ole southern butta! Overall, this was a very pretty meal and the display of the tacos with the different colors provided a nice summer touch. We sat outside on Christine’s porch and enjoyed a beautiful Charleston night. Thanks for hosting Tine, Brett, and Moe!
Thanks for reading Crockheads! Let me know about your recreations!
One fish, two fish, blue fish, red fish. Whatch yall know ’bout red fish?? I’ll tell yall what, Ben’s been catching it like crazy out here in Charleston. Again, I can’t give away the secret spot, but it has done us well. Ben went out in his kayak the other day and brought back a big ‘ole red fish and we got to cooking.
My job was to fillet the fish. After some you-tubing, I learned to make the first incision behind the side fin of the fish and cut up towards the top. Once at the top of the fish, cut down the line of his back. This creates two fillets on either side. I cut very close to the rib cage and slowly separated off the meat. It was a little tricky because I had to pierce through the scales, but the job got done.
Next job-how to cook the thing. There are so many different ways to cook fish and my mind was racing because I wanted the best of the best. My co-worker Clay had recently prepared a fish dish where he baked it in parchment paper. This really intrigued me and still does, but I was without parchment paper and too late to buy some. I am also currently without a grill so that is always out. So then the frying pan, I believed and hoped that I could not go wrong here. I did some research and came up with a Blacked Redfish recipe.
Spices you will need:
Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper, Oregano, Paprika, Basil, and Thyme.
I first dipped each fillet in melted butter. Then I mixed all the spices together and gently rubbed the fillets with the mixture. I heated up just a tiny bit of olive oil in the skillet and then seared the bad boys on each side for probably one minute, they cook very quickly!
Meanwhile, Ben had been creating a fancy Burgundy Mushroom Sauce. He heated up some butter (yes we’ve used a lot of butter…we’re Southerners get over it) and threw in mushrooms, green onions, and garlic. The mushrooms cooked for a good couple of minutes and then Ben added about a half cup of red wine. While this was simmering, he also added some sour cream to thicken the sauce up a bit. After tasting the mushroom sauce, it didn’t have the sweetness kick Ben was hoping for from the wine. He went in the fridge and came out with a spoonful of strawberry jam and mixed it into the pot. Voila! Next, we boiled a pot of water to also have some fresh green beans as another side.
The whole meal turned out excellent. I think we were both really proud of ourselves and felt like real adults. To be able to eat fish that is caught straight out the water is crazy good. It tastes more heroic and the meal feels like more of an accomplishment. The fish was seasoned perfectly and browned to a crisp with a soft inside. The mushrooms were ridiculous. They were creamy and had enough sauce to pour over the green beans. I think the only thing we need to work on is our plating. Plating food is definitely an artwork and ours looks a little overloaded, but hey we ate every last bite.
A couple of weeks ago Ben and I both had Monday off and we Crockpottuesdayed and I’m yet to share the recipe with y’all. Ben came up with the ingredients which are simple and like always, the crockpot does all the work. The original plan that Monday was to get up early so the crockpot would have all day to cook and we would have all day to go out on the water. The day before, Ben had found “the best hidden spot to fish that nobody in Charleston knows about” so we obviously had big plans. It’s even where he caught this guy:So, because days off and getting up early don’t always coincide, we were a little behind schedule. Our original plan of taking our time getting ready and packed turned into literally throwing ingredients into the crockpot at Godspeed. However,this my friends, is the glory of the crockpot and what it allows for.
- 2-3lb Pork Loin
- 1 ½ packages of Lipton French OnionSoup Mix
- 1 cup of salsa
- 1 cup of water
- Splash of Light Sun Dried Tomato Salad Dressing
- Homemade Beef Stock
First rub the pork with the dry Lipton French Onion Soup Mix. Quick Quick Quick!Have ready in your crock the salsa, water, and salad dressing. The salad dressing was a last-minute splash that Ben thought would be appropriate. Meanwhile, I was watching all of this chaos happen and adding small comments like, “Do you think the salsa will actually taste good?” I’m not even sure that Ben answered and I realized quickly I have a hard time just observing in the kitchen.
Next place the seasoned pork into the crockpot.Done?? Well just as I thought we were close to locking the lid, I see Ben’s getting feel-y in the freezer. He turns around and comes out with my homemade beef stock from my short ribs.Next thing I know he’s chipping away at the frozen stock and adding it to the crockpot.After some hesitation, mainly just because I wasn’t in control, we were finished and turned the crock to low for 8 hours. This probably all took under 10 minutes and then we were headed to the secret spot (I can’t say where or I’ll to have die) not too far off schedule! I can show you below Ben’s pictures though from the trip. We had a beautiful day out in the creek, but a little too windy to catch any fish. I think I was reminded over and over again though #TooBlessedToBeStressed. This held true until the end of the trip paddling back. The current was so strong and I was paddling with all my might and NOT MOVING ANYWHERE. At this point I was HANGRY. I was yelling and cursing and very unpleasant. At one point Ben tried to connect the two kayaks to help get me back to shore, but this was an even more so disaster that only set us back. Let’s just say the easiest thing we did that day was cook a full meal for 6 people in under 10 minutes. When we finally made it home, the kitchen smelt delicious and the meat was ready to eat! Our dinner guest for the evening were Odom, Reckless Ray, Catherine, and later on Trig. We served the pork on Hawiian rolls and set up a station to add avocados, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese if you pleased. Also, Odom made his Grandma’s famous Red Rice Recipe. Then of course, to finish up the evening we played a game of salad bowl with red wine galore. And I guess I’ll add, there was nothing really to be hesitant about and I should trust a little better other cooks in the kitchen!
So following my last post, I figured nows a good a time as any to tell you about Leon’s. Leon’s is a new restaurant that opened up last Saturday on upper King Street. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the restaurant’s opening as I drive by it often. Also, my buddy Tom, Louise’s boyfriend, is the main bartender up there and he has been getting me pumped and telling me great reviews on the place. The menu is simple:
Three main components: Oysters, Fried Chicken, and Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream.
How genius? The simplicity is what I’m attracted to. It targets a direct audience…those craving oysters and fried chicken. I didn’t even realize this is something I would crave at the same time, but now I can’t stop! I already want to go back. Also, the atmosphere is beautiful. You walk into an open-air bus shed type of building with dark wooden rafters as the ceiling, hanging lights, funky vintage chairs and tables, music playing that Danielle says takes you back to the 20s, and then a connecting outdoor patio where we started off our night.
My dinner accompaniments consisted of my front desk team at Charleston Place with a hint of accounting (Danielle). I made clear that there were 3 rules: 1) We must try everything 2) please allow for a picture before diving in and 3) we have to get a group picture before the night is over. These are pretty much the standard guidelines for a Crockpottuesday outing as you already know. So to start…you guessed it…OYSTERS.
The waitress explained two different raw oysters they were serving for the night. Virginia oysters that are big and have a medium salt flavor and Massachusetts oysters that are smaller with more salty flavor. The table decided on Virginia. Great choice.
Next we had the grilled oysters. I had never had grilled oysters before and was pleasantly surprised by the smokey flavor. The charcoal spice is also a different experience when mixed with the soft texture of an oyster instead of a typical firmer texture of meat.Now for the Traditional Rockefeller oysters- my favorite. These were covered in a spinach puree that was similar to a pesto flavor. Not to be confused with pluff mud.
Next we ordered two sides before our entrees. The first were fried brussel sprouts. These were okay- didn’t really do it for me. I was expecting them to be completely fried, more like fried okra.I think brussels should stick with being roasted.The second side was smashed avocado on sourdough bread. This was amazing. The bright lime green avocado was mixed with lots of lime so the tangy flavor really stuck out and was a perfect match with the shaved radish on top. I will have to try this at home.Now Crockheads- for the best fried Chicken in town and for the best price possible just look at the picture below. This 2-piece light meat fried chicken was so juicy and so crispy I had to take a second. For all you country folk- better than gas station fried chicken. For all you city folk-better than ritzy high-end fried chicken you eat with a knife and fork. I’m talking straight classic dictionary fried chicken y’all. Can’t beat it.Even comes in sandwich form!
My only complaint about Leon’s was that a very vital component of the menu was not available. The soft serve ice cream machine was down! What better way to finish off a meal like that than with some soft serve!! Hopefully it will be back and working though soon because I will definitely be back! Now everyone go to Leon’s and see Tom!
It’s official. I have a problem. It was made obvious to me particularly today at work by two people. First by Lewis Booth- the manager of the hotel’s bell stand. Lewis and I are always talking food and showing each other our pictures. Usually, Lewis is telling me about the awesome meal he’s cooked the night before from the Lee Brother’s cook book and I’m telling him about my latest restaurant excursion. This past week I did back to back restaurant night outs at Leon’s on Wednesday and then at The Drawling Room on Thursday. As I was telling Lewis about them, he stopped and all of a sudden looked at me perplexed with an expression of I can’t believe I haven’t ask her this before and says, “Who’s paying for you to dine at these restaurants?” Ha! This honestly made me laugh. I could take this question in two ways. 1) Lewis considers me a paid food critic and is legitimately wondering who picks up my bills. Okay that’s probably false. Or 2) he’s genuinely concerned about my spending habits and wondering if I myself am aware. More likely #2. The second person to reiterate my self-awareness of my restaurant obsession was my roommate Kendall. Later on in the day she asked me if we could get together and dine soon at the Charleston Grill. Twist my arm-absolutely. We went and looked at the schedule and noticed that we both had Sunday off! Perfect. Then I remembered, I already have plans to meet Kelley at the new restaurant on Sullivan’s Island, the Obstinate Daughter. So we looked again, my only other free evening off would be Wednesday. Then again, I realized that was the night of Amy and Douglas’ 30th birthday party at The Macintosh that I arranged. So yes. I Suzanne Kassel, am a restaurant addict. There will be no initial step of denial. I will stand with confidence and accept that what I spend my money and time on is restaurants and food. I have even ordered a specific credit card that rewards me for doing so. So for now, it is I that picks up the bill and I am aware of my addiction! And just like Lewis added after our conversation, do it while you’re young and you can! Thank you for listening to my rant. Peace Love Food