Category Archives: Southern Specialties

Spicy Beef Chili n’ Cheddar Cheese Grits

When it comes to grits, you either love them or think you hate them.  Personally, I have a serious soft spot for grits.  I was once among the crowds that thought I hated them, but it wasn’t until I went down south that I realized they are so much more than the bland instant breakfast kind that is often thought of.  

More specifically, stone ground grits. They are so good, that when prepared the right way, they melt in your mouth like buttery mashed potatoes.  And as a bonus: easy to make.

In Charleston, the most irresistibly delicious variations are just about everywhere you go.  Most commonly you’ll see Shrimp & Grits on the menu, which is a low-country staple — so. heavenly. delicious.  Instead of the classic I thought I’d go for a get-through-the-last-few-weeks-of-wintery-blues dish.   Chunky beef chili over creamy cheddar grits. Comfort food at it’s finest!

You can’t find yellow stone ground grits everywhere, but they can be can ordered online at several different places if you live in an area that doesn’t sell them at the local grocery store.

Cheddar Cheese Grits

(Cooking tip: Grits need a lot of salt to help bring out the flavors.  If your grits taste good, but need just a little boost to make them delicious, you probably need to add more salt)

  •  1 ½ cup Yellow Stone Ground Grits
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated yourself

Bring the milk and chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the grits and salt and bring back to a boil.  Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes (or until grits are tender), stirring occasionally to prevent the grits from burning on the bottom.   Once grits are tender, stir in butter and half & half, season with pepper and salt (a lot of salt!) and then turn off heat and stir in cheese.

Spicy Beef Chili

  • 1 lb beef shoulder or other beef for stew, cubed
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs ancho chili powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • a dash of Worcestershire
  • a dash of hot sauce
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper

Heat a few spoonfuls of olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot, on high heat.  Season beef cubes with salt and pepper on all sides and add to pan.  Sear the beef on add sides until nice and brown.  Remove beef from pan when browned.

Add onions and jalapenos to pot and saute, while scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (that is where a lot of your flavor comes from).  Saute until the onions are softened and then add garlic. Cook for a minute more.  Add all of the spices and cook for another minute.  Add brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, hot sauce and incorporate into the spices.  Last, return the beef back to the pot, add the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil (ensure the chicken stock covers all of the beef completely — if not, add a little water).  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add the beans and cook for about 30 minutes to one hour more or until your beef is tender and pulls apart with a fork. 

Serve over grits and with additional cheese if desired.



Filed under All Posts, Beef, Charleston, Great for a barbeque, Recipes, Side Dishes, Soups & Stews, Southern Specialties, Uncategorized

Carolina Red Rice

I am no history guru — but I do know Charleston receives much attention for being the starting point of the infamous Rebels and Yankees, Civil War.  But what everyone doesn’t realize is that in the 18 century the city served as a major shipping port for rice, which was cultivated in the surrounding plantations — including Middleton Place, where we said our “I do’s”!  (And that’s how you turn history into food talk, folks!)  But I truly never realized how delicious rice in the Low Country region is until I was introduced to: Carolina Plantation Rice.  Mildly sweet and slightly nutty flavors make this aromatic rice distinctively pleasing to the palate.  

One of the best pieces of advice I will ever give you:  always ensure you have plenty of southern confederates on hand who keep your rice commodities fully stocked — because trust me when I tell you that once you ally with Carolina rice, you will never turn back!  Until then, you can find it  Here (along with some great recipes)! 

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 – 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper

Cook bacon in sauté pan until browned, but not too crisp.  Remove and drain on paper towel. Add onions and bell pepper to the pan and cook in the bacon grease until soft.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, Tabasco, salt, pepper.  Add bacon back to the pan with the rice.  Ensure rice is emerged completely in liquid (you may have to add water if not) and bring to a boil.  Once the rice begins to boil cover and turn heat down. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until rice is cooked.


Filed under All Posts, Charleston, Favorite Finds, Side Dishes, Southern Specialties, Uncategorized

A Taste of Charleston

There are two essential things you must always bring with you when visiting Charleston: sunblock and an eat-all-you-can-eat-until-you-can’t-eat-anymore attitude.  Charleston is without doubt my all-time favorite food city.  When friends asked me for suggestions on what to do and where to go, I couldn’t help but ramble off every possible dining room within a twenty-mile radius (while completely skipping over all of the beautiful history, shopping and beaches that also make this place so wonderful).  What really gets me excited is how you can dine with southern sophistication at restaurants serving up lavish interpretations of Lowcountry cuisine, or just as easily be seduced by a classic home cooked meal in a small inconspicuous kitchen.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find on some of the menus:

Slightly North of Broad’s

Shrimp Bisque with Thai Curry & Blue Crab Claw Meat

  • 2 (medium) yellow onions, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 head fennel bulb (or 1/2 head celery), diced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 qts strong shrimp stock
  • 1 lb blue crab claw meat, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3/4 lb butter
  • 1 tbsp red Thai curry
  • 1 qt cream
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco
  • 1 cup Madeira
  • 1 tsp white pepper

Melt butter in sauté pan, add salt and all vegetables. Sweat until tender. Add curry and stir.  Add flour to vegetables to create a roux and stir well. Whisk in shrimp stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Whisk in cream and simmer 5 minutes.  Saute crab meat in butter, and then add to bisque.  Add Tabasco, Madeira and white pepper – stirring to mix.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.


Middleton Place Plantation’s

Corn Pudding

  • 2 cups yellow corn
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 qt heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Place yellow corn in a greased casserole pan. Mix all other ingredients together. Pour mixture over corn and bake for 45 minutes at 350 F or until golden brown.


Boone Hall Plantation’s

Fried Green Tomatoes with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes

  •  5-8 large green tomatoes
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • garlic salt, cayenne and pepper to taste

Egg wash

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • dash of salt

Slice tomatoes. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, flour, cornmeal and spices in large bowl.  Make egg wash in separate bowl and prepare a third bowl with the cup of flour.  Dip each tomato into the flour, egg wash and finally the breadcrumb mixture. Fry in vegetable oil at 350 F, about 2-4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and serve with sour cream dill sauce.

Sour Cream Dill Sauce

  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Dukes mayo
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh dill
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • garlic, salt and pepper to taste


Sea Biscuit Cafe’s

Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup over-ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Mix wet together, and blend in the dry ingredients. Bake in a well-greased loaf pan at 400 F for 10 minutes. Then turn oven to 350 F and bake for another 45 minutes.


Ashley Inn’s

Peaches & Cream Stuffed Waffles & Praline Sauce

Waffle Batter

  • 4 cups waffle mix
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp orange extract

Mix all together. Prepare waffles and spread 1/2 tbsp filling on waffle. Top with peach slices and fold over. Top with praline sauce and garnish with dollop of sour cream, more peach slices and sprig of mint.


  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Spring of mint (optional)

Whip together with electric mixer.

Praline Sauce

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup water (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Combine ingredients and melt in saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water(or maple syrup) to thin and 1 cup whole pecans.

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Filed under All Posts, Charleston, Recipes, Restaurants, Southern Specialties, Uncategorized

Farmer’s Market Succotash

When I eat fresh lima beans, I taste the sweet flavors of self-liberation.  Every picked-from-the-pod bean frees my inner child from the traumatic frozen-fed upbringing that’s held me captive in a lima bean prison since I was a tot.  While I appreciate my mother’s efforts to provide nutritious meals, I feel I’ve been deceived.  I mean, why would she teach me that these delicious vegetables grow from a cardboard box?  Now that I’ve discovered the truth, its invigorating to know I never have to lay eyes on an iced up piece of mush again. In the famous words of Anthony Bourdain –  I’d rather lick Cheeto dust off the floor of a public bus.

This recipe is wonderful!  Succotash offers so much versatility and flexibility, so you can really mix and match an array of flavors, using whatever ingredients strike your mood. 

Fresh from the Market Succotash

  • 1/2 lb lima beans, out of pods
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 onion (or one small onion), diced
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • about 6 small fingerling potatoes
  • about 12-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced fine
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F and slice potatoes into 1/4 inch discs.  Place potatoes on baking sheet with salt and an olive oil drizzle and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

While potatoes are cooking, blanch lima beans in boiling water for about 5-7 minutes or until beans are soft.  Drain beans and transfer immediately to a cold water bath. 

In sauté pan with olive oil add onions and cook for about 3-4 minutes on med-low or until translucent.   Add garlic, corn, zucchini and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Once potatoes are ready add to sauté pan with the other veggies and add lima beans and basil.  Combine in pan, season with salt and pepper and serve.


Filed under All Posts, Healthy Options, Recipes, Seasonal - Summer, Side Dishes, Southern Specialties, Vegetables

White Cheddar and Roasted Corn Spoon Bread with a Spicy Sausage and Red Pepper Ragu

Oh my dear South, you’ve done it again.  I’ve been coaxed by your charming and delicate ways that gracefully swoop me up into a comfort food heaven.  Spoon bread darling, take me away!

Don’t be fooled by the pseudonymous name, as this dish is quite the opposite of bread.  Spoon bread is made from corn meal and has a soft and creamy pudding-like texture.  It is wonderful when baked with roasted corn and cheddar — making it the perfect combination of slightly sweet and oh-so-cheesy.

White Cheddar and Roasted Corn Spoon Bread

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, whisked together
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
  • 3/4 cup corn, roasted
  • a generous amount of salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine corn meal and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a slow boil and then cook for about 5 minutes or until it thickens.  Add milk, butter, eggs (whisked together), salt and pepper and combine well.  Fold in cheese and corn.  Transfer mixture to a greased baking dish and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Let casserole sit for several minutes and serve (it will be a smooth and creamy texture).

Spicy Sausage and Red Pepper Ragu

  • 4 spicy italian sausage links
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chilli powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt/pepper

Cook sausage in small sauté pan and remove.  Add to the pan onions and peppers and cook for a few minutes until onions become translucent.  Add garlic and tomatoes and cook for about 3-4 minutes longer.  Add stock, bay leaf, thyme, chilli powder and tomato paste.  Simmer until sauce begins to thicken and stock evaporates. Season with salt and pepper and return sausage to pan.

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Cheddar-Rosemary Biscuits with Hot Pepper and Peach BBQ Pulled Pork

I like to squeeze every last bit of summer out of warm weather produce, so I skipped over to the farmer’s market this weekend and filled up my bags with lots of goodies – including succulent summer peaches and fresh hot peppers.  I was in a sassy mood and I wanted to use these two together somehow, so I eagerly debated over their final destiny. I decided this would be it — warm and cheesy buttered biscuits with slow-cooked, tender pulled pork soaked in a sweet and spicy sauce. Yu…double m. This is comfort food at it’s finest!

Slow-Cooked Hot Pepper and Peach BBQ Pulled Pork

  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 lb peaches, sliced and divided
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 roasted peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • Pepper and Salt

Generously rub pork with salt and pepper and place in a slow-cooker with onions.  Combine half of the peaches and remaining ingredients in medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Transfer to a blender and pulse to combine all ingredients. Add remaining peaches and pour over pork. Cook on low for about 8-10 hours.  Once pork is finished it will be fork tender.

Cheddar-Rosemary Biscuits

(Derived from Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 cold extra-large egg
  • 1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, chopped roughly
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
  • Maldon sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and rosemary and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

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