Tag Archives: cherries

Husk…. Sean Brock’s Southern Food

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Bon Appetit hailed it as the Best New Restaurant in the US…. accolades have been streaming ever since. It is not all hype, the food is amazing, creative and interesting. Husk is the love child of James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s and the Neighborhood Dining Group. Since opening Husk in Charleston he opened another outpost of Southern ingredients in Nashville. He recently opened Minero, a taqueria in the high rent district of downtown Charleston. There is word that he is also taking that concept to Atlanta where the Neighborhood Dining Group is headquartered. He transforms the essence of Southern food over and over again. Solid… delicious… promising. Sean is dedicated to bringing back old Southern grains, beans, greens and other treasures that were all but lost. He is the champion of the old non-gmo crops that were grown 200 years ago in the south. His food reflects that without being obvious. It is just delicious food, and then you learn its history and all of the work that went into bringing it to the table.

Led by Brock and Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes, a Lowcountry native, the kitchen reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefines what it means to cook and eat in Charleston.

Starting with a larder of ingredients indigenous to the South, and set within a building complex dating to the late 19th century, Brock crafts menus throughout the day, responding to what local purveyors are supplying the kitchen at any given moment. The entrance beckons with a rustic wall of firewood to fuel the wood-fired oven and a large chalkboard listing artisanal products currently provisioning the kitchen, but like the décor that inhabits the historic building, the food is modern in style and interpretation.

At Husk there are some rules about what can go on the plate. “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door,” says Brock, who has even stricken olive oil from the kitchen. As he explains, the resulting cuisine “is not about rediscovering Southern cooking, but exploring the reality of Southern food.” This modern approach results in playful dishes such as Deviled Eggs with Pickled Okra and Trout Roe, and new classics like South Carolina Shrimp and Choppee Okra Stew with Carolina Gold Rice and Flowering Basil.

Seed-saving, heirloom husbandry, and in-house pickling and charcuterie efforts by the culinary team are the basis of the cuisine at Husk. The restaurant is as casual as it is chic, evoking a way of life centered on seasonality and the grand traditions of Charleston life—one lived at a slower pace, preferably with a cocktail and a wide porch in the late afternoon. It is a neighborhood gathering place for friends, and a destination dining spot for travelers, with a little bite of the South for everyone’s palates.

These photos are from my lunch there with Nathalie Dupree and Holly Herrick, two Charleston based friends of mine than rank in the upper echelons of Food Writers.  And so we were treated to many things that we did not order. On of the most amazing things that day was totally unexpected, the fried chicken skin with honey and hot sauce. It is a dish I have reconstructed at home a few times. I also reconstructed Husk’s Sweet Tea Brined Kentuckyaki Chicken Wings and you can get the recipe here.

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Roasted Balsamic Cherries

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Really good cherries are hard to beat for flavor and beauty. This application is something that goes well with duck, pork  or chicken as a side dish, but also is good as a dessert over ice cream. It is super simple. You just have to find some really super cherries! I got mine from Whole Foods just as the cherry season was beginning.  I used bing cherries but any large firm variety would work for this.

Start with firm ripe cherries

Start with firm ripe cherries

1 lb of cherries,(don’t  pit or remove stems)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
Whole nutmeg, grated
Fleur de Sel salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste 

1. Preheat the oven  to 400°F.

2. Rinse the cherries with cold water and pad them dry gently with a kitchen towel.

3. Place cherries in a bowl and toss them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season generously with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer cherries to a non-reactive baking dish (glass or porcelain are ideal) with the stem standing up. Preferably, the cherries will fit really close to one another. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

5. Roast the cherries in the oven for 20 minutes or until they start to release their juices. Remove the foil, and place the baking dish back in the oven for another 5 minutes to allow the juices caramelize a bit.

6. Remove from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes. Serve cherries as desired spooning some of the juices over the cherries.

Roasted Cherries

The Ultimate Maraschino Cherry: Homemade!

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I am tired of ingesting sappy sweet Maraschino Cherries loaded with red dye #40. I want some *real cherries* for my manhattans and Mai Tais! And so, I made Homemade Maraschino Cherries. There are two ways to make them (that I know of) and one of them requires sourcing  Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur .I will be posting about those soon.  If you are not looking for a spiked cherry, why not just make them the old fashioned way? Basically this involves taking fresh cherries at their peak, creating a syrup adding some spices and flavors that will compliment the cherries, then simmering the cherries lightly in the syrup without really cooking them completely. This enables the flavors of the syrup to penetrate the cherries and still retains the texture of a fresh cherry.

Which would you rather have?

Commercial Maraschino Cherries are typically made from light-colored sweet cherries such as the Royal AnnRainier, or Gold varieties. In their modern form, the cherries are first preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to bleach the fruit, then soaked in asuspension of food coloring (common red food dye, FD&C Red 40), sugar syrup, and other components. Green maraschino cherries use a mint flavoring.

This recipe is simple and can be completed in the space of an hour. When the cherries have been soaking in the syrup even longer, they will be even tastier. I did not pit the cherries and I left the stems in tact, but you can pit them if you want to. You will need a large jar or container to store the cherries in. They do need to be refrigerated. The alternative of course is to process the cherries, but then they would lose so much of their fresh taste and texture.

These cherries are not just good… they are DAMN GOOD! Try it, really, it is so worth it!

Home Made Maraschino Cherries

2 cups pomegranate juice (use 100 percent juice)
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice (from approximately 3 lemons)
Pinch of salt
3 whole pieces star anise
8 whole cloves
1 pound sweet cherries
1 teaspoon almond extract
In a nonreactive saucepan, add juice, sugar, lemon juice, salt, cloves and star anise. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the cherries and almond extract. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until the cherries have exuded some of their juice and the syrup has taken on a distinctly cherry flavor. Be careful not to overcook. The point is not to actually cook the cherries, but to heat them in the syrup just long enough to bring out their essence.
Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the cherries and the syrup to a bowl a container with a tight-fitting lid, cover tightly, and refrigerate. The longer the cherries steep, the more flavorful they will become.
The Ultimate Manhattan:
I had my first Manhattan at the bar of Tavern on the Green (which incidentally went from being the nations second highest grossing restaurant in 2007, to closing due to bankruptcy in 2009) on my inagural  trip to New York in 1997. I ‘ve loved them ever since. I have returned to Manhattan several times since then, both in my heart and in person, I always order Manhattans when I am there.  It’s a sophisticated, strong and simple cocktail, and the ultimate showcase for as many maraschino cherries as you care to pack into your glass. The proportions are 2:1 
Makes 1 drink
3 ounces whiskey, rye or Bourbon
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherries, for garnish
In a double old fashioned glass, add the whiskey, vermouth and bitters, stir. Garnish with maraschino cherries and serve on the rocks. The drink can also be served straight up by using a cocktail shaker and straining into a martini glass.