Tag Archives: herbs

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.

Banh Mi the Ultimate Sandwich

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Banh Mi the Ultimate Sandwich

Banh Mi prep

There is nothing like a Banh Mi Sandwich! There are so many flavors and textures going on between the baguette. There are many ways to make this sandwich, in fact, my friend Andrea Nguyen has written an entire book on the subject! 

For each sandwich:

  • 1 petite baguette roll or part of a longer baguette
  • Mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
  • Maggi Sauce (available at Hispanic and Asian groceries)
  • Char Su (this is Asian style pork belly) or BBQ chicken, pate’ or slices of rare steak
  • 3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
  • 2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices
  • Bean sprouts
  • Daikon and Carrot Pickle (Do Chua)

Banh Mi 1

  1. Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use a fork to pull out some of the bread, making a trough in both halves. Place the bread halves under the broiler on LOW, but watch carefully!
  2. Generously spread the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. layer the remaining ingredients. I like to start and end with some herbs.

DSC_0220Daikon and Carrot Pickle (Do Cha)

Makes about 3 cups

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 pound daikons, peeled
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons and 1/2 cup sugar in the raw or grated jaggery
  • 1  1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

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Method:

Either cut the carrot and daikon into julienne or use a spiral cutter to cut them. Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. They will soften and liquid will pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently. Return the carrot and daikon to the bowl.

To make the brine, in a bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the carrot and daikon. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. It is not traditional, but I like to add some dried red chile flakes too.

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Saffron, Blood Orange, Chicken and Herb Salad

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Fennel chicken salad blood orange

You are going to LOVE this. It is so good, full of herbs, honey, saffron and grilled chicken… flavor, flavor and more flavor! the original inspiration came from the fabulous cook book, Jerusalem. I added more herbs and changed the oranges to blood oranges.

This is easy. You can do it with blood oranges, regular oranges or tangerines. The honey, saffron and reduced orange pieces make for a fabulous sauce/dressing. This serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of your favorite honey
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron threads
  • 2 TBS champagne vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more to cover oranges) water
  • 2 chicken breast halves (boneless/skinless)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBS Sumac
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small fennel bulbs sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves torn
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves chiffonade
  • 1 red chile thinly sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees If using a grill, start it.
  • Trim and top the oranges. Cut one into wedges of 8ths with the skin on, remove the peel and make supremes on the other. Reserve the supremes for the salad.
  • Place the 8ths of orange into a saucepan with the honey, saffron, vinegar and water to cover the orange pieces.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour, till a thick syrup forms.

Blood orange and honey

  • Allow to cool slightly then put into a food processor and process till a thick syrup results. You may need to add a tiny bit more water.

Blood orange and honey food processor

  • Put the chicken on a grill pan or grill and sear till golden and char marks form (2-3 minutes per side, then put in the oven to finish, till interior measures 150 degrees and then remove and allow to cool.

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  • When cool enough, tear apart chicken into bite size pieces, add to a large bowl and then add the herbs, oranges, fennel, chiles, lemon juice and the orange syrup. Toss, add remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Big Daddy Does Pho

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Big Daddy makes a few cooking attempts to ease my busy schedule. Last night he hit a homerun. Pho (pronounced FA), the simple (yet complex) Vietnamese Street food charmed him when we lived in Hawaii. He is not one for exotic flavors, so this surprised me a bit. Since then we have been to several restaurants here in Charleston that serve Pho. He decided to make it and it was an astounding winner. We paired it with a Belgian Ale and that was a fantastic match too. We had some leftover rare beef (tri-tip) so he froze it and sliced it thinly. I usually ask for my meat on the side when ordering Pho in restaurants, I don’t like it over cooked. We have enough broth for at least two more meals.

ready for soup

Pho 

INGREDIENTS:

Soup
4 quarts beef stock (homemade is best)
1 large onion, sliced into rings
6 slices fresh ginger root or galangal if you can get it
2 small stalks of fresh lemon grass tied in a knot
1 pound sirloin tip, cut into thin slices
1 (8 ounce) packages dried rice noodles
 
Garnishes and Sauces
1/2 pound bean sprouts
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced into thin rings
2 limes, cut into wedges
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha (Rooster) sauce
Fish sauce
METHOD :
1. In a large soup pot, combine broth, onion, ginger, lemon grass, star anise, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.
2. Arrange bean sprouts, mint, basil, and cilantro on a platter with chilies and lime.
3. Soak the noodles in hot water to cover for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain. Place equal portions of noodles into large soup bowls, and place raw beef on top. Ladle hot broth over noodles and top with beef. Pass garnishes and sauces.

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