Grilled South Carolina Peaches

Grilled Peaches have been like a gift from the gods as a perfect summertime dessert. They are light, nutritious and beyond delicious in this hot and steamy weather. We get our peaches from a local farmers market style place called The Vegetable Bin, where it is extremely affordable and locally sourced fruits and veggies whenever possible. For this recipe we use not-too-soft, not-too-hard (does that make sense??) peaches so that they’ll hold up on the grill.

You’ll need:

  • 4 ripe (but not too ripe!) peaches
  • Mascarpone Cheese (A sweet Italian cream cheese of sorts! Greek Yogurt works too if you want to make this completely healthy)
  • Honey

Simply cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. On a medium-high grill, start with the exposed fruit side down, grill 3 minutes, then flip to the skin side down for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve warm with a dollop of Mascarpone Cheese (I always feel like Giada de Laurantiis when I use it!) and a drizzle of Honey.

Monday Burger Night At Cypress

Cypress has been one of my favorite fine-dining restaurants in Charleston. Everything they have is delicious, from the Caesar Salad (Made and served table-side) to the Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. Their Chef, Greg Deihl, was a James Beard Award nominee this year for good reason! Unfortunately with my budget I can’t afford the whole dining experience too often, which makes Monday Burger Night awesome. At $5 for a variety of burgers and $3 for the sides (Fried Mac and Cheese or Steak Fries), it can’t be beat. With the entire 2nd Floor Bar and Dining Room open for seating, there is plenty of room for all to enjoy! So on Monday nights I’m able to get a little dressed up, enjoy a nice glass of Rose Wine and a delicious gourmet burger for a great experience and very little damage to my bank roll!

Wood Grilled Burger (bacon jam, pimiento cheese, butter lettuce, yeast roll), Fried Mac and Cheese, House Made Pickle

Free Lobster Roll??

A free Lobster Roll is a wonderful thing to come by. My dad called and said he had two pounds of Lobster Claw and Knuckle Meat and it was time to create the Lobster Roll he had been dreaming of for months, I was definitely in. These would not be your usual Lobster Rolls, as the lobster claws and knuckles were obtained in an unusual way.

My dad is the owner of a Barbecue company that supplies the smallest restaurant to the largest stadiums with all natural, all hickory smoked and all hand pulled Pork, Brisket, Pulled Chicken, Ribs and Wings (Birney’s Foods as you may have seen in a previous post). One of his best and oldest customers called frantically on Saturday morning after discovering their freezer and refrigerator were completely down, and all his product had been ruined. My dad had to make the 45 minute emergency mission to Moncks Corner, SC where his smokehouse is located, load up with Pulled Pork, Brisket and Chicken and zip back the 45 minutes to Downtown Charleston to deliver the goods. As a thanks for the trouble they gave him two pounds of top-grade Lobster. Sounds good to me!

Lobster Roll:

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 bunches green onion, chopped (white and green part)
  • 1 lemon’s worth of juice
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 lbs steamed lobster (we had the claws and knuckles), Chop into bite-size pieces

Combine all ingredients together! It’s best to keep the lobster simple to truly let its flavor shine, you don’t want to over power it.

Next we used our favorite fresh baked hotdog rolls from Publix, they almost have a texture similar to Challah Bread, simply melt a tablespoon of butter, brush it on the sides and broil it in a 500 degree broiler for about 15 seconds a side. Be careful, they will burn FAST!

And here you have it, A Delicious (and slightly “Free”!) Lobster Roll!

Feeling a little CLAMMY!

Being a city on the ocean, Charleston has its fair share of local fish markets. It has always been a no-brainer for me to go straight for the Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Salmon or even Whole Flounder. Fresh fish is so fool proof and simple all it needs a little salt, pepper and fresh herbs then a hot grill. The problem: it can cost as much as $20 per pound! What am I? A Rockefeller?? Then I noticed the Clams. At $4.50 for a dozen (about a pound), these local, fresh and live clams were my Knights in Shelly Armor!

Looking to Carb-Load for my big run in the morning (My excuse! Really I’m just obsessed with pasta!) I decided on a Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Clam Sauce. A heavy red sauce is not always appealing in the hot summer so I thought it would be a great, light summer meal.

Fettuccine with Clam Sauce

  • Whole Wheat Fettuccine (I enjoy the heartier flavor and texture of a whole wheat pasta!)
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc because I like to drink it in my Wine Spritzers!!)
  • 3/4 Cup Clam Juice
  • 2 lbs Fresh Clams
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 6 Cloves Minced Garlic (I love to get a big container of Pre-Minced Garlic because it eliminates all the extra work with a garlic clove)
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Oregano, Chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil (The greatest thing I have ever done for my cooking is plant a fresh herb garden! It has opened up so many more options and has proven to be a real money saver!)
  • 2 Tbsp Cold Butter, Cubed

In a 6 quart pot heat the oil over medium-high heat, add red onion and saute until softened and slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add Garlic, Oregano and Red Pepper Flakes, saute an additional 2-3 minutes, until garlic is golden. Mix in Wine and Clam Juice, allow to simmer and reduce about 3 minutes. Toss in the Clams (gently!) and cover, shaking pot occasionally to make sure they don’t burn on the bottom. Leave covered 5-10 minutes, until all clams have opened. Remove from heat and stir in the cubed butter until melted. Toss Clam Sauce in a large bowl with Pasta, Parsley and Basil until well combined! ENJOY!

I did panic at the last minute that there weren’t enough clams since I was going to be feeding 4, including two grown men, and most clam sauce recipes use canned clams sooooo I added a couple cans, drained of their juice to the sauce. Just warm them through then toss together with the pasta as before! FYI, clam cans are about 1/4 clam and 3/4 can so adjust how many you add accordingly!

Drained Clam Cans!

Fourth of July; Red, White and Sugared Blueberries

My brother acquired a boat recently. I say “acquired” because it seems to literally have dropped into his lap (or front lawn) from a good friend of his. Not the most impressive boat, a 17-foot Boston Whaler from the 80’s, but in Charleston, SC a boat is golden. When he asked me to go out on it for the Fourth of July, no questions asked, I was goin’! As with most things with my brother, there is always a catch!

The Catch: He fills the tank with gas, I bring the refreshments (AKA beer and my Wine Spritzers) and food.

After much (Or was it very little??) thought, I landed on Chicken Salad Sandwiches using Birney’s Hickory Smoked Pulled Chicken as the base, which is perfect because the chicken has such a great smokey flavor and an awesome spice blend to it. SHAMELESS PLUG check out for some AWESOME bbq. I try to stay low-cal-ish so I blended the chicken with about a cup of Greek Yogurt, about 2 tbsp of mayo for the tang, halved grapes, green onion and slivered almonds. Perfect and easy, but they don’t all have to know that!

Then it was like I had Divine Inspiration! Mini White Cupcakes with A Fresh Strawberry Puree Buttercream and Sugared Blueberries (Are you getting the Red, White and Blue theme that I’m running with??) I call my brother BEYOND excited by my brilliance and he was less than enthused, claiming NO ONE ate cupcakes at the beach. Say whaaaaaaat??? Good, I had something to prove!

The Frosting: A simple Buttercream

  • 6 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ABOUT 1/2 cup pureed strawberries, depending on desired thickness of frosting
  • a tiny pinch of salt to make the sweetness pop!

With a hand mixer I whipped up the butter for about a minute and alternated adding the powdered sugar and strawberry puree, with the vanilla and salt mixed in about half way through and VOILA:I put the frosting in the refrigerator to firm up while I got the sugared blueberries ready!

Blueberries: Sugared

  • desired number of berries
  • egg white whipped til frothy with a splash of water
  • granulated sugar

Simply place blueberries in the frothy egg white mixture, remove from whites shaking off excess whites and toss in sugar. Leave them to dry on parchment or wax paper and you’ll add the perfect fresh crunch to any dessert!

The Cupcakes in all their Glory:

Needless to say, they were the biggest hit of the day! My brother gave me a public apology for doubting my cupcakes and went so far as to keep them SECRET from 10 or so people that were there in our group!!! More for us!

My true inspiration for them is Sugar Bakeshop on Cannon St. Downtown Charleston, which I make a point of visiting at least once a week, the best cupcakes in Charleston hands down.

Great food, great company and great spritzers made for a Fourth of July to remember! And I learned a valuable lesson: Find a friend that is willing to give you a boat!