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Tag Archives: south carolina

It’s a burger, but not as we know it

Today’s recipe came from what is essentially an encyclopaedia of American food, USA by Sheila Lukins. Now, I’m not what rappers would call a hater normally, but this Sheila had the task of travelling around every state and eating loads of delicious American dishes. So this woman gets to eat pancakes, waffles, burgers, steaks, sandwiches, ribs, fried chicken, lobster, pies, ice cream, milkshakes…. Phew, I think you get the point. And she gets to eat this for work. Just think of that when your alarms going off tomorrow morning, and you’ll realise why it’s easy to hate on this woman. In all seriousness though, if my job was to travel, eat and then write about it I’d be pretty darn happy, so fair play to her. If it makes you feel any better, she must be either really overweight or spends a huge amount of time at the gym. Every silver lining has a cloud! I seem to have amassed quite a few cookbooks centred around the States, I just love the food I eat when on holiday over there, and there is so much variation due to the sheer size of the place. It’s wrong to pigeonhole all American food as junk, although you’d be an idiot to not realise the amount of junk food there is there. 52 states, climates ranging from tropical to the tundra, swathes of the country covered by farmland (the cynical might say to keep McDonald’s in burgers and fries) and you’ve got a country that can produce a huge and varied amount of ingredients. And all I can say about the service over there is that it puts the UK’s service industry to shame.

I sadly don’t have the budget for a trip around America to satisfy my hungry palette, so cooking from this book will have to suffice until I have made my millions. I had really wanted to cook the recipe Apple Puff Pancakes from USA this morning to aid my hangover recovery, but soon found I didn’t have any ground cinnamon, and if I can’t do it right then I won’t do it. So I had to make do with regular pancakes smothered in syrup, poor me. In the end I made myself dinner with the recipe Beaufort Shrimp Burgers, which the author first tasted in South Carolina, which is supposed to be a beautiful part of the country, lucky cow. The recipe was intended for 6 people so I tried to round it down as best as I could to make enough for 2, which I couldn’t quite pull off. Miscalculated  how much mayo to add to the chunks of prawn so I ended up with burgers that were a little too runny and couldn’t quite hold their shape in the frying pan (or skillet as the Americans call it, which I think is a much better word if you happen to sing made up ditties while cooking. Not that I do,cough). Not that this mattered too much, the burgers tasted good and because it was made up of shellfish and not minced beef it didn’t feel heavy, greasy or unhealthy. The recipe advises spreading the rolls with tartare sauce which I did but I felt this overpowered the delicate taste of prawns, as without the sauce the burger tasted a lot more fresh and vibrant. Its definitely not your run of the mill burger, but sometimes it’s nice to make a change and try something different. Would I make it again? Not sure, it’s nothing spectacular, and while it’s nice to have a change, no burger can ever top the mighty beef. Not bad for the first recipe I’ve cooked from this book. The book is over 600  pages long, so plenty more recipes for me to sink my teeth into, both figuratively and literally. Bring it on!

 

 

 
 

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Shrimp Creole – Putting on the Grits

Time to take  a trip to the Deep South. The cookbook this recipe came from I found in a secondhand book shop in Orlando, and with a title like ‘Putting On The Grits’, how could I not snap it up? The thing I love about this book is it was put together by The Junior League of Columbia, South Carolina and was printed wayyy back in 1985 so you know this won’t be a book you’ll see everyday. If you like southern food, then I’d wager you’d love this book. It’s stuffed with authentic recipes and the nerdy cookbook fanatic in me adores the fact that housewives (I’m not just presuming that women made this book, the back pages have a list of contributors and it’s safe to say 99% of them were women) in the year I was born put together this recipe and now all these years later I’m cooking from it in a town thousands of miles away from Columbia. You read it and you know only Americans could have made this book – there’s a few menu suggestions, ranging from occasions such as ‘Carolina Cup Steeplechase Picnic’, ‘Football Tailgate’, ‘Debutante Brunch’ and ‘Get-to-know-your-neighbours party’. I kid you not. This is just not something that the English really do, and thats part of the reason I love America so much. Generally, in the UK you don’t talk to your neighbours and you don’t say ‘have a nice day’ to everyone you see. If Desperate Housewives has taught me anything, it’s that when someone new moves onto your street you bake them some cookies or a peach cobbler, even if the neighbour turns out to be a serial killer or psychopath.  (But I probably shouldn’t judge all Americans by the actions of Bree Van de Kamp). And that’s what this cookbook embodies, Southern hospitality and some delicious cooking.

When I saw that this book included the recipe Shrimp Creole, I knew I’d have to cook it. Recently, the boyfriend and I went to Florida, and while there we took a trip with some friends to St Augustine, a beautiful coastal town which is also the oldest in the States. This town is crammed with great restaurants, but the one we fell in love with was Harrys Seafood restaurant. I cannot recommend this place enough, the food was amazing, cocktails boozy and atmosphere was one of a kind. We sat in the garden, fairy lights twinkling around the palm trees and a musician playing in the background. For starters the four of us shared fried green tomatoes (way better than I expected) and voodoo shrimp. This shrimp recipe I have been trying to replicate ever since getting back, but it has been impossible, which is a shame as they were the best thing I ate all holiday. The rest of the meal was still stunning (stuffed shrimp, scallops and crab encrusted fish with grit cakes), but nothing topped those shrimp. I was really hoping that this recipe would come close, but sadly no luck. It was a really nice meal though, which I would definitely make again. For a start, any recipe that says to cook the diced veg in bacon drippings is going to be good, surely? The sauce was sweet but spicy, with the occasional salty smoky crunch from the crumbled bacon. I could only get hold of little prawns this week, I think next time I make it I’ll use king prawns so it adds more substance to the meal as the little prawns disappeared amongst the sauce.

 

Food from the Deep South of America has only recently become a favourite of mine, but if you get a chance to taste real authentic southern food then do it. It’s ridiculously tasty, homely and unpretentioius and definitely up there with some of the great food cultures of the world.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Books, Cooking

 

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