Guest Post: 82 Queen in Charleston, SC

Today we’re taking a trip. I have a guest post for you from the fam. My parents are undoubtedly The Three Bite Rule’s biggest fans. They took a trip to Charleston, SC and had some really great food. Sis and I went a few years ago (seen here and here) and I’m happy to introduce the ‘rents and the meal they wanted to share! Here we go!

 

Spending a few days in Charleston, South Carolina, we found many quality restaurants at varied priced points. After sampling a few modestly priced, down-home type establishments, we opted to go a bit upscale on the last evening in the city. 82 Queen became our destination.

Located in what was formerly a plantation, the restaurant has an unusual arrangement. We were able to be seated in the courtyard. The personable, attentive waiter offered numerous suggestions as well as copious details about the most popular dishes. He was extremely knowledgeable about each item on the menu.

The She Crab soup typically wins Best of Show at Charleston taste fests. He described it as having the consistency of a chowder with the feel of a bisque. It was outstanding choice served with a bit of sherry to be mixed in at the last moment.
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We also chose the crab cake appetizer which the waiter said was 95% crab with just enough filler to hold it together. Quite a memorable treat.
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A lovely basket of cheddar and chive biscuits appeared. They were flaky; restraint was needed since dinner was coming.
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We had never had grits before…here goes. This dinner featured large barbequed shrimp atop grits treated with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions. Tasty but we still do not know what straight grits would be like.
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The Lowcountry Jambalaya had both shrimp and crawfish. The waiter indicated that this would be a bit on the spicy side with carmelized onions, a trio of peppers and Carolina red rice. Actually, the dish could have used a bit more spice since the rice was a bit dry. This included Tasso ham had a bit of zing but could have been eliminated.
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Could there be a dessert menu without a chocolate offering ? Apparently, the owner’s wife makes the desserts and the choices change often. The choice was made for coconut chess pie. Served with a hearty coffee, it was adequate although the crust had a grocery store freezer in its background.
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82 Queen was memorable for the pleasant courtyard setting, twinkling lights on potted trees and what seemed to be truly Southern hospitality.

What I Ate: Chicken and Pear Sandwich

Sandwiches are such a great dinner. This chicken and pear one is inspired by one that used to be on the menu a Brighton Beer Garden. This sandwich reminds me of my early days in Boston.
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I found some fun focaccia rolls but any bread would be good, and would make this into a good panini.

Ingredients:

Thin chicken breasts, marinated
2 focaccia rolls
2 cups arugula
2 slices cheese
1 pear, sliced

Directions:

Grill chicken until cooked through
Assemble sandwiches on rolls with arugula, chicken, cheese and sliced pears.
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I think the focaccia and the cheese were definitely big parts that made it special.
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I love arugula and it doesn’t get icky when the hot chicken is on it. I dressed the arugula with a little bit of Italian dressing. Delicious. Arugula is peppery and so good.

I’m jetting off to a wedding for less than 24-hours. Sound familiar? Wouldn’t be the last weekend in April if it weren’t craaaaazy.

Any dinner panini or sandwich ideas for me during this busy time?

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Were you thinking I was over my smoothie kick? Ohh no. I haven’t had as many creative ones, but I got this in my head and couldn’t shake it. I love cherries minus the pits. Chocolate and cherry together is devine. I found dark cherries in the freezer section, and I only by frozen fruit with no sugar added. Note: the ingredients should just list the fruit itself.

Ingredients:

pitted cherries, frozen
1 apple, chopped
vanilla yogurt
splash of milk
3 tbs chocolate syrup

Directions:

Add the cherries, apple, yogurt, milk and chocolate together
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Blend and enjoy

This one was wayyy better than it looks. The color might be a smidge off putting. It is reddish-brownish-tanish. The color might not win awards but the flavors are fantastic.
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The chocolate was just enough. I added the apple to up the fruit quotient without adding too many favors to the mix. I thought banana might take over. I thought blueberries might confuse the cherry flavor. One frozen and one raw fruit made for a perfectly frosty yet drinkable smoothie.

Any other flavor ideas/suggestions?

Leek and Potato Pizza with Bacon

I was feeling like dinners had been too wintry and I wanted something springy. I’m ready for spring and Boston sure feels fresh and rejuvenated. We are on the mend and with a springy-feeling drizzle and a sunny hug this weekend helped us heal and move forward.

I spotted leeks at Trader Joe’s. Thanks to Joe, I didn’t have to slice and soak. It also meant I didn’t have to try to use leeks in everything I cooked from now on.

Ms. L was coming so I figured bacon was just the addition she would appreciate. All hell was breaking lose at work. I needed to make this delectable pizza. I needed something I could do well. I’m sure Ms. L would have understood if I was too overwhelmed. When other things are going wrong, I just want dinner to be comforting.

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Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 cups leeks
2 tbs pesto
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz St. Andre cheese
2 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
2 strips of bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone if you’re using one to 400 degrees.
Saute leeks in butter and olive oil until cooked through.
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Spread pizza dough onto the pizza stone or onto a lightly greased pan and poke a few holes with a fork.
Pre-bake the dough for 10 minutes until the dough puffs and is somewhat cooked, but not crisp.
Fry the bacon until almost cooked (it will continue baking on the pizza)
After removing the dough from the oven, spread pesto onto the dough.
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Top with shredded mozzarella, sliced potato, leeks, soft cheese, and crumbled bacon.
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Return to the oven for 20 minutes until the crust crisps and the cheese melts.
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Remove from the oven, and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

This was so good. The two cheeses were perfect. St. Andre crumbles like butter and is like brie, times 10. The cheese plus potatoes plus bacon was so well balanced. The leeks are fresh almost oniony almost garlicky.

I loved this and will make it again, for sure.

Fontina Mac & Cheese with a Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

I know, I know. There are too many decadent not-springy dishes, but I’ve been a bit backlogged. This is worth it. Maybe we all will keep needing a little comfort here in Boston. The recent Boston Marathon events have shaken me. I work in large scale athletic fundraising events (not as large as the marathon) and it all hits close to home. I’m guiltily reminded that I said a few weeks ago that “this is almost the worst thing that could happen” when one of my sites bumped me for another event. No, that is not the worst thing that could ever happen. I’m mixed between whining that it isn’t fair, that this is a time honored tradition, it is inspiring/impressive/astounding and feeling so badly for people doing a really positive thing. The logistics in me feels for the BAA who will forever be changed.

Mr. J works just blocks away, on the same street, and I was just paralyzed by ‘what could be.’  I was so thankful to get home, together, and just process. It was scary to wonder if it was better to stay put or to go to a huge train station. Knowing the cell towers were off made it more nerve wracking. Social media luckily allowed me to see the runners I knew were safe and the event staff I know made it home ok.

Now onto the food. When everything else is uncertain dinner is exactly what I need. I planned to make some really good mac and cheese but I was thinking of topping it with Lay’s new Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored chips, but the grocery store was totally sold out for several weeks. (Yes, this crossed my mind a few times so I gave in trying to make it happen.) Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of chicken & waffle flavored chips? I thought those were too weird, even for me, so I ended up with some interesting looking Feta & Rosemary flavored Cape Cod chips instead.

While I was exploring the chip aisle, I knew something healthy but interesting should go with this. Like something green. Enter: brussels sprouts!
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Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups raw brussels sprouts
2 tbs creamy stone ground mustard
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tbs red wine vinegar (or cidar vinegar)
2 tbs butter
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Trim brussels sprouts at end and tear of petals, discarding the very center
In a flat pan, over medium low heat, melt butter, mustard, garlic, and vinegar for 1-2 minutes.
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Bring pan to medium and add in the brussels sprout petals.
Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
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Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.
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The warm brussels sprout salad has some creaminess from the butter and some tang from the mustard. I think the flavors are light and delightful. This would go with anything. The centers of the brussels sprout is the bitter part so this dish comes out mild and fresh.

I think this sauce would be really good on roasted broccoli or carrots too.

Fontina Mac & Cheese topped with Potato Chips

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3/4 lbs pipette pasta
8 oz fontina, chopped/shredded
8 oz sharp cheddar, chopped/shredded
2 tbs Parmesan, grated
1 egg yolk
1 cup low fat milk
3/4 cup half and half
salt & pepper
1 cup crushed potato chips (or breadcrumbs)

Directions:

Over medium low heat, add butter and flour to a medium saucepan.
While butter and flour form a roux, let it turn from bright butter-yellow to summer-tan-sandish color to cook the flour taste out.
Boil water for the pasta.
Add milk and cream, stirring to smooth out.
Cook pasta to al dente being careful not to overcook.
Add cheeses, reserving 1/4 cup of each for later.
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Stir/whisk until creamy and smooth.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add drained pasta to the cheese sauce saucepan stirring to incorporate.
Add egg yolk and remaining cheese (this is where you get some stringy/gooey parts).
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Pour into a greased baking dish.
Top with breadcrumbs or crushed chips on the top.
Bake for 20 minutes.
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The mac and cheese was so good. The egg yolk and dynamic cheeses make this creamy and decadent. Sometimes I add a squirt of dijon mustard but I didn’t want it to seem too matchy-matchy to my brussels sprout salad.

I love mixing cheeses. Fontina is mild and nutty. Parmesan adds a subtle saltiness but isn’t the best melting cheese. The chips had a great herby flavor without being quite as fake flavored as it could be.

Let’s just let it go that Lay’s decided to make Chicken and Waffle flavored chips. Some things will never be forgotten, but yeah, I think we should all forget that these chips happened. mmmk?

Cheeseburger Calzone

Let’s start the week off right. Let’s talk burgers…no calzones. Seriously, this is just pure goodness whichever way you look at it..

This was delicious, and fresh, and comforting all at the same time. I was thinking back to when I messed around with a biscuit crust for a burger pizza (it was a no-go, seen here).  ‎It was pizza topped with salad. It was a good idea, but needed a re-do. I made a big mac pizza here, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.
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Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1 ball pizza dough
12 oz shredded cheddar melting blend
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
3 tbs ketchup
1 tbs mayo
1 tbs relish
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a skillet, over medium heat, brown ground chicken until cooked through.
Mix in 1/4 cup of cheese. Stir.
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Whisk together ketchup, mayo, relish, and garlic salt, or shake in a glass jar.
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Spread pizza dough out into a large circle. Lay it onto the pan/stone off center (off center so it is loaded up and not moved, only closed)
Layer cheese, ground chicken, spinach, tomatoes. Dab with special ketchup sauce.
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Repeat for 2 layers (or until layer ingredients run out).
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Stretch pizza dough “overhang” across to meet the other side and close up.
Pinch edges together.
Slice a few vent slits into the top of the calzone.
Bake 10 minutes.
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Remove, brush with olive oil and shake sesame seeds onto the top.
Return to the oven, baking for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

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The dough provides the perfect crispy pseudo-burger bun. The meat mix with cheese in it was great. I think it would have been too dried out without the cheese. I like the spinach in there or arugula would be good. These two greens are so good cooked that I can’t quite picture other greens, but some lightly dressed on the side could be fresh and bright.

Calzones have some great pre-prep opportunities. The whole thing could be made and baked for only 10 minutes to firm up. Then heated for 15 minutes before serving. The meat/cheese mix and special sauce could be prepped the night before too, to speed up dinner prep. At this time of year, I like all the help I can get for dinner ;)

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain is my most recent foodie reading.

Anthony Bourdain can definitely rub people the wrong way. I have this likeable/badass impression of him. To me, he seems like the kind of person who you wannnnnt on your side and you’ll have his support for life. I also think if you cross him you should just disappear on your own.
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He reminds me of my old 7th grade math teacher everyone was terrified of. She actually was pretty fun, and she loved me. I think with her help, it was the first time I ever understood math. Those who hadn’t earned any compassion from her, dreaded her voice and class

Do you agree? Is he obnoxious or likable to you?

I read Kitchen Confidential and loved it. He writes like he talks! I have loved No Reservations for years and I can’t bear to see him at a judging panel on The Taste, that is not how I picture him. This account of the ‘Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly’ gives some good background to his interesting ways, the lessons he’s learned, and where he’s come from.

He writes, travels, and eats. I loved learning that he got his start in Massachusetts! He was trained at culinary school before that was such a thing. He started out so young and so enthused. He has such a way to describe some of those unique moments.

I really felt like his first few endeavours were good reminders about growth and progress with successes scattered in. I bet looking back he appreciates those opportunities for what they were, even now that he’s a big shot.

I haven’t worked in many restaurants, but the two I spent some time in definitely helped me picture this culture of the different cultures and the hierarchy behind kitchen doors. It is true! A restaurant and catering company I worked at was known for Jewish specialties that the neighborhood swore by. Who made ‘em? A Chilean guy was the only one allowed to make those matzo balls and noodle kugel. The seasonal fried clam and ice cream shack had a group of guys who couldn’t get drivers’ licenses but where somehow all related or connected. Those guys were much harder workers than some of the slacker 16-year-olds who hadn’t ever used a broom before.
kitch_conf_425_290(I loved his passage, especially since I love pirates)

There were moments when I wanted to cheer right along with what he says. He reminds diners that eating Sunday brunch somewhere that isn’t a breakfast place means the B-team, not the famous Saturday night dinner chef, is whipping up your eggs benedict. Also, that the specials are either something the chef came up with to help with food costs or, it is something the chef would like to move along out of the walk-in before it goes bad. SO TRUE!

I think he’s a bit introspective by nature, but I enjoyed that. He dabbled in some intense habits which he references on his shows too. It is probably a good perspective (and PSA) for young cooks who are having that much fun, spending all their money, and who can be great, if they just know what the heck is happening around them.

Google just showed me it was a short TV series circa 2005 with Bradley Cooper. Umm Bradley Cooper in the kitchen? Yes please! Excuse me while I search Netflix for it…

Spinach and Artichoke Pockets

I love creamed spinach as an ingredient. It has tons of flavor and is great for a sauce and for serious color. I used it in place of sauce in deep dish pizza. This time I thought it would help make spinach and artichoke dip. I baked it into puff pastry pockets to turn dip into dinner!

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Ingredients:

1 pkg creamed spinach
2 cups artichoke hearts
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1 tbs cream cheese
1 cup fresh spinach
4 slices fresh turkey/4 chicken tenders, pre-cooked
1 cup shredded mozzarella/shredded monterey jack
salt & pepper
1 sheet of puff pastry

Directions:

Sautee artichoke hearts in a large pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add creamed spinach, garlic, cream cheese, and fresh spinach to the pan. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Chop and add pre-cooked turkey/chicken, cooking for another 3-5 minutes.
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Roll out puff pastry from ¼ inch thickness to ⅛ inch (sheet should almost double in size)
Cut puff pastry into squares. Lay out if forming into pockets. Or lay into ramekins/muffin tins.
Fill each with spinach/artichoke mixture.
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Add shredded cheese and fold/close.
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Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
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This was such a fun and different kind of dinner. I made these pockets into ramekins so I didn’t have to worry if they exploded. Smaller ones would be fun for a party.
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The turkey I had wasn’t in tip-top shape (it lived in the freezer for a bit) so I figured it’s only use could be cooked into something. It added a bit of protein but wasn’t a crucial addition.

Any other apps turned dinner ideas out there?

Pan Seared Scallops

Today I have a quick restaurant-style dinner. Pan seared scallops are such an easy preparation. They require so few ingredients and cook perfectly. I upped the ante with a really easy sauce too.

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Ingredients:
3-4 sea scallops per person
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
2 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tsp butter
splash milk
1 tsp cream cheese

Directions:
Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil and butter when warmed.
Mix flour, garlic powder, and salt/pepper.
Toss scallops into seasoned flour and sear in the pan for 2 minutes per side.
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While the scallops are cooking, heat mustard, butter, milk, and cream cheese over low heat.
Serve scallops with creamy mustard sauce.

The scallops are slightly sweet with a slight crunch on the outside. The butter flavor they are cooked in plays off the mustardy sauce for a subtle flavor.

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I love scallops prepared this way. They’re easy (as in less than 10-minutes of cooking) and are full of flavor. I served them with roasted broccoli and polenta cakes. It felt special for such a simple dinner.