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Dan’s Fire in Your Hole Sandwich

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About once a week, Dan makes a honey glazed chipotle rubbed chicken that we usually put ontop of a mixed green salad.  It’s delicious, healthy, and a totally original Dan recipe.  As I mentioned in my last post, Dan and I spent all of this past Sunday figuring out how we could go about opening our cafe “On the Water” in Morehead.  It’s a seven hour drive from Morehead back to Takoma Park, so we had a lot of time to brainstorm, and even went so far as to come up with a menu.

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We wanted to include the chicken I’d been calling “fire in the hole,” but didn’t think that the salad was a menu-worthy recipe.  We’re really only putting our top contenders up there, and the salad wasn’t cutting it.  So, we decided to adapt it into a sandwich.  Because the chicken is heavily glazed, we needed a thick bread.  I hate when the ingredients in a sandwich dissolve the bread and it all sort of spills out.  So we chose french bread.

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We also needed to do something to cut the spicy.  See, the way that this chicken operates is that when you first put it in your mouth, all you taste is the sweetness of the honey.  Then, as the honey glaze dissolves, the kick of the chipotle hits you, and your mouth is on fire.  So we wanted to add a creamy cheese, something that could compliment the chicken but take away some of the after-effects.  We juggled a few options, and decided on havarti.

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Finally, we wanted to add something leafy that would bring a freshness to the table.  We’re big fans of the way that cilantro plays on other flavors, bringing a sweetness and a freshness into dishes that you can’t find in other fresh herbs.  If only cilantro weren’t such a pain to grow, we’d grow pots and pots worth of it to keep it fresh around the house all the time.  It really does do great things for this sandwich.  In fact, the next time we make it, FiYHS 2.0 if you will, I think I’m going to add more cilantro.

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This sandwich really is delicious.  For a 1.0 version, it’s top notch.  I would make a few changes.  It was a little cheesy and a little bready.  I think I would hollow out the roll a little so it was just a tad less bread, and use one slice of cheese per sandwich instead of two.  I would also, as I mentioned, add a little more cilantro.  I really do think it’s going to be a big hit.

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Dan’s Fire in Your Hole Sandwich

1 chicken breast

2 tbsp chipotle chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp hot sauce

1/2 french bread loaf, cut in half both ways

1 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp honey

6 tbsp fresh cilantro

4 slices havarti cheese

Salt & pepper

Pat your chicken dry on both sides and rub with chipotle, salt and pepper, and cinnamon.  Heat 2 tbsp oil.  Stir in garlic powder and hot sauce.  Place your chicken in the pan and cook five minutes.  Flip and cook a additional five minutes.

Remove your chicken from the pan and slice into chunks.  Return the chunks to the pan and cook an additional two minutes.  When your chicken is fully cooked, pour honey into the pan.  The honey will melt, and then sizzle.  Allow the honey to reduce.

While the honey is cooking, slice your bread.  Top with havarti and cilantro.  When the honey has completely reduced, place the chicken into the sandwich and serve.

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Smoked Kingfish Dip

This weekend Dan and I went down to Morehead City to meet with the caterers and the florists for our September wedding.  It was an incredibly successful and relaxing weekend away, exactly what I needed.  For those that are not familiar with the area, Morehead is located in the southern Outer Banks, in Carteret County or the “Crystal Coast.”  The nearest lighthouse is Cape Lookout, which sits on the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is the longest expanse of protected, unsettled banks in the chain.

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The reason we decided to get married in Carteret County is because it’s the sort of place where you feel completely at peace.  I’ve been going down there my whole life and as soon as I cross through Havelock I start feeling giddy.  It’s the sort of place that that inspires you to scheme up ways to make a life down there (something my parents are figuring out how to do).  Dan and I spent the entire seven hour drive home developing a business plan for a waterfront coffee shop (something Morehead desperately needs).  We think we’ll be a big hit.

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Carteret County is known for a lot of things.  The charm, the amazing diving, the beautiful scenery, and fresh, delicious seafood.  I guess it goes without saying that seafood in a fishing town is bound to be good.  If there is one thing that people Down East know, it’s seafood.  One of my favorite things to do while we’re down there has always been to go to the fresh seafood market with my parents and sisters, pick a selection of the catch of the day, and have a feast back at the house.  There’s nothing like sitting on the back porch looking out over a marsh with a stomach full of tuna or dolphin or mackerel.  That’s the closest I think I can get to being completely content.

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This trip down was a brief one so there was no trip to the fresh fish market, though my father did surprise me with two of my favorites, brunswick stew and kingfish dip.  His kingfish dip is delicious, and I always love when he makes it, so I was even more excited when he offered to share the recipe.  Kingfish, or king mackerel, are a fish that migrate with the gulf stream.  My father makes the dip with smoked kingfish.  You can find smoked mackerel at specialty grocery stores, vacuum sealed, and also at some fish markets.  Or, if you’re interested in learning the art of smoking fish, there’s an informative site here.

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*UPDATE* So the Capt’n informed me this week that he has been using amberjack in place of kingfish, and adding a dash of wasabi to the formula.  He’s been pleased.

Smoked Kingfish Dip
Source: Captain James Rosemond

Flaked smoked kingfish

1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp real mayonaisse

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup finely minced onion

1 stalk finely chopped celery

1 tbsp finely minced parsley

3 tsps finely chopped dill pickle

1/2 tsp lemon juice

3 shakes hot sauce

Cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

With a fork, flake the smoked fish off the filet.  You can flake it finely or coarsely depending on your preference.  Discard the darker meats that you find in the center of the filet.  Put the smoked fish in a medium bowl and pour milk over it.  Cover and soak in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.  Drain the milk using a fine strainer and place the fish back in the bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cover and chill 2-3 hours to allow flavors to blend.  Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables.

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Shrimp and Grits

One of the meals that I most enjoy making and one of the recipes that I am always proud to serve is shrimp and grits.  This recipe has been adapted from the famous Crook’s Corner, a restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, that is renowned for it’s shrimp and grits.  For good reason, they’re delicious.

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Shrimp and grits are a staple in the south.  Originally it was a meal eaten pretty exclusively by fisherman and their families for breakfast.  As time passed the dish became something served all times of the day and eaten by everyone.  It’s a great casserole type dish to bring to family gatherings, it’s good for brunches, dinners, and makes just perfect leftovers.

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While shrimp season is May-December, you can get shrimp pretty much all times of the year, which is good for me because I have been craving them all week.  It could be the resurgence of cold air earlier in the week or the fact that Top Chef had their last few episodes in New Orleans and the dishes seemed to be a lot of creamy grits and shrimp.  Either way I started craving them something fierce, and it seemed to be the right time.

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The recipe is a lot of steps, and can seem overwhelming the first time you make it.  Just take my advice and relax.  Grits are a loving, generous food, and the dish can absorb a lot of faux pas that other dishes wouldn’t be able to handle.  The basic creamy cheese grits are not that different from the jalapeno grits recipe I posted earlier, and the shrimp are lightly breaded and sauteed, nothing you can’t handle.

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One thing that I can guarantee is that after you’ve made this recipe and tasted how incredible shrimp and grits from YOUR kitchen can taste, you’ll begin to scoff at establishments with lesser dishes.  This could be beneficial for you if you’re with a group of people that appreciate a good scoff, just be careful not to take it too far.  And believe me, if you live outside of the south and you’re inclined to try posh “southern inspired” restaurants that serve s&g, you’ll probably have plenty to scoff at.  Just maybe do it on the inside.

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Apologies for the fact that there’s no photo of the dish, as it should look served.  We had friends over and I was just so excited about diving into it that I totally forgot to memorialize the moment.  We served it with spiked sweet tea, sweet tea with a shot of limoncello mixed in, which is delicious.  My best friend Megan would yell at me if I didn’t take this opportunity to plug sweet tea vodka, which well… you just sort of have to experience.

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Shrimp and Grits
Source: Crooks Corner

2 cups water

3/4 cup half & half

3/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1 cup stone mill grits

3/4 cup shredded cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp hot sauce

1/4 tsp white pepper

3 bacon slices

1 lb shrimp*

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup flour

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp hot sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

Bring water, chicken broth, half & half, and salt to a boil.  Gradually whisk in grits, stirring occasionally until they’ve thickened.  Add cheddar, parmesan, butter, hot sauce, and white pepper.  Turn the temperature down to low and let simmer.

Boil two quarts of water in a large pot.  Add shrimp and boil three to five minutes, or until pink.

Cook bacon, and set aside.  Keep one tbsp of the drippings in the skillet.  Sprinkle shrimp with salt & pepper and dredge in flour, then set aside.  Saute mushrooms in the bacon drippings until tender and juicy.  Add onions and cook a few more minutes.  Add garlic and shrimp and saute until shrimp are brown.  Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce.  Cook about two more minutes.

Spoon shrimp on top of the hot cheese grits.  Sprinkle with bacon and, if you’re feeling fancy, a lemon wedge.

Serves 4.

 

* Cooking & peeling shrimp:

Some advice for first-time shrimp preparers.  You can either buy the shrimp cooked at the grocery store, or you can buy the shrimp whole.  Now, I recommend buying them uncooked because you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting there cooked.  So when you buy them they’ll come in one of two ways.  They’ll either come completely intact with heads, or the heads will have been removed and they’ll come with just the tails/skin.  To clean them, run them under warm water and snap of the tail (and head, if necessary), then peel off the skin.  Then, run your finger along the top and the bottom to make sure there’s no brown stuff.  After you’ve boiled them, rinse them in cold water and do another brown stuff check.  I promise, your squemish guests will appreciate the lack of brown stuff.

If you’re a visual learner, I’ve posted a video on Vimeo for your learning pleasure.  Enjoy the Jimmy Buffet.  A gift from me to you.

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