Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Kiss

cheese

Some More Cheese Please and Sandwiches, Too

I can never get enough delicious cheese or bread, and when I know I need my fill, I head directly to goat.sheep.cow. Situated in the heart of downtown on quiet Church Street off of Broad, it’s a slice of heaven. They also make memorable sandwiches daily fresh from what’s in stock at the store. Here’s a link to a blog I posted about it a few days ago on charleston.thepermanenttourist.com .

http://charleston.thepermanenttourist.com/goat-sheep-cows-sandwich-and-cheese-stampede/

Enjoy and please do stop by. You’ll be happy you did. Just try and get there by 11 a.m. for a sandwich!

Goat Sheep Cow's sandwiches are made fresh, daily in limited quality from the store's delicious stock and EVO's fresh baguettes.

Goat Sheep Cow’s sandwiches are made fresh, daily in limited quality from the store’s delicious stock and EVO’s fresh baguettes.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

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Thrice “Baked” Nice

In this, their third cookbook, Brooklyn-based baking dynamos Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito really hit the ball out of the park, or should that be Yankee Stadium?

Baked Elements: Our  Ten Favorite Ingredients (Abrams, September 2012) is jam-packed with the authors’ highly original and decidedly tasty approach to baking and pairing flavors. This book is organized by their 10 favorite ingredients: peanut butter, lemon & lime, caramel, booze, pumpkin, malted  milk powder, cinnamon, cheese, chocolate and banana. The ingredients that “we would take to a desert island or rescue from a burning house,” as the authors’ wittily write.

They traverse the landscape of Americana with soul-warming and regionally influenced treats like buttermilk donuts and devil dogs.  Ironic, absent-minded professor humor (i.e., “If you have ever woken up with a slight hangover and a dubious, half-remembered, half-eaten jar of peanut butter at your side. We can empathize. We have lived this shame.”) that make this not only an extremely informed read, but an extremely fun one as well.

Beautifully organized and photographed by Tina Rupp, it is a must-read for Baked fans and bakers everywhere.  Seventy five delicious recipes with fun names (Lacy Panty Cakes, Lemon Pecorino Pepper Icebox Cookies,  Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Tunnel of Hazelnut Fudge Cake, Banana in a Blanket, and a luscious Cheddar Corn Souffle) are bound to bring out the inner baker in anyone.

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More Cheese, Please!

Remember that song from Monty Python about  “Wonderful Spam, Marvelous Spam”? Whenever it pops into this cheese-head’s head, the words are always automatically converted to “Cheese, Cheese, Cheese, Cheese, wonderful cheese, marvelous cheese!” Like so many of us, I am a bona fide cheese devotee.  If I could get away with eating it three times a day, I would do it. As it is, I try and keep it down to a few times a week, and always try and stick to the best quality, most delicious cheese I can find.

As heady as cheese is in its “natural” state, it’s arguably even more decadent in a smooth, silky sauce, as in the Cheddar Cheese Bechamel Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower recipe that I  created and tested last week for a book I’m working on about French sauces for Gibbs-Smith.

A virtual fondue, this sauce would be exquisite for dipping bread cubes, fat pretzels, and  raw vegetables. I loved it so much, I found myself eating it by the spoonful, as if it was a soup. Indeed, by adding a bit more cream or milk, it could become just that. Here, I use it as a sauce to cover sweet roasted cauliflower florets. It would also be sublime on broccoli, a juicy steak, and roasted potatoes. It’s excellent for entertaining because it can be prepared ahead and gently re-heated at the last minute.

Save this for your back-to-school repetoire. Kids will love this ooey, gooey cheese-treat after school or anytime of day or night.

Creamy Cheddar Cheese Sauce Bechamel over Roasted Cauliflower Florets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese Sauce Bechamel with Roasted Cauliflower 

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

For the bechamel base:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons All-Purpose flour

1 cup skim milk

3/4 cup Half & Half

Plus:

2 cups lightly packed best-quality grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons best quality white wine (suggest Chardonnay)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the cauliflower:

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (see directions below), about 3 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish (optional): 2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 450F. Prepare the bechamel base. In a large sauce pan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over medium low hear. Whisk in the shallots, and cook until softened, whisking, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons AP flour, and continue cooking until bubbling and cooked through, about 2 minutes, whisking all the while. Pour in the milk and Half & Half in a steady stream, whisking the entire time. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking gently, whisking, until the sauce starts to thicken and set up. This will take 10 minutes.  To finish the sauce, whisk the grated cheese into the warm sauce in 2 or 3 handfuls, until melted and smooth. Whisk in the butter until melted and incorporated. Whisk in the wine. Taste and season according to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, rinse the cauliflower head thoroughly. Cut the base from the cauliflower head, pulling off any external leaves. Cut into quarters. Cut awy the solid, tough core from each quarter and break off the florets into about 2″ chunks. Toss in a roasting pan with the olive oil and a generous dash of salt and black pepper. Roast in the pre-heated oven, stirring 2 or 3 times, for about 25 minutes, or until tender and very lightly browned.

Serve the cauliflower on individual plates or a platter with a generous portion of sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Bon appetit!

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Cheese Glorious Cheese

Many mornings, I awake dreaming of cheese. It’s a strange admission, but it’s true. I believe my love of cheese goes back to my French years. Nearly every day of every seven of those years began with a toasted baguette and a layer of broiled, stinky, fabulous French cheese, drizzled with a bit of honey accompanied by a steaming bowl of cafe au lait. Not a bad way to start the day, non?

A few days ago, one of those sneaky cheese dreams jump-started my day, so I decided it was time to finally check out goat. sheep. cow, a ten month-old cheese/wine/charcuterie shop I’ve heard a lot about but had not yet visited. Subliminally, I think it’s because I was afraid I would be disappointed. Instead, I was utterly delighted.

Aptly named after the three milk-bearing animals whose milk is used to produce cheese (and just down the door from Dog & Horse art gallery – I kid you not!), the petite and cheerful space completely recalls a Parisian boulangerie/fromagerie. This particular block of Church Street, in all of its colonial splendor, is dappled with sunlight and draped with cheerful window boxes.

Pretty window boxes line this pretty stretch of Church Street, home of goat. sheep. cow.

 

The exterior of the shop has an appealing Parisian patina, as well.

Welcome to goat.sheep.cow. Come on in!

But, it’s what awaits inside that will give any cheese lover multiple reasons to beam. Gleaming cases stacked with well-labeled cheeses of every kind from all over the world tease with their endless edible possibilities – fondue, sandwich, casserole, quiche, or straight out of hand. Owners Patty Cohen (husband Mike, a certified sommelier, handles the wine side of things) and Trudi Wagner were on hand to hand-slice the cheese, kindly offering tastings to help me make what was becoming an agonizingly difficult cheese acquisition decision.

Pass the Cheese, Please!

Ultimately, I walked away with small, neatly wrapped wedges of Brebis, Raclette, Nuvola di Pecora and Rosso di Langa. But, that was just the beginning.  The shop also sells beautiful, golden, firm, oven-fresh baguettes tucked into brown paper sleeves in a brimming basket near the front door. The bread is shipped in from New York and baked off at the shop to ensure not only freshness but authenticity.

The irresistible allure of the bread basket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I picked up a baguette, a bottle of Burgundy, and a small packet of whisper-thin, freshly sliced Finocchiona, a lovely Italian cured charcuterie laced with tiny points of fennel seeds. I decided to take my cheese cache home to make a sandwich. Sandwiches are not prepared in-house, but really, there is no need. Grab some cheese, bread, and wine and do as the French do and head on out to one of Charleston’s many lovely, nearby parks on one of Charleston’s many lovely days, and have a picnic.

Back at home, I halved a generous length of the fresh, delicious baguette, spread it with a generous layer of Dijon mustard, and stacked it with the  nutty, sweet Italian cow/sheep Rosso di Langa with a layer of charcuterie, poured a glass of wine, took a bite, and was back in that cheese dream all over again. Except, this time it was real.

You, too, can satisfy your delicious cheese (and wine, and bread, and charcuterie, too) dreams at goat. sheep. cow. Fabulous service and a winning location render it just about perfect.

goat. sheep. cow

106B Church Street, downtown Charleston, SC 29401

(843) 480-6526

www.goatsheepcow.com

Book Giveaway! Food Lovers’ Guide to Charleston and Savannah – The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings (Globe Pequot Press, December 2011)

A free signed copy of this, my latest book, is promised to the first person who correctly identifies the two thinly-veiled puns in this post relating to the types of animals in this shop’s name. Hint: The first is cow-specific and is closely followed by a goat-specific pun. Leave your answer in the comments section and I’ll get back to the winner ASAP. Good luck!

 

 

 

Bull Street Gourmet Times Two

Bull Street Gourmet has a way of following me around, or maybe it’s the other way around. When I lived in Harleston Village, in the heart of College of Charleston country several years ago, the original corner shop, rife with gourmet sandwiches,  other-worldly chicken salad and nicely priced wines, popped up to the delight of many, including me. A small, casually elegant space, it fit (and still does)  the neighborhood’s culinary needs nicely and in a price-range that was friendly to all, especially student budgets.

Last fall, young owner Justin Croxall bravely flexed his entrepreneurial muscle and expanded, in a big way, adding a much larger location near the corner of King Street and Broad Street in the heart of downtown and just a few blocks away from my new (well, new/old)  house. It was a smart move, and one that was done very well. This stretch of King is growing with smart little shops (like Heirloom Books across the street) and increased foot traffic with accompanying appetites.  And, aside from nearby Fast & French and Brent’s, there are precious few places around to satisfy them.

The new Bull Street is as much of an eat-in/take-out restaurant as a gourmet grocery store.

The “new” Bull Street is bigger and brighter than the old one and has a lot more to choose from. Visitors can grab a basket and shop from a vast array of imported cheeses, wine, pasta, sauces, fresh fruit and vegetables and more, all arranged on sparkling stainless steel shelving.  Fresh bread is delivered daily from Normandy Farms and Bull Street knows how to fill them.  The smoked duck club ($10) is stuffed with juicy, deeply-flavored duck confit, smoked duck ham, smoked gouda and pickled onion and finished off with the peppery bite of arugula. The celebrated chicken salad, made with chicken roasted in-house and cut into fat cubes is just as good at this location, with the crunch of roasted almonds and the bite of dried cranberries all bound together with a pale pink, punchy, cranberry salad.  A cornucopia of salads and soups are also on the new menu here.

However, what I love most, are the breakfast sandwiches. An artsy crowd can regularly be found here in the early hours of any given day, sipping coffee and breaking into these warm, made-to-order beauties. The BYO breakfast sandwich ($6) can be made exactly the way you like. You pick the bread (croissant, bagel, biscuit or English muffin), you pick the way you want your eggs cooked (scrambled, hard, poached, egg whites only if you like), and you pick your meat of choice (my favorite is the salty, thick country ham), and you pick your cheese of choice (cheddar, Swiss, provolone or gruyere). They come out of the bright, spotless open kitchen hot and ready to start your day.

The menu at Bull Street is written out in colorful chalk (this is just on-third of it!)

The tables are constantly cleared and cleaned by the friendly staff who get the food out in a hurry, but without leaving customers feeling rushed.

It’s hard to leave empty-handed with a fat choice of excellent condiments, pickles, olives, and imaginative sauces, like a bright green walnut pesto to toss in imported pasta from Bull Street’s well-stocked shelves.

Bull Street also has an extensive catering menu and the Super Bowl is just days away. Indeed, Bull Street Gourmet has a history of being in the right place at the right time and doing things right every time. I’m personally very happy to have them in the neighborhood.

Bull Street Gourmet & Market

120 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

(843) 722-6464

www.bullstreetcharleston.com

 

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