Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

pimento cheese

Forty-Five Minutes to Paradise at The Sanctuary

Destination Heaven for Lunch and a Beach Stroll at The Sanctuary’s Jasmine Porch – And a Book Give Away 

I’ve lived long enough to know, if you’re not careful,  that it’s too easy to take people, places and things for granted. Even more so, perhaps, living in beauty and nature-kissed Charleston. It’s one of the most popular vacation and wedding destinations in the world, yet it takes a visitor from out of town this weekend to remind me of Kiawah Island, a gorgeous barrier island just about forty-five minutes from greater Charleston. Though short in distance, the travel along live oak and Spanish moss canopied drives with sweeping marsh vistas delivers a transformation so complete that by the time you’ve passed through the gates to Kiawah, you feel like you’ve landed someplace divine and are shifted into extreme relaxation gear as if by osmosis.

Initially, we had planned to visit Kiawah’s public beach, but since it was lunch time, we decided to visit Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary, a luxurious destination anytime of the year, but particularly welcome at the debut of the week and the off-season. The massive, early 19th-century inspired and elegant lobby with views of a sparkling Atlantic almost within reach felt almost like our own private mansion, so scarcely was it populated on a recent Monday early afternoon.

The elegant lobby at The Sanctuary invites with gracious hospitality, abundant fresh floral arrangements, and elegance at every turn.

Jasmine Porch is the sister restaurant to the ultra elegant Ocean Room and is situated on the ground floor at The Sanctuary off the main lobby. The food is described as Lowcountry bistro. Here, more than you might expect at a resort, the Lowcountry notes are strictly adhered to by purist and talented Chef Jeremiah Holst, who buys only from local (and seriously vetted) producers of local produce and fishermen. Strict attention to culinary detail is evident in the layered nuisances of the she crab bisque – the flavors of the long-simmered crustacean, the shells’ natural color, nutty butter, and just the right amount of sherry and thickening with Charleston’s own Carolina Gold rice. The same is abundantly evident in the flaky, hot biscuits, and smoky hot pimiento cheese spread, garnished with pickled okra.

The ‘Lunch on the Porch’ at Jasmine Porch features remarkable she crab bisque, a roasted beet salad, fresh crab slider, and fresh fruit or your choice of several substitutes (in this case fries) for no added fee.

Other notables on the lunch menu include the plucky fried green tomatoes, with a delicate touch of acidity countered by the cooling and extreme crunch of a well seasoned panko crust, and chef Holst’s pristine version of shrimp and grits. For dessert, try the moist, fragrant coconut cake layered with crispy shards of shaved coconut and butter cream and served on a cold, silky creme anglaise with notes of fresh vanilla. First-class service from the entire staff makes a visit to Jasmine Porch even more sweet. All this for just $100 (or so including a three-course lunch for two with cocktails and a tip) followed by a complimentary, lingering stroll on a wide and very lightly traveled off-season beach on a sparkling October afternoon felt like an investment with lifelong memory dividends. If you feel like staying for dinner, visit the luxurious Ocean Room, featured in my latest release, The New Charleston Chef’s Table.

The New Charleston Chef’s Table Give Away!

Just in time for the holidays, I’m offering a complimentary, signed and delivered copy of my latest cookbook, The New Charleston Chef’s Table (retails $29.95)  featuring The Ocean Room and some eighty delicious dining destinations, recipes,  Charleston history and culinary lore and gorgeous photography to a randomly selected individual from comments/responses to this blog post. Tell me what you love about Charleston, restaurants, or even just why you want this book for you or someone you love, and I’ll post the winner on Friday, November 9. I look forward to hearing from you.

New Charleston Chefs Table book cover

The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018) by Holly Herrick

Bon appetit! Holly







Pleasant Tart Surprises

Callie’s Pimento, Pepper Bacon & Fresh Basil Pockets

Last Friday, I was working feverishly and happily on Food Lovers’ Guide to Charleston and Savannah, when I got an email from my Tart Love editor, Madge. Having submitted the manuscript months ago, I was surprised to learn that she needed two more original recipes and some chapter fronts, and pronto, as the book is getting set for final edits, design and printing.

At first I was frustrated, since this would mean pulling back from the Food Lovers’ writing pace, but after thinking about it a bit, I was delighted. This would mean a weekend of  pastry fun and creativity. Madge wanted pie pockets – one sweet, one savory – since there are some white space issues she’s working out with the design. 
So, off I went to the farmers’ market on Saturday for inspiration, and voila, this is what I came up with for my last two recipes for this book I’ve so loved writing. It feels extra personal somehow. The recipe that follows is for some easy, delicious pimento pie pockets. I also found some gorgeous early seasonal strawberries and rhubarbs which becamse Strawberry, Rhubarb and Rosemary Pocket Pies. You’ll find those sweet/tart beauties  in the book when it comes out in October. Hopefully the following recipe will sate your pocket pie appetite for now. These are perfect for entertaining all year round! Happy Cooking!
Recipe adapted from Tart Love – Sassy, Sweet and Savory (Gibbes Smith, Oct., 2011)
A Tart for All Seasons
Callie’s is a top quality, chunky, spicy, sweet pimento cheese that is hand produced in Charleston, SC. It’s the best pimento cheese you can find and better than any I can make. Because it’s a snap to purchase online at, I recommend using this brand whenever pimento cheese is needed. Fresh basil and pepper bacon are folded into these impossible to resist pie pockets. My neighbor’s unusually polite little girls, Margaret and Elizabeth, uncharacteristically snatched these off their mother’s plate when I delivered them for tasting, declaring: “Miss Holly, you are the best ‘cooker’ ever!” Bet your friends will same the same about you when you serve these baked, not fried, pie pockets.
Callie’s Pimento, Bacon & Fresh Basil Pockets
(Makes approximately 16 pockets)
Equipment Needed: 4″ round pastry cutter (or small, round plate), parchment paper
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups White Lily All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 sticks (1 cup) AA grade unsalted butter
About 3 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg wash – yolk,  pinch salt, splash water, blended together
To garnish the pocket tops: 16 tiny fresh basil leaves and 16 Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
For the filling:
4 slices pepper bacon, browned, drained and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups Callie’s Old Southern Style Pimento Cheese ( or substitute a preferred brand or recipe
2 tablespoons fresh basil cut into thin strips
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon All Purpose flour
Begin by preparing the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, pulse together the flour and the salt. Cut the very cold butter into 1/4″ cubes and add to the bowl. Pulse 40 – 50 times until the butter becomes the size of small peas. With the processor running, gradually drizzle the cold water into the mixture until the pastry just starts to come together in a very loose, unruly ball. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured board, quickly form into a 2″ thick disc with your hands,  wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Prepare the filling. Brown off the bacon and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop. Combine the bacon, pimento cheese, basil, ground black pepper and flour in a medium sized bowl, folding gently. Cover and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
At least one hour before you plan to serve the pockets (Note: These can be rolled and filled and chilled overnight, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap before baking), roll out the dough into a 1/4″ thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry into 4″ rounds. Arrange the rounds neatly on a baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes. To fill the pockets, place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling on the right side of the circle. Pull the top gently over the filling, guiding the top pastry to meet the naked pastry border. Seal gently with your fingertips and press the border gently with the tines of a fork to seal. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and placed the filled pockets in neat, well-spaced rows on the baking sheet. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Just before baking, brush the top of each pocket with the egg wash. Cut three short slits in the top of each pocket with a paring knife. Top each with one of the small basil leaves, brush these with a dot of egg wash, and drizzle each with a few broken shavings of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Serve warm with more fresh basil for garnish, if desired.
You’ll have them eating from your hand!!!  
Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

Latest from the Blog
Never Miss a Post!

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post or give-away.