Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gated alleys in Charleston are always intriguing.  May we come in?

     "Doing the Charleston" in our book means "eating well."  On a recent weekend getaway, our Christmas present to each other, we failed to miss a meal. We hustled to make it south through South Carolina to the Holy City, as Charleston is known, for Friday dinner at FIG (Food is Good), at the only time available, an early 5:30.  No problem.  We lingered over cocktails, then sated our appetites with three divine courses, finishing early enough to "walk it off" downtown.   

A Bloody Mary, spiked with a slice of country ham and a pickled green bean, is an excellent way to start Sunday Brunch at HUSK.

     After a morning walk, we ambled for a lunchtime worship at Sean Brock's HUSK, where only regional, Southern foods are served. 

      Not even olive oil was poured in this kitchen until Chef Brock found an olive grove in Texas that was producing a good quality oil.  Just the whole idea of serving only what you find in your region, in season, is so radical to many, but I love it, and that has earned Chef Brock accolades from the food world.  We were so enamored with our first meal, that back we went for Brunch on Sunday.  Unfortunately, dinner reservations require about a month's lead time.  

Consider the Source, at HUSK in Charleston, SC

In the meantime, we walked and walked to make room for yet another worship session at Sean Brock's table, this time for dinner at McCRADY's. 
    I was delighted to find on these menus some of my favorite providers, like BORDER SPRINGS FARM's gorgeous and delicious Kathadin lamb.  And cider to pair with pork and rabbit from FOGGY RIDGE CIDER.  

     One of the dishes we loved at HUSK was a sumptuous, seasonal soup made with roasted cauliflower.  That bitter taste that cauliflower sometimes has just disappears when roasted, getting sweeter and more flavorful.
     So, when I got home, I had fun in the kitchen trying to reproduce that soul-warming dish.  I love that fact that it's so creamy, yet it has NO CREAM, unless you just can't help yourself and add it at the end.
     We had some duck confit on hand, and that made an excellent garnish and companion to the soup.
      And, it's EASY.  Please give the recipe that follows a try!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup


1 to 2 heads of cauliflower
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 whole head garlic
about 1/4 cup olive oil
bunch of fresh thyme
about 4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
OPTIONAL:  1/2 cup heavy cream
   2 to 4 tablespoons chopped duck confit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Break cauliflower into small clumps of florets.  Place them in a roasting pan.  Add onion.

Slice off the top quarter of the garlic head.  Coat it with a drizzle of olive oil, and add to the roasting pan.  Add 4 to 6 sprigs of thyme.  Then drizzle all with olive oil, stirring, until all glistens.  Loosely cover with foil, and place in oven until cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove and cool.

Squeeze the softened, roasted garlic from its paper coat.  Remove the thyme sprigs.

If you have an immersion blender, place all roasted veggies in a large pot.  Add about half of the vegetable stock, and puree. Or, use a blender to puree with a smaller amount of the stock.

Pureed and simmering

After the mixture is pureed, add enough stock as needed for your desired consistency.  Bring to a soft boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently to warm through.  Add more thyme leaves (removed from the stems), and season with salt and pepper.  When the soup is hot enough, stir in about 2/3s of the Parmesan.

Ladle the soup into bowls, then garnish with more Parmesan and parsley.  Add duck confit if using.


2nd EDITION OF THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK has hit the stores!  Loving the new, color photos and about a dozen new recipes and stories!  Please let me know what you think.