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Winter Things

We’re showing off all things Winter this week on our social media with the hashtag #WinterThings. One of Alfonso’s favorite things to eat in Invierno (and really anytime) are stews. Our go-to when we are not inspired is normally the stew/soup/chili route. But, this time, the fallback meals inspired a super-hearty, Winter dish. And it’s vegetarian to boot! (Just make sure you use veggie stock, instead of chicken stock.)

The chicken stock we made for this recipe was a two day event. Calling it an event might be a little stretch. As complicated as two-day chicken stock sounds, it is actually pretty much all hands-off. All you need is a chicken carcass (preferably organic), some veggie scraps (optional), and water. So, pick that roasted chicken clean and freeze the bones until you’re ready to make broth.

Oh! And I forgot the most important ingredient. Did you think I was going to say love? Well, no. That’s more sap than I’m prepared to dole out over chicken stock. The most important ingredient is most definitely a chef with some pent up aggression. Aka: a chef. You’ll need this ball of culinary frustration to chop the bones in half with a meat cleaver. It helps to bring out the chicken flavor as the broth, and your chef, simmer for the next two days.

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Two-day Chicken Stock

*makes about 3 quarts in a standard crock pot

1 the carcass and bones from one chicken

any and all veggie scraps (optional)

water

Chop the chicken bones and carcass in half or in three and add to the crock pot. Watch your fingers! Add the veggie scraps and the water to the top and cover. Put on medium heat and keep running for 2 days. When the time runs out just restart the crock pot on medium heat again.

After 48 hours, strain the chicken stock and use within 3 days or freeze.


The stock really does make the Tomato Garbanzo Stew a hit. It is one half of what imparts all the flavor. The other half is the slow caramelizing of the veggie mixture before stewing the garbanzos. Plan to just have a drink and hang around to babysit it. We cooked all the veggies on low for a while before stirring them around. This begins the caramelization process without over-cooking the veggies. It also gives them time to get super soft while still putting off that “seared meat” quality- but, remember, no meat was used!

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One of my favorite parts of cooking is slowly bringing out the flavors in an ingredient where it seems like you’ve added a ton of spices or sauces, but it’s really just the product itself, simply cooked well and cared for. Okay, so apparently I have an aversion to sappiness when it comes to chicken stock, but not with garbanzo stews? Yes, please care for your garbanzo stew- it will taste much better. I promise.

Tomato Garbanzo Stew

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*note: this recipe requires 24 hrs. of soaking before the cooking process can begin

1.5 lbs dried garbanzo beans

2 quarts chicken stock (see recipe above)

3/4 cup cooked peas

3/4 cup chopped butternut squash

1 large onion, chopped

2 large, multi-colored carrots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 T olive oil

1 t dried thyme

3/4 t dried oregano

2 t salt (more or less to taste), divided

1 t pepper

1/3 c tomato paste

1/2 c tomato puree

1 bay leaf

Cover the garbanzo beans by 2 inches of water and let soak for 24 hours. Drain.

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the squash, carrots, and onions, and toss in the olive oil. Sprinkle 3/4 t salt on the veggies and mix in. Lower the temperature to low. Don’t move the veggies around too much. Let them form a small crust on the bottom of the pot before turning them. This should take 15-20 minutes. Stir the veggies 3-5 times.

Once the veggies are tender and slightly caramelized, add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the thyme, oregano, and tomato paste and mix in. Cook and let toast in the pot for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree and mix. Add the garbanzo beans and coat with the tomato mixture. Add the broth. The garbanzo beans should be covered by about 1 inch. Add water if necessary. Add the bay leaf.

Cover and turn up the heat to medium. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 1 hour. Add in the peas and heat through. Serve over rice with a fried egg on top.

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We are hoping that by showing off some of our favorite Winter Things we can bring on the chilly weather here in Charleston. It has been in the high 70’s! Tag us and use the hashtag #WinterThings on social media to show off your favorite Winter Things. In the meantime, check out some of our favorite #WinterThings below.

Flageolet Bean, Chorizo, and Kale Soup

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Delicious Ramen from the boys at 2Nixons

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Lamb Rogan Josh

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and

Sweetbreads from the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (only a couple months left for the next round!)

Grilling up sweetbreads!
Grilling up sweetbreads!
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birthday oysters

Crawling down East Bay Street

Aren’t you supposed to have a life plan and be halfway to running the world when you turn thirty? I’ve been laughing at my friends who have been fretting the “dirty-thirty” for years. I thought, “Who cares? Thirty is the new 25!” Well, apparently, I care- WAY more than I thought I would. I have had some professional and personal successes, but I am nowhere near where I wanted to be when I hit this arbitrary milestone. So, what does one do when one falls into a late-onset quarter life crisis? Well, in Charleston, you inch your way down East Bay Street stopping at all your favorite spots and leave the world domination for your 31st year.

Ever since Upper King decided to show off over the last few years, the former hot spots in the East Bay St. area had taken a backseat with the local crowd. But, there are a few places doing their part to woo us back. Is this the resurgence of the East Bay glory years? I’d believe it. And if you’re not so sure, I’ll invite you to have a look at exactly what happens when you bar/restaurant crawl your 30th birthday away.

When Lagunitas Brewery took over Southend Brewery it wasn’t 100% accepted by the longtime fans of the original’s décor and offerings, but I’m here to tell you it makes the perfect spot to start any East Bay Street crawl. I tasted 5 beers between my flight of four and Alfonso’s selection, and was for sure blown away by the Thanksgiving-esque (as in it probably goes really well with turkey) Brown Shugga Ale, made with brown cane sugar.

flight of four
flight of four

And maybe I’m just a sucker for all things free (Does this trait come with my new, advanced age?), but these brews were kicked up a notch when we used them to wash down the complementary basket of pretzels and peanuts.

basket 'o goodies
basket ‘o goodies

Before we started the jaunt down East Bay, we gave ourselves 1 rule: No more than 45 minutes in each place. This assures that we can try a little of all this street has to offer and not just stuff our face with good beer and pretzels. So, with our promise to the bar crawl gods in mind, we paid our tab and headed to Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar where the rosé and the seafood abound.

so gorgeous
so gorgeous

Sitting at a nice sized table on the sidewalk out front, we got to people watch as you only can on East Bay Street. Also, I got that good light for my photos and THAT is what really matters.

Hey, Chef Fonz, what do you think about our restaurant crawl so far?

"not bad, not bad"
“not bad, not bad”

What do you order at a raw bar? If you are a stateside Castejón, you order ceviche! Shrimp ceviche.

shrimp ceviche with crunchy tortilla chips
shrimp ceviche with crunchy tortilla chips

It was salty, briny, citrus-y, a little spicy, and so refreshing. And it was made to be eaten while sipping a crisp rosé at this very restaurant, on this very street, and in this very town. Don’t miss it.

I'm ready for my close-up.
I’m ready for my close-up.
¡Salud!
¡Salud!

We sipped and dipped until our 45 minutes were up and we begrudgingly closed out. It would have been so easy to stay there all afternoon and sample gorgeous seafood, while drinking gorgeous vino. But, Carmella’s awaited and after a flight of beer and a glass of wine, I was needing a little mid-afternoon pick-me-up. So, off to the coolest coffee and dessert place in town we went.

Carmella's
Carmella’s Café and Dessert Bar

The doors open right on to a bustling section of East Bay Street and the sunlight pours in. They have little pastries and a nice wine and beer selection. Try a cocktail with a charcuterie board for nibbling. Or, do what we did and get a little Bailey’s in your coffee to spur you on to the next round.

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." -Mr. Rogers
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” -Mr. Rogers

So, with Carmella’s checked off the list and another 45 minutes gone, we ended our tour South of Market Street and took East Bay to it’s more Northern hotspots.

Our next stop was 167 Raw. Where’s that raise the roof emoji when you need it? Fun fact: Chef Fonz used to work at this restaurant when it was Citrus-to-go. He also claims he was the only good thing to happen to the previous restaurant and gives 167 Raw all the thumbs up for taking over and doing things right. Another fun fact: chefs can (read: do) have big egos. Think what you will.

The birthday girl needed a little hydrating action.
The birthday girl needed a little hydrating action.

Besides the Secret Garden setting that will have me coming back for drinks with my gal pals, they are also serving up some seriously bodacious oysters. We knocked back a Westbrook or two and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the patio. 11 out of 10 stars.

oyster heaven
oyster heaven

Don’t forget the lemon squeeze!

birthday oysters
birthday oysters

So, if you’re wondering how we ended my East Bay Street birthday restaurant and bar  crawl, I’ve got news for you. It ended like I decided it will end every year from now on, with “crack” tots from Bay Street Biergarten. Disclaimer: there are no actual drugs in them, but the cravings one gets for them would indicate otherwise.

tater tots smothered in cheesy, demi glace goodness
tater tots smothered in cheesy, demi glace goodness

So, cheers to my 30’s. May they be filled with family, friends, and tots. That’s all any decent person needs anyway.

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A trip to Atlanta and The Charleston Smashburger

It has been a difficult month for us over here West of the Ashley River, but the show must go on. We have a harvest meal in the works with the lovely couple running Blue Pearl Farms in the near future and some other projects we are excited about. Stay tuned for those details.

While the month from hell was/is drudging on, I found myself in Atlanta, Georgia last weekend to visit a college friend. As I was packing, I was day-dreaming about Usher songs and new and different foodie bites to try. And y’all know I was crossing my fingers for a Real Housewives siting. I actually went looking for them, but more on that later. I’m not a stalker, I swear.

My first night in the ATL was made up of box wine (classing the place up since ’05), reminiscing, some eye-opening truths, and laughing fits. My first morning in the ATL was made up of College of Charleston sized hangovers, my long lost ability to rally, some hair of the dog, and the Chef’s omelet at D Café and Catering in the Westview neighborhood. We also tried the salmon cake (#thebomb), extra buttery grits, and super fluffy biscuits.

Chef's Omelet
Chef’s Omelet

As we were finishing the chef came out to our table to ask if we would like to try a fried pie or two. Is there a person who would say no? If there is, it is definitely not us. Bring on the fried dough and sugar! We tried an apple one and a sweet Georgia peach one. When in Georgia, the peach wins always.

Fried apple pie- the peach one was inhaled
Fried apple pie- the peach one was inhaled

With bellies full of a down-home breakfast, we headed to a family birthday party. The birthday girl had asked for a scavenger hunt, so we headed to Piedmont Park to sweat. I mean scavenger hunt. I’m pretty sure we won, but there were some differences of opinion. A word to my future scavenger hunt partners: I am the teammate in charge of documenting the game on Snapchat, as well as the one who consistently asks, “How much longer until we get to the bar at the end of the clues?” I’m not completely useless, but if you take your game play seriously- pick another teammate. We ended up at the bar RIGHT INSIDE THE PARK. I had a couple refreshing cocktails, the “real adults” scared all of us “baby adults” with credit card roulette, and then we headed back up the street to the air conditioning to play cards.

The day was long, hot, fun, and everything I needed.

The next morning my host headed out to take Atlanta’s children to camp and I lazed around a bit longer until I dragged myself out of bed and headed out for a solo trip to Ponce City Market, home of the H&F Burger. H&F Burger is the brain child of James Beard award winning chef, Linton Hopkins. And although it was 11am and eggs would have been a more appropriate brunch option, I went for the burger. I’m so glad I did- two thin patties, melt-y cheese, pickle and onion toppings only, and served with a side of salty fries.

I left knowing I was going to try to re-create the winning cheeseburger at home. But first, REAL HOUSEWIVES. I was informed (after she shot down my RHOA bus tour idea the day before) that most of them live in the Buckhead area. The conversation went no further and I was excited because I was secretly remembering I had seen signs for Buckhead on my way into Atlanta and that I possibly, probably, definitely was going to stop through on my way home.

Don’t ever make secret plans. Because if I had told my friend of my idea to “run in to a Real Housewife at Whole Foods in Buckhead,” she would have told me that there are two Buckheads. She would have said the Buckhead area INSIDE Atlanta is home to some of the ATL’s most affluent families, including a couple of my favorite Bravo celebs, but that the Buckhead OUTSIDE Atlanta is home to what I only assume is the backdrop for the next horror movie filmed in Georgia. I went to the wrong Buckhead and did not see one. single. Housewife. Oh well.

Heading home I mentally prepared to source my copy-cat burger ingredients from some of my favorite Charleston shops and got ready for another week back in Charleston.


First thing Monday morning I went in search of ingredients for what would eventually be The Charleston Smashburger. I started at Saffron Bakery, hopped over to the glorious goat.sheep.cow cheese shop, and then ended up at Artisan Meat Share picking up buns, stinky cheese, ground beef, and pickles. The burger would not be an exact copy-cat of the H&F burger, just inspired by it.

stinky cheese
stinky cheese
gah-geous buns
gah-geous buns

To make the smashburger, you literally just smash the burger as it is cooking, letting the edges crisp up. I made the patties a bit smaller than normal (think slider-sized, but super thin) and doubled them up on the buns.

melty cheese on the smashburger
melty cheese on the smashburger

The burger was complete with some bread and butter pickles from Artisan Meat Share and some carefully caramelized onions. I die.

The Charleston Smashburger

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*makes 3 double decker burgers

1lb ground beef, seasoned with your favorite burger seasoning

3 buns, toasted

6 slices of your favorite stinky cheese

1 onion, julienned and caramelized

1/2 cup bread and butter pickles

Divide the ground beef in to 6 equal balls. Smash the balls as thin as you can without them breaking apart. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and cook each patty on both sides until the edges are crispy. Remove to a plate and place a slice of cheese on each patty and cover to melt the cheese. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 rounds. When all the patties are done, place 2 patties (one on top of the other) on a bun and top with pickles and onions. Repeat for all three burgers.


We’ll be back later in the week with some corn chowder and other anecdotes from Charleston.

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