Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taste of the Low Country- Cheddar Scallion Grit Cakes

Grit cakes cooking in the pan
On my visit to Charleston, South Carolina in May I attended a cooking demonstration at Charleston Cooks!, a kitchen retail store that offers cooking classes and demonstrations.  I was in Charleston for a few days for my daughter's graduation from the College of Charleston. (My alma mater too)

We signed up for the session "Taste of the Low Country".  During this two hour session we were taught how to make Shrimp Gravy, Cheddar Scallion Grit Cakes (recipe below) and Sweet Potato Berry Shortcakes.
Grit Cakes -vegetarian style (no shrimp gravy)
As the chef cooked, she shared many cooking tips with us along the way from how to best roll out dough (use a Silpat and be careful not to knead it too much) to the importance of not over stirring or over turning food while it is cooking in the saute pan. She was quite entertaining as she cooked and we were given a glass of wine to drink as we watched.
Grit cakes with shrimp gravy - SO GOOD!
The environment was casual, so there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions about each procedure or technique she used. At the end of the cooking demo, we got a chance to eat a sample of every item made. 

I did not expect to like the grit cakes, because although my family eats grits, I do not.  It is a texture thing for me and the goopiness of them, do not appeal to me.  I was a big girl and tried the grit cakes - it was a life changing moment! I can no longer say I don't eat grits because I do if they are made like this.  
Caroline enjoying her berry shortcake
(Recipe will be shared in a later post)
The food tasted great and of course made us want to buy every item we needed to make these recipes at home, just the way she did.  To encourage us even more, we were given 10% off everything we bought in the store that day.  
I left with a shrimp zipper that peels and deveins shrimp simultaneously, a micro-plane grater, a red salt pig and a one-pound bag of Carolina Plantation stone ground grits. The salt pig keeps my salt easily accessible and the unglazed interior keeps the salt from clumping even in the most humid places. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I'm glad I got it.  I love it for both its ease of use and the cute way it looks on my counter. 
Red Velvet cake ball, Smores bar and salted brownie from Baked
The Baked bakery is right down the street from Charleston Cooks, so I had to grab some goodies for later. In linking to their website, it looks like Baked Charleston may no longer be in business :(

Because I had raved about the grit cakes, my family couldn't wait to try them once I got home so we made this recipe first.  It was a hit with everyone and not difficult to make. Try it for yourself.  
Homemade version of grit cakes
Cheddar Scallion Grit Cakes
Serves 4-6
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup stone ground grits
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2  green onions, chopped
cornmeal as needed
oil as needed

1.  In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, bring water, salt and butter to a simmer.
2.  Stir in the grits and reduce heat to low.
3.  Cook grits on low, stirring occasionally until thick and creamy, about 40 minutes.
4.  Stir in cream.
5.  Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese and onions.  Season to taste with salt.
6.  Spread grit mixture on sheet pan covered with parchment paper or silpat about 1/2 inch thick.
7.  Place in refrigerator to cool and become firm. (To speed things up you can put it in the freezer)
8.  When grits are firm, cut out rings using a biscuit cutter. Remaining grits can be reshaped into cakes by hand.
9. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish.  Coat grit cakes with cornmeal on both sides.  Shake off any excess.
10. Heat saute pan on  medium high heat, when hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, add in the grit cakes.  Don't crowd your pan. Fry until browned on one side and then flip and brown the remaining side.
11. Remove from pan and keep warm by covering with aluminum foil until serving.  

What is one food you do not eat?  
Is there a food you eat now that you used to not like?

Congratulations to Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog for winning the Gotein!

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