Tag Archives: Grits

Grits Brulee

Last week after making the Mediterranean Grits dinner, my friend and I decided to experiment. We threw a grits twist into a creme brulee recipe, making three dishes – regular creme brulee, grits brulee, and grits brulee with a mixed berry preserve. It turned out well – except for the fact that we were cooking at another friend’s house and couldn’t find any vanilla AND that I was terrified of the cooking torch I bought to caramelize the tops of the desserts. Thanks to my friend, Erin, for manning the torch and to both Chris Watt and Erin for being fun and honest tasters.

  • 1 ½ cup vanilla soymilk
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring soymilk, water, vanilla, and ½ cup sugar to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan.
  • Stir in grits and reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk egg yolks, cream, and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl. Pour into grits and mix thoroughly. Spoon ½ cup servings into shallow baking ramekins.
  • Place ramekins into a 11×8 baking pan. Pour hot (not boiling) water into pans until it reaches half-way. Place baking pan in oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove pan from oven and cool for 20 minutes. Once cool, remove individual dishes from pan and refrigerate for at least 3 and up to 24 hours.
  • 15 minutes before desired serving time, remove dishes and crumble brown sugar in a thin layer, completely covering the tops of the desserts. Using a cooking torch, heat sugar until hardened. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Dessert, Grains

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

I love summer. And one of the best things about summer is the fresh vegetables the season offers. Squash is my favorite and over the past few years I’ve found myself counting the days until Pattypan squash blossoms find their way in season. They are more firm and a little less sweet than yellow squash and are often served stuffed.

While I was in California a few weeks ago, I stumbled across the Berkeley Bowl, a local grocery store that puts Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to shame. The “Bowl” (as it is known to the locals) had the most amazing produce section I’ve ever seen. I discovered vegetables I’d of which I’d never even heard. But none of them mattered when I spotted the squash section. I found the largest squash blossoms I’ve ever seen – leaving plenty of room for stuffing with grits.

Since I was traveling and not staying in my own kitchen, I ended up making up this recipe on the fly based on what I knew I’d purchased earlier. And this is the result:

  • 6-8 Pattypan squash
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup salsa1 3/4 cups Pepper Jack cheese, shredded and divided


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Slice tops of squash, setting them aside. Place squash in boiling water for 10 -12 minutes until outer shell is tender. Remove from water and cool.
  • Bring water, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits and return mixture to boil, whisking frequently.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer until grits are thick and all liquid is absorbed, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  • Whisk in remaining cup of milk and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in sour cream and simmer until very thick, stirring often, about 5 minutes longer.
  • Stir in 1 ½ cup cheese and salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  • Hollow out cooled squash. Fill to top with grits mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Place in a large casserole dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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Grits with Goat Cheese and Chives

I made this recipe for dinner last month for the girls on our beach trip. I served it with grilled flank steak, salad, and sauteed squash. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 1 cup milk
  • Fresh chives or green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces soft fresh Montrachet goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh chives or green onions


  • Bring broth, water, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually stir in grits.
  • Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 5 minutes.
  • Uncover; simmer until thickened, stirring often.
  • Add milk and simmer until liquid is absorbed.
  • Add sliced chives and cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with chive pieces.

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Eating my way through Charleston, SC: Magnolia’s

While researching potential spots for my trip, I initially added Magnolia’s to my list of must-visit restaurants due to the multiple grits dishes on the menu and because it is owned my the same folks who own Cypress, my favorite restaurant, not only in Charleston, but in all of South Carolina.

Located at the site of the city’s original customs house, Magnolia’s strives to serve traditional “down south” dishes with a contemporary “uptown” presentation – a commitment well kept. Everything from the décor of the restaurant to the service is impeccably upscale and within minutes of stepping foot into the restaurant, I knew I’d made a good decision.

We started with a round of mimosas and mint juleps. The mint julep was by far the best one I’ve had since my friend’s Derby party in Atlanta in 2002. Five years without a good mint julep seems like forever – so I made sure we stayed long enough for me to have two.

While I wanted to order almost everything on the menu, we did a fairly good job of sticking to the task at hand – testing out grits. We passed on the Spicy Shrimp and Sausage over Grits because they were served with Tasso gravy, which I’d already had three times that day. But we ordered the remaining grits dishes including the Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer and the Shellfish over Grits entrée.

(sidenote: when we were waiting for our food, a table of five tourists were discussing the menu next to us. One of them asked what grits were. Another responded, “Have you ever eaten Cream of Wheat – you know the stuff they eat up north? Well, grits are like that.” I almost fell out of my chair!)

The Fried Green Tomatoes appetizer, served over white cheddar and caramelized onion grits, country ham, and tomato chutney was impressive. The combination of the tangy tomato with subtle sweetness of the grits was one of the best I’ve experienced in my year of food “research.” This would be a perfect brunch dish, served with mimosas and mint julep spritzers (I don’t think ladies drink real mint juleps before 3 PM).

The Shellfish over Grits – sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, and lobster over creamy white grits with a lobster butter sauce and fried spinach was so delicious. It was creamy without being too rich and contained a generous amount of lobster and scallops – making it a very luxurious savory dish. This is a recipe I doubt I could recreate on my own as there were some flavors I couldn’t identify.

Magnolia’s Executive chef Don Drake has earned his place on my list of top five best chefs. The meal was amazing and I’d be delighted if the owners let me share a recipe or two with you in my book.

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Mediterranean Grits

I took a break from restaurant dining the other night and made this dish for my friends in Atlanta. This is an original recipe that I have been conceptualizing for a few weeks. I loved it and so did my guests, but I think it needed another subtle flavor. Test it out and let me know what to add.


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cup white stone-ground grits
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz. feta cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped


  • Bring broth, water, salt, and olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually add grits, stirring constantly.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until thick (for about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in spinach – cook for 10 more minutes.
  • Stir in cheese. Serve topped with pine nuts and garnish with tomatoes.


I served it with a balsamic pork loin and steamed summer veggies. It was a good combination. Oh and I almost forgot, we made Grits Brulee for dessert. More on that soon.

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Shrimp & Grits with Tasso Gravy

I received a comment on my previous post about not providing a recipe for the shrimp and grits at Morgan Creek Grill. I am trying to get Morgan Creek Grill to share their recipe with me, but in the meantime, I’m posting my favorite recipe.


  • 1 lb. Shrimp, peeled an deveined
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Creole seasoning

Tasso Gravy

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup Tasso, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley


  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add shrimp and cover with seasoning. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
  • In same skillet, add butter and Tasso ham. Saute for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat. Add flour and Creole seasoning, stirring to form a roux. Continue to cook until roux is lightly browned. Add chicken stock and cream, and stir until completely thickened. Adjust thickness as needed with a little more cream if necessary. When sauce is complete, add shrimp and parsley to sauce and hold warm until ready to serve.
  • Spoon gravy over creamy grits and top with shrimp.

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Eating my way through Charleston, SC: Morgan Creek Grill

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to spend the next couple of days reviewing the highlights of my tasting trip to Charleston. Since we visited so many places, I’m going to limit my posts to the places we enjoyed most and hopefully, will be featured in the book.

One of the first places we visited was Morgan Creek Grill at the Isle of Palms marina, just outside Mt. Pleasant. This spot, located a stone’s throw away from Wild Dunes resort is frequented by both locals and tourists coming by car, boat, and foot to enjoy not only some of the best in Low-country cuisine, but a gorgeous view of the Intracoastal waterway.

We planned our visit well, arriving mid-afternoon on Sunday just in time to catch the Sunday brunch, which featured live music on the upper deck and my personal favorite, a Bloody Mary bar. While the bar offered a fantastic array of mixers, add-ins, and hot sauces and the music was the perfect addition to a breezy sunny day, both paled in comparison to the dining experience.

We started off with the Charleston she-crab soup and the House-made chilled crab dip, followed by, of course, Morgan Creek Grill’s take on Shrimp and Grits. My sister has never met a she-crab soup she didn’t like, so it goes without saying that she enjoyed it. I wasn’t up for eating warm soup in the warm sun, so I stuck to the crab dip which I must say was amazing. It was creamy and thick, yet spread-able on a delicate water cracker and had a spicy kick that was noticeable without being overwhelming. But these appetizers were simply a warm up to what proved to be a delicious bowl of shrimp and grits, described on the menu as “Shrimp Simmered In A Brown Tasso Ham Gravy And Served Over Stone Ground Grits.”

While the grits needed salt and seemed a little stiff, it was a detail easily overlooked once they were totally immersed in the shrimp and gravy. Just like the crab dip, this dish had an unsuspecting, yet welcome spicy twist that I’d not yet experienced in what I’ve come to know as traditional shrimp and grits, or grits served with shrimp in a Tasso gravy.

Many people ask me “What is Tasso Gravy?” Tasso gravy is an essential element to the traditional Lowcountry shrimp and grits recipe. Honestly, it wasn’t until I started making Shrimp and Grits myself, and therefore began researching recipes years ago, that I realized that Tasso wasn’t a spice, but is actually a lean and highly-seasoned piece of cured pork or beef, native to Louisiana.

I enjoyed our visit to Morgan Creek Grill and would have loved to spend the afternoon listening to music in the sun and making my own spicy Bloody Mary’s to compliment the spicy and delightful food we so thoroughly enjoyed.

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Filed under City Grit, Restaurants

Shrimp & Grits

As I’ve said before when I first moved to Manhattan, I was hard-pressed to find grits at all on the menus of the city’s restaurants. And finding a spot serving shrimp and grits was nearly impossible. Just as I would inquire to anyone that would listen as to where I could find grits in the city, I’d ask the self-proclaimed “foodies” that I encountered about finding a place serving shrimp and grits. Just as they would scoff at the thought of eating grits with dinner (or on purpose for that matter), the thought of eating grits with shrimp made my new non-southern (read: Yankee) friends act as if I’d suggested they eat dog food.

Shrimp and grits are as southern as Mint Juleps and Scarlett O’Hara. And turning one’s nose up at a southerner’s mention of them is almost as insulting as talking bad about their mama. So, it was only natural that my crusade for turning my new friends into grits evangelists involved serving them a variety of shrimp and grits entrees. Thus far, every naysayer to whom I’ve served them has loved them. And it goes without saying that I, in turn, have loved watching them eat shrimp and grits with a side of crow.

But shrimp and grits has come a long way over the past few years. What was once a quick and hearty breakfast staple for coastal fisherman, is now an en vogue entrée finding it’s way onto menus of restaurants across the country, including Manhattan. I know of least a half dozen restaurants in Manhattan featuring the dish on the menu, yet one has not truly lived until they’ve eaten shrimp and grits from the coastal Carolinas.

I’ve just returned from a week down South, which included a two-day tasting trip to Charleston. Shrimp and Grits is a classic Charleston entrée, so it’s hard to find a restaurant in the city that doesn’t include this dish on the menu. This made determining which places to visit a challenge and I spent weeks leading up to the trip researching locales and menus to put together an eating schedule. There were restaurants where I’d previously dined, and therefore knew they offered a treat for your taste buds, but didn’t make the list, simply because they are already widely publicized and I was looking for something unique. And there were spots that were added last minute or en route somewhere else based on a suggestion from a local. In the end, I sought out to dine at restaurants – some famous, some off the beaten path – that offered two things – shrimp and grits and an experience.

It was a delicious experience, from which I will share the highlights over the course of the next week. I ate in nine restaurants within a 36-hour period and ended up eating almost as many servings of fried green tomatoes as I did shrimp and grits. I tasted new flavors and found unique food combinations I’d never thought possible, all while spending two days in one of my most beloved southern towns.

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Baked Cheese Grits

I spent the weekend with friends off the gulf coast in florida. While shrimp and grits is my usual go-to meal for beach vacations, I decided to change it up. So I served low country boil with baked cheese grits instead. Delicious!


  • 6 cups water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow stone ground grits
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 3 large eggs


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Bring water, 2 tablespoons butter, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 4-quart heavy pot. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly until they return to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring frequently for 20 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and continue to boil for 20 minutes.
  • Add butter, remaining 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, pepper, and cheese, stirring until butter and cheese are melted. Lightly beat eggs and milk, then stir into grits until combined.
  • Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes until lightly browned.

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Grits Caprese

A few weeks ago, I had some girlfriends over for dinner. In an effort not to let some fresh foods from the fridge – basil, Fresh mozzarella, and vine-ripe tomatoes – go to waste, I used them to create a new recipe which I’m calling Caprese Grits. I was extremely pleased with how they turned out on the first attempt and served them with a London Broil and a Baby Arugula Salad. Give this recipe a try and let me know your thoughts!


  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white stone ground grits
  • 2/3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ pound Fresh Mozzarella, sliced to ¼ inch thickness
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter four 10 oz. ramekins.
  • Bring broth, butter, and garlic to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits and return mixture to boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until grits are thick and almost all broth is absorbed, whisking frequently, about 30 minutes.
  • Whisk in cream and simmer 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup cream and simmer until very thick, stirring often, about 5 minutes longer. Stir egg, shredded mozzarella, and basil until well-blended. Pour into prepared dishes.
  • Top each serving of grits with a slice of Fresh Mozzarella. Place individual dishes onto middle rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Place chopped tomatoes in a small bowl. Spinkle with salt and mix well, letting juices form while grits bake.
  • Remove dishes from oven and top with tomatoes. Serve immediately.

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