When Jim DeMint was sworn in as the state's new senator early this month, the folks in Washington got a big taste of South Carolina, especially the Lowcountry.
Steven Duvall Catering & Events, a Charleston company owned by Steve Wenger, hit the road with 11 people to do the food for DeMint's reception. They laid out a huge spread, a job which required three trucks, a refrigerated trailer and the help of 20 more people up there. A big crowd showed up to snack and schmooze -- about 600 people. Yikes.
The menu included familiar fare, such as South Carolina shrimp and grits (although the sauce was very upscale -- lobster parmesan cream); she-crab soup with sherry (of course); Lowcountry gumbo over red rice topped with fried oysters; spicy cheese wafers and benne wafers.
The following dishes were served at the event, and the recipes were offered to share:
Fried Green Tomatoes with Tri-Color Pepper Relish
4 green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 pint buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
1 cup water
3 tablespoons canola oil
Tri-Color Pepper Relish (recipe follows)
In a large bowl combine buttermilk, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the sliced tomatoes to the mixture, cover and marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Combine panko breadcrumbs and assorted herbs together in a bowl. Set aside.
Place flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat eggs and water together to form a light egg wash in a bowl. Set aside.
Breading sequence: Use one hand for tomatoes and egg wash and the other for the panko and flour. Take tomato slice from marinade and dredge in flour, then into egg wash, then into flour again, then into egg wash again and then into panko breadcrumb mixture. Repeat until all slices are coated. Lay breaded tomatoes onto a small sheet pan or cookie sheet.
Coat a large sauté pan with canola oil and heat over medium heat until almost smoking. Add tomatoes one at a time, cook on first side until dark golden brown, flip tomato and finish cooking on the second side. Repeat with all tomatoes. Serve with Tri-Color Pepper Relish. Makes 8 servings.
Tri-Color Pepper Relish
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small red onion, diced
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepot over medium heat, dissolve sugar in vinegar and bring to a boil.
Add onion, ginger and garlic. Stir until onion is bright purple. Add peppers and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from stove and place in a bowl, refrigerate until chilled.
S.C. Blue Crab Lump Crab Cakes With Cajun Caper Remoulade Sauce
1 pound South Carolina blue crab lump meat
1/4 pound South Carolina blue crab claw meat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 teaspoon Coleman's Dry Mustard
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup canola oil
Cajun Caper Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
Pick through all crab for small pieces of shell and place meat in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard and all dry spices and lightly combine. Add egg and lightly combine. Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs a little at a time to bind.
Sauté onion and celery in butter and add hot to the mix. Combine ingredients just until all are mixed together. Chill crab mix in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Divide crab mixture into 12 equal portions and dredge in the remaining 2 cups of breadcrumbs.
Sauté in as much canola oil that is needed to completely coat the bottom of the pan. Cook each crab cake to golden brown on one side and then turn and brown other side.
Place crab cakes on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until hot through. Makes 12 crab cakes, 2-1/2 to 3 ounces each.
Cajun Caper Remoulade Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon caper juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoons black pepper
In a food processor, add all ingredients and process on high until mixture is well-combined but not completely pureed. Makes 1-1/2 cups of sauce.
Ruth Brantley of Hollywood wanted to hear from bakers who are using sugar substitutes successfully. Eloise Gatch of Walterboro points us to the www.splenda.com Web site, which has information about the products, tips for using them and recipes. Splenda is one of four FDA-approved four sugar substitutes --saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, and sucralose -- and is popular for cooking and baking.
Splenda is the brand name for the ingredient sucralose, which actually is made from sugar but processed into a no-calorie, no-carbohydrate sweetener.
The original Splenda product comes in a granular form that measures and pours like sugar, or in packets.
According to the Web site, Splenda No Calorie Sweetener also contains small amounts of dextrose and/or maltodextrin, for volume. But because the amount of these ingredients is so small, Splenda still has an insignificant calorie value per serving and meets FDA's standards for "no calorie" sweeteners. A cup of Splenda Granular has 96 calories and 24 grams of carbohydrates, compared with the 770 calories and 192 grams of carbs found in a cup of sugar.
More recently, the company introduced Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking, a mix of Splenda and pure sugar. Sugar affects structure, texture and volume in the baking process, and helps in caramelization and browning, moisture retention and tenderness, and preservation. So while Splenda's blend acts more like sugar, it also comes with calories and carbs. A half-cup of it, which replaces a full cup of pure sugar, has 384 calories and 96 grams of carbohydrates.
If you can tolerate some sugar, then the company suggests using the blend when browning, volume and rise are needed in baked goods. The no-calorie Splenda Granular works best in pie fillings, cheesecakes, sweet sauces, marinades and glazes.
However, if you do bake with the no-calorie Splenda, here are some tips from the Web site:
-- To achieve a better rise, switch from 9-inch round pans to 8-inch round pans with 2-inch sides. Also, try adding 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every 1 cup of Splenda Granular.
-- Cookies often rely on brown sugar for their chewy, crunchy texture. To retain the texture, replace only the white granulated sugar in your cookie recipes. You may need to flatten the cookies before baking to aid spreading.
-- For quick breads and muffins, add one or two tablespoons of honey or molasses to boost flavor and provide moistness.
-- Splenda Granular will not activate yeast. Maintain at least 2 teaspoons of sugar in recipes calling for yeast and replace the remaining sugar with Splenda Granular.
-- To help achieve a more golden brown color, lightly spray the batter or dough with cooking spray just before placing in the oven.
-- Baked goods made with Splenda may bake more quickly than those made with sugar. For cakes, check 7-10 minutes before the original recipe's expected bake time. For cookies, brownies and quick breads, check 3-5 minutes before the original bake time.
-- All fresh-baked goods are best eaten within 24 hours. If you wish to keep your baked goods made with Splenda Granular longer, wrap well and freeze.
Tape this recipe inside a kitchen cabinet door convenient to your baking supplies. You'll bake this recipe often, so keep it handy.
Here's a recipe Eloise recommends that uses the blend. Compared to a traditional recipe, these cookies have 7 percent fewer calories, 14 percent fewer carbs and 19 percent less sugars.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter, Splenda Sugar Blend, brown sugar and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape sides of bowl. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended. Stir in chocolate morsels.
Spoon rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake cookies 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Nutrition information per serving (one cookie): Total calories, 150; calories from fat, 70; total fat, 8g; saturated fat, 5g; cholesterol, 25mg; sodium, 160mg; total carbohydrates, 18g; dietary fiber, 0g; sugars, 12g; protein, 2g.
Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, 1-1/2 fats.
WHO'S GOT THE RECIPE?
-- We're still on the lookout for the Mount Pleasant reader who wants tasty slow cooker recipes.
-- Soups: "Does anyone have a recipe similar to the Tuscan potato soup served at the Olive Garden?" asks Marina Sharts. Also, a colleague asks for pasta or bean soup recipes (or a combination of the two).
-- Linda Sivert of Johns Island requests a recipe for devil's food cake that has maraschino cherry juice in it and is red! "My late mother-in-law made a cake like this for my husband's birthday every year, and I have never been able to replicate it. I thought it might be Red Devil Cake, but he insists it was devil's food cake. Any ideas or help would be appreciated."
-- A Goose Creek reader wants the recipe for blue cheese salad dressing with buttermilk from McNeil's restaurant in Summerville.
Now We're Cooking publishes recipe requests and the responses from readers in succeeding weeks. If you have a recipe a reader wants, or a request of your own, contact Food Editor Teresa Taylor by calling 937-4886; by writing to The Post and Courier