Outsider Tart Blog

The Carolinas

Posted in News

THE CAROLINAS

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Number 12

The Tar Heel State

SOUTH CAROLINA

Number 8

The Palmetto State

One of the original thirteen English Colonies, North and South Carolina were once referred to as solely the Province of Carolina until their formal separation in 1729.  King Charles II granted a charter to start a new colony establishing the North Carolina borders in 1663.  He named it Carolina in honor of his father, Charles I.  In 1710, political disagreements started the divide that would eventually give us North and South Carolina.  North Carolina itself was split between the east which supported the British Crown and the west which supported American Independence.  Lord Charles Cornwallis’ defeat at the Battle of Yorktown guaranteed American Independence and North Carolina became the twelfth state to ratify the new American Constitution in 1789.  Apropos of nothing really, except a perfect tidbit for blog chatter...Virginia Dare was the first English child to be born on US soil in 1587 and Dare County was named for her and home to Kitty Hawk, the sight of the first sustained, powered flight conducted by The Brothers Wright, Orville and Wilbur in 1903.

When translated from Latin, Carolina means Charles Land.  South Carolina prospered from fertile lowcountry farmland and its proximity to harbors (Charles Town later to become Charleston was one of them) which North Carolina lacked.  Southerners allowed religious tolerance and encouraged immigration (yes, it can happen) from the Huguenot and Sephardic communities of London.  Settlement spread, business thrived and rice cultivation grew on a large scale thanks to the talents of African slaves.  Oopsy.  That whole slavery thing is a bit of a pock mark on South Carolina’s history, so much so that they voted to secede the nascent Union to still allow it.  Ultimately they had their wrists slapped and they were returned back into the fold.

Lowcountry cooking owes its diversity to geography, economics and demographics.  Seafood from the coast, rice from the marshland, a concentration of wealth dating back to early settlement plus a vibrant Caribbean and African contribution since slavery have combined to create a cuisine similar to that of New Orleans.  To this Yankee palate, it’s a bit more restrained and genteel.  Perhaps that’s owed to the aristocratic DNA of South Carolina.  Unlike New Orleans, they temper the heat in the atmosphere by taking it out of your mouth for some relief.  Like New Orleans, they’ll wash it all down with something a little sweeter, a little tropical.    

As for food and drink, the Yankee sensibility believes North Carolina is a bit of an introduction into Low Country grub more firmly rooted in South Carolina.  There are influences from Appalachia, never really a hot bed of anything other than incest and moonshine.  And maybe squirrel and possum stew.  While we can offer up one of the previously mentioned four, we assure you it ain’t nothin to do with family nor vermin. 

To nip...

Appalachian Hooch

Cheerwine – The original soda was created in Salisbury, but this is a grown-up version

Blue Ridge

Low Country Lemonade

Tar Heel

Do the Charleston

Plantation Punch

Raspberry Beer (yup, you read that right)

To nibble...

Mushroom Business

Carolina Middlins w/ Tomato Relish – think grits but rice not corn

Cold Curry Squash Soup

North Carolina Pig 2-ways

Ham Chutney Melt

“Cheaper by the Dozen” Spare Ribs East Wake Burger

Fried Catfish

Mash w/ Pimento Cheese

Fennel Citrus Salad

Red Rice

To knock off...

Strawberry Short Cake with Sweet Potato Biscuit

Louisiana

Posted in News

April is the month of spring showers, or so the saying goes.  Back in Louisiana, spring showers are more like flash floods with gators swimming around the streets for a few hours.  OK, maybe a slight exageration, not only gators there are some nutria swimming around as well.  So, Louisiana is our destination for the month.  We have food a-plenty.  

Roasted Sweet Potato Bisque

Crayfish Cheesecake 

Creole Burger 

Honey Praline Fried Chicken

Chicken Andouille Gumbo

Candied Leeks 

Garlic and Goat’s Cheese Bread Pudding

and some specials on each Saturday night.

Cajun Bloody Mary

Milk Punch

Stormy Morning

Ramos Fizz

NEW MEXICO

Posted in News

NEW MEXICO

Land of Enchantment

One of the last babies in the bunch, Number 47 is a culinary treasure.  That is if you like Mexican-style cuisine, which we do.  When we did a blog for FoodNetwork, we drove from Amarillo in the north Texas panhandle in a wide southwestern arc through New Mexico into El Paso which sits on the Mexican border as does half of southern New Mexico.  We drove through Roswell and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, past lots of dry land dotted with missions (think church) and cactus.  And yes, we actually saw Roadrunners, the state bird.  FYI, they’re not big at all, but they can run.  Roswell was as you’d expect, a bit kooky, a bit touristy, a bit odd.  But the eeriest part was the 747 cemetery of sorts, where the big birds went to rest for eternity.  It wasn’t marked and you couldn’t find the entrance but against the road was a runway filled with decommissioned 747s.  Was this Area 57?  Were we about to be abducted?  No such luck.  Even a map doesn’t reveal much.  Perhaps we were thirsty and seeing things in the desert?  Either way we did find it enchanting.  Nuevo Mexico got its name in 1563 from Spanish explorers who believed the area was home to wealthy Indian cultures similar to those in the Aztec Empire.  Mexico, once called New Spain, took its modern name in 1821 upon winning independence from Spain.  Not that anyone asked.

This time around we had some help from a regular customer, @Danivoodo.  She not only shared some great family recipes, but popped by for a talk on food and family in New Mexico.  Without further ado, we offer up some spirited grub full of spirit and spice.

But for now think about slaking your thirst with one (or more) of these...       

Wile E. Coyote

Roadrunner

Cactus Juice

Enchantment

Missionary’s Downfall

Alien Slime

UFO

Chihuahua

The New Mexican

Aztec

Indian Water

A Tipple for Tonto

 

And filling your pie hole with these...

 

STARTERS

Spirals

flour tortilla, cream cheese, jalapeño, avocado and salsa

Empanadas

beef and cheese or spicy migas onions and pork, mojo on the side

Taquitos

deep fried corn tortillas, spicy pulled pork, sour cream

 

MAINS

Sonoran Hot Dog

chili dog on steroids...a bacon wrapped dog, chili, cheese, mustard, ketchup, migas onions, salsa

Indian (American, that is) Burger

deep fried onion strips, beef patty and cheddar on flat fry bread

Chimichangas

pan-fried flour tortilla, beef, cheese, greens and house-made ancho chili sauce

Carne Adovada

slow-roasted pork on house-made ancho chili sauce, traditional Spanish rice,

refried beans and cheese

Enchiladas

stacked crispy corn tortillas, chicken or refried beans, chili sauce, cheese, salsa,

greens and even more fixins

 

SIDES

Calabacitas

butternut squash and courgette, cheese and tortilla chips

Green Chili Spoonbread

fluffy polenta, green chilies and cheese

Well I’ll be gosh darned!  I’ve just learned Texas is not the largest state.  Alaska is.  Sure it’s the largest in the lower 48 but we need to include Alaska even though we’d rather not and let it drift into the ocean with Sarah Palin.  Besides, the flag looks prettier with 50 stars.  Then again, Texas gave us The Bushes George and it is right on the Gulf of Mexico.

Even so, we’ve hit a mother lode.  Much larger than Alaska in terms of culinary treasures and, dare we say, brainpower.  In between oil rigs and cattle and sagebrush and air conditioners, Texas is rife with flavor.  Its vast open space and diverse terrain has five areas with distinct culinary tradition.  The Northeast (1) has been influenced by the Old South.  East and Southeast (2) take cues from Creole and Cajun cooking, Central Texas (3), known also as Hill Country, draws from original Anglo and German settlers (it’s true, we’ve been there)  who may or may not be responsible for plying their wiener schnitzel skills at creating a true Texan staple, CFS, or Chicken Fried Steak.  South Texas (4) gives us border recipes and the beloved Tex-Mex cuisine while West Texas (5) sticks to ranch basics of meat and BBQ.  Texas politics can be a bit too red for some so with closed minds come closed recipes that stick to the rules.  Still delicious but sorta stuck in tradition.  Austin, however, is a beacon of blue light not to mention a breath of fresh air.  If you’ve ever heard of South By Southwest (SXSW), the annual music festival, then you’ve heard of Austin by association.  They get a little crazy in Austin.  A little bit wilder.  A little bit looser.  A bit more creative.  And it shows in their kitchens. 

Any compendium of American cooking will dedicate an entire chapter to Lone Star cooking.  Sometimes several.  Most US bookstores devote large sections to nothing but Texan cuisine.  And, in some cases, home libraries include an entire shelf (or shelves) of Texan cookbooks although we would categorically deny this if asked.  Truth be told, ours is in such disarray that we’ve no idea at this point what we have or don’t have.  Call it plausible deniability... 

We’ve found ourselves in a bit of a tizzy this month with Valentine’s Day amongst all the Texas possibility.  Relax, people.  No matter what the dish or when it gets served Texan recipes, like its people, are full of warmth and flavour.  So we decided this menu would be perfect for Valentine’s Day too.         

TONSIL PAINT

Sangrita Caliente

Just What the Dr. (Pepper) Ordered

Side Saddle

Fish Shack Punch

Ruby Margarita

Suffering Baptist (how could we not?)

Will Roger’s Cooler

Totem Pole

Texas Tea

DOUBLE C R GRUB

CFS = Chicken-Fried Steak

King Ranch Chicken

Expat Hominy w/ Achiote

Gorditas w/ Piccadillo

Tomatillo Braised Short Ribs

Pork Tacos

Chalupas w/ Blue Corn tortilla and UK Fava Beans (we had to toss in a bone)

Mrs. Lambert’s Stacked Enchiladas

Uncle Earl’s Texas Chili

Texas Turkey Meat Loaf

Goat Cheese Sliders

Stuffed Jalapenos w/ our homemade Chorizo

Black Bean Dip

Mexican Corn

Mamacita’s Macaroni con Queso

Fried Tomatoes w/ Crab Relish

Caliente Chocolate Cake

© Outsider Tart Bakery, Chiswick, London 2010-12