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America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan, as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland. True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought its cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.

Gullah cuisine originated in the Gullah-Geechee community. These West African Slave Descendants farmed the rice plantations of the Lowcountry back in the 1700s. The Southern region now embraces its traditional food customs. Gullah Recipes are based on rice, simmered vegetables, and fresh seafood. Specifically, oysters, shrimp, grits, and okra are commonly incorporated. These beloved, cultural dishes boast a rich history and even richer flavors.

Crab cakes are popular in the Lowcountry, as blue crabs are abundant off the Carolina coast. While there’s nothing highly unusual about the way crab cakes are done here—the name is really to distinguish them from Maryland crab cakes, which are (presumably) sourced from the Chesapeake Bay and tend to use Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in their preparation—the typical way of doing these in Charleston is with lots and lots of fresh lump crab meat (and very little filler), some mayo, herbs like parsley, dill, or tarragon, and often a dash of hot sauce or cayenne for a little kick; then they’re almost always pan-fried/seared.

Shrimp, crab, peas, rice, okra, and greens – these are some of the nuts and bolts of Gullah dishes. Descendants of enslaved West Africans, the Gullah people have been preparing their recipes for centuries, with many of the dishes, rooted in a culture that is thousands of years old.

The cuisine of the Gullah, who still maintains a presence in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and sea islands, relies upon the gifts of land and sea. The ingredients are locally sourced in season in keeping with the ways of old. Okra soup, purloins (seasoned dishes of rice and meat), seafood soups, red rice, garlic crabs, and “Reezy Peezy,” a simple mainstay made from stewed field peas, are some of the delicious dishes that can be enjoyed today, thanks to the culinary traditions kept alive by this remarkable culture.

Though most Gullah cooking happens in the privacy of family kitchens, there is a small treasure trove of establishments where you can sample these special foods. Restaurants with dedicated Gullah menus are rare, so it’s likely you’ll find Gullah dishes mingled in with Southern or soul food fare. Click here to learn about these distinctions. Most Gullah-owned restaurants are modest and no-frills, but that’s part of the experience. Fancy is fine, but if you want a true taste of South Carolina’s culinary heritage, seek out these restaurants and eat the Gullah way.

Version One

I made this version because it is different from my usual recipe. It is delicious.

Charleston Grill 

Ingredients

Crab Cakes

1 pound crab meat

1 egg white

1/2 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2  cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Butter or olive oil, to cook

Sauce

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into thin strips

10 red pear tomatoes

10 yellow pear tomatoes

2 limes, juiced

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh dill.

Directions

Crab Cakes

Mix together the mayo, salt, pepper, egg white, zest, juice, chives, and thyme. Fold in the crab meat. Add pano crums. Add just enough for the mixture to hold together.

Form mixture into patties and refrigerate for several hours, if possible.

Saute in butter or oil until crisp and golden on both sides.

Sauce

I made half the amount of sauce because it seemed to be too much for us.

1. Heat shallots in oil, then add shrimp and cook.

2. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.

3. Serve warm over crab cakes.

Version Two

Charleston Crab Cakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup minced red onions

1/3 cup minced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat (picked over for shells and drained of any liquid)

3/4 cup panko crumbs

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Place onions, bell pepper, tarragon, and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl and combine. Gently fold in the crabmeat. Add the panko and season with salt, white pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. The panko will absorb some of the moisture and the mixture will stay together.

Layout a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean counter surface. Place half of the crab mixture on it and use a spatula or a spoon to form it into a tube about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Bring the wrap-up over the crab and roll the crab mixture up. Twist the ends to close. Pierce any air pockets with a toothpick or skewer. Twist the ends even tighter to compress the crab mixture. Tuck under the ends of the wrap and place the tube on a plate. Repeat with the second half of the crab cake mixture. Place the tubes in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to cook, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut the tubes of crabmeat into 1 1/4-inch-thick cake.s. Gently remove the plastic wrap, leaving the cakes in nice cylinders.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (non-stick works well here) over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Gently place 4 of the crab cakes in the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Gently turn the cakes over and sear the other side until golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet and into the oven to keep warm. Wipe the pan, add the remaining olive oil and repeat this process for the other 4 crab cakes. (If you have a big enough pan, you can cook 6 or 8 of them at the same time and skip the warming oven, but the cakes need room to sear properly and be turned so be careful not to crowd the pan).


Baked Stuffed Shrimp with Crab

Serves 2

Crab Filling
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 scallion, chopped
F garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon grated zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
8 ounces crabmeat, picked over for shells

Shrimp
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
Panko crumbs

Pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse ground black pepper
Teo -2o z egg fettuccine pasta nests

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the crab filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Place the butterflied shrimp in a baking dish just large enough to hold the shrimp.
Top each shrimp with the filling [about 1 tablespoon for each. Sprinkle panko crumbs over each shrimp.

Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until the time you cook. This is a great dish for entertaining because it can be made in advance, plan on 6 shrimp per person.

Bake until shrimp are pink, 20 to 25 minutes.

For the pasta
In the drained pasta pot, melt the butter and add the cheese and pepper. Add the drained pasta and toss.
Place a pasta nest on each serving plate and top with the shrimp.

Serve with Garlic Sauteed Spinach

 


Seafood Salad Stuffed Shells

Yield: 28 Shells

Ingredients

1 box jumbo pasta shells
1/2 lb. cooked shrimp
1/2 lb. lump crabmeat
10 oz cooked lobster
1/2 cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Cook pasta shells per manufacturer’s instructions in liberally salted water.
Drain the shells and spread them out on kitchen towels to cool.


Combine the remaining ingredients to make a seafood salad. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of seafood salad into each jumbo pasta shell. Place the filled shells on a platter. Sprinkle the shells with chopped parsley.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makeup to 24 hours in advance.

Focaccia

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough-my recipe
Olive oil
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
Coarse sea salt
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves or rosemary
Coarse black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Oil a 4-quart baking dish or pam.
Spread the pizza dough out in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise until the dough rises almost to the top of the pan.
Top the dough with cherry tomatoes evenly spaced over the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients and drizzle lightly with olive oil
Bake 400 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool and cut into squares to serve.

 


Tacos

I served these tacos with corn and tomato saute.

For 2 servings

Ingredients

4-6 inch flour tortillas
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon olive oil
⅓ cup jarred salsa
1 tablespoon canned diced green chilies
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup prepared coleslaw {My Recipe}
Jarred jalapeño pepper slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You will need a taco holder.
Place the four tortillas in the holder. Set aside while you prepare the shrimp.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil and then add the shrimp. Cook until just beginning to turn pink. Tuen the shrimp over. Add the salsa and green chilies. Mix well and tune the heat to low. Let the shrimp simmer until completely pink.

Place the tortillas in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the holder and fill the tacos.
In each shell place 2 shrimp, several tablespoons of cheese, coleslaw, and jalapeno slices. Serve in the holder.

Note
I like using a taco holder because it makes it so much easier to bring the food to the table and each person can take their taco without it all falling out.


Shrimp Kabobs

Ingredients

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 chopped scallions
2 tablespoons feta cheese, mashed
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bell pepper, cut into 8 pieces
Half a red onion, cut into quarters
½ of a 10-ounce package coleslaw mix (with carrots and red cabbage)
½  cup pita thins broken into small pieces

4 to 6-inch skewers

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill broiler or stovetop grill to medium-high.

Combine the parsley, scallions, feta, honey sal, pepper, t.vinegar, and oil in a mixing bowl and blend. Set aside.

Thread 5 shrimp and 4pepper pieces on each of two skewers. Place the red onion quarters on another skewer. Brush them with some of the dressing.

Grill the kabobs until the shrimp turn pink and the peppers are lightly charred, about 3 minutes per side. Grill the onion wedges until slightly softened and charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill.

Combine the slaw mix and the pita chips with the dressing. Place on a serving pl; atter and serve the kabobs over the salad.

 

 

 


Risotto al Limone

I adapted this recipe from Da Filippo Restaurant in Sorrento, Italy. Leftover risotto is excellent for making Arancini {Rice Balls{.

Lemon Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
3 ½ cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest plus additional for garnish
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Garlic shrimp, recipe below
Salt to taste

Directions

Bring the water to a boil over high heat on a back burner. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lemon juice, keep warm.

Heat2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-duty medium pot over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup of lemon water to the rice, using a ladle, and cook, stirring constantly, until the water is, absorbed, 2±3 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining lemon water until the rice is al dente.

Add cream and grated lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat, stir in remaining butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season to taste with salt. (If risotto seems too thick, add more water to adjust to desired consistency.)

Spoon risotto onto individual plates, garnish with lemon zest, and top with Garlic shrimp.

Gamberi in Padella


Garlicky Pan-Roasted Shrimp)

4 servings

Ingredients ts

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
Pinch of dried red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and hot pepper and sauté gently until the garlic softens but is not browned about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté, turning once, until they are opaque, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine, stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds to allow alcohol to evaporate. Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with the risotto.

Kale With Garlic and Olive Oil

4 servings

Ingredients

2 large bunches of kale (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Salt, preferably kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem the kale and wash the leaves in two rinses of water. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt and the kale. Blanch for four minutes, until the kale is tender. Transfer to a colander, drain and squeeze the water from the leaves. Chop coarsely or cut in strips.

Heat the oil over medium heat in the same pot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the kale and stir for a couple of minutes, until the kale is coated with garlic and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and serve


 

2 servings

Ingredients

2 small baby bok choy, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1/.4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons peanut oil/ divided
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
6 sea scallops
½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
2 slices fresh ginger, 1⁄4 inch thick, peeled and crushed with a knife
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 scallion. minced

 

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil, rice wine, and chili paste.

Cut the scallops horizontally in half so that all the pieces are about 1/2 inch thick
Cu the shrimp in half lengthwise. Pat the seafood dry with paper towels.

Heat a large skillet with a cover over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact and add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil,

Carefully add the scallops and shrimp in a single layer. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the scallops begin to sear. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until the scallops and shrimp are opaque but not cooked through. Transfer the seafood to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the wok and add the ginger and cook for 30 seconds, then add the bok choy, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the chili flakes. Stir-fry, adjusting the heat to prevent scorching until the bok choy begins to soften, 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the bok choy for about 5 minutes. Tuen the bok choy over and cook for another 2-4 minutes until very soft. Remove the cover.

Stir the oyster sauce mixture to recombine and add to the skillet, Stir-fry the bok choy for one minute, and place two bok choy halves in each of two serving bowls. Return the seafood to the pan and stir-fry until they are fully cooked and coated in the sauce for about 2 minutes. Evenly divide the seafood over the bok choy in each bowl. Sprinkle each with minced scallions and serve with rice if desired.


Ingredients

4 servings

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 28-oz can whole cherry tomatoes
1 cup seafood broth
2 tablespoons capers
2 lb skinless sea bass fillet, about 1 ½-inch thick, cut into 4 pieces
8 large fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 large sea scallops
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves stems removed
Crusty Italian bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet with a cover over medium heat. Add onions, celery/ Cook, stirring regularly until softened (about 4 minutes). Add thyme, red pepper flakes, and garlic and cook briefly until fragrant (about 30 more seconds).
Stir in the white wine. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, and capers. Cook for 20 minutes over medium heat until flavors combine.


Pat the fish dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Insert the fish pieces into the cooking liquid, and give everything a gentle stir. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover the skillet. Let sit off the heat for another 5 minutes so that the fish will finish cooking. Fish should be flaky when gently pulled apart with a paring knife. Finally, stir in the chopped parsley.
Ladle the hot fish stew into serving bowls. Serve with your favorite crusty bread.


Ingredients

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 shallots, finely chopped
½ cup white wine
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
12 oz spinach linguini
¼ cup roughly chopped parsley

Directions

Cook pasta according to directions for al dente, drain, and place in a pasta serving bowl.
Cut the shrimp in half, crosswise.
Heat 3 tablespoons. butter and oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; season shrimp with salt and pepper, and add to skillet. Cook, turning once, until beginning to turn pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add chili flakes, garlic, and shallots to skillet; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice; cook until bubbly.
Add reserved shrimp and remaining butter; heat for a minute or two. Pour sauce over the reserved pasta and toss well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve in individual pasta bowls.

A tomato salad goes well with this entree.



Ingredients

1 garlic clove grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
l1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
3 mini red sweet peppers, finely chopped
10 oz raw shrimp (about 18), peeled and chopped
6 oz firm white fish such as sea bass, chopped
8 oz lump crab meat
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
1 cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for the top
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
24 large pasta shells

White Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning

Directions

Cook the jumbo shells in boiling salted water for two minutes less than the package instructions. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them for a minute or two. Place the shells on kitchen towels while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.Butter a large baking dish

In a skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add in garlic, onion, celery, and mini peppers, and cook until the vegetables are softened; about 3 minutes. Add in shrimp and sea bass and season with Old Bay seasoning. Cook until the shrimp become pink and the sea bass is cooked; about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, egg, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir in cooled shrimp mixture and crab meat.

In the same skillet, you cooked the shrimp in, bring the cream and milk to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, add the seafood seasoning. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the flour and parmesan cheese. Return to a simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens about 5 minutes.

Fill each pasta shell with 2 tablespoons of the seafood filling and place them in the baking dish.

Pour the sauce over the filled pasta shells in the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a green mixed salad.



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