Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Upcoming Signings - The Charleston Chef's Table Cookbook

Come on out and see me, eat some good food, and get a good book!

Saturday, February 6, 2 to 4 p.m., Christophe Chocolates, Champagne and Charleston Style at The RSVP Shoppe, 141 Broad Street, downtown Charleston. Swaddle yourself in indulgence at the stylish RSVP Shoppe in the heart of Charleston's swank South of Broad neighborhood. Author Holly Herrick will be pouring Champagne and sharing Charleston's best chocolates from Christophe Patisserie while signing The Charleston Chef's Table Cookbook. Come get your romance on just in time for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 7, noon to 2 p.m., 1/2 Price Burgers and Fries and The Charleston Chef's Table Cookbook signing. Chef Aaron Lemieux and author Holly Herrick will sign copies of the book in this festive, pre-Super Bowl setting while digging into Rue's full-flavored burgers and fries for half the usual price - just $5.50.

Tuesday, February 9, 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday Night Author Series at J. Paul'z, 1739 Maybank Highway, James Island, SC. Tapas and libations will go down nicely with a book signing of Charleston Chef's Table Cookbook by author Holly Herrick.

Friday, February 12, 2 to 4 p.m., Harris Teeter - Book Signing, 975 Savannah Highway, West Ashley. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Holly Herrick will be signing copies of her just released cookbook, The Charleston Chef's Table, as well a Southern Farmers Market Cookbook. Paired with a box of chocolate, either books make sweet gifts for the sweetheart in your life.

Friday, February 19, 5:30 to 7 p.m., The Wine Shop at The City Marina, downtown. Friday night wine tasting ($5 per person) paired with free samples of Elwood's Ham Chowder as featured on Magnolia's pages of The Charleston Chef's Table Cookbook. Author Holly Herrick will sign copies of her book while ladling out this delicious late winter stew.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

South Carolina State Farmers Market Spring Re-Opening

The SC State Farmers Market is going to be a huge new belle of the farmers' market ball when it re-opens in June. A kitchen demo arena, and a huge emphasis on local farmers are some of the more exciting aspects of the new market. Another is the market's inclusion of a month-by-month recipe feature from The Southern Farmers Market Cookbook on their web site. Link into the site and the book by clicking on

Have at it! Seasonal and local is by far the best! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas....Holly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Upcoming Holiday Signings, Demonstrations and Events

Come see me, just in time for Christmas and holiday cheer, for these upcoming events and signings revolving around Charleston Chef's Table and Southern Farmers Market Cookbook:

Wednesday, Dec., 16, Social Wine Bar & Restaurant, 188 East Bay Street, downtown Charleston. Green Holiday Wine Party and book signing, 6 - 8 p.m.

Watch cookbook author Holly Herrick prepare Virgina's on King She-Crab Soup as featured in The Charleston Chef's Table on Lowcountry Live, ABC, Channel 4 on Thursday, December 17 around 10:15 a.m. Free, signed copy of The Charleston Chef's Table for the caller that times it right!

Friday, Dec., 18, O'Hara & Flynn, 225 Meeting Street. Signings of both books paired with wine and free samples of Soulful Braised Pork Stew and Winesap Apples from Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, 5 - 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec., 19, Whole Foods Market, 923 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mt. Pleasant. Holly will demonstrate how to prepare Alluette's Cafe's Lima Bean Soup as featured in The Charleston Chef's Table and sign copies of both books. Demo begins at noon and signing continues through 3 p.m.

Sunday, December, 20, Alluette's Jazz Cafe, 137 Calhoun Street, downtown. Celebrate Alluette's feature story in this month's issue of Southern Living and the restaurant's feature pages in the soup chapter of The Charleston Chef's Table. Cash bar and small bites. Signing both books, 5 to 7 p.m.

Monday, Dec., 21. The Glass Onion, 1219 Savannah Hwy., West Ashley. 1/2 price wine night at The "GO" and signing of both books, 6 to 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec., 22, Barnes & Noble, Westwood Plaza, 1812 Sam Rittenberg, West Ashley. Signing both books from 2 to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec., 23. Charleston Cooks!,194 East Bay Street, downtown Charleston. Informal signing of both books, 2 - 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Been to The Bin?

If not, you've got to swing by this fabulous new wine, cheese, charcuterie, and art gallery/shop all wrapped up in a beautiful, simplistic, design bow courtesy of Thompson Young Design. Bead-boarding and bistro-style chairs and tables set the stage for prime time sipping of wine and cheeses hand-selected by the husband/wife team that expertly navigate the space with charm and grace.

Fanny's from France and Patrick's from Brooklyn and both formerly worked at Baked, downtown. There is no other place quite like this in Charleston. Shaved, dried beef paired with nutty, French cheese was decadent with a sparkling flute of Blanquette de Limoux.

Color bursts from the large paintings by local artist Robert Hagerty and urban sophistication pulses in the most welcoming and understated way on this quiet end of King Street across from The Preservation Society.

Bin 152
152 King Street, downtown

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amen to That!

Charleston hardly suffers from a shortage of raw bars. They're as ample as oyster roasts in January. Consider The Boathouse, Hanks, Abe's and, just down the street from this sparkling new restaurant baby, Pearlz, to name a few of the best. But, there are a surprisingly small number of restaurants that do local fish really well. Amen, thankfully, can count itself themselves as one that does it right and keeps it fresh and local.

Simply beautiful, Amen Street replaces the dingy shack of a space it used to be with gleaming polished wood, plenty of distressed mirrors, welcoming banquettes and a sequence of round, stunning chandeliers made out of oyster shell art. Sophisticated and smart, it recalls a marriage of the look and feel of Rue de Jean and Virginia's on King a little farther uptown.

Amen is situated in the heart of tourist country, but emotes a charm that will appeal to locals if they can put up with the pesky foot traffic that tends to march through this neck of the woods. Amen Street makes it worth your time with top-notch service and delicious, well thought-out food preparations that will have you singing to the high heavens in grateful praise. The "unique" oysters (priced daily)glisten with freshness and are served with a pert mignonette and fresh horseradish and cocktail sauces. I loved the look of the shrimp corn dogs ($10.95) being consumed by the Southern Living photographer that was shooting the day I visited. They are large shrimp coated in a cornmeal tempura and served straight up in a metal cup with Carolina mustard and cornichons - whimsical yet substantive.

The fish dishes are treated with serious simplicity. Fresh fish of the day (price varies) is served with one of three preparations: Herb Grilled with Asparagus, Tomato Vinaigrette and Herb Oil OR Blackened with Popcorn Rice, French Green Beans and Tomato Relish OR Mongolian BBQ with Stir Fry Vegetables. I selected the second option and paired it with deliciously fresh and perfectly cooked black grouper. The popcorn rice is an interesting, buttery aromatic rice which is not dissimilar to Carolina Gold rice in flavor. Truly delicious, the beans snapped with freshness and the tomato relish finished the dish with pretty aplomb.

At times, the menu ventures into some quasi-boring staple departments like burgers, shrimp and grits and seafood platters, some of which reach celestial heights ($19.95 for a seafood platter, for example), but these are necessary evils to appease the less adventurous and less discerning masses. And, in talented Chef Todd Garrigan's hands, they receive original twists such as creamed corn with the seafood platter and Nueske's bacon atop Amen burger if you so choose($7.95 +$1.00 for the bacon).

Amen Street is a great addition to the long row of good restaurants on this stretch of East Bay. Even though the competition is stiff, Amen Street stands out with a flavorful personality and good looks of its very own.

Amen Street
205 East Bay Street, downtown
(843) 853-8600

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Holly-day" Gift Ideas

Both Southern Farmers Market Cookbook (Gibbs Smith, June, 2009) and Charleston Chef's Table - Extraordinary Recipes from the Heart of The Old South (Three Forks Press, December, 2009) make fabulous gifts for Christmas and the holiday season. Reasonably priced at $19.99 and $24.95 respectively, both are jam-packed with delicious recipes and beautiful photography. The former is best-suited to those interested in cooking seasonally and locally and the latter is ideal for anyone that loves Charleston and Charleston's dynamic and delicious dining scene. Both are available for purchase now (see links in the left-hand column by clicking on the covers), though "Table" won't be in bookstores until December 22. Here's where I'm doing some signings for both books in the coming days:

Charleston Farmers Market, Marion Square, Charleston - Sat., 12/12, 8 a.m. - noon

O'Hara & Flynn, 225 Meeting Street, Charleston - Fri., 12/18, 5 - 7 p.m. Wine Pairing and Tasting, Braised Pork and Winesap Stew (from Southern Farmers Market Cookbook).

Whole Foods, 923 Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Mt. Pleasant, Sat., 12/19, noon - 3 p.m. - Cooking Demonstration of Alluette's Lima Bean Soup from Charleston Chef's Table. Demo at noon followed by a signing through 3 p.m.

Here are some of the local area specialty shops and retailers where you can pick up both books now for the holidays:

The Glass Onion, 1219 Savannah Highway, W. Ashley

Harris Teeter, 975 Savannah Highway, W. Ashley

Hyams Garden Center & Christmas Shop, 870 Folly Road, James Island

Whole Foods, 923 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mt. P.

O'Hara & Flynn, 225 Meeting Street, downtown.

Happy Holly-days!

Culinary Cost-Cutting 101

Coupon Crazy

When I was a little girl, I marveled while watching my Great Aunt Frances sitting at her linoleum-topped kitchen table, cutting coupons from the daily newspaper in the tiny Kansas town she lived in until she was nearly 100 years old.

It seemed like such a waste of energy in order to save a few pennies on, what I thought, were probably things she wouldn't normally buy anyway. But, I was naive. She, a thrifty survivor of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, had her coupon system down pat and it's probably one of the reasons she made it through a long life of hard times, many of them spent alone.

The latest bout of monetary unpleasantness, however, has created a market for New Age couponing systems. The internet now has a number of hot coupon sites (I like which provide free, brand-name coupons and more if you select to register as a member. They're just a click, a printer, and five minutes away. In addition, many grocery stores' websites offer lists of daily specials. And, here's the kicker. Many provide selections from the kind of items you usually purchase, anyway. That was it for me. The last straw supporting my long-standing anti-coupon mindset finally broke its resistant back.

Harris Teeter's online specials shopping list became this list-hater's new best friend. I dipped into it with reckless abandon. With a little practice and increasing knowledge, I'm slowly forming my own semi-profitable coupon system. By combining the free manufacturer's coupons from sites like with a daily special shopping list constructed from Harris Teeter's web site ( , my handy VIC card, and an extra dose of concentration at the grocery store, I have scored some serious savings.

The best yet happened last week. Granted, it was a big sales day at the downtown Teeter. The store was offering buy one get one, two or even three, all over the place on big ticket items like beef, coffee and wine. Since I'm expecting company in a couple weeks, I decided to stock up on these and other staples. The net result was a whopping $67 total savings. In essence, I bought three weeks-worth of groceries for less than I usually spend in one week!

My heart raced with anticipation as I watched the basket cave with the weight of my cache and the numbers creeping slowly higher on the cash register. Then, as the cashier started calculating in the selected coupons, the numbers amazingly started going down. It was like getting on the scale after a week of gorging Haagen-Dazs only to find you'd lost five pounds. I was beaming. She was beaming and said, "You did good today!"

Admittedly, a follow-up trip to replenish the fresh vegetable drawer just one week later only yielded $10 in savings, but next time I'll do better. I'm on a coupon-crazed mission. Intelligent use of coupons and smart shopping add up to saving a lot more than pennies. And, I'm not in Kansas anymore.

One Plucky Chicken, Four Marvelous Meals

With grocery costs rocketing to the stratosphere, it’s imperative to save wherever you can at the supermarket without eliminating taste. In addition to reaching for reduced daily specials, what you buy and how you put it to use in your kitchen can happily translate to huge savings with bodacious bite.

In this era of grocery gouging, chicken can become your new best friend for just pennies per four ounce serving when paired with practical pantry staples like pasta and veggies. Low in fat, high in protein and exceptionally versatile, chicken marries equally well with the exotic (think truffles or saffron) to the humble (think roasted potatoes and rosemary).

For these reasons, it’s a regular menu guest at my house, where I pride myself on transforming a single, four pound chicken (preferably organic and purchased at a reduced rate) into four fabulous feasts for a group of four. That’s sixteen meals, folks! A four pound chicken runs anywhere from $6-$10 (depending on where and how you shop), throw in a little change for ingredients to flesh it out into a meal (4X), and you’re looking at less than $20. A night out for a family of four at any fast food favorite will set you back the same amount or more faster than you can say “heart attack”.

Gotcha? Let me tell you how it’s done!

Meal #1: This is the launching pad for the meal plan event(s) – a whole roasted chicken. Since it’s going to be transformed several times, keep the seasoning simple – ground pepper, a nice crust of coarse salt and a rub down with olive oil. Roast at 425 until done (about 20 minutes per pound) and top it with a few love pats of butter to sink deeply into the bird. Allow the roasted chicken to rest and re-absorb its juices. Cut the both legs and thighs away from the chicken (reserving warm). Cut the breasts away from the rib cage, cool and store in your refrigerator for later use. Serve both legs and both thighs with steamed vegetables and roasted potatoes for a satisfying, nutritional meal. Go ahead and prepare a pan gravy with a little roux, white wine, chicken stock, Dijon mustard and fresh tarragon to dress things up, but hold on to the carcass!

Meal #2: Start this after the roast chicken dinner to prepare for tomorrow’s old-fashioned and DELICIOUS chicken noodle soup. With a sturdy chef’s knife, cut up the reserved carcass remnants – the rib cage and spine – into four or five coarse chunks and put them in a two quart soup pot with a quartered onion, carrot, celery stalk and a clove or two of garlic to make an impromptu stock. Add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf and fresh thyme for added flavor. Bring it up to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer over low heat and forget about it for three to four hours. Allow to cool and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
About thirty minutes before you’re slotted to serve dinner, skim off any accumulated fat off the top of the stock, strain it, discarding all solids except any bits of chicken flesh. Finely chop an onion, carrot and celery stalk and sauté them in the same pot with a tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Season, return the strained stock to the pan and bring up to a boil. Add reserved chicken and about ¼ pound of dried pasta (flat noodles, spaghetti, linguini – your choice) and cook until tender. Serve with a drizzle of fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, or thyme will do) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A small, fresh salad and warm baguette make this a meal.

Meal #3: Chicken Salad Deluxe! This is where you can really have fun with chicken’s flavor/texture marriage versatility. Cut one of the reserved breasts into chunky, ½” cubes and toss in a bowl with coarsely chopped dried cranberries (or another dried fruit like figs or currants), coarsely chopped roasted almonds, fresh herbs, a dollop of Dijon, a dash of mayo and vinegar, salt and pepper and you’ve got a meal in minutes over a bed of greens. Other flavors that work in tandem with chicken include curry, paprika, cinnamon and almost any fresh herb imaginable. Make this your own!

Meal #4: Chicken Sandwiches Supreme! Again, versatility and imagination set the stage for show-stopping chicken sandwiches prepared with freshly roasted chicken breast. Go for the best quality bread you can find, from baguette to whole grain, and fill it with thinly cut slices of the remaining breast and toppings. One sliced breast will handily complete four sandwiches. Zip up mayo with fresh basil and Dijon mustard for a fresh, personalized sauce, top with a slice of red onion and crisp romaine. Go whole hog and add a few pieces of browned bacon and a slice of avocado if the mood moves.

Chicken never tasted so good for so little.