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Dinner ideas for cooking with girlfriend

Whenever my girlfriend comes into town we like to at least spend one night in cooking together, playing music, and dancing in the kitchen. We like to cook things that take a while to put together so we have a lot of time to hang out and have fun. Sauces that have a fair number of ingredients and that need to simmer for a while and be stirred every so often are pretty ideal. Any ideas? I live fairly close to the coast so fresh seafood is always available...shrimp, scallops, etc.

Thanks in advance.

Mar 23, 2014
GrillMaster in Home Cooking
1

I have excess dark rum

So I have a good problem. My inlaws regularly go on cruises to the Caribbean and they always bring me back a bottle of good dark rum. The problem is that I don't generally drink rum so it just sits there. We're going on vacation this weekend and I want to pre-mix a beverage using this dark rum. Any suggestions?

Since this is a vacation there are essentially no restrictions. I will gladly drink a pink beverage as long as there is a body of water in sight. I am looking for drinks where the dark rum is featured if for no other reason than I need to use it up.

Thanks

Aug 09, 2011
GrillMaster in Spirits

Charleston, SC, burger assessments

Who remembers the little blue shack that used to be on Market Street downtown between Eastbay and Concord that used to serve the absolute best burger ever. I can't even remember the name of it now. I just looked on Google Street View and it appears to be something called the Tabbuli Grill. I don't know if I'll ever find a burger that I like as much as I liked that one. Anyone remember the name?

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Market Street Cafe
17 Lagoon Rd Apt 12, Hilton Head, SC 29928

Apr 24, 2011
GrillMaster in Southeast

SC BBQ the quest is on

You're SOL in Chuck-town. There's passable BBQ but nothing outstanding.

You're closest option would be Sweatman's. It'd be about an hour drive but if that's what you're dead set on then you won't find anything remotely as good between Sweatman's and Charleston. It's cooked over coals as you would expect and is very very good. No doubt about it. Just look around on here and you'll see tons of people touting it. Here's the address: 1427 Eutaw Rd., Holly Hill, SC.

If I were you, I'd drive past Sweatman's and go to McCabe's BBQ in Manning instead. It is cooked over coals just like Sweatman's but they do two things that I think makes it better. They mix the burnt ends in with the inside meat giving all of it the smokey flavor that you want. Sweatman's, on the other hand, separates the two which I don't like nearly as much. McCabe's also sauces their meat before they serve it (Kind of a modified vinegar sauce that's a little thicker). I think the sauce is pretty close to being as important as the meat. They don't put too much on...just enough so it flavors the meat. It is really one of the greatest foods ever anywhere. Although Sweatman's is the people's choice for the best in the state, McCabe's gets the nod from those who really know what they're talking about. Here the address for it: 480 N Brooks St, Manning, SC 29102.

Don't get me wrong. There are lots of other places you could go but none are going to remotely compare to these two.

Apr 24, 2011
GrillMaster in Southeast

McCabe's BBQ - Manning, SC

And all the people said, Amen.

Mar 16, 2011
GrillMaster in Southeast

Great Mexican in Columbia, SC?

Hey Chowhounders,

I'm new to the Cola area and I'm trying to find a good go-to Mexican restaurant. My wife and I love to eat Mexican and we've always had an easy Mexican option everywhere we have lived. We live in Cayce so anything in Cayce/West Columbia/Springdale is fine. Also the Vista and surrounding areas. If there's anything worth traveling a little further out for I'd be interested in that as well.

While we enjoy your standard Mexican fare (Combo #8 please) I've noticed a number of taco trucks and more authentic restaurants around. If anyone has any recommendations for these I'd love to hear them as well. Thanks in advance for the help.

Mar 13, 2011
GrillMaster in Southeast

Shrimp burgers

I too will direct you to St. Helena Island but the Foolish Frog. I was about to recommend their shrimp burger until I checked their menu and realized that it was a crabcake sandwich that I had instead. It was fantastic though. Still worth a plug on here even if they don't have a shrimp burger.

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Foolish Frog
846 Sea Island Pkwy, SC 29920

Feb 04, 2011
GrillMaster in Southeast

List of things to eat/food experiences to have in South Carolina

I know I've already put in a plug for one Manning event (the J.C.'s Oyster Roast) but it made me think of a second one. Lots of places do a "taste" style event...the Taste of Charleston, Taste of Columbia, etc. Clarendon County's is by far the best. Rather than a bunch of restaurants, the food is almost entirely provided by the community. It is held in a reception hall with an indoor and outdoor space. Inside there is every type of dessert and appetizer you can imagine. All of it is made by local cooks and the variety is absolutely incredible. There are probably 344-400 different items inside.
Outside you have tents set up with locals, generally the men, cooking any kind of meat you can imagine. Lots of wild game like venison, duck, and, of course, lots of BBQ. Rather than have tickets that you exchange for tastes once you are in you can taste as much as you want. They also serve wine and beer can usually be located without too much difficulty.
It is one of the best local events that I'm aware of and I would highly recommend it. It is generally held sometime in May. It is put on by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce so they'll have the date set after Christmas for anyone who is interested. It sells out every year so get tickets early.

Sep 29, 2010
GrillMaster in Southeast

List of things to eat/food experiences to have in South Carolina

I've got to throw my $0.02 in for Oysters. I've been to more Oyster Roasts, both private and festival, than I can count and the best I'm aware of is right in my home town of Manning. The Junior Chamber of Commerce puts it on every year and it is really a fantastic event. You sit down (or stand up) at a table and they bring you good hot oysters for as long as you can eat them. They usually do a Beaufort Stew and BBQ as well and all the cold beer you can drink. It is usually in the latter part of February (generally the weekend after Valentines Day. It is a fantastic community event.

Sep 29, 2010
GrillMaster in Southeast

romantic restaurant downtown charleston

I 2nd Fulton Five. A very small restaurant and an intimate setting. Great choice!

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Fulton Five
5 Fulton St, Charleston, SC 29401

Jul 08, 2010
GrillMaster in Southeast

List of things to eat/food experiences to have in South Carolina

Here's a list of some really cool restaurants that I've enjoyed (mostly in out the way spots):

McCabe's BBQ in Manning--in the opinion of many who are in the know this is the best BBQ in the state
Miller's Bread Basket--a Mennonite restaurant in Blackville...just an interesting place with really good country food
The Foolish Frog--a relatively new restaurant on St. Helena Island...extremely good food in an incredible location. You can visit the Penn Center while you're there.

And my #1 can't miss...

Marshside Mama's on Daufuskie Island--This is probably the coolest combination of incredible food, incredible atmosphere, and incredible location that I know of. They cook really fresh seafood but its nothing fancy. Unless you're staying on Daufuskie you can only get there by boat. They have a dock right on the marsh where you can tie up and go in for lunch. The building is concrete block and screen walls with lots of ceiling fans and box fans inside to help keep everyone cool. They also have bands on weekend nights. It's just the coolest place that I know of. I can't imagine writing a book about interesting food experiences in SC without including it.

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Marshside Mama's Cafe
County Lndg, Daufuskie Island, SC 29915

Jul 08, 2010
GrillMaster in Southeast

Quick Help...Seasoning Shrimp Pasta Salad?

I'm thinking about shrimp pasta salad for dinner tonight but need help with seasoning it. Wife does not like dill so that is out. Basically using these ingredients:

Shrimp
Maybe Bowtie Pasta or Rotini
Mayo or a substitute if someone has a suggestion
Grated Onion

Any other suggested ingredients and, most importantly, seasoning. I'm looking for something mild and summery but flavorful.

Thanks,

Jun 27, 2010
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Sticky Fingers BBQ............

I'd say below average at best. It has actually gotten worse over the years as they've gotten bigger. The last I had forced upon me was tasteless even with the sauce.

With so many locally made sauces available in the grocery store now it doesn't even make sense to buy the sauce to put on your own Q.

Apr 14, 2010
GrillMaster in Southeast

Within 50 miles of Sumter, SC? Read This Post!

I am incredibly excited about a new store in Sumter called The Farm Store. They specialize in SC grown or produced food stuffs. If you're a foodie you won't need much of an explanation of why this place is cool. Instead I'll give you a list of some of the cool stuff they sell. I have only bought from there once. Here was my grocery list:

Really good SC made butter (they also have Amish butter)
Sour Cream--You don't know what sour cream should be if you've only eaten it from the grocery store
Cream Cheese--ditto although milder but creamier than grocery store
Chevre
Cheddar Cheese--I bought the prepacked stuff for serving to some guests. The SC made stuff is probably better. 5yr and 9yr.

Here's some other cool stuff they have:

Dairy
Raw Milk--This is very hard to find. This is unpasteurized milk straight from the cow
Unhomogenized Milk--This is pasteurized but not homogenized
--Also in Chocolate and Strawberry
Raw milk cheese
Cheese curds--Haven't ever had these but I will soon
Tons of different types of cheeses made in SC. Pretty much anything you could possibly want
Natural Lard

Meats
Sheep--ground, chops, roasts
Lamb--ditto
Goat--haven't tried this yet but how can billions of people worldwide be wrong
Grass fed beef--various cuts
Pork--various cuts--evidently this is hard to keep in stock so you may want to get an idea of when they're having a hog butchered
Chicken--free range of course
Turkeys--they showed me the biggest freakin' turkey I've ever seen. They will have more reasonably sized ones as well

Other stuff
Fresh bread every Friday
Seasonal local grown veggies
Local Honey
Local jams and preserves
Sorghum--haven't got any yet but I'm a huge fan and can't wait for that first Sunday morning when I can make biscuits
Whole wheat pastas that I can't decide if I want to try

These are really nice folks who seem eager to get anything that you could possibly want so if you don't see what you're looking for just ask them. He even puts his cell phone on the his card. Does the guy that runs your grocery store do that? Some of the products are a little pricey but others are pretty close to comparable to the grocery store. Regardless, this is the type of store that we should be supporting.

Mike & Felicia Dellinger
1191 Peach Orchard Rd.
Sumter, SC
(803) 464-9644

It is located near the corner of Hwy 76/378 and Hwy 441. If you are leaving Sumter on 76/378 going towards Columbia take a left on Hwy 441 and they are about 4 doors up on the right. They are switching spots with their neighbors this week (Nov. 2) so they will have more space but it may not be the best week to stop by if you want the full effect. They will also have a kitchen which has lots of cool possibilities.

Anyway..go there. Often. Spend lots. It's a cool place run by cool people.

Oct 31, 2009
GrillMaster in Southeast

Lobbying for a "Carolinas" board

Today, as with many days on the "south" board, the carolinas make up a huge portion of the questions asked. Between the RT, Charleston, Asheville, Hilton Head, and the Grand Strand I would wager a guess that this makes up the majority of this board during many times of the year (no I have not counted). How about a Carolina's board. I think that might open up more people to discuss out of the way places in small towns as well.

How about some support from the masses. What do you think?

Aug 14, 2009
GrillMaster in Site Talk

Best BBQ in NC, SC & GA

Amen on McCabe's. Often overlooked but one of the absolute best.

Aug 03, 2009
GrillMaster in Southeast

First time making pulled pork. [Moved from Midwest]

I'm telling you, start it on the grill and you get the same effect.

Jul 09, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

First time making pulled pork. [Moved from Midwest]

DON'T LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS. YOU CAN DO THIS!!

Ok, here's the A #1 best way to do it if it is your first time.

1. Don't go by time...buy a meat thermometer and let it go until it is 195 degrees.
2. Cook it the day before and put the whole thing in the fridge. The next day when you pull it you won't have to worry about burning your hands and the fat strips off of the meat leaving you with much leaner fare (don't worry there will still be plenty of fat)
3. Start it in the smoker and finish in the oven. The meat will only absorb the smoke for a few hours. I generally go 3 hours on the grill (I use a weber kettle) and finish mine in the oven. The best I can do on the grill is to keep the temp between 200 and 300 but the oven stays at 250.
4. When I pull the meat I generally separate the burnt ends (the crust on the outside) from the inside meat but different people do it different ways.
5. Once you pull it put the meat in a big casserole dish, cover it with aluminum foil, and put it in a 300 degree oven. If you plan to use sauce add some now to help keep it moist (not that that will be much of a problem, like I said, still plenty of fat in there). Stir it every 30 minutes or so until good and hot.
Dinner served and best of all you were in control of the process the entire day of the party rather than being at the the whims of a smoker you've never used.

You can always start the butt the evening before the party as well if you can't take the whole day. Just time it so that it comes off of the grill rather late giving you a few good hours of sleep before you have to start checking it (about 4 hours).
Good luck. Let us know how it comes out.

Jul 08, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

McCabe's BBQ - Manning, SC

Glad you had a good experience. I had never made the scottish/german connection before. Good point.

Jul 06, 2009
GrillMaster in Southeast

Four Moons Restaurant in Orangeburg, SC

It's good stuff. The menu is eclectic and imaginative and the service is fantastic. I promise you that while you are there you will completely forget that you are in Orangeburg. I would put it side by side with Charleston's top 5 or 10 any day. It is definitely worth the trip.

Unfortunately, I went a while ago and cannot remember exactly what I had so I cannot give a detailed report so I hope you will give us a fuller report.

Jun 10, 2009
GrillMaster in General South Archive

Cleaning fish - tips appreciated

IMHO this is the definitive way to clean a bream.

When you eat them make sure you nibble on the thin part of the tail fin that gets crusty. That's one of the best parts.

Jun 04, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Bananas Foster for 1,000

You know, the main reason I put it up here was because it was so easy to pull off. It was a little on the pricey side but worth it I think.

May 20, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Bananas Foster for 1,000

It's often served over crepes or a waffle but that just wasn't possible with the numbers we were doing. Other than that its the real deal.

May 20, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Food for the Multitudes

One of my favorite things to do is to cook for lots of people. By that I mean in the hundreds. I've done chicken bogs, oyster roasts, Beaufort Stews, BBQ, venison, gumbo, and (as you can see in my last post) bananas foster. I'm interested to hear other amateurs stories and recipes for cooking for the multitudes.

I'm not a caterer although I do have a small conference center with a commercial kitchen that certainly makes things easier at times but usually I'm still winging it.

May 20, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Bacon for a crowd

We used precooked bacon for a breakfast buffet every day and it works pretty well. I've found you can cook it in the oven on a cookie sheet in up to about 3 layers and it still comes out crispy. Cooking it in a convection oven helps a lot as well. Fat really isn't that big of a deal because a lot is cooked out of it anyway.

Go precooked. If you aren't a caterer and you're bringing home the bacon ;) for 40 they'll understand why its not fresh cooked.

May 20, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Bananas Foster for 1,000

I recently had the opportunity to cook at a local event that brings in around 1000 people for a "taste" type event. Most of the folks actually doing the cooking there are serving primarily wild game. The venison, frog legs, duck, etc. are always fantastic but I wanted to try something a little different. It worked well and I wanted to write down how I did it anyway so I figured I'd write it down here.

One of my favorite desserts to cook for guests has always been bananas foster because it's easy to make and impressive to watch. The question was would it translate well to an event with this many people. I decided to give it a try and find out.

I used Alton Brown's recipe with a few modifications. I changed the spices a little and used some cinnamon in place of some of the allspice (partly for the expense of allspice). I also sliced the bananas rather than halving and quartering them for ease of serving issues as well as making them go farther. I also just served it over ice cream. It's not the real deal but it had the same essence. Other than that I kept pretty much to the same ingredients.

The only other big change I made was that I put the rum in on top of the bananas and lit the whole shooting match rather than pulling the bananas out. It just wasn't feasible with the numbers I was working with and I couldn't see where it hurt the finished product at all.

Here's how I did it.

Equipment:

1 large rubber spatula (this is vital, I'll get to why later)
1 butane burner (good quality with fine temp. controls is essential)
1 10-12" nonstick skillet
1 large glass or metal bowl
cutting board and knife for bananas
knife for butter (I forgot this and had to use the banana knife the whole time)
Small serving spoon
Large glass of water

Ingredients:

2 boxes of bananas (my boxes had around 80 bananas a piece)
1 handle of good dark rum
1 liter banana liqueur (I used 99 Bananas which was great)
9 pkgs unsalted butter (figuring 4 sticks/pkg)
3 cups nutmeg
1 cup allspice
1 cup cinnamon
7 32 oz pkgs brown sugar
8 gallons vanilla ice cream

The night before:

I went ahead and put all of my brown sugar in a big tub with a lid and put a 1/4 cup measuring cup in with it. I also put all of my spices in a big bowl with a lid and mixed them well and put a teaspoon measuring spoon in with that. All of my ingredients and equipment went in a big cardboard box.

The actual cooking:

I cooked in batches a little bigger than the recipe called for but not too much bigger. This event has lots of other food to eat so it wasn't like I was the only game in town. We did one batch after another for about 2 hours but never had a line longer than 2 batches could handle. I also went even heavier on the bananas for each batch as the lines got a little longer.

My burner stayed on medium pretty much the whole time. I used probably 3 tbsp of butter per batch but found that I could cook it much faster if I put the butter in 1 tbsp at a time (less time to melt). Once the butter was melted I added a heaping 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a heaping tsp. of spices. Once melted I added a good dash of 99 Bananas and let it simmer for maybe 45 seconds.

**Be careful here. You expect the rum to flame up but not necessarily the banana liqueur. They don't call it 99 bananas for nothing. Use it sparingly and be ready for it to ignite.**

In go the banana slices (probably 2 1/2--3 bananas total) and cook just until the sauce has coated the bananas well. Then the rum. I used what I can only describe as a couple of good glugs of rum.

**Another tip here that took my quite a few batches to figure out. If you pour the rum directly on the bananas it will not flame up very well and that's the whole point. Push the bananas and sauce off to one side and pour the rum directly on the skillet. Let it sit for just a second and tip that side of the pan towards the flame and be ready. It will flame up maybe 2 feet in the air. MAKE SURE YOU TELL YOUR CROWD TO STAND BACK OR YOU'LL BE GETTING SUED**

Stir everything together and continue stirring until the flames go away. Cut your burner off and start serving. I served 2-4 banana slices over a good scoop of ice cream in a small styrofoam cup. Make sure you keep your serving spoon in a glass of water in between batches or you will have a big wad of sugar on the end of it very soon.

For us this was a 3 man operation. Me cooking, one guy cutting bananas and floating around where needed, and one man scooping ice cream. You could do it with 2 if you had to.

**Final tip and this is where the rubber spatula and bowl come into play. After each batch clean the skillet as best you can with the rubber spatula dumping any leftover sauce in the glass or metal bowl. I used an extra stryofoam cup and the sugar melted it and made a huge mess.**

Well, that's it. It went great. So great in fact that we are making in an annual thing. Other than a couple of things I mentioned here I wouldn't change a thing. If you have the opportunity there is not many dishes that are more impressive than bananas foster for 1,000.

I love cooking for large groups so I'd love to hear of folks who did cool stuff for bunches of people. What have you cooked for 1,000?

May 20, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

Charleston Review

I've always been a huge fan of Boulevard Diner but I agree they tend to over-bread sometimes.

May 11, 2009
GrillMaster in General South Archive

anywhere between Florida to Virginia close to 95

Here's the definitive directions to McCabe's.

Exit 122.
Right off of the exit ramp onto Hwy 521 (applies to both North and South bound exits)
Follow 521 into town of Manning
McCabe's will be the 4th or 5th business on the left
It's a concrete block building with a small sign out front.
If you get to the Chevy dealership you've gone a little bit too far.
If you happen to go on a day when it's closed Burger Chick a couple of doors up has some pretty good fried chicken and burgers...as the name would imply.

May 11, 2009
GrillMaster in General South Archive

Grits -- Savory Recipes

Booooo! Hissssssss! ; ) Sugar in your grits is a cardinal sin in these here parts. That's the quickest way I know to label yourself a Yankee.

May 11, 2009
GrillMaster in Home Cooking

anywhere between Florida to Virginia close to 95

A quick update on McCabe's hours. Like all REAL BBQ joints in SC they are only open Thur. lunch--Sat. Lunch. They recently changed their hours and are no longer open on Thurs. for dinner. Also they close on Fridays between 7:00 and 7:30 so if you want fried chicken get their early.
Truth be told, the cooks/owners are not a bunch of spring chickens and I don't know how wiling the next gen. is to take it on so eat there now because its days may be numbered at least in its current form.

Apr 02, 2009
GrillMaster in General South Archive