Keep it simple + fresh with this Lobster Gnocchi recipe from Drew Hedlund of Tradd's!
3 oz Rio Bertollini's lemon basil gnocchi
2 oz cooked cold water lobster meat
1 tsp oven dried tomatoes
1/2 tsp preserved lemon
1/4 cup lobster stock
2 Tbs butter
1 oz arugula
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.Place butter in a sauté pan and melt over medium heat until lightly brown and foamy.
Add gnocchi to boiling water. When they float to the top, cook for 1 minute more.Using a slotted spoon or spider, gently transfer the gnocchi to the pan of melted butter to brown lightly.
Add lobster meat, preserved lemon, and oven dried tomato to sauté pan. Heat through and season with salt and pepper.
Add lobster stock and reduce until the liquid is gone.
Add arugula to sauté pan and cook for around 5 minutes, until the leaves begin to wilt.
Toss and serve with parmesan reggiano on top.
Meringue Mushrooms4oz/120g whites, room temperature 2 Tbs cocoa powder + more for dusting Pinch cream of tartar 3/4 cup/140g granulated sugar 1 cup/140g powdered sugar, sifted 1/4 cup Ghiradelli semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (this is the “glue”) Preheat the oven to 200°F. Put the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and whip on high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Gradually add the granulated sugar and whip until stiff peaks. Fold in the sifted powdered sugar. Pipe the meringue mushrooms onto a Silpat using a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip. Pipe “kisses” for the stems, pulling the bag up sharply at the end to make a sharp pointy tip. For the caps, keep the tip 1/4” up and make filled circles. Bake immediately in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and allow meringues to sit overnight in closed oven. Do not open the oven at all once the meringues are in it. Assembly: Poke holes in bottom of the mushroom caps with a toothpick or a paring knife. Dab a bit of melted chocolate into the hole. Take the stem of the mushroom and place the pointed end into the chocolate and hold still until chocolate is firm enough to stay into place.
Caramel Sauce1 cup heavy cream 1 cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar 3 Tbs light corn syrup 1 tsp sea salt Water as needed 1½ Tbs unsalted butter Heat the cream to until steaming. Set aside. Place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and enough water to make a wet sand texture in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until combined. Without any further stirring, cook the mixture to a medium amber color. Watch carefully as it can burn quickly. Turn off the heat and add the hot heavy cream in a slow, steady stream, while whisking constantly. Be careful as it will bubble up. Add the butter and whisk until all is combined. Set aside.
Chocolate Sponge CakeCocoa power 4 oz/120g 64% chocolate 6 eggs, separated, room temperature 6 Tbs./80g granulated sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract ¾ tsp. cream of tartar 1/8 tsp. kosher salt Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 18 inch x 13inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and spray the parchment. Lightly sift cocoa powder over the parchment. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Combine the yolks and 1/4 cup/50g of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and whip it on high speed until the mixture turns a light yellow and thickens enough that when you lift the whisk over the mixture, the mixture forms a ribbon as it slowly falls back onto itself, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Add melted chocolate in a steady stream, whipping until just combined. Set aside. In a new, absolutely clean bowl, use a clean whisk to whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whip the whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 2½ tablespoons/30g sugar and whip the whites on high speed until medium/stiff peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Repeat twice more. Don’t over mix. Spread the batter into baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched. Take the cake out of the oven and cover it with a slightly damp kitchen towel.
Caramel Mousse3 *silver strength gelatin sheets 1 Tbs/15g cold water 1 cup/235g caramel sauce 3 egg yolks/55g yolks 6 Tbs/75g granulated sugar 1½ /45g egg whites Pinch sea salt 1cup/205g heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks Combine the gelatin and water in a double boiler and heat until the gelatin melts. Heat the caramel to 100°F, add the gelatin mixture, and stir. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Make a double boiler with the bowl of a stand mixer and a saucepan. Combine the yolks and 1 heaping Tbs/15g of the sugar in the bowl and whisk them over barely simmering water until the mixture reaches 145°F, about 7 minutes. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and whip them on high speed until the mixture is cool. Set aside. In a new, absolutely clean bowl, combine the egg whites, salt, and remaining 5 Tbs/60g of sugar, place it over the saucepan of barely simmering water and use a clean whisk to whip the mixture until it reaches 160°F, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with a clean whip attachment and whip on high speed until cool, about 5 minutes. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the caramel mixture. Gently fold in the whites in thirds. Fold in whipped cream in thirds. Cover and refrigerate until set and ready for use. *Professional chefs use gelatin sheets instead of granular gelatin. They are available online.
Chocolate Icing1 cups/4.5 oz cocoa powder 4 1/3 cups/20 oz powdered sugar 16 oz unsalted butter, softened ¼ cup whole milk Sift the dry ingredients together. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat it on high speed until light yellow, about 8 minutes. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients. Set aside.
AssemblyRemove the towel from the cake Spread the mousse over the cake, leaving the cake bare for the last 1½ inches the short end of the baking sheet. Pick the cake up by the opposite end of the bare cake and use the parchment to help you roll it evenly, peeling back parchment as you roll. Place the cake seam-side down. With a serrated knife, cut ¼ inch off of the end of the cake on a bias. Pick up this piece and place it on the side of the “log” to resemble a tree branch. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Use the chocolate icing to ice the log and use a fork to make it textured. Dust the meringue mushrooms with cocoa powder and place around/on the yule log. For a pop of color, roll cranberries in sugar and place around the yule log.
How did you get your start as a food blogger/influencer?
I have always been obsessed with all things culinary: exploring new restaurants, browsing food blogs, binge watching Anthony Bourdain and cooking/baking for my friends and family. At my college in Michigan I started a “College Chef” column at our newspaper to showcase simple and affordable recipes that college kids could master. From there I created my blog Saltandpreppy.com to document all my favorite recipes so they would be easily sharable with others. Upon moving to Charleston I continued my love for cooking and baking and also found exploring new restaurants to be my favorite way to spend time with people. I was quickly introduced to the world of food instagrammers through my PR work for various restaurants at my company Lou Hammond Group. We would often host dinners and special events inviting the same influencers to experience and I quickly became friends with many of them.
You are the creative force behind Tastemakers Charleston, a monthly meetup of local influencers. Where did you get the idea to bring everyone together?
It’s no secret that Charleston is a foodie town through and through. There is a large number of wonderful people in this city that have found a passion in documenting their culinary adventures in the city through their Instagram handles. I was running into the same people time and time again at our restaurant PR events and thought it would be beneficial for everyone- both the influencers and the restaurants- to create a group to streamline the invitation process along with the tracking of social media coverage. The idea of TastemakersCHS was to create a community of people who share the same passion while expanding our reach and influence. We began with seven members in 2016 and have quickly grown to over 25 members, with a combined reach of over half a million followers on Instagram. I’m excited to be using our group’s social media reach to raise money and awareness for local non-profits through our new TastemakersCHS charity partnership program which launched a few months ago!
Why do you think it’s important for influencers to collaborate and support one another?
In a community as tight knit as Charleston, it only makes sense for influencers to support and engage each other. Since joining TastemakersCHS, many members have found ways to partner together on specific projects, brand initiatives and other creative collaborations outside of our bi-weekly events. While the majority of members manage their Instagram on the side for a fun hobby, some with a larger reach are finding ways to turn their passion into their career- especially as the power of social media in the restaurant world continues to grow. It has been amazing to see so many members develop strong bonds with one another and become friends through TasteMakers.
In addition to Tastemakers, you also founded Crumbs4Charleston, a nonprofit supporting local culinary initiatives. Tell us a little more about Crumbs and its mission.
My love for cooking growing up quickly changed to a love for baking upon my moving to Charleston, since baked goods were something I could easily bring to friends and coworkers to brighten their day. Experimenting with new recipes became my way to de-stress and unwind after work, and I found myself bringing sweets into work a few times a week. Seeing how stocked with sugar our work kitchen was getting, I knew I wanted to do something more with my passion for baking other than bring in sweets to my awesome coworkers.I began Crumbs4Charleston with the desire to align my love for baking with my love for God by offering friends the chance to purchase sweets & give back to awesome charities in Charleston making a true impact. I offer three different baked goods every two months (everything from brownies and cookies to brittles and fudge) for purchase on my website www.crumbs4charleston.com and donate 100% of the proceeds, minus the cost of ingredients, to a different Charleston charity. I try and offer unique baked goods (like Thin Mint Donut, Cookie Dough Stuffed Cupcakes and Candy Cane Fudge) that people can’t normally find in stores. I do all my baking on Saturdays and hand deliver to customer’s doors on Sundays. I aim to not only donate to different Charleston charities, but help raise awareness of all that they do through Crumbs4Charleston promotion on social media.
What kind of charities have you worked with and why did you choose to focus on culinary-focused organizations?
I have worked with over 12 non-profits in the city thus far and while many aim to combat hunger in some way (such as Fields to Families, Fresh Future Farm and East Cooper Meals on Wheels), others focus on other causes ranging from addiction recovery to human trafficking prevention to sea turtle rescue. There are endless non-profits in the city doing incredible work to help bring light to darkness and I feel extremely grateful top play a very small part in their individual missions. I recognize how lucky I am to live a life free of hunger, poverty and need and feel a deep call to assist in helping my neighbors who are struggling.
If someone wants to support Crumbs, how can they donate?
People can view this month’s bake goods and place orders on Crumbs4Charleston.com. I am currently offering Bacon Almond Brittle, Candy Cane Fudge and Peppermint Bark for December, with all proceeds going to Fresh Future Farm to help provide healthy and affordable produce to low-income families in North Charleston!
What’s next for you, Tastemakers and Crumbs?
(You’re one busy woman!)
I’m super pumped for all that is on the horizon for TastemakersCHS and Crumbs4Charleton in 2019! As far as TastemakersCHS, I’m excited to continue to grow and develop our charity partnership program. As a part of partnering with TastemakersCHS, we connect the restaurants to our charity partners and develop specific dish or drink donation for the month, encouraging Charleston diners to eat out for a good cause. Our end goal with our TastemakersCHS charity partnership program is to give as many Charleston non-profits as possible the added exposure and awarness they deserve, while raising funds at the same time. As far as Crumbs4Charleston, I hope to continue to grow my charity network and customer base. I have plans to partner with a few local coffee shops in the new year to sell my treats and in turn increase the money I am able to raise for each non-profit partner.Images courtesy of: Callie Cranford, Mac Kilduff and Zheng Chia
How did you get your start in the restaurant business?
My mom has been in the food business for over 40 years, I've been with her for 30 of them, so I guess you would say osmosis. I moved to Charleston from Scituate, MA in 2008 to attend College of Charleston. From then, a second location for Circe’s Grotto started brewing in our mind. I knew Charleston needed a good mom-and-pop sandwich shop, who doesn’t like a good, fresh sandwich? After I graduated from the College of Charleston, I went to Rincon, Puerto Rico not knowing what the next step was in life. Soon after, a friend in the real estate business called and said he had acquired the perfect spot for Circe’s Grotto in Charleston. I moved back to Charleston, we signed the lease, and started building our second Circe’s Grotto. We used the same concept of the one up in Scituate, MA, just a simpler version, minus the bakery aspect. We wanted to offer the city a good sandwich with fresh ingredients that your mom would make you at home.
Where did the name ‘Circe’s Grotto’ come from?
Why did you want to bring Circe’s to Charleston?
What’s the secret to the perfect sandwich?
If someone’s visiting Circe’s for the first time, what do they have to try?
What’s next for you + Circe’s?Hopefully exploring more local ingredients and some additional daily specials. It is our goal to always be innovating and finding new ways to bring delicious food to our customers We look forward to serving our community each day over here on Wentworth St.
What inspires you behind the bar?
Giving the guest a great experience. When people come to our restaurant it's time to eat, drink, and socialize. I want to make sure they have the best time and catch a good buzz.
If you could craft a cocktail for anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you serve?
Hopefully one day Will Ferrel makes it to Charleston and Danny McBride brings him into Mex 1 Sullivan's. Danny is one of my favorite actors only followed by Will Ferrell. I would love to have them come in, feed them tequila, and crack jokes.
What was the best bar conversation you’ve overheard?
I am going to go a different route. When I worked at Blu on Folly Beach, a lot of people come in bathing suits. I saw some wild and terrible tattoos. One guy had a massive $100 bill chest tattoo. It was terrible.
Do you have any advice for would-be bartenders looking to get into the game?
Show up hungry and humble. The best ways to learn to bartend is to get experience as a barback first. Learn how to stock and restock a bar efficiently and before the bartender asks you to do it. Next would be get on the service well on a slow night and learn to make the cocktails without guest interaction. That way you can work on consistency and speed. Lastly, read bartending books, follow cocktail and bartender pages on instagram, and go to seminars and conferences from our local USBG to national events like Tales of the Cocktail. It's important to always be learning and educating yourself.