There's a brunch place just down the street from my apartment, that I like to refer to as my usual - Cafe Flora. I guess I should mention that they also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, which I have heard are all pretty fantastic, but lets be honest, I am more of a brunch girl. I would have to say that Cafe Flora is one of the best vegetarian restaurants in all of Seattle, although there may be some that choose to disagree. They serve wonderful things like fresh veggie scrambles, breakfast quesadillas, beignets, grapefruit mimosas, and stellar waffles like the caramel and peach I had a few days back, but most importantly, I go there for there for the cheesy grits. I'd always wondered how they make their grits so delicious. I tried to recreate them last year while visiting family in Canada, but had to resort to using polenta, because I could not find grits anywhere. When I asked, most people had never heard of them before, and then I thought I was in some sort of parallel universe, standing there trying to describe the color and consistency. I bought a box of polenta, and tried to cook it up following a grits recipe, but it just wasn't the same, nor did it taste the same. I returned back to Seattle, kept eating grits at Cafe Flora, but never really thought about making them again.
I had some close friends in town last week - it's always fun having people visit Seattle, it gives me an excuse to be a tourist in my own city. A few Saturdays back, I brought them to Cafe Flora for brunch. It's a great spot to bring friends, with large brightly lit rooms covered in plants somewhat resembling a green house, and their excellent vegetarian menu. It's always a hit, especially when you start the meal off with a couple of beignets and a mimosa. It was actually plan B, after our car started leaking all of its transmission fluid on the pavement, and then I cursed 40 times, which is probably a story for another time, but I'm glad Cafe Flora worked out, and eventually our car. There was a small moment of time from when we payed the check to leaving the restaurant, that Jenn managed to purchase a copy of the Cafe Flora cookbook for me, as a surprise early birthday gift. And you can bet that the first thing I made from the book was their grits, just as soon as I picked up a box of legit Albers Enriched Hominy Quick Grits. My birthday is in a couple of weeks, and its a doozy - the big 35. I might write a post, bake myself a perfect cake with flowers and lace, and ramble on about how amazing life is, how I am blessed, yadaa yadaa, or I might get stupid drunk on champagne and make a fool out of myself, post stupid pictures to instagram, and hopefully eat a whole ice cream cake to myself that I purchase from Dairy Queen. Seems a bit more fitting.
Like I said before, I made the grits from the cookbook, and it was stupid easy. Stupid, as in, Heather why haven't you been making these dang grits all along, they are so easy, and delicious, and your life could be that much better if it involved a daily serving. I am not to fond of oatmeal or cream of wheat, even with a generous serving of maple syrup, and nuts, but it turns out that I'm really more of a cover-my-breakfast-cereal-in-cheese type of person, and now I feel the need to invent some sort of creamy savory oatmeal, or does that already exist?
For my first ever home grit creation, I wanted to add a few of my fav current obsessions - tomatoes, corn, and kale. Seriously, no jokes, it's been nothing but corn, tomatoes, and kale around here for weeks, and I am loving it. It's how I am coping with the end of summer. To add a little extra flare to this dish, I added some more cheese, grated on top, a few dashes of hot sauce, and then left the bottle on the table just in case some more spice was necessary, along with a few slices of serrano pepper - and be sure to wash your hands after chopping those peppers so that you can avoid the unnecessary and awkward telephone conversion with your GP on why your personal bits are on fire. Now lets get out there and enjoy the rest of summer, with a bowl or two of summery grits.
GARLIC SAUTÉED KALE WITH CORN AND CHEESY GRITS
makes 2 - 3 servings
cheesy grits adapted from Cafe Flora
cheesy grits adapted from Cafe Flora
notes: heavy cream or half and half can be used for the grits. You can even sub in milk if you prefer. I liked to add mozzarella cheese to the grits, but you can use any cheese that you have on hand. Add a bit of butter at the end of cooking to enhance their creaminess.
1 cob of corn, shucked
1 cup of cherry tomatoes + drizzle of olive oil
1 cup of cream
2 cups of water
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup of grits
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
hot sauce to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup broth
1 bunch of kale, chopped thinly
1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced
Bring the corn cob to a boil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Continue to boil until the corn becomes tender. Remove from the water and let cool. Just before you are ready to plate the meal, slice the corn kernels from the cob and sprinkle on top.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place the cherry tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until they turn golden brown and begin to burst. Remove from the oven and set to the side.
Bring 1 cup of heavy or half and half cream, 2 cups of water, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan on med-high heat. Once boiling, slowly add the grits while stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and stir in the mozzarella and hot sauce. Cover and set to the side.
As soon as you place the water and cream on the stove for the grits, add the olive oil, garlic clove, broth, and kale to a large frying pan on med-high heat. Sautée until the greens are wilted.
You may need to whisk in a bit of cream or water to the grits to thin them out, depending on your preferences. Plate the grits, then a generous serving of kale, followed by the corn, and roasted tomatoes. Drizzle the liquid from the sautéed kale on top, and garnish with parmesan cheese, and thinly sliced peppers. Grits do not reheat well.