Our March 2013 Top Pick in Cookbooks is The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and it's the ultimate cookbook to help bring the divine flavors of the Lowcountry to any kitchen.

This recipe is a Charleston institution—the Cheese Spread from the hallowed Henry’s.

Henry’s Cheese Spread

Makes: 1½ cups, enough for 6 to 8 people for snacking

Time: 10 minutes


When Henry Hasselmeyer and his son-in-law, Walter Shaffer (pronounced SHAFF-er), opened Henry’s, a beer parlor at 54 North Market Street, in 1932, they served only beer and deviled crabs (see page 153), baked up by Hasselmeyer’s wife in their home on Ashley Avenue and delivered to the establishment on cookie sheets in a long black Packard. By the 1940s, Henry’s had evolved into Charleston’s most ambitious restaurant, with waiters in white jackets, steaks trucked in from the Kansas City butcher Pfaelzer Brothers, and the house’s own fanciful turns on local fish and shellfish: seafood à la Wando (named for a river north of Charleston), flounder à la Gherardi (named, it is variously said, for a rear admiral of the U.S. Navy who served in the Civil War, or for his son, a prominent engineer, who might have been a patron). Of all the elegant touches at Henry’s, which survived until 1985, when the family sold it, our favorite was the iced crudité dish set down on every table at the start of the meal. The plate, a simple steel oval, cradled celery, radishes, green cocktail olives, and an astonishingly good cheese spread. Some have likened this dip to pimento cheese, but it may have been more awesome, with the creamy-fiery thing of p.c., but torqued up by horseradish to a picklish, sinus-clearing intensity. It arrived on the table with little fanfare— it appeared nowhere on the menu (see Henry’s Menu, page 123)—but left a deep impression on people who loved Henry’s. This latter category included Albert Goldman, the late Elvis biographer, rock-and-roll critic, and frequent contributor to High Times—“the voice of the marijuana community”—who praised the cheese spread in his hilariously florid story about Charleston in a 1973 issue of Travel & Leisure. Walter Shaffer’s son, Henry, who graduated from the Citadel in 1950 and supervised the kitchen at Henry’s for several years in the fifties, loaned us the restaurant’s original recipe, typed on an old typewriter, calibrated for a commercial quantity. We’ve adapted it here for household use, although once you taste it, you may think we’re high for ratcheting down the quantity. It’s a fabulous spread for asparagus spears, radishes, carrot sticks, and crackers, to name a few. Or stir it into grits or fold it into an omelet!

  • 10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (3 cups)

  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) lager or ale

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • (3 tablespoons)

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, drained

  • leebroscharleston2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Crystal

  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a small bowl to serve.
Excerpted from The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee (Clarkson Potter). Copyright 2013. Read our review of this book.

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