Yep, I’ve got a new stack of cookbooks to sift through. Luckily there seems to be a theme emerging ...
There are days that I LOOOVE opening the office mail. Usually it involves medium- to large-size envelopes or cardboard boxes that can only mean one thing ... NEW COOKBOOKS!
Yep, I’ve got a new stack of cookbooks to sift through. Luckily there seems to be a theme emerging, so ... here is a synopsis of four of the latest Southern-themed cookbooks to cross my desk.
BONUS: Two of the authors will be in town over then next couple of weeks. Don’t miss them!
“Come Home to Supper,” by Christy Jordan, features more than 200 budget-conscious and kid-friendly recipes that are easy to make. The focus of this book is the family supper and gathering together at the table. Many of the recipes can be made in a slow cooker or a single pot or skillet and Jordan includes any of her time-saving tips and shortcuts that readers of her SouthernPlate.com website have come to rely on. There are also anecdotes and affirmations from Jordan sprinkled throughout.
Introductions to recipes can make you smile or giggle outright (for her recipe for “Bananas in Red Stuff” – basically fresh bananas mixed with a tub of strawberry glaze), the intro begins “If you are familiar with the Shoney’s breakfast bar, you know how wonderful this stuff is.”).
The “Pantry” section in the back contains basic sauces and gravies and her recipe for sweet tea.
Ham, Potato and Cheese Casserole
Serves 6 to 8
1 bag (32 ounce) frozen shredded hash browns
1 large onion, diced
1 to 2 cups chopped ham
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
10 to 12 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 5-quart Dutch oven with cooking spray.
Place one-third of the hash browns on the bottom of the pot and top with one-third of the onion, then one third of the ham and finally one-third of the cheese. Repeat these layers two more times.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the layers in the pot.
Bake, covered, until the eggs are set and the potatoes are tender, about 90 minutes. Serve hot.
This recipe can be done in a 6-quart slow cooker set on low over 7 to 8 hours.
“Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions,” by Carrie Morey, is the Charleston-native’s modern approach to traditional Southern cooking.
Morey is the founder of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits and her biscuits and pimiento cheese collection are sold in high-end shops across the country.
The book opens with Morey’s admission that she never baked a biscuit until she was in her thirties and the “if I can do it, you can do it” story does seem to take the edge off what might to some be an intimidating process.
It’s not all biscuits and baking. There are some good recipes for shrimp, chicken and pork and a section in the back that puts together menus such as “Throw-Together Oyster Roast,” “Southern Picnic” and “Playdate” (fun, kid-friendly snacks). Oh, and there’s a section on drinks!
4 ounces Bloody Mary mix
1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 teaspoon (splash) of olive juice
3/4 teaspoon soda water, seltzer or club soda
3/4 teaspoon beer
Combine Bloody Mary mix, vodka and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a tall glass with ice. Add the olive juice, soda water and beer. Give a stir and serve with your choice of garnish (celery stalk, lemon wedge, lime wedge, speared olive or skewered shrimp and cherry tomato).
“Southern Fried,” by James Villas pays homage to the South’s love affair with fried foods.
Villas is the author of seventeen cookbooks (winning the James Beard Award for one), a former food and wine editor for Town & Country magazine and a contributor to Saveur, Gourmet, Bon Appetit and The New York Times. He knows his way around the kitchen (“To prevent serious flare-ups, never drop any water or frozen foods with icicles into hot cooking fat.”) and tempers this fry-centric book with an introduction that reads in part: “The truth is that, much as Southerners love fried foods and despite outside perceptions, we hardly eat them round the clock and frown as much as anybody else on the atrocious, commercial junk we encounter far too often outside the home.”
So, yes, while you will find hushpuppy and crab cake recipes, there are also recipes for venison burgers, fried grits, multiple variations of fried okra and this one for fried deviled eggs.
Fried Deviled Eggs
1 dozen large hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peanut oil for deep frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fine bread crumbs
Cut the boiled eggs in half lengthwise and place the yolks in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, chives and salt and pepper and mash with a wooden spoon till well blended and smooth. Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture and set aside.
In a deep fryer, heat about 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer.
Dredge the stuffed eggs lightly in the flour, dip into the beaten egg and dredge lightly on the bread crumbs. With a slotted spoon, lower the eggs in batches into the hot oil, fry till golden brown, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes, and drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
“Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey,” by John Currence.
Currence is the James Beard Award winning chef of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss. Just reading his manifesto “How I Cook” at the beginning of the book made me fall in love with the book (“ ‘Light’ or ‘low-fat’ anything means you are sacrificing flavor. That’s all there is to it. Rather than skimp on flavor, moderate your portion size.” And “Eat tomatoes when they are in season ... only when they are in season.” And, “Save your bacon fat and use it.”)
The book is divided into sections based on technique (slathering, pickling/canning, brining/smoking, etc.) and each recipe has a suggested song to listen to while cooking (Currence has a playlist on Spotify).
There are many pork-centric recipes (as one would expect), but this dessert recipe sounded unique.
Pork Fat Beignets with Bourbon Caramel
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (100-105 degrees)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons lard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Peanut oil, for frying
3 cups confectioners sugar
Make the caramel: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water over medium heat. Swirl the sugar as it begins to boil (do not stir it!). Continue swirling the sugar until it begins to change color. As it approaches a medium amber color, remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Be careful: This mixture will bubble up furiously at first, but will settle. Whisk in butter, salt and bourbon. Set aside.
Make the beignets: Mix the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes or until it foams.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt, cream and milk together. Mix the egg mixture into the yeast mixture.
Add 3 cups of the flour and the cayenne to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the lard and butter and continue to stir while adding the remaining 4 cups of flour. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Lightly rub a large bowl with vegetable oil. Put the dough into the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat 2 1/2 inches of peanut oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Carefully place a few pieces of dough in the deep fryer at a time, flipping constantly and frying until they turn golden. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately, dusted heavily with confectioners sugar and drizzled with caramel.