"SouthernCooking" news and stories
The best thing about embarking on a mission to perfect one's biscuit making? You end up with an awful lot of delicious biscuits to eat. The worst thing? Holy heck, that's a lot of biscuits. I'm lucky enough to be married to an enthusiastic biscuit eater, but I don't want to try his patience too badly this early on, 'cause there are dozens more batches to be rolled out before the year is up.
Solution -- adapt one of his most dearly beloved dishes, his grandmother and mother's Memama and Mimiwag's Chicken & Dumplings a bit to accommodate extra biscuits as ersatz dumplings. The original recipe employs long, rolled strips of dough (which some have argued render it as a much more regionally specific Chicken & Pastry formation, but that's a whole 'nother post), but in lieu of that, I halved the biscuits (from the best batch thus far -- #6 White Lily All Purpose with 50/50 Lard/Butter) and stewed them into the sumptuous broth of a whole, cooked-down chicken until they were softened, but not soggy. That night, with a side of sauteed, vinegar-dashed Swiss chard, it was heaven. Two days later, plated with tangy collards -- otherworldy.
Have a favored use for extra biscuits? I beg of you, share it in the comments below.
Recipes is after the jump.
Filed under: Recipes
What could be more Southern than eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day? How about sweet tea, deviled eggs, pimiento cheese, ambrosia, three-bean salad, shrimp boats, red beans and rice, corn pudding, fried okra, red eye gravy, cream doughnuts, cup custard, lemon icebox pie and divinity? If your mouth is watering from that recitation of down-home specialties, you'll like Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, a Southern cookbook which escalates the competition in a crowded field.
According to her bio, author Martha Hall Foose is a Mississippi Delta cook who studied in France, and the cuisine bears this out. True Southern fare -- heavy on the influences delta and soul -- is approached with reverence and then presented with signature spin: Foose is not the first cookbook author to prepare banana pudding (page 198) in individual servings, but she may be the first to suggest you do it in canning jars. As far as I know, she is definitely the first to make sweet tea pie (page 203) -- a recipe so crazy and that it would have made my grandmother applaud and so good that, according to the head note, it got Foose into the state fair pie baking contest. She didn't win, but then again, the winner probably didn't go on to write a cookbook as good as this.
Filed under: Books
Happy New Year, all! Hope everyone had a warm, festive Eve and is relatively headache-free and rested post-revelry. Now, there are as many ways to prepare the cowpea and rice concoction of Hoppin' John as there are squares on a calendar, but in many parts of the American South, the definitive date to simmer up a big ol' pot of it is New Year's Day. While the name's origin is still the subject of some debate -- some scholars asserting that it's a corruption of "pois a pigeon," a Carribean dish enjoyed by Southern slaves while still in their native land, and others claiming it's derived from a 13th century Iraqi dish called "bhat kachang" -- the dish's fans maintain that eating it ensures good luck for the coming year. This may well be superstition, but I'm inclined toward any angle that's gonna get a bowlful of it in front of me on a chilly January 1st.
My grand revelation of the day (though likely hardly news to many of you) is that cowpeas are the genus for the group that contains blackeye peas (most commonly used in Hoppin' John), catjang, and yardlong beans. They're also called crowder peas.
Some recipes for Hoppin' John contain tomatoes or okra, and the swap in of okra for the beans makes it a Limpin' Susie.
Got a favorite variation? Share it below, and peruse my favorite recipe after the jump.
If nothing else, the nuns at St. Scorpacciata instilled in me the mortal fear of wasting food, and seeing how I'd been at the store to buy milk (which neither of us usually drink) for a Bolognese, I decided sherbet would be what saved our souls from eternal damnation. I suppose we won't know for a while if that worked, but it did taste pretty damned delicious.
August is National Catfish Month and if you've turned up your nose at this surprisingly healthy (and easy to get fresh) fish, you're just being -- as my sorta-Southern mama would say -- uppity. Fried catfish is nearly as iconic as hush pups, sweet tea and pulled pork. Now the Catfish Institute is trying to dust off its second-class seafood image and go national. Fittingly enough, Iron Chef Cat Cora has signed on as its celebrity chef spokesperson. I haven't made any of her recipes but coconut catfish can never be a bad thing.
Catfish has long been a secret weapon in my cooking arsenal. I stopped telling people which fish they were eating until after the initial "Really?!" This is usually followed by a request for the recipe. My version (cobbled together from various sources) starts by marinating it in beer (Dixie would be appropriate, don't you think?) for 30 minutes, dredge in flour, cracker or cornmeal spiked with Zatarain's or another seafood seasoning mix, lay fillets in a medium-hot greased pan top-down, flip about 3-4 minutes (depending on the size of your fillet). You end up with a lightly zingy crust that melts into a firm white fish that has just a little bit of tang from behind the bar. Dress it up with cheese grits and cucumber salad or down with corn sticks and fried okra. Guess which I suggest? For hardcore fans, this recipe from Soul Food and Southern Cooking is a good place to start.
Filed under: Ingredients