May 21, 2015
Hushpuppies at King's Barbecue in Petersburg, Virginia: not as light and delicate as my mother's, but does anything measure up to a Southerner's memories of Mama's cooking?
You know you’re south of the Mason Dixon line when there are hushpuppies in the bread basket—even when that basket is on the table of a barbecue joint.
Not that hushpuppies are common fare in barbecue joints: These addictive little morsels of fried cornbread are more usually paired with fried fish. But at King’s Barbecue in Petersburg, Virginia, hushpuppies are served right along with the biscuits. (more…)
May 8, 2015
Pan-fried Quail with Onion Pan Gravy as photographed by the great John Carrington for The Savannah Cookbook
When “la nouvelle cuisine” swept the culinary world in the latter part of the last century, roux-thickened pan gravy got shoved aside for sauces whose body was derived from reductions, purees, and butter liaisons. (They were really, by the way, nothing more than “la cuisine ancienne” rediscovered, but never mind.)
There was nothing wrong with those sauces—when we have the time to properly execute them and can serve them immediately, but there’s also nothing wrong with well-made pan gravy, especially for home cooks. (more…)
May 6, 2015
Cream Pan Gravy, the quintessential accompaniment for Southern fried chicken. Photography by John Carrington Photography.
The acquisition of a handsome antique gravy ladle has made my mind wander to one of the world’s oldest and greatest culinary inventions: pan gravy.
One of the most under-appreciated elements of any cuisine, but of Southern cooking especially, when well-made and carefully seasoned, pan gravy is also the best sauce imaginable. Rich with the browned essence of the food it will accompany, it enhances without smothering, and can partly redeem indifferent or accidentally over-done food. (more…)
May 5, 2015
A fruit fool is a simple but luscious way to take advantage of the season's berries
5 May 2015: A Fool for Strawberries
Strawberries, that fragrant, luscious herald of springtime, have always figured prominently on Southern tables—and earlier in the year than for most of the rest of the country. But by May, the season in Florida, which produces most of the country’s early fruit, is over, and while it will linger a few weeks longer in Northern Georgia, Carolina, and Virginia, it’s beginning to wind down across the South. (more…)
April 27, 2015
Bacon and Leek Frittata
Sundays are busy days in my house. We’re up and out to church early: Tim is the organist-choirmaster and I help with the food for coffee the hour after services. If I’m on the schedule at the store, I go there straight from church, which makes for a very long day. By evening, we’re both ready to be off our feet, preferably with a glass of wine in hand.
Sunday supper, then (especially on those work days), is usually a simple meal. (more…)
April 14, 2015
Braised Artichokes à la Creole
If most people were asked to make a list of typically Southern vegetables, artichokes would probably not even come to mind, let alone make it to the list. And yet, they’ve been growing in the South at least since the beginning of the eighteenth century, and recipes for them were given in a very off-hand way in all the early cookbooks from Mary Randolph through to Annabella Hill. Even Mrs. Dull included a recipe, with detailed directions for eating them, in her definitive 1928 book. (more…)
April 4, 2015
This Classic French Potato Gratin can not only be made ahead, it's even better warmed over, and can be dressed up with herbs or bits of country ham or prosciutto
This classic, easy-to-assemble French gratin has been the potato dish for my household’s Easter for years. The ingredients are simple, its preparation requires almost no real skill on the part of the cook, and yet nothing is elegant nor satisfying to eat.
Best of all, it can be made today, and reheats beautifully. (more…)
April 4, 2015
Boning and butterflying makes it possible to roast a leg lamb more quickly and evenly without the tending required of a bone-in joint
For the last couple of days, I’ve been looking longingly at this beautiful whole leg of lamb that I bought and wishing it could be left that way. I kept rehearsing the impossible: Surely there was some way I could miraculously roast it whole and still have Easter Dinner done shortly after we got home from church. Well, there really isn’t.
This morning, I finally took the thing out, took one last longing look at it, and said “Get over yourself and get this job done.” (more…)
April 2, 2015
Dean’s Blender Pots De Crème, here garnished with whipped cream, mint, and, because it was flavored with Grand Marnier, candied orange peel
If you’ve planned out your menu with some forethought for things that not only can but should be made in advance, and have stocked your refrigerator and pantry with all the ingredients except the really fragile perishables (that is, asparagus and herbs), you’re almost home free. (more…)
April 1, 2015
Spring Carrot Puree is a perfect make-ahead first course for Easter Dinner.
Once you have the menu fixed, today or tomorrow shop for the things that will keep: pantry staples, dairy products, the meat, potatoes, onions, and anything that you’ll need for the next make-ahead—in this case the soup.
My own menu: Puree of Spring Carrots, Butterflied Roast Leg of Lamb, Potato Gratin, Asparagus (the jury is still out on the sauce for this), and chocolate pots-de-crème. (more…)