April 18, 2014
Classic French pommes de terre gratinée (potato gratin)
Regardless of whether you choose lamb or ham (or neither—or both) for your Easter feast, nothing will make the dinner seem quite as special as will this classic French gratin. The ingredients are simple and few, and the preparation requires almost no real skill on the part of the cook, but you will not finding anything more elegant and yet elementally satisfying to eat. (more…)
April 17, 2014
Boned and butterflied leg of lamb, roasted with thyme and oregano
For many Americans, Southerners in particular, the centerpiece of the Easter feast must be a fat, pink ham. Why and how ham came into this role is lost in time. The older, and more easily understood tradition, is lamb.
The ancient sacrificial lamb of the Passover came to be associated directly with the Christ’s sacrifice at the Crucifixion (“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.”), and in the early church, roast lamb was at the heart of the Easter feast. (more…)
April 14, 2014
Spring Puree, in this case made with fresh young carrots.
One of the nicest ways of beginning an Easter dinner (or any other spring celebration meal) is an old-fashioned French puree. These are not the thick, mashed-potato like “purees” that have become so fashionable lately, but fresh vegetable soups that have been pulverized to a suave, elegant cream.
Not only do purees show off the fresh, full flavors of the season’s produce, they adapt beautifully to the unpredictability of the weather, being equally as good cold as hot. (more…)
April 9, 2014
Classic, Old-Fashioned Deviled Eggs, here garnished with capers and a light dusting of paprika
A recent poll on my social media author’s page confirmed something that any Southerner already knew: it isn’t Easter dinner down South if it doesn’t begin with deviled eggs. But it also gave away something I’ve long suspected: that the affection for these morsels has no geographical limits. They may come in and out of “fashion,” but they’ve never lost their front and center place on Easter’s table all across the country. (more…)
April 8, 2014
Baked Beets, cooked whole and simply split and buttered while still hot
“Beets have a finer flavor baked than boiled; it requires longer time to cook them this way.”
— Annabella Hill, Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book, 1867
Here’s an odd and suggestive historical puzzle: many nineteenth century American cookbook authors agreed with Mrs. Hill, conceding that beets taste best when they are baked whole rather than boiled. And yet, not one of them, Mrs. Hill included, provided directions for doing it. (more…)
March 31, 2014
Butter-Braised Whole Spring Rainbow Carrots
Most of the nineteenth century cookbook authors treated all root vegetables the same way: scrubbed them well, trimmed, and sometimes “scraped them nicely” (that is, peeled them), boiled them in abundant salted water, and then dressed them with salt and butter. So long as the roots are not overcooked, it’s still a fine way to cook them. (more…)
March 29, 2014
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Here on the coastal plain of Georgia, spring carrots have been turning up at the farmers’ market for a couple of months, but it is now that they’re really hitting their prime. Friend Relinda Walker, the proprietress of Walker Farms, grows both the usual orange and colorful rainbow varieties of sweet young carrots. Laid out with their bright, fresh greens still attached, they’re as beautiful to look at as any bouquet of flowers you can imagine. (more…)
March 4, 2014
Baked Fish with Potatoes and Onions, an old Southern dish that bears striking resemblance to the cooking of Liguria, is just the thing to begin a Lenten discipline in your kitchen. Photograph by John Carrington Photography
Mae West, the sultry comic who made a career of poking fun at the straight-laced mores of her day, once approached a priest with her signature line, “So, Father, why don’cha come up sometime—and see me?” Thinking to get the better of her, he quipped, “Miss West, I’d love to, but it’s Lent.” Giving him a sidewise glance, she murmured, “oh, yeah? Well, when ya get it back, come on up!” (more…)
February 26, 2014
Skillet Cornbread the way God meant it to be: naturally sugar-free.
I don’t know what you’re doing on this late February day, but it cannot be better than what I’ve been doing: sipping piping hot double-concentrated homemade beef broth while laughing and crying my way through Julia Reed’s new masterpiece, But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!
This morning dawned cold, wet, and gray in Savannah and I’ve been taking advantage of a rare day on my own to put a batch of said beef broth through one last simmer while reading Julia’s delicious prose as background for a newspaper story. (more…)
December 24, 2013
Buttery oyster stew is not particularly photogenic, but it's awfully good to eat. Don't neglect to use plenty of butter: this is celebration food, for goodness sakes!
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Nothing stirs memories of the Christmases of my childhood more lucidly than Doris Day singing “Silver Bells.” Yet the memories conjured have nothing to do with city sidewalks, but of the rolling, red-clay fields and pastures of Grassy Pond, the farm community where we lived until I was ten.
There wasn’t one single silver bell, red and green blinking street light, or rushing shopper for miles. (more…)