Recipes and Stories

29 July 2017: Classic Shrimp Salad

July 29, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Savannah Cooking, Shrimp, Shrimp Salad, Coastal Southern Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking

Classic, Old-Fashioned Shrimp Salad, a simple quartet of fresh local shrimp, homemade mayonnaise, diced celery, and thinly-sliced scallions. It's comfort food for a steamy Lowcountry summer evening.
One of the great seaside dishes of summer in the Coastal South, whether that coast abuts the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico, is shrimp salad. It’s been commonplace in the South since the beginning of the twentieth century, but I’ve not found printed recipes for it that date back much further than the latter part of the nineteenth century. That said, the same basic recipe was used for fish and lobster salads as early as the 1830s and 40s, and along the coast, shrimp would almost certainly have been made into salad in the same way.

Those historical recipes were a simple triad of cooked shrimp, chopped celery, and homemade mayonnaise. That was it. And the basic recipe has changed very little: The most that sensible modern cooks add is a little onion. (more…)

6 July 2017: For National Fried Chicken Day—Granny Fowler’s Sunday Fried Chicken

July 6, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Granny Fowler, Chicken, Fried Chicken, National Fried Chicken Day

Granny's Fried Chicken was never this elegantly served, and this isn't perfect, but it's as close as I could get. Photograph by John Carrington Photography
Whenever I think of my Dad’s mother, known to us all as Granny Fowler, I inevitably start to crave fried chicken. My mother and maternal grandmother also made fried chicken that was very fine in its own way, but the one that we all (even Mama and MaMa) agreed was the best was Granny’s. (more…)

4 July 2017: Old-Fashioned American Potato Salad

July 4, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

For Independence Day, Old-Fashioned American Potato Salad
Because it's Independence Day and I'm missing my grandmother more than usual today, tonight's dinner includes the very old-fashioned American-style potato salad that MaMa always made, with celery, sweet onion, sweet pickles, hard-cooked eggs, and mayonnaise (she used Duke's) laced with a little yellow mustard for zip and color.

My grandmother diced the potatoes and then boiled them, but I've always boiled the potatoes whole, in their skins, to preserve their flavor and keep them from being sodden. (more…)

3 July 2017: Shrimp and Corn Pie, or Pudding

July 3, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Lowcountry Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking, Corn, Shrimp

A Lowcountry Shrimp and Corn Pie is a perfect supper dish for a warm summer evening, whether you're having company or just family around your table.
One of the loveliest mid-summer supper dishes of the Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry is a simple casserole known in these parts as shrimp and corn pie. Traditionally, almost any custard-based dish cooked in a shallow casserole is called a “pie” in Carolina and Georgia, just as our version of macaroni and cheese is known as macaroni pie, although a similar dish would be called a “pudding” in Virginia or other parts of the South.

Well, no matter what you call it, it’s one of the happiest pairings of two of our best summer staples: (more…)

30 June 2017: More Summer Salads

June 30, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Savannah Cooking, Chicken Salad, Chicken, Grapes, Almonds, St. Andrews Academy Cookbook, First Come, First Served . . . In Savannah, Jeannie Knight

Chicken Salad with Green Grapes and Almonds (because the pecans were in the freezer and the almonds were already toasted and ready to use)
About two-thirds of a left over roasted chicken, half a bag of green grapes languishing in the vegetable bin, and a new bundle of scallions. Add in a steaming afternoon in which cooking is out of the question. For most people, the logical sum of all that would’ve been chicken salad with grapes, a modern standard that has been enjoyed all over our country for more than thirty years.

Most people, that is, except for me. (more…)

29 June 2017: Classic Crab Salad

June 29, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Classic Savannah Cooking, Crab, Crab Salad, Summer Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking

Classic Crab Salad Served the the back shells. Photographed by John Carrington Photography
While lingering with friends at our table after dinner recently, the discussion turned (as it often does here in the South) to food. And as we began to share some Lowcountry specialties with a member of the party who’d recently moved to the South from New England, I was given a sharp reminder of how singular our experiences with food can be. (more…)

23 June 2017: Seafood Stuffed Tomatoes

June 22, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Savannah Cooking, Savannah, Classic Lowcountry Cooking, Stuffed Vegetables, Stuffed Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Shrimp, Crab, Seafood, Historical Cooking

Seafood-Stuffed Tomatoes, Photographed by John Carrington Photography
One of the many things that Southern cooks share with Italians, especially those along the Ligurian coast that’s known as the Italian Riviera, is a love for filling hollowed-out vegetables with a blend of their chopped pulp, stale bread crumbs, herbs and seasonings, and often some kind of chopped meat, poultry, or seafood.

Here in the Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, stuffed vegetables have long been a beloved part of our summer tables. Recipes for them date back well into the nineteenth century. (more…)

8 June 2017: Summer in a Bowl

June 8, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Classic Italian Cooking, Genovese Cooking, Ilda, Fruit Salad

Macedonia di Frutta all' Ilda, a lovely blend of summer fruit enhanced with Maraschino liqueur and a splash of rum.
One of the great compensations for (and means of relief from) summer’s heat is a fresh mixed fruit salad. It’s also one of the most versatile dishes of the season. Call it “cocktail” and open the meal with it; call it “salad” and serve it as the meal’s side dish or even centerpiece (all on its own or blended with cold seafood, poultry, or meat); call it “Macedonia,” “fruit cup,” or “compote” and it brings the meal to a delightful close.

Whatever we call it, and however we serve it, a fragrant bowl of well-mixed and chilled fruit is perfect warm-weather fare: it stimulates, satiates, and cools as nothing else can. It brings a ray of sunshine to a rainy day and soothing coolness to days when the sun’s rays become relentless. (more…)

30 May 2017: An Aging Palate, Wild Greens, and the Flavors of Youth

May 30, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Classic Italian Cooking, Genovese Cooking, M. F. K. Fisher, Aging Palates, Poke Sallet, Green Onions, Pasta

Fusilli (also called Rotini) with Wild Greens, Scallions, and Pine Nuts
In her later years, M. F. K. Fisher, the prominent mid-twentieth-century American essayist and food writer, once wrote poignantly of missing the ravenous, almost insatiable hunger of youth. Charmingly romantic to read in one’s twenties, it wasn’t so charming to reread years later, when that youthful hunger lingered and fought with a suddenly slowing metabolism of middle age. But there’s nothing charming or romantic about it when old age is staring one square in the face.

The problem is that, while our appetite and capacity may slow down with age, the curious cook’s palate doesn’t slow down with it. (more…)

23 May 2017: Of Sautéed Mushrooms and Pimiento Cheese

May 23, 2017

Tags: Mushrooms, Sauteed Mushrooms, Pimiento Cheese, Sauteing

Small white button mushrooms sauteed in butter
A gray, overcast day, a handful of small button mushrooms left over from styling a newspaper column illustration, a new block of very sharp cheddar, and a small jar of pimientos in the pantry: Probably those things will seem unlikely as an invitation to an afternoon of culinary nostalgia to anyone but me. But there it is. (more…)