Recipes and Stories

19 April 2016: Spring Simplicity and Salmon

April 19, 2016

Tags: Spring Cooking, Spring Salmon, Salmon, MaMa

Sautéed Salmon with Capers
Some of the most welcome sprouts of spring in my backyard are not the wild violets or bulb flowers, but a pair of wild poke sallet plants that have taken over two big terracotta pots by the back door stoop. Even if I didn’t love these greens, I’d still fertilize and nurture them: their bright new leaves bring a smile to my heart every day by reminding me of my grandmother. (more…)

29 March 2016: Macaroni and Ham Pie or Casserole

March 29, 2016

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Macaroni Pie, Ham, Ham and Macaroni Casserole

Ham and Macaroni Casserole, or, as it's often known in the South, "Macaroni Pie with Ham" is classic Southern Comfort food and a perfect way to refresh the leftover Easter ham.
One of the all-time great Southern comfort foods is a simple, homey casserole of elbow macaroni laced with grated sharp cheddar cheese and set in egg custard. Known both as “macaroni and cheese” and “macaroni pie,” they’re found all over the South, in some places topped with cracker or breadcrumbs, and in others simply with a sprinkling of grated cheese or a dusting of black pepper.

Sometimes, particularly after a holiday when the cook has a surplus of leftover ham, macaroni pie is studded with a cup or so of diced cooked ham. (more…)

26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter V—Asparagus alla Parmigiana

March 26, 2016

Tags: Make-Ahead Easter, Asparagus, Asparagus alla Parmigiana, Classic Italian Cooking

Blanched Asparagus, ready to be served with vinaigrette or made up in a classic gratin, asparagus alla parmigiana
You might think that fresh asparagus can’t be made ahead, but it can actually be prepped and blanched up to 3 days ahead and then all you have to do is serve it up cold with vinaigrette or make up in this lovely Parmigiani classic. (more…)

26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner IV—Butterflied Leg of Lamb

March 26, 2016

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

Roast Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Herbs, Garlic, and White Wine
If you’re doing a ham for Easter, you’re pretty much home free from here, but if you like to have lamb for the feast, as I do, you can’t cook it ahead unless you just want to have it cold on purpose.

Fortunately, a boned and butterflied leg cooks quickly with a minimum of last minute fuss. (more…)

26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter III—Classic Potato Gratin

March 26, 2016

Tags: Make-Ahead Easter, Classic Potato Gratin, Easter Dinner, Classic French Cooking

Classic French Potato Gratin with caramelized onions, cream, and Gruyere cheese
The classic French potato gratin with sliced potatoes, cream, and good cheese has been my Easter potato dish for years. The ingredients are simple, its preparation requires almost no skill on the part of the cook, and yet nothing is more elegant or satisfying to eat.

Best of all, it can be made today, and reheats beautifully. (more…)

26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner II

March 26, 2016

Tags: Make-Ahead Easter, Chocolate Pots De Crème, Dean Owens, Easter Dinner

Dean's Chocolate Pots de Creme, rich, luscious, and so easy it's almost embarrassing. Almost.
26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner II

Once I have the first course and dessert ready for a dinner or a cooking class, I feel as if I’m home free, so I always opt for a sweet that can be made well ahead. At Easter, that sweet has for the last twenty years has been these chocolate pots de crème, a specialty of my late friend Dean Owens, one of Savannah’s great wits and hosts.

Not only are they luscious, they can be made several days ahead, and are easy and quick: (more…)

25 March 2016: Make-Ahead Easter I, Carrot Puree

March 25, 2016

Tags: Easter, Easter Dinner, Carrot Puree, Make-Ahead, Classic French Cooking

Carrot Puree, a simple yet luscious beginning for Easter Dinner that can be made well ahead of time
My favorite beginning for Easter dinner, or, for that matter, any other spring celebration meal, is with a simple puree of fresh, spring carrots.

It’s so easy to make: though they were originally pureed by rubbing them through a wire mesh sieve, a process that took no particular skill but a fair amount of elbow-grease, if your kitchen is equipped with a blender, food processor, or that favorite modern chef’s tool, the hand blender, there’s nothing to it.

Best of all for the busy host, it can not only be made ahead, but is actually improved by it, (more…)

4 March 2016: Silence is Golden

March 4, 2016

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Simplicity in the kitchen, culinary noise, Classical Southern Cooking, Levis Holmes, Marcella Hazan

My grandfather's pot roast with onions: the rosemary here is merely a garnish for the platter. I learned the hard way that it didn't hurt the roast, but it didn't add a thing that was worth remembering.
We Americans seem to have become terrified of silence. We’ve deliberately surrounded ourselves with noise: whether it’s our own radios, sound systems, and televisions, or the ones in our stores, waiting rooms, and offices, there’s an unending soundtrack to our lives, numbingly underscored by a monotonous rhythmic thump.

Even when those other noises are missing (and, all too often, even when they’re not), we’re talking. Non-stop. Count on it: in any moment where complete silence is the order—a religious service, a funeral, the quiet contemplation of nature or art, that silence is always, always interrupted by the sharp hiss of a whisper.

Our need to fill the void permeates nearly everything we do, but it’s most troubling manifestation is in our kitchens. (more…)

26 February 2016: Finding Home by the Recipe VI—Meet Clara Elizabeth Clayton

February 26, 2016

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce, Boyd Clayton, Clara Elizabeth Clayton

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce, the favorite supper of Clara Elizabeth Clayton, Boyd Clayton's precocious daughter, showing that the Southern cooking is no longer just fried chicken, grits, and okra . . . if it ever was.
When Charlie Bedford came back to Maple Grove, the little town in the Carolina hill country where he’d grown up, hardly anyone recognized him. Sure, a portrait of him smiled out from the back cover all eight of his children’s books and he’d been in People magazine as “America’s favorite uncle”—twice. But the man who had locked himself up in his childhood home on Elm Street was nothing like the composed, handsome fellow in those carefully posed photographs.

What people saw—when, that is, they got a rare glimpse of him—was not a successful, award-winning writer, but an award-winning mess. Refusing all visitors and offers of food, he spent his days in self-imposed solitary confinement, grieving for a talent that, he was sure, had deserted him forever. (more…)

15 February 2016: Sunny-Side-Up

February 15, 2016

Tags: Eggs, American Fried Eggs, Sunny-Side-Up Eggs, Classic American Cooking, Classic French Cooking

Perfect Sunny-Side-Up Eggs are, like all simple cooking, a matter of finesse
Yesterday, a regular reader asked me to devote one of my newspaper columns to the proper way of cooking a sunny-side-up egg. My first reaction was that it’s a very simple process that even a big mouth like me could not stretch out into an entire newspaper story.

My second reaction was to recall that, like all simple things, a properly fried egg does take a little finesse—and finesse is a virtue that is far too often overlooked in the kitchen, especially when the process is a simple one.

Sunny-side up is actually just another name for the classic American-style fried egg. And the real secret to success with it lies in understanding that “fried,” in this instance, is a misleading moniker. (more…)