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…)
March 31, 2015
It's not too early to set the table. Our Easter centerpiece for years has been a crystal bowl filled with alabaster eggs: They're always festive, and there's no worry that the flowers won't last or that they'll shed pollen all over the tablecloth.
If you haven’t already planned the menu, do it today. Think about things that not only stand up to being cooked ahead, but actually benefit from it.
March 26, 2015
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Fresh-cut asparagus is spring’s best compensations for hay fever.
Flowers are lovely and all very well, but they satisfy only two of our senses. Asparagus gets all five—even sound, if it’s not overcooked. And when it’s freshly cut (that is, only minutes from the bed), it needs absolutely nothing, not even butter. Strong flavors like ham, leeks, garlic, and even lemon can be paired with it only with care and restraint. (more…)
March 19, 2015
Chilled Strawberry Soup with Orange and just a touch of whipped cream for garnish
Now that strawberries are in season again, we’re constantly making use of them in the dessert bowl at the end the meal. But while they turn up all through the season in our cereal, salad, and snack bowls, we don’t often think of beginning the meal with them.
And yet, a cool, refreshing strawberry soup is a lovely and novel way to tease palates at the beginning of dinner, luncheon, or even brunch. (more…)
February 24, 2015
A Savannah Pineapple Charlotte, photographed by John Carrington for The Savannah Cookbook
My mother got a pineapple for Christmas. Even though canned pineapple and refrigerated shipping have made this fruit fairly commonplace these days, for Mama—and for us—that pineapple, with its prickly, tufted skin and vibrant crown of sword-like leaves still had an air of the exotic about it.
There was a time in my mother’s living memory when a fresh pineapple was a special treat and she has never let us take them for granted. (more…)
February 20, 2015
Broccoli Gratin, broccoli casserole as it was meant to be.
When I began working on my first book, Classical Southern Cooking, broccoli wasn’t thought of as an especially Southern vegetable. But what I found as I delved into the kitchens of our past was a different story. Broccoli had been growing in the South at least since the eighteenth century, and was included in all the old Southern cookbooks, beginning as early as Mary Randolph’s iconic Virginia House-wife in 1824 right through to Mrs. Dull in the twentieth century. (more…)