Recipes and Stories

29 January 2016: Pompano à la Palm Beach

January 29, 2016

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Florida Cooking, Florida Citrus, grapefruit, oranges, pompano, fish fillets

Pompano à la Palm Beach reflects the simple elegance of the old resort town's glory days
One of the great hallmarks of classic Florida cookery is the pairing of its celebrated citrus and abundant local fish. This was especially true in the old resort towns of the east coast, where the fruit began to come into season just as the wealthy snowbirds arrived to escape the harsh winters of the Northeast and play in the sunshine.

An especially lovely example is Sautéed Fish Fillets Palm Beach, which is really nothing more than an adaptation of a French classic, sole à la meunière (whole or filleted sole sautéed in clarified butter). (more…)

22 January 2016: Cleaning Day Beef Vegetable Stew

January 22, 2016

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

Cleaning Day Beef Stew: the Le Creuset enameled iron pot was the perfect thing for a slow, mostly unattended simmer
Cleaning out the cooking school kitchen at Kitchenware Outfitters, emptying the pantry of “what is THAT doing in here,” outdated samples, and small, unusable portions of condiments, pasta, curry paste, and so forth, dusting and reorganizing drawers, dish cupboards, and pot cabinets, is never my idea of a good time, but it has to be done periodically and the downtime before classes begin is the sensible time to do it.

And, truth to tell, there’s something cathartic about it that is really satisfying. (more…)

22 January 2016 Lazy Day Beef Stew

January 22, 2016

Tags: Beef Stew, Southern Cooking, Winter Cooking

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22 January 2016 Lazy Day Beef Stew

Blustery winter days like this one, when so much of the eastern seaboard is blanketed with snow, just call for a hearty stew that can fill the house with wonderful smells and fill those in the house with warmth and contentment. I published this stew last fall in a Savannah Morning News story, but it’s ideal for a lazy winter day and really does live up to its name, since there’s no browning and everything is mixed together all at once in the pot in which it cooks; the extra-low simmer makes it possible to add all the vegetables at once. Best of all, it can be made in the slow cooker or the oven. (more…)

13 January 2016: Finding Home by the Recipe V—Meet Carol Ann McCarter and Juanita Jackson at the Cozy Corner Café

January 13, 2016

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Juanita's Country Steak with Onion Gravy, Country-style Steak, Carol Ann McCarter, Juanita Jackson

Country steak with onion gravy: as Carol Ann would say, it's not terribly photogenic, but it IS terribly, terribly good!
The epicenter of Maple Grove’s business district (if one could presume to call their little Main Street a district) was the intersection where Elm and Sycamore Streets, the east-west corridor through town, met at Main, the shady divided avenue that ran north and south through the center of town. And on the southwest corner of this intersection was the town’s real heart, The Cozy Corner Café, known to everyone in town simply as “Carol Ann’s.” (more…)

12 January 2016: Sherried Grapefruit

January 12, 2016

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Florida Citrus, Grapefruit, Sherried Grapefruit, Winter Cooking

Sherried Grapefruit is old-fashioned elegance in a cup
For those of us who are a certain age, one of the most fragrant memories of Christmas during our childhood was the fat orange that bulged the toe of our Christmas stocking. To this day, the bright, pungent aroma that’s released when an orange is peeled whispers of all the good things about my Christmases past.

Frozen juice and year-round imports have dulled our appreciation for the seasonality of citrus fruit, and today’s children would probably feel cheated to find an orange in their stockings. (more…)

5 January 2016: A Twelfth Night Curry

January 5, 2016

Tags: Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day of Christmas, Curry, Classic English Cooking

Twelfth Night Curry: a lovely way to bring Christmas to a close and warm a chilly January evening
If you’ve already tucked away your Christmas decorations and started your annual new years’ diet, that’s too bad: you’re missing out on Christmastide’s last hurrah, because today is actually the twelfth and last day of Christmas, historically speaking one of the season’s biggest days for feasting.

Commonly known as Twelfth Night or the Eve of Epiphany, it’s one of the great winter holiday traditions that has been largely lost to most Americans (more…)

10 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe IV – Meet Dr. Mac

December 10, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Fettuccine with Sweet Peppers, Sandy "Dr. Mac" McMillan

Dr. Mac's Fettuccine with Sweet Peppers, which he learned to make from his Italian-American landlady while he was in medical school
10 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe IV – Meet Dr. Mac

When Charlie Bedford came back home to Maple Grove, to say he wasn’t a well man would’ve been a gross understatement. He was nervous, at least ten pounds underweight, and struggled with chronic nausea, joint pain, and exhaustion, never connecting that all these things might be symptoms of his biggest problem: depression. But when he fainted one night from not having eaten all day, he realized he had to stop hoping that his physical problems would just go away on their own and do something about them.

He knew that old Dr. Eliot, the physician who’d delivered him and seen him through childhood, had retired, but had no idea who’d taken over the practice. And so he also had no idea he was about to be reconnected with an old friend. (more…)

5 December 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe III – Meet Charlie Bedford

December 5, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Marion Bedford's Chili, Classic Southern Chili, Charlie Bedford

Marion Bedford's chili is just the old-fashioned Southern variety, mildly spicy and made with ground meat and beans. She always served with saltine crackers and grated old cheddar from Grover's Market, the little family grocery and butcher shop on Main Street in Maple Grove.
Best-selling children’s book author Charlie Bedford had many talents, but cooking was not among them. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate good food, it just didn’t matter enough for him to be bothered to actually make it. On the rare occasion that the sleek kitchen of his Manhattan apartment had seen any activity, it had been Val who’d done it.

Besides, there were more good restaurants within three blocks of his apartment than there had been within a thirty miles of Maple Grove, the sleepy village where he’d grown up. (more…)

3 December 2015: Ambrosia

December 3, 2015

Tags: Ambrosia, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking, Annabella Hill, Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book

Classic Ambrosia the way Mrs. Hill (and God) meant it to be.
799. Ambrosia—Is made by placing upon a glass stand or other deep vessel, alternate layers of grated cocoanut, oranges peeled and sliced round, and a pineapple sliced thin. Begin with the oranges, and use cocoanut last, spreading between each layer sifted loaf sugar. Sweeten the cocoanut milk, and pour over.

—Annabella Hill, Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book, 1867.

Ambrosia was the legendary food of the gods, and it’s an especially appropriate epithet for this luscious fruit salad. When well made, it is indeed heavenly. A traditional Christmas dish all over the South at least since the days of Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina Housewife (1847) (more…)

24 November 2015: Finding Home by the Recipe II – Meet Boyd Clayton

November 24, 2015

Tags: Finding Home, Recipes as Stories, Pan-Broiled Steak, Roasted New Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary, Boyd Clayton

Boyd's Steak is accompanied by roasted new potatoes with garlic and rosemary, a favorite of his daughter, Clara's, and the dish whose aroma restored Charlie Bedford's atrophied appetite
Chapter Two of Finding Home finds Charlie Bedford back in Maple Grove, the town where he had been born and raised. He’d not been home since his mother died three years before, and his sudden return naturally caused a buzz of excitement. After all, he was the closest thing to a celebrity that the little town had ever known.

But the buzz quickly turned ugly when Charlie walled himself up in his mother’s house and refused to open the door to anyone. Within a week, he’d been pronounced as crazy as a bedbug by everyone—with the lone exception of his childhood best friend, Boyd Clayton.

Everyone should have a friend like Boyd. He never gave up on anybody. (more…)