Recipes and Stories

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…)

11 February 2016: Lenten Restraint in the Kitchen—Baked Fish with Lemon and Crumbs

February 11, 2016

Tags: Lent, Lenten Cooking, Baked Fish, Bread Crumbs

Baked Fish simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon, and topped with nothing more than a little parsley and breadcrumbs tossed in olive oil. When the cooking is simple, it exposes every element and makes it important.
For most people, Lent, the ancient Christian season of penitence and atonement that began yesterday, is a time for giving up things – a bad habit or indulgence of some kind – most commonly, something that we love to eat or drink. It is also a time for curbing richness, which means giving up butter, cream, pastries, and desserts, and cutting back, if not altogether eliminating, the consumption of red meat.

This would not, therefore, seem to be a season for cooks.

And yet, it remains my favorite season for cooking. (more…)