Recipes and Stories

26 January 2018: In Defense Southern Cooking, Part II

January 27, 2018

Tags: Southern Cooking, Defining Southern Cooking, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking, Regional Southern Cooking, In Defense of Southern Cooking

Country fried steak with onion gravy as it’s done in my kitchen and was done in my grandmothers’ kitchens. The variations on this dish across the South’s many cuisines are staggering.
Beginning to Define the Cuisine(s) or, the Tip of the Iceberg

The most useful fact to know in attempting to define Southern cooking is the same one Marcella Hazan addressed of her own native cooking in The Classic Italian Cook Book: “The first useful thing to know about Italian cooking is that, as such, it actually doesn’t exist.”

She goes on to explain that cooking in Italy varies from region to region and from town to town within those regions, so “Italian cooking” isn’t a single cuisine, but a collection of many.

Likewise, the most useful thing to know about Southern Cooking “is that, as such, it actually doesn’t exist.” As is true for Italian cooking, it also is not, and never has been, a single, homogenous cuisine. (more…)

12 January 2018: In Defense of Southern Cooking, Part I

January 12, 2018

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Classic American Cooking, Collards, Techniques and Flavors of Classic Southern Cooking, Classical Southern Cooking, In Defense of Southern Cooking

Fresh Collard Greens
One day around the new year, when pots of collards and field peas were simmering away in so many Southern kitchens, a discussion arose among some of my colleagues about the frequency with which collards seemed to be turning up on so many so-called “new” Southern restaurant menus, and of how these greens were mostly being used and presented in ways that had nothing to do with Southern cooking.

The nicest thing one could say of most of these misbegotten things is that they’re bewildering. (more…)

6 January 2018: Fish Fillets Baked with Orange, Ginger, and Sherry

January 6, 2018

Tags: Christmas Entertaining, Christmastide, Holiday Cooking, Epiphany, Feast of the Epiphany, Twelfth Night, Fish, Baked Fish, Grouper, Sea Trout, Sea Bass, Fish, Fish Fillets

Fish Baked with Orange, Lemon, Ginger, and Sherry and finished with a butter sauce made from the cooking juices
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Wise Men to the Christ Child. It marks the end of the twelve days of Christmastide and, since the wise men arrived bearing gifts, is in some traditions the day that presents are exchanged.

Where Christmas day is considered the first of those twelve days, the Eve of Epiphany (January 5) is when “Twelfth Night,” the last hurrah of Christmas, is celebrated, but where the twelve days begin on the day following December 25, the twelfth day is actually feast of the Epiphany.

Since I didn’t grow up in either tradition, we’ve sort of made up our own in our house, and will celebrate our Twelfth Night this evening. (more…)