Recipes and Stories

16 June 2018: Summer Comfort Food and Ham Salad

June 16, 2018

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Summer Cooking, Summer Comfort Food, Ham Salad, Old-fashioned Ham Salad, Aging Palates, American Cooking

Old-Fashioned Ham Salad slathered thickly onto hearty bread
I’ve never been very interested in clever cooking. And the older I get, the less interested in it I become. I’m not talking about being genuinely and intelligently creative or inventive in the kitchen, but about the kind of cooking that’s more about being clever for the sake of novelty, and all too often at the expense of flavor.

If, when one sits down at the table, one is obliged to be cerebral and analytical about what’s in one’s mouth, or wade through a thicket of startling and even conflicting aromas and flavors that crowd one another out, quite frankly it gets completely in the way of any real pleasure.

In short, if I have to think over what’s in my mouth before I can decide whether I like it, in my opinion, the cook has failed at his job. (more…)

8 June 2018: Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad

June 8, 2018

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Chicken Salad, Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad, Historical Southern Cooking

Old Fashioned Southern-Style Chicken Salad, yes, with saltine crackers
We were just home from a quick trip to Charleston to catch up with my friend and mentor Nathalie Dupree and get in a couple of Spoleto concerts. It was midafternoon and we were tired and hungry. The refrigerator gave up a bit of leftover poached chicken and, because I’m Southern, there’s always mayonnaise and what the old cooks called “made mustard.” A quick survey turned up a nearly empty jar of bread-and-butter pickles that needed to be finished off, and while the celery was old and not very promising, there’s always onions in the pantry.

Sometimes, knowing when to leave well enough alone is a cook’s best asset. (more…)