Recipes and Stories

22 December 2018: Old-Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies

December 22, 2018

Tags: Christmas Baking, Christmas Cookies, Thumbprint Cookies, Holiday Baking, Classic Southern Cooking, Classic Southern Baking, Classic American Baking

Old-Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies
Once upon a time, I was very organized. Any holiday baking that I did would’ve been long ago planned out and done by now. But life, as the saying goes, has been too much with us lately, and other things have had to take precedence over it.

Moreover, with our grandchildren a full day’s drive away, and most of my friends and neighbors either watching waistlines or already inundated with treats, the only people here to eat Christmas cookies are the two of us. Now, two people and multiple tins of homemade Christmas cookies, cheese straws, and fruitcake is a deadly combination.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a few homemade treats in the house, and there’s always someone who’s holiday will be brightened by a gift of things we’ve made ourselves. (more…)

8 December 2017: MaMa’s Coconut Cake

December 8, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Classic Southern Baking, Classical Southern Cooking, MaMa, MaMa's Coconut Cake, Coconut Cake, Christmas Cooking, Christmas Baking, 1 2 3 4 Cake, Seven Minute Frosting, Coconut

MaMa's Coconut Cake (from Essentials of Southern Cooking, Lyons Press 2013/Licensed by Shutterstock)
Coconut cake is a traditional Christmas cake in the part of Carolina where I grew up, and both my grandmother’s made it, using basically the same recipe. But my maternal grandmother, known to us as “MaMa” (we pronounced it Maw-Maw) had a special touch that no one else could match.

Hers was one the most extraordinarily moist cakes I’ve ever had. The great secret for its moistness is also the reason it tasted more intensely of coconut than any other. (more…)

29 September 2017: Cornsticks and Memories of Marcella Hazan

September 29, 2017

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Cornbread, Cornsticks, Marcella Hazan, Classic Southern Baking, Taste

Freshly baked cornsticks: Hot, crunchy, and irresistible
“Taste.”

When I once asked the late Italian cooking doyenne Marcella Hazan what she felt was the most important thing in cooking, that was her immediate and emphatic answer.

Marcella died four years ago today, just a few months shy of her ninetieth birthday. When I reflect on her life as a teacher and sum what she taught us, it all comes down to that: Taste.

It may seem obvious and simplistic, but it’s all too often overlooked in our age of so-called culinary cleverness. It’s far too easy to get carried away with being “creative,” or with taking too much to heart the notion that we “eat first with our eyes,” and lose sight of the single most important thing: that moment when we lift our forks and the food meets with our tongues. (more…)