Recipes and Stories

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…)

26 March 2015: Asparagus with Lemon-Pecan Brown Butter

March 26, 2015

Tags: Asparagus, Pecans, Lemons, Lemon-Pecan Brown Butter, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

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Fresh-cut asparagus is spring’s best compensations for hay fever.

Flowers are lovely and all very well, but they satisfy only two of our senses. Asparagus gets all five—even sound, if it’s not overcooked. And when it’s freshly cut (that is, only minutes from the bed), it needs absolutely nothing, not even butter. Strong flavors like ham, leeks, garlic, and even lemon can be paired with it only with care and restraint. (more…)

22 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner III—The Cranberries

November 22, 2014

Tags: Thanksgiving 2014, Thanksgiving Dinner, Cranberries, Cranberry Preserves, Classic American Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

A truly American berry for an all-American holiday, cranberries have been paired with turkey for at least four centuries.
On Thanksgiving day, practically every table across the country on which the centerpiece is our quintessentially American bird, one can almost take for granted that the turkey will be mated with another quintessentially American thing: cranberries.

And despite the hundreds, if not thousands of cranberry sauce, compote, chutney, and relish recipes that are presently cluttering the internet, most of those berries will be served straight out of a can, which is odd. (more…)

24 October 2014: Broiled Oysters on the Half Shell

October 24, 2014

Tags: Classic Southern Cooking, Broiled Oysters, Broiled Oysters Savannah, Oysters, Oyster Roasts, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Broiled Oysters Savannah
One of the best things about autumn on the Georgia and Carolina coast is that our briny-sweet oysters come into season. Though the old maxim about harvesting them only in months with an R is no longer really observed, savvy locals know that local oysters are at their best when the weather cools and they're past their summer spawning. (more…)

15 October 2014: Cheese Straws and Leaves

October 15, 2014

Tags: Southern Cheese Straws, Cheese Leaves, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Cheese Straws don't have to be extruded from a cookie press. Here they're cut with small seasonal cookie cutters into fall leaves.
Cheese straws and toasted pecans are to a Southern party what cards are to poker, a standard for any Southern hostess worth her iced tea. And yet, these crisp morsels often intimidate novices. They needn’t: once you grasp that they’re just a savory butter shortbread—one of the simplest of all cookies—they’re a snap to make. (more…)

23 September 2014: Welcoming Autumn

September 23, 2014

Tags: Autumnal Cooking, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking, Bacon, Shrimp, Shrimp Stew

Shrimp Stew with Bacon and Tomatoes, the perfect warm-up for welcoming Autumn in Savannah. Photography by Rich Burkhart
It doesn’t often happen, but the first day of autumn was met here in Savannah with a hint of genuine coolness in the air. It’s not quite chili, pot roast, and hearty stew weather, but the suggestion that it is on the way is an unexpected gift that’s not to be ignored. (more…)

10 September 2014: Fresh Black-Eyed Pea Ragout

September 10, 2014

Tags: Late Summer Cooking, Fresh Field Peas, Field Peas, Ragout, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Fresh Black-Eyed Pea Ragout over Rice: hearty enough to satisfy that early craving for heartier fare, but light enough for late summer's lingering heat
Every year by mid-August, the ancient pecan tree that canopies our back yard and dominates the view from my office window decides “okay, I’m over this” and starts shedding its leaves. By September, more than two thirds of its foliage has abandoned its branches and become a brown, crackling carpet underneath, creating a mocking illusion of autumn amid the stubbornly lingering heat and humidity of a Lowcountry late summer. (more…)

19 August 2014: Summer Squash Soup

August 19, 2014

Tags: Yellow Crookneck Squash, Squash Soup, Summer Squash, Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Summer Squash Soup with Sage and Thyme
Of all the produce of summer, nothing is as deeply entwined with memories of my childhood, mother, and grandmother, as yellow crookneck squash. Possibly one of the reasons that they stand out is because most of the things that came from my mother’s and grandfather’s gardens were cooked only one or, at best, two ways, but those sunny crooknecks knew no limits. (more…)

20 June 2014 For the First Day of Summer—Buttermilk Fried Chicken

June 20, 2014

Tags: Southern Fried Chicken, Essentials of Southern Cooking, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Cream Gravy, How to Cut Up a Chicken for Frying, Classic Southern Cooking, Chicken, Fried Chicken

Buttermilk Fried Chicken, photograph by John Carrington Photography
Since tomorrow (21 June) is the first day of summer, it seems like a good idea to visit one of the great icons of the Southern table—fried chicken. Surely no one would argue with that. But it has become so commonplace and universal that most of us, Southerners included, have completely forgotten that it was once a seasonal delicacy, something that could only be had in the spring and summer, the only time of year when very young, tender chickens could be found in the barnyard. (more…)

9 April 2014: Easter I, Classic Deviled Eggs

April 9, 2014

Tags: Easter, Easter Dinner, Deviled Eggs, Eggs, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Classic, Old-Fashioned Deviled Eggs, here garnished with capers and a light dusting of paprika
A recent poll on my social media author’s page confirmed something that any Southerner already knew: it isn’t Easter dinner down South if it doesn’t begin with deviled eggs. But it also gave away something I’ve long suspected: that the affection for these morsels has no geographical limits. They may come in and out of “fashion,” but they’ve never lost their front and center place on Easter’s table all across the country. (more…)

24 August 2013: Deviled Crab

August 24, 2013

Tags: Deviled Crab, Blue Crab, Crab, Lowcountry Cooking, Classical Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Deviled Crab, a Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry Classic
Crab cakes have become standard fare on Southern restaurant menus from Maryland to Louisiana, and one of the signature dishes of modern Southern cooking. They’re so popular that it seems petty to quibble over them. But as delectable as it can be (when well made), molding cooked crabmeat into a regular, round cake presents a delicate balancing act for the cook: keeping the binding breading to a minimum without having the cake fall apart in the frying pan. (more…)

30 July 2013: A Bowlful of Cherries and Cherry Pie

July 30, 2013

Tags: Cherries, Cherry Pie, Bourbon, Classical Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Bourbon Cherry Pie, from Essentials of Southern Cooking (fall 2013)
Cherries have been at their peak over the last couple of weeks and, this year, have been unusually sweet and juicy. Luckily, when they’re seasonal and at their best, their cost per pound is correspondingly at its lowest. And since they’re a favorite summer fruit in our house, there has almost always been a bowl of them on our kitchen table, ready for grabbing by the handful. (more…)