instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Recipes and Stories

4 April 2015 Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner IV

Boning and butterflying makes it possible to roast a leg lamb more quickly and evenly without the tending required of a bone-in joint

For the last couple of days, I’ve been looking longingly at this beautiful whole leg of lamb that I bought and wishing it could be left that way. I kept rehearsing the impossible: Surely there was some way I could miraculously roast it whole and still have Easter Dinner done shortly after we got home from church. Well, there really isn’t.

This morning, I finally took the thing out, took one last longing look at it, and said “Get over yourself and get this job done.” Read More 

Be the first to comment

4 April 2015: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter V

This Classic French Potato Gratin can not only be made ahead, it's even better warmed over, and can be dressed up with herbs or bits of country ham or prosciutto

This classic, easy-to-assemble French gratin has been the potato dish for my household’s Easter for years. The ingredients are simple, its preparation requires almost no real skill on the part of the cook, and yet nothing is elegant nor satisfying to eat.

Best of all, it can be made today, and reheats beautifully.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

2 April 2015: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner III

Dean’s Blender Pots De Crème, here garnished with whipped cream, mint, and, because it was flavored with Grand Marnier, candied orange peel

If you’ve planned out your menu with some forethought for things that not only can but should be made in advance, and have stocked your refrigerator and pantry with all the ingredients except the really fragile perishables (that is, asparagus and herbs), you’re almost home free. Read More 

1 Comments
Post a comment

1 April 2015 Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner II (No Fooling)

Spring Carrot Puree is a perfect make-ahead first course for Easter Dinner.

Once you have the menu fixed, today or tomorrow shop for the things that will keep: pantry staples, dairy products, the meat, potatoes, onions, and anything that you’ll need for the next make-ahead—in this case the soup.

My own menu: Puree of Spring Carrots, Butterflied Roast Leg of Lamb, Potato Gratin, Asparagus (the jury is still out on the sauce for this), and chocolate pots-de-crème. Read More 

Be the first to comment

31 March 2015: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner I

It's not too early to set the table. Our Easter centerpiece for years has been a crystal bowl filled with alabaster eggs: They're always festive, and there's no worry that the flowers won't last or that they'll shed pollen all over the tablecloth.

If you haven’t already planned the menu, do it today. Think about things that not only stand up to being cooked ahead, but actually benefit from it.
 Read More 

Be the first to comment

26 March 2015: Asparagus with Lemon-Pecan Brown Butter

The text you type here will appear directly below the image

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. Read More 

Be the first to comment

19 March 2015: Strawberry Soup

Chilled Strawberry Soup with Orange and just a touch of whipped cream for garnish

Now that strawberries are in season again, we’re constantly making use of them in the dessert bowl at the end the meal. But while they turn up all through the season in our cereal, salad, and snack bowls, we don’t often think of beginning the meal with them.

And yet, a cool, refreshing strawberry soup is a lovely and novel way to tease palates at the beginning of dinner, luncheon, or even brunch.  Read More 

Post a comment

24 February 2015: Pineapple Charlotte

A Savannah Pineapple Charlotte, photographed by John Carrington for The Savannah Cookbook

My mother got a pineapple for Christmas. Even though canned pineapple and refrigerated shipping have made this fruit fairly commonplace these days, for Mama—and for us—that pineapple, with its prickly, tufted skin and vibrant crown of sword-like leaves still had an air of the exotic about it.

There was a time in my mother’s living memory when a fresh pineapple was a special treat and she has never let us take them for granted. Read More 

Be the first to comment

20 February 2015: Broccoli in the Cold Season

Broccoli Gratin, broccoli casserole as it was meant to be.

When I began working on my first book, Classical Southern Cooking, broccoli wasn’t thought of as an especially Southern vegetable. But what I found as I delved into the kitchens of our past was a different story. Broccoli had been growing in the South at least since the eighteenth century, and was included in all the old Southern cookbooks, beginning as early as Mary Randolph’s iconic Virginia House-wife in 1824 right through to Mrs. Dull in the twentieth century. Read More 

Be the first to comment

14 February 2015: An Historical Romance

Blanc Manger (or blancmange) for two makes a lovely end for an amorous dinner for two

Why we set aside just one day to commemorate romance (and inadvertently bludgeon those who don’t have any in their lives), I do not know. But since we do, and many a lover will be trying to win (or at least please) the heart they crave by way of the stomach, here are a few thoughts on romance at the table on the Feast of St. Valentine. Read More 

Post a comment

10 February 2015: The Universal Cutlet

Breaded Cutlets made with Pork Tenderloin. Photography by John Carrington Photography

One of the great universal concepts in Western cookery is the breaded cutlet: a thin slice of meat, beaten thin both to make it uniform and to tenderize it, coated with dry bread crumbs, and fried to a delicate brown. Crackling crisp on the outside, tender and juicy inside, it’s arguably one of the most satisfying ways of giving flavor and panache to cheap and bland cuts of meat or poultry. Read More 

Post a comment

30 January 2015: Simplicity in the Cold Season

Penne with Broccoli and Scallions

30 January 2015: Simplicity in the Cold Season

A few days ago, I reflected on how the simple act of peeling and eating a perfectly ripe Clementine orange recalled the fact that the principles of good cooking and satisfying eating are founded less on creativity than on the virtues of balance, simplicity, and restraint.

That wasn’t to suggest that there’s no room for creativity in the kitchen;  Read More 

Be the first to comment

26 January 2015: The Undervalued Virtue of Restraint

A good cook meets an ingredient in peak condition, such as this perfectly ripened Clementine, with a sense of balance and restraint.

What we don’t add to the pot, Marcella Hazan frequently reminded us, is equally as important as what we do. While under-seasoning can make a dish fall short of its potential, it’s a failing that can still be corrected; there’s rarely any hope for a dish that has been over-seasoned or buried under a confusion of other flavors. Read More 

Be the first to comment

17 January 2015: Mama’s Sunday Pot Roast with Onions

My Mother's Sunday Pot Roast with Onions

Nothing recalls the Sunday mornings of my childhood quite like the aroma of onions and beef baking slowly in a pot roast. Read More 

Post a comment

20 December 2015: Sour Cream Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Sour Cream Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Photography by Richard Burkhart

A simple way to dress up and stretch a family meal for unexpected company during the holidays, or just make it seem a little more special for the home folks, is a bread basket filled with piping hot, freshly baked biscuits. They never fail to impress, and make everyone think you’ve gone to a lot more trouble than you really have.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

16 December 2014: Christmas Beef, alla Parmigiana

Here, I'm shaving Parmigiano-Reggiano over the layer of Prosciutto di Parma that covers the flattened beef. It's then rolled up like a jelly roll, tightly trussed, and braised in wine and cognac until medium-rare.

In my family, the fat turkey of Dickens’ immortal tale, A Christmas Carol, was always the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner table, even though we’d just had turkey at Thanksgiving. Usually, my grandfather also baked a fresh ham (not the cured pink meat we think of as “ham” now, but an uncured fresh haunch of pork), an old family tradition that had been passed down for generations before him, and is carried on by my younger brother to this day. Read More 

5 Comments
Post a comment

1 December 2014: Creamed Turkey on Toasted Dressing

A Quick Fix for Leftover Turkey and Dressing that I never tire of making or eating: Creamed Turkey on Toasted Dressing

Last night for supper we finished the last of the dressing and a big chunk of the leftover turkey with creamed turkey over pan-toasted slabs of dressing. For those with smaller households who said that most recipes for turkey leftovers just created another “leftover” problem because it made more than one person would eat, just make a smaller batch: it divides easily. Read More 

Be the first to comment

27 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving XII—The Gravy

Madeira Pan Gravy

It isn’t my job to tell you what kind of gravy to serve with your turkey. Whether or not you add wine to it, and whether you include the giblets and add chopped boiled eggs is up to you. My job is to show you how to make gravy that’s silky-smooth and delicious. You will need a roasting pan with a heavy enough bottom to withstand direct heat, a degreasing pitcher (fat separator), and a flat whisk. Read More 

Be the first to comment

26 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving X—The Art of the Biscuit

The secret to perfect biscuits is just like getting to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice, and making them for dressing is the perfect time to do it.

The other key ingredient in my family’s cornbread dressing is actually another kind of bread altogether: biscuits. They give the dressing body and help bind it together without having to add eggs, which can sometimes make dressing a bit heavy.

Unfortunately, few home cooks seem to make biscuits very often, which is too bad. Because once one gets the knack, they’re drop-dead easy, and serving forth a basket of delicate, piping hot biscuits never fails to impress company. They always think you’ve gone to a lot more trouble than you actually have. Read More 

Post a comment

26 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving IX—Cornbread for Dressing and Stuffing

Skillet Cornbread for dressing: the hardest part will be restraining yourself from eating it all before you can make the dressing!

Before tackling the stuffing or dressing, a quick word about tradition, with a word (and recipe) for one of the ingredients from my own tradition.

The wonderful thing about what you put into that savory bread pudding that accompanies your turkey, no matter what you put in it and whether you bake it in the bird or out of it, is that it’s one time that sticking to tradition will win for you every time. You really don’t have to think about it, analyze it, or reinvent it—you just make it and sit back and bask in the praise. Read More 

Be the first to comment

26 November 2014 Mastering Thanksgiving XI—Turkey and Dressing

The cornbread, biscuits, and seasonings all tossed toghether for the dressing, awaiting its moistening dose of rich broth

If all has gone well and you’ve done enough basic prep by tomorrow, your only really big job will be the turkey and dressing. If you haven’t tried to roast a turkey in a year (or have never done it), relax: a turkey roasts just like a chicken – it just takes longer. Allow plenty of time and remember that it doesn’t have to look like those magazine covers. Read More 

Be the first to comment

26 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving VIII—Turkey Down to the Wire

If you're worried that your turkey will still look like this when the company's coming through the door, relax: it won't. But you need to get moving now!

Until now, this series has been about planning ahead, doing ahead, and keeping calm. This installment, however, is for those of you who have, until now, done none of that, either because cooking the dinner was not supposed to be your worry or because you’re a world-class procrastinator.

It doesn’t matter why you’re not prepared, and the purpose of this is not to shame or judge you.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

25 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving VII—The Oysters

Lucy-Mama's Oysters, finished as Ruth does them in individual scallop shells.

One of the lovely things about Thanksgiving dinner is the way family traditions are perpetuated from generation to generation as we gather around that common table. Even lovelier is the way other traditions get adopted and shared as people come into our family and as we get absorbed into theirs, sometimes through legal ties but more often just because we love one another. Read More 

Be the first to comment

24 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving VI—Traditional Pumpkin Pie

All American Pumpkin Custard Pie

Now that we’ve established that I take an ecumenical approach to the traditional sweet potato and pumpkin custard pies on Thanksgiving’s dessert board, and have shared my grandmother’s recipe for the former, here’s how she made the latter.

It’s just a standard pumpkin custard without frills or “reinvention,” varying from most other American recipes only in detail.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

24 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving V—MaMa’s Sweet Potato Custard Pies

My grandmother's Sweet Potato Custard, a holiday essential in our family for at least four generations

I am not entering into the argument over whether pumpkin pie is a Yankee thing and sweet potato is a Southern one. My grandmother always served both at Thanksgiving, and both sweet potato and pumpkin pie (they were sometimes just called “custard”) were included in one of our earliest published records of Southern Cooking, Mary Randolph’s classic The Virginia House-Wife (1824), and both were included in most every antebellum Southern cookbook that followed, from Lettice Bryan’s Kentucky Housewife (1839) through Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book (1867). Read More 

Post a comment

23 November 2014 Mastering Thanksgiving IV—The Pastry Cook

More than half the battle in perfecting the Thanksgiving pies, whether they are sweet potato (shown here), pumpkin or pecan, is a flaky, made-from-scratch pastry

Never mind the arguments over whether the pie should be pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan or not pie at all, but cheesecake: the easiest way to deal with whatever you’ve planned for the grand finale is to sweet talk someone else into doing it. However, if you’ve not done that (or you’re the person who got sweet-talked), and are contemplating a ready-made pastry, know that the difference between a memorable pie and a merely good one is the crust. Read More 

Be the first to comment

22 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner III—The Cranberries

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. Read More 

Be the first to comment

21 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner II—The Broth

Since I've not yet made my own broth, this is a picture of last year's stockpot. Let's face it: broth isn't terribly photogenic while it's in the making, but at Thanksgiving, it's the difference between a good dinner and a great one.

One of the most essential elements of Thanksgiving dinner, the one on which the rest of the meal rests, is the one that is the most often neglected: the broth. Each year, of the big packaged broth companies hawks its chicken broth with a warm, fuzzy thing about how caring cooks who love the process always rely on packaged broth to boost the flavor of their best dishes. Read More 

Post a comment

20 November 2014 Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner I

Thanksgiving may be a week away, but that's not as much time as you think: if you don’t already have a plan in place, it’s time to stop daydreaming over those picture-perfect magazine table-settings and turkeys and get real.

As you begin to plan, be aware that your three greatest weapons are good organization, the make-ahead dish, and the fine art of delegation (also known as sweet talking someone into doing something for you), but at the risk of sounding scriptural, the greatest of these is organization. Read More 

Be the first to comment

11 November 2014: Poached Eggs and Entertaining Without a Turkey

Eggs Savannah don't have to be confined to the brunch table

Before we launch into preparation for that all-consuming late-November cooks’ holiday (you know the one with the big bird in the middle of the table), here’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to entertain in November.

Even if the only entertaining you are, excuse the expression, entertaining is that weekend, say you’re having friends and family staying over during the holiday, you’re going to need something other than an oversized bird to keep them happy. Read More 

Be the first to comment