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Recipes and Stories

28 November 2012: Creamed Turkey on Toasted Dressing

Thanksgiving Dinner's Last Hurrah: Creamed Turkey over Toasted Dressing

This is how we polished off the last of the turkey and dressing in my house. Although it’s now too late for your Thanksgiving leftovers, it’s worth keeping on file, especially if you have turkey and dressing at Christmas. And if you should not have any leftover dressing, try it on waffles, biscuits, or just buttered toast. Read More 

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21 November 2012: Thanksgiving Lagniappe—Purefoy Cranberry Relish

Purefoy Cranberry Relish

If you’re getting down to the wire with Thanksgiving and don’t have time to make cranberry sauce, but still don’t want to open a can, here’s a quick and simple classic that requires no cooking. If you have a food processor handy, it comes together in five minutes flat—and will keep until Christmas if you keep it well-covered and refrigerated, and use only a clean silver or stainless steel spoon to dip into it. Read More 

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21 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving VIII—Damon Lee Talks Turkey (and Dressing)

Roasting a Turkey perfectly is no harder than roasting a chicken--it just takes longer

It’s now time to talk about the Thanksgiving cook’s central job: the turkey and dressing. If you haven’t tried to roast a turkey in a year (or have never done it) the first thing to do is 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 

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20 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving VII—The Pastry Cook

The elements of pastry are very simple: low-gluten pastry flour (a good all-purpose will do), a bit of salt, cold butter, an ounce of chilled lard (for tenderness), and ice water to bind it

You’ll notice that up till now there’s been no mention of pastry-making (which I’d normally be doing either today or tomorrow). Happily, thanks to the gentle art of delegation (also known as sweet-talking), someone else is making the pies and dinner rolls.

If, on the outside chance the pie-making still falls in your lap, today is not too soon to make the pastry,  Read More 

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19 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving VI—Tradition and Oysters

Lucy-Mama's Oysters

This morning my own stock pot came off the pantry shelf and I set to work cleaning and slicing carrots, celery, onions and gingerroot. Deciding to give the broth a little extra color and depth of flavor, I tossed my hoard of turkey wings and necks into a large roasting pan, lightly coated them with oil, and set them to roast in a hot oven (425° F. for about 45 minutes).

While that was going on,  Read More 

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18 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner V—The Perfect Mash

Perfect Mashed Potatoes, courtesy of the potato ricer

For some reason, Thanksgiving dinner tends to be a feast of starches: there’s that quintessential dressing/stuffing, yeast rolls, sweet potatoes, flour-thickened gravy, pastry, and often even cake. My own family also had baked macaroni and cheese. And just in case that’s not starch enough, many families throw in mashed potatoes. And what could be better? Fluffy, cloud-like, and meltingly tender, they’re the ultimate comfort on a fork. Read More 

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17 November 2012: Mastering Thankgiving Dinner IV--Cornbread and Dressing

Cornbread the way God Meant it to be: made with no sugar and baked in a cast iron skillet.

Today’s post is late because it’s my birthday, and is about dressing and cornbread because—it’s my birthday, and for this one day I can be personal and frank.

Whoever figured out how to recycle stale bread by seasoning it with herbs and spices, moistening it with broth, and then shoving it into a roasting fowl so that it slowly baked, basting itself in the juices from the bird while it rotated on the spit, is one of those thousands of unsung culinary giants that has been lost to history. But that the idea survives to this day is a testament to its sheer genius, and it’s a shame that they never got due credit. Read More 

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16 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner III

It doesn't look like much, but the contents of this pot make all the difference between a good Thanksgiving dinner and a great one.

Today, let’s talk about the foundation on which the entire Thanksgiving dinner will rest: broth.

The most neglected pot in far too many American kitchens is the stockpot. At Kitchenware Outfitters, the kitchenware store where I work and teach, we sell a respectable number of these pots, but inevitably the words “cooking pasta” or “spaghetti sauce” or “chili” or “stew” come up, accompanied by a lot of questions about other possible uses for this tall, relatively narrow pot. Read More 

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15 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner II

Cranberry Orange Conserve with Bourbon

Thanksgiving is just a week away. If you haven’t already started to plan, you need to know that time, as they say, is wasting. You aren’t in trouble yet, but you will be if you wait until next week to start planning and shopping.

Your three greatest weapons are good organization, the practical art of the make-ahead dish, and the fine art of delegation (also known as sweet talking someone into doing something for you). Read More 

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14 November 2012: Mastering Thanksgiving Dinner I

The Perfect Roasted Turkey is not hard to accomplish. Stay with me and learn! Photography by John Carrington

For the first time in more than a decade of writing for the Savannah Morning News, my November columns will have nothing to do with Thanksgiving. My friend Teri Bell (brave woman) has decided to take on the subject in her Miss Sophie feature.

You’d think I’d be happy:  Read More 

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4 November 2012: Trout with Rosemary, Ginger, and White Wine

To Boyle a Trout, or Poached Trout Steaks with Rosemary, Ginger, and White Wine. Photo by John Carrington, from Classical Southern Cooking
One of the amusing things about the today’s culinary community is its assumption (or should I say presumption?) that we, being smart, inventive, and modern, have made great strides over the cookery of our past, which was naïve, crude, and, well, just plain archaic and weird.

Someone is naïve, all right, but it’s not the cooks of the past.  Read More 
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30 October 2012: Autumn Apple Tart

A Simple Apple Tart

Now that we’re finally getting a little bit of a nip in the air, here’s another simple apple tart that is just the thing to warm and soothe.

The most important part of a good pie or tart is good pastry, which is fortunately a snap to make, especially if you own a food processor. Read More 

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22 October 2012: Roast Chicken

A simple roasted chicken is the very essence of autumn's kitchen
For the last two centuries, fried chicken has taken all the attention as the ultimate symbol of Southern cooking. Nothing else, except possibly barbecue, has hogged the limelight nearly so completely—and not without reason. When properly done, it’s one of the loveliest things in any cuisine’s repertory.

But fried chicken is—or, rather, should be—special occasion fare. For me, the simplest, and most satisfying, way of cooking a chicken is roasting, especially at this time of year: the aroma is the very essence of autumn’s kitchen. Read More 
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18 October 2012: Apple Pie Season

Gingered Apple Tart with Shortbread Crust, photographed by Timothy Hall
Surely one of the best fragrances of autumn is the heady aroma of the season’s first juicy, ripe apples baking in a pie. For many Americans, it’s the quintessential aroma of the season—the subtle smell of falling leaves and of toasting pecans, roasting turkey, and mulled cider all rolled into one. Read More 
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13 October 2012: History on the Egg I--The Big Green Egg as Brick Bread Oven

The Bread of our Forefathers, fresh from the Big Green Egg
When Kitchenware Outfitters, the kitchenware store where I have worked for the last six years, became a dealer for Big Green Egg, the ceramic outdoor cooker that was modeled on an ancient Asian technology, the historian in me was fascinated by the realization that these cookers performed much like another ancient technology: the open hearths and brick bread ovens of our ancestors here in the West. Read More 
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8 October 2012: Mushroom Soup

Thick, rich Mushroom Soup made with both fresh and dried mushrooms and broth, cream is only added as a garnish at the end

After my recent newspaper story on fall mushrooms, several correspondents asked about a good recipe for mushroom soup, since one wasn't included in the story. I went looking to see what might turn up in some the early American cookbooks in my collection, and to my surprise, found only this simple recipe in The Carolina Housewife: Read More 

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27 August 2012: American Ragù

American Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

If you are of a certain age, you remember it simmering for hours on the back of the stove, thick with tomatoes, redolent of garlic, oregano, and sometimes an adventurous splash of wine, filling the house with its rich aroma. It came to the table ladled thickly over a bed of fat, slightly overcooked spaghetti, dusted generously with grated cheese that came straight from a green can. Read More 

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25 August 2012: Annabella Hill’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions

Mrs. Hill's Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Sage Butter, 1867

25 August 2012: Annabella Hill’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions

While working on a story for a Labor Day backyard party, I kept coming across articles that were reaching (or should we say, stretching) for something new and different—and with very little real success. What they generally ended up with was the same old things with a different sauce slathered onto it.
 Read More 

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22 August 2012: Petti di Pollo al Forno

Ilda's "Petti di Pollo al Forno" has been a staple in my own kitchen for more than thirty years
It was 1978 and I was in Genoa, Italy, allegedly to study architecture. The truth, however, was that I spent far more time in the kitchen with Ilda, the Genovese woman who was our cook, than I did in studio—a fact that ought to have told me something, but that’s another story. Read More 
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11 August 2012: Cooking by Numbers

Linguine with Marcella's White Clam Sauce
A popular, trend-conscious food magazine recently published a piece proudly touted on its cover as “Our best 3-ingredient recipes ever!”

Humph.

Forgive me for sounding irritable, but it can’t be helped: I sound irritated because I am. The title alone was enough to annoy, but the recipes themselves—well!  Read More 
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9 August 2012: The Art of the Omelet

The Perfect French Omelet, where "butter and eggs go to be elevated to art."
On the eve of what would have been her 100th birthday, the indomitable, inimitable Julia Child has been on the minds of a lot American cooks, whether they knew her or not. There are many things that resonate with her memory, but for me, nothing speaks more plainly of everything that she taught and believed in than a classic French omelet. Read More 
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5 August 2012: Maharaja’s Burra Peg

Mahraja's Burra Peg, photographed by John Carrington

When the weather turns lethally hot in August, it will surprise no one who has ever been near Savannah to learn that a popular local prescription for relief is both old fashioned and alcoholic: the champagne cocktail. Though the popularity of these concoctions peaked in the 1940s and 50s, their roots go back at least to the late eighteenth century, when champagne punches were popularized by the likes of England’s Prince Regent George IV.  Read More 

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4 August 2012: More Summer Tomatoes

Young Green beans, which often go by their swanky French name, "haricots verts"--in fresh tomato sauce -- photography by John Carrington, from The Savannah Cookbook
While summer tomatoes are still at their peak, indeed, overflowing in some home gardens, here is another lovely thing to do with them.

I submit this in response to the persistent myth that Southerners historically had no subtlety with the vegetable pot: it comes from a late nineteenth century Savannah manuscript.  Read More 
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3 August 2012: Seafood-Stuffed Tomatoes

Savannah Seafood-Stuffed Tomatoes, from The Savannah Cookbook; photography by John Carrington
Fresh tomatoes, sweet shrimp, and delicate blue crab have a great affinity for one another, so it is no surprise to find any two of them combined in the pot wherever they all thrive, but especially in the tidewater regions of the Deep South. There’s Crab and Tomato Stew, Shrimp Creole, Shrimp and Tomato Pie, Seafood Gumbo—as many variations as there are coastal cooks. One of the loveliest and simplest ways of combining them, however, is when ripe tomatoes are used as a delicate casing for what amounts to a shellfish gratin. Read More 
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28 July 2012: Okra and Tomatoes

Classical Southern Okra and Tomatoes, with small, whole okra and fresh tomatoes
One of the great flavor combinations of a Southern summer is the masterful pairing of okra and tomatoes. This near perfect mating was not discovered down here, nor is it limited to our corner of the globe, but we’ve certainly laid claim to it and made it peculiarly our own.  Read More 
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20 July 2012: Yellow Crooknecks

A still life of yellow crookneck squash, being made ready for the pan. Photography by John Carrington
Summer squash is in the air (and, where the drought hasn’t struck, overflowing in the garden). When fellow culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump mentioned them in a recent short essay, it inspired a look back to the four doyennes of Southern cookery, and turned up three different ways of getting the similar results from Mary Randolph, Lettice Bryan, and Annabella Hill: Read More 
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16 July 2012: Pickled Shrimp

Savannah Pickled Shrimp, photographed by John Carrington, from The Savannah Cookbook
One of the distinctive flavors of a Lowcountry summer, and a fixture on almost every summer party table in Savannah, is pickled shrimp. Devised as a conserve that could be stored at room temperature, the original was literally a pickle, heavy with vinegar and spices, and its flavor was intense. Consequently, they were eaten as a relish or condiment—not as a cocktail hors d’oeuvres or main dish salad as they are nowadays. Read More 
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3 July 2012: Shrimp Creole

Traditional Shrimp Creole

Without a doubt, Shrimp Creole is one of the most neglected classics in the entire repertory of modern Southern cooking. Though a version of it can be found in almost every comprehensive anthology, and it still turns up on the menu of many Louisiana restaurants, it no longer has the respect that it deserves, and is treated as a hackneyed cliché, indeed, almost as an anachronism. Read More 

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29 June 2012: Pimiento Cheese

Perfection in a bowl: Pimiento Cheese with its essential ingredients. Photography by John Carrington Photography
If my childhood summers could be condensed into a single taste, that taste would be pimiento cheese. Not ice cream. Not fried chicken from a picnic basket. Not even a sun-warmed, ripe tomato from the garden. Just that simple and yet sublime duet of cheddar and pimiento peppers, held together with just enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable.  Read More 
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22 June 2012: Sherried Shrimp

Elizabeth Malone Smart's Sherried Shrimp, from the Savannah Cookbook, photographed in the Battersby-Hartridge House by John Carrington.
While researching material for The Savannah Cookbook, one hot, rainy late-June afternoon (the kind that makes Savannah’s pavements steam and its air take on the heavy, sticky quality that has earned summers here the nickname “hot mayonnaise season”), I found myself in the wide, double-drawing room of the handsome Greek Revival Battersby-Hartridge House. While the outdoors was steamy and damp, the room, with its generous windows, lofty ceilings, and many tall mirrors, was airy and cool. Read More 
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