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Two Cookbook Discoveries for the Southern Chef or Home Cook

12 Feb

The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

“A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious American Dishes”

“Cast iron cookery IS American cuisine, and Lodge IS cast iron. Therefore, Lodge IS American cuisine.”  These are the wise words indeed from Food Network’s culinary brainiac, Alton Brown. Esquire magazine listed Lodge Cast Iron Cookware in their 2009 list of “Things a Man Should Own.” And, honestly, who are we to argue with that kind of sage advice? I would like to add that if Lodge knows how to create world-class cookware, then surely they must know a great deal about cooking in the dark, heavy vessels they have created for many, many decades. Right??? Of course!

Some of the recipes unveiled here are contributed by the likes of Southern writer and humorist Julia Reed and noted Oxford, MS chef John Currence, but most come from home cooks and Lodge family members/employees. All in all, you will find over 200 recipes in this must-have volume. Joseph Lodge, who founded the company in South Pittsburg, TN way back in 1896, would truly be proud.

I especially appreciated the Cast Iron 101 chapter — this addresses the intimidation factor for newcomers to this style of rustic cooking. There’s also a chapter devoted just to cornbread (South Pittsburg hosts a Cornbread Fest each year) and another focusing entirely on outdoor cooking. Notable recipes included here are Hannah’s Apple Pancake, Southern Greens Soup, McNew’s Okra Stew, Brunswick Stew, and Savannah Red Rice. Lands outside of Dixie are also represented with Lyonnaise Potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie, Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa, and many more.

My favorite recipe name in the book?

That’s easy.

It is the “This Ain’t No Yankee Cornbread.”  

***Inside the book you will find***

  • Over 200 delicious, classic recipes all made in cast-iron
  • Over 200 big, beautiful four-color photos
  • Cast Iron Memories—historical and allegorical sidebars highlighting cast-iron recipe memories from cooks around the country
  • Crazy for Cast Iron—covers all things cast-iron from the history of Lodge Manufacturing to types of pots and pans, care of cast-iron, basics of outdoor cookery, what NOT to cook in cast-iron, and how to renew neglected hand-me-down pan
  • Stand-alone sidebars such as How to Make a Roux and Basics of Campfire Cooking

GLASS ONION CLASSICS – “RECIPES FROM A SOUTHERN RESTAURANT”

The Glass Onion is a popular eatery in Charleston, SC. Their simple, yet delicious Lowcountry cuisine has generated a good deal of buzz and a faithful following in that amazing part of the world. The restaurant opened in 2008, but it took them until 2011 to publish a compilation of some of their most popular recipes. The theme here is “delicious Southern food inspired by local, all-natural ingredients.” A great concept, for certain. Yet it is a concept that is rarely executed with the consistency or the care delivered by the hard-working staff of the Glass Onion.

The Beatles’ song “Glass Onion” was said to be about the handle on a coffin. And you’ll be dying to dine at the Glass Onion after getting a load of these tasty, yet simple to prepare recipes. Jennie Ruth’s Deviled Eggs, Papa’s Oyster Stew, Anne’s Grillades and Grits, Sea Island Red Peas, Sarah’s Red Velvet Pound Cake. It all sounds terrific — and terrifically Southern. But just when you think you can pidgeonhole these guys, they toss a recipe like Chuck’s Italian Sausage Ragout at ya. Most of the recipes have only a handful of fresh, easily sourced ingredients. That simply means that you will not pull your hair out while shopping for or executing these winning, cook friendly recipes.

This cookbook is a self-published effort and it has a nice, church cookbook kind of DIY charm to it. We also enjoyed the short vignettes about the Glass Onion’s vendors including old compadres like Anson Mills’ grains and Benton’s Country Hams & Bacon. So when in Charleston, join them for a memorable meal. Until then, enjoy this thoughtful cookbook.

Lodge Manufacturing Co. – South Pittsburg, TN;  www.lodgemfg.com

Glass Onion – 1219 Savannah Hwy., Charleston, SC; www.ilovetheglassonion.com

“Bay Appetit” Cookbook – The Best of 40 Years of Lower Alabama Dishes

18 Dec

Mobile Bay Monthly is a great local magazine we enjoy here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The publication has been around 40 years now. Each month, they include a handful of recipes — many of them cherished kitchen secrets from the pantries of some of the area’s  most prominent families. As you might guess, local seafood and produce get more than their fair share of attention.

Just look at the names of some of the recipes: Beth Majure’s Spectacular Shrimp Dip, Tillye Semple’s South Alabama Caviar, Miss Marietta’s Cheese Wafers, Miss Ippy’s Divine Crab Salad, Maw Maw’s Honey Nut Zucchini Bread, Mama Nolen’s Cornbread Dressing. Southern? You better believe it, y’all!

This sturdy, spiral bound volume also includes lots of appetizing, full-color photography. It is priced at $24.95 and is available while supplies last via PMT Publishing out of Mobile. The cookbook is a tasteful last minute Christmas gift idea, but we suggest you move quickly. Culinary treasures like this deserve a place on the bookshelf of any serious Southern home cook.

From front porch rockers, we look out onto the water. From back porch swings, we see lush woodlands and farmland. So it’s really no secret where the fresh bounty of food on our plates comes from. Combine that local cuisine and picturesque scenery with people who love good food and good times, and welcome to life on Mobile Bay. 

When you have fresh seafood and wild game from your sportsman and Mama’s silver and Grandmama’s china at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you become a down-right fabulous cook and entertainer? You’ve probably even come from a long line of great cooks, so maybe it’s in your genes. We may be blessed with the finest ingredients and rich culinary heritage, but credit still goes to the one who sweats over the stove.

And now, in these pages, you have the legendary local recipes to even impress kitchen queen Aunt CeCe.

If you are already an established cooking guru, then you’ll find this book to be longtime favorites in an organized fashion. If you’re still working your way there, then this book might be your new culinary bible. For the latter, let’s be honest, cooking for a Lower Alabama crowd might seem intimidating. After all, either we have set high standards ourselves, or they’ve been set for us. So while living up to them may seem daunting, take heart, you now have the ultimate local reference book.

With it, you’ll always be equipped for the unexpected: drop-in guests, the death of friends or family and the supper club sign-up sheet. All require you to show up with a dish in hand. (Note: The Divine Casserole has been on the supper club circuit since the 1960s, so it’s a sure bet.) Between Miss Marietta’s Cheese Wafers and Martelle Scott’s Famous Cheese Straws, you’re bound to get off on the right foot. And although there have been many variations, the one and only Tillie Delchamps’ Pickled Shrimp is fabled.

Favorite Mobile restaurants, like The Pillars, Weichman’s All Seasons and Gus’ may have closed their doors, but their recipes and locals’ memories of them live on. The chefs and restaurateurs shared some of their most popular dishes during their hey-days, and we love to reminisce – even if it’s through our taste buds.

While we consider all of these recipes winners, some have actually taken home ribbons. Chili cook-offs, grilling championships and shrimp cook-offs have long brought out competitive sides — and delicious food.

Speaking of competition, we Southerners love a good football game, and the tailgate grub almost as much. Fall football leads right into hunting season, and you’ll know just what to do with that bird thanks to our wild game recipes. People around here love to bring sophistication to “hunting camps” and “farms.”

Regardless of where you’re dining or what season it is, seafood is on the menu, even more so as the warm breezes of spring and summer start to blow in. And, our meals always have a sweet finish. We never skip dessert. Have you seen this section? Why would you want to miss out on all of those sugary cakes and
decadent confections?

These tried-and-true hand-me-downs are sure to please! But if, for some unforeseen reason, something goes wrong, don’t fret. The worst they will say is, “Well, bless her heart.” Besides, there’s always more eatin’ and entertainin’ to be done tomorrow. Above all, have a good time, even if that requires referring to the beverage section to get started.    

Order Yours Today - https://www.mobilebaymag.com/Mobile-Bay/Books

Chef John Besh Visits Fairhope, Alabama to Promote New Cookbook, “My Family Table”

10 Dec

Chef John Besh has made quite a name for himself here along the Gulf Coast. His culinary empire is based out of New Orleans, yet he is truly all over the globe these days. One day you see him as a judge on Top Chef, the next you might spot him on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, then you see him whipping up something tasty on NBC’s Today Show. When not appearing on TV or running his nine (yes, NINE!) acclaimed restaurants, Besh somehow finds time to re-connect with his family and knock out a few cookbooks. They may have successfully cloned this guy — I can’t be sure.  

Besh’s latest cookbook project is a marriage of his love for food and family. It’s titled “My Family Table … A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking.” We can totally relate to this sentiment around our household. Sure, we still love to dine out. But it is increasingly difficult to find a quality meal at a fair price. A meal out for a family of 4 can put a pretty sizeable dent in the old family grocery budget.

This “coffee table” book is well-over 250 pages and features some truly beautiful photography. The publisher (Andrews McMeel) should be quite pleased with the end result. It is a terrific collection of recipes and a fine Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for foodie on your shopping list. The book retails for $35.

We recently met Chef Besh and his wife at Page & Palette in our current hometown of Fairhope, AL. He was kind enough to sign our copy, which will surely become a staple in our already massive home collection of Southern-themed cookbooks. Besh, a former US Marine, reveals some of his favorite Louisiana products/ingredients. No secrets here, friends. He loves Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup, but who doesn’t? Some more surprising items found in his home pantry include Virgin Pecan Oil, Hoisin Sauce, Coconut Milk, and Sambal Paste. Yup, his kitchen mastery and tastes certainly extend beyond the bayous of his beloved home state of Louisiana.

The 140 recipes included here, much like Besh himself, bounce all over the map. Risotto, Fruit Crumble,  Couscous, Pork Shoulder, Ratatouille, Coq Au Vin, Corn Pudding, Chili, and Beef Noodle Bowls. Dishes sampled at the book signing were a Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Jambalaya, and a Seafood Dressing. The Bird’s Nest Potatoes look simple, but delicious. Let’s call the overall theme of this volume Cajun/Asian with the common denominators being big flavor with a little bit of heat. The Creamy Lentil Soup (laced with diced bacon) would surely hit the spot on a cold winter’s day.

There are desserts too. Don’t miss the Lemon-Blackberry Cheesecake. The full page, full color image of this creation will have you drooling, for sure. The Bananas Flambe, an obvious nod to his love of New Orleans, is fueled with dark rum and accented with orange zest, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg. The execution of this dish is not for amateurs, but it will surely draw oooo’s and ahhhh’s at your next dinner party.

John Besh and his wife Jenifer love Fairhope. They made that clear during our brief but enjoyable chat. We, in turn, appreciate them making time to slow down and enjoy our little piece of heaven. Talk radio host Glenn Beck recently said visiting Fairhope was a little like being on the set of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is indeed a life full of wonder. And John Besh wants you to make it even more wonderful by focusing on family and hearty home cooked meals. And, as Paul McCartney once sang, “What’s wrong with that?”

www.chefjohnbesh.com

www.andrewsmcmeel.com

Chef Rick McDaniel Authors “An Irresistible History of Southern Food”

28 May

Chef Rick McDaniel is a good friend and quite the authority on Southern eats. Check this book out if you love all things related to Dixie-style grub and folklore. You might learn something and pick up some classic, tried-and-true recipes to boot. Now I don’t see any harm in that, do you??? Buy it today at Amazon.com (see the convenient link found below).

The South has always been celebrated for its food—a delectable blend of ingredients and cooking techniques connected to the region’s rich soil and bountiful waters. And oftentimes what makes a recipe Southern is as much a state of mind as it is a matter of geography—Southerners simply decide a particular food is Southern, and that’s that.

From the earliest days of settlement, when colonists struggled to survive on a diet of dogs, cats, rats and poisonous snakes, to an era defined by sumptuous dining that blended European, Native American and African cuisines, Southern food truly stems from a unique tradition.

Respected Southern food historian and chef Rick McDaniel explores the history of over 150 recipes, from Maryland stuffed ham to South Carolina chicken bog to New Orleans shrimp Creole, without forgetting the meal’s crowning glory: dessert.

www.chefrick.com

www.historypress.net

http://www.amazon.com/Irresistible-History-Southern-Food-Black-Eyed/dp/1609491939/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306601848&sr=1-1

Gulf Coast Foodways Organziation is Officially Unveiled

24 Mar

 

Gulf Coast Foodways is a new community of foodies on a mission to preserve and promote the rich culinary culture along the US Gulf Coast through education, events, documentaries, seminars and more. Gulf Coast Foodways will be a member driven organization and we’re currently looking for charter members and sponsors.

How exactly are we going to do all of this, you ask?  Through the development of thematic maps and tours, we can drive food tourism to our region. Through video documentation, we can capture and show off the unique culinary culture of our coast.  Cookbooks and published compilations of local food writings and treasured family recipes will draw attention to the traditional foodways of our area. 

We plan to hold periodic meetings for members to make connections and network. These events will include guest speakers on local topics and you can always count on a good meal or two along the way. Our annual symposium weekend is now in the initial planning stage.  Hotel and restaurant industry members will always benefit from the trails, meetings, and symposiums.

We’d like for you to play a key role in the creation of this tasty “gumbo.” 

 Your annual membership or sponsorship will:

 *Help finance research projects

*Promote food-related businesses along the Gulf Coast

*Document local traditions & businesses preserving them

*Promote and grow food tourism along the Gulf Coast

*Underwrite any necessary administrative costs

 In return, your benefits will include:

 *Bi-annual e-newsletter

*Profile feature on the Gulf Coast Foodways blog: www.gulfcoastfoodways.wordpress.com 

*10% off all Gulf Coast Foodways event registration

*Priority registration for events

*Discounts at participating restaurants/shops

 We urge you to join this worthy cause today.

Contact Eileen or Gary Saunders at gulfcoastfoodways@yahoo.com.

***Pass this note along to your friends and LIKE us on FACEBOOK.

Touring the Tabasco Hot Sauce Factory and Scenic Avery Island, Louisiana

15 Nov

Entry to the world famous Tabasco Plant on sleepy Avery Island, Louisiana.

Some of the stunning scenery we enjoyed on our recent visit to Avery Island.

The brick facade of the Tabasco plant — looks a bit like a military stockade.

We toured on a Saturday afternoon, so the bottling plant was not in operation.

Eileen and the boys enjoying the tour & learning more about Scoville Units.

The company store truly does offer all things Tabasco — bring lots of $$$!

These former oak bourbon barrels are used to age the spicy red pepper mash.

Interesting choice of bait, huh?

You can even try Tabasco ice cream — sweet & smooth with a fiery finish!

Avery Island is home to a massive salt dome — first discovered back in 1862.

www.tabasco.com

Another interesting tour nearby is the Konriko Rice Mill …

The Koriko (Conrad Rice Company) mill is technically in New Iberia, LA.

Konriko’s rice (stored in the above silo) has a fresh, nutty taste.

These rustic sacks of Konriko pecan rice make for great take-home gifts.

www.konriko.com

Crawfish Pie & More at Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge, LA

29 Oct

Crawfish Pie – Cafe Des Amis style with accents of Green Onion

Our first real meal during our recent weekend trek thru Cajun Country took place in quaint Breaux Bridge, LA (just off I-10 near Lafayette). The name of the restaurant was Cafe Des Amis. We had visited once before, but they were sadly closed the last time we passed thru town. The Friday lunch business was fairly brisk as we settled in for our mid-day meal. For my main course, I opted for the crawfish pie. How can you not order this when in Cajun Country???

Yet I almost didn’t recognize it when it arrived at our table. The dish was fashioned with two flaky pillows of puff pastry — the bottom one hollowed out a bit to accomodate the buttery crawfish etoufee filling. Not your traditional presentation by any means. It did draw some serious attention, however. Four older gentlemen seated at the adjacent table commented that their meals looked “vanilla” in comparison. The pie was sensational — I would certainly recommend it highly. I guess I just have!

Crab Cakes (fried and grilled) with a Smoked Vidalia Cream Sauce

My lunch had started with a terrific crab appetizer (seen above). The smokey cream sauce and strips of sweet onion made an excellent foil for the crab cake combo (one grilled, one fried). Both cakes were tasty, but I honestly preferred the grilled version. The crab meat to breading ratio was perfectly acceptable and the cakes were nicely seasoned. As for the sauce, it was truly “plate-licking good.”

A look at some of the cool local art on display at Cafe Des Amis

The Gateau de Syrop (Syrup Cake) was the best bite of the day

Our lunch reached its high point with dessert. I normally don’t order dessert in the middle of the day, but we simply couldn’t resist the traditional Gateau de Syrop made with Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup (made in nearby Abbeville, LA). It was a masterpiece of gooey, black goodness … topped with lots of local pecans and equal portions of whipped creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream. My wife and kids gave it a go, but I most admit that I put the biggest dent in this dark beauty.  

I don’t think I can wait for a return visit to Breaux Bridge to try this rich, delicious cake again. So it’s probably a good thing we found the restaurant’s recipe on the web. Here’s the real-deal recipe from Cafe Des Amis … soooo darn good!

GATEAU DE SYROP (SYRUP CAKE) WITH CREME ANGLAISE

This recipe makes about 3 dozen large muffins.

Cut it in half to make a smaller amount. They also freeze beautifully.

Makes 16 slices

2 cups canola or peanut oil

3 ½ cups 100% pure cane syrup (we prefer Steen’s)

2 cups raw sugar

2/3 cup dark molasses

2 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons baking soda

8 eggs

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 teaspoons ground cloves

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 tablespoons vanilla extract

4 cups sifted flour

¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oil, cane syrup and molasses in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir baking soda into boiling water. Add to the oil, syrup and molasses mixture. Add all other remaining ingredients and beat well at medium to high speed with an electric mixer.

Fill large muffin tins, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray, about three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees until they almost set, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped pecans on top and continue baking until the muffins are completely set.

Crème Anglaise

Makes about 2 cups

   1 cup whole milk

   1 cup heavy cream

   5 egg yolks

   ½ cup granulated sugar

   1 tablespoon bourbon

   Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring just a boil.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat well until light yellow and slightly thickened. Gradually pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and stir over very low heat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, without boiling until the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Do not overcook or it will curdle. Stir in the bourbon. Serve warm or chilled.

www.cafedesamis.com

UGA Press publishes “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook”

5 Oct

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge
Foreword by Alton Brown

“Local recipes from the worldly South”

“Each page herein delivers a strong sense of community; the contributions are from real people with real names; the collection is democratic, but with nary a sign of culinary chaos; and the food is just plain good. And here’s the best part, as far as I’m concerned: Regardless of whether it looks back into the past or ahead into the future, this book looks ever Southward.”
—Alton Brown, from the foreword

Everybody has one in their collection. You know—one of those old, spiral- or plastic-tooth-bound cookbooks sold to support a high school marching band, a church, or the local chapter of the Junior League. These recipe collections reflect, with unimpeachable authenticity, the dishes that define communities: chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie. When the Southern Foodways Alliance began curating a cookbook, it was to these spiral-bound, sauce-splattered pages that they turned for their model.

Including more than 170 tested recipes, this cookbook is a true reflection of southern foodways and the people, regardless of residence or birthplace, who claim this food as their own. Traditional and adapted, fancy and unapologetically plain, these recipes are powerful expressions of collective identity. There is something from—and something for—everyone. The recipes and the stories that accompany them came from academics, writers, catfish farmers, ham curers, attorneys, toqued chefs, and people who just like to cook—spiritual Southerners of myriad ethnicities, origins, and culinary skill levels.

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, written, collaboratively, by Sheri Castle, Timothy C. Davis, April McGreger, Angie Mosier, and Fred Sauceman, the book is divided into chapters that represent the region’s iconic foods: Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt, Put Up, and Cane. Therein you’ll find recipes for pimento cheese, country ham with redeye gravy, tomato pie, oyster stew, gumbo z’herbes, and apple stack cake. You’ll learn traditional ways of preserving green beans, and you’ll come to love refried black-eyed peas.

Are you hungry yet? Place your order now!

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Foodways-Alliance-Community-Cookbook/dp/0820332755

Louisiana-Grown Jazzmen Aromatic Rice Doesn’t Blow

1 Aug

Louisiana’s Jazzmen Aromatic Rice – “Music for your Mouth.”

We tried this new jasmine rice for the first time last night — it is truly amazing! Nice and fluffy and filled with flavor. Best of all, it’s grown right here in the good old USA (Crowley, LA to be specific) thanks to three Chinese-American gents who have been friends since childhood. It’s a fledgling enterprise at this stage. Last fall they harvested just 500 tons of rice. This year, according to co-founder Andrew Wong, it will be more like 12,000 tons. American-grown jasmine rice tends to cost less (about $2.99 for a 28 oz. bag) thanks to reduced transportation expenses. Jazzmen brand rice is now available in 6 states. It can also be purchased online at Jazzmenrice.com. Eat well and buy American whenever you can — you will not be disappointed!

For generations, the most flavorful rice Americans have eaten has been Jasmine rice imported to the U.S. from Asia (most notably Thailand). Jasmine is recognized for having the most desirable “gummy” white texture after cooking and its “aroma” before, during and after cooking is what causes it to be called “aromatic.” Regular rice does not emphasize aromatic qualities nor is it noted as having any fullness of taste. Aromatic rice has a very pleasant notable aroma and taste qualities that contribute considerably to a variety of cuisine styles.

Twelve years ago, the LSU AgCenter started a project to increase rice production in Louisiana. We currently average approximately 500,000 acres of rice agriculture annually. There is a vast amount of acreage to build on.

The LSU AgCenter strives to help promote and build the quality and expertise of Louisiana’s agricultural community – our farmers and our farms. And, the AgCenter thinks of everything possible to enhance and increase the productivity of Louisiana’s vast acreage of farmland.

For twelve years, the “AgCenter” has been evolving, testing and improving a varietal (variety) of rice intended to compete head on with the quality, taste and cost of the thousands of tons of Jasmine rice coming into America each year from Asia. It has reached perfection.

——————————————————-

Louis Armstrong’s Creole Red Beans

Satchmo’s personal recipe,
courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

Ingredients:

1 lb. kidney beans

½ lb. salt pork (strip of lean, strip of fat; slab bacon may be used if preferred)

1 small can tomato sauce (if desired)

6 small ham hocks, or 1 smoked pork butt

2 onions, diced

¼ green (bell) pepper

5 tiny or 2 medium dried peppers

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Use a 2 qt. pot with cover. Wash beans thoroughly, then soak overnight in cold water. Be sure to cover beans. To cook, pour water off beans, add fresh water to cover. Add salt pork or bacon and let come to a boil over a full flame in covered pot. Turn flame down to slightly higher than low and let cook 1½ hours. Add diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, dried peppers, and salt. Cook 3 hours. Add tomato sauce and cook 1½ hours more, adding water whenever necessary. Beans and meat should always be just covered with water (juice), never dry. This serves 6 or more persons.

To prepare with Ham Hocks or Pork Butts…

Wash meat, add water to cover, and let come to a boil in covered pot over medium flame. Cook 1½ hours, then add beans (pour water off) and add rest of ingredients to meat. Cook 4½ hours. Add water when necessary.

Suggestions:

For non-pork eaters, chicken fat may be used instead of salt pork. Corned beef or beef tongue may be used instead of ham hocks or butts.

To Serve:

On dinner plate – Rice then beans, wither over rice or beside rice, as preferred… Twenty minutes later – Bisma Rex and Swiss Kriss.

www.jazzmenrice.com 

“Pig – King of the Southern Table”

1 May

We were genuinely excited to receive a review copy of this beautiful new cookbook. It offers up great porcine-centered recipes for any true lover of the mighty Southern hog. James Villas, the natilly attired former Food and Wine Editor at Town and Country,  has obviously put together a winner. Yes, a rather unlikely source — you might think. Town and Country is not exactly a source we mention very often around here. Classy magazine, but not exactly our target audience.  Villas, on the other hand, has already authored The Bacon Cookbook, Biscuit Bliss and Crazy for Casseroles. Feeling any better now? And who, I ask you, can resist 300 pork recipes from a native North Carolinian? Not this guy! 

I flipped through this 424-page beauty and targeted several must-try recipes. These included Outer Banks Muddle (“a mess of fish”), Sherried Ham and Squash Casserole, Betty Jane’s Braised Pork Chops with Port Gravy, Tarpon Springs Greek Burgers, Florida Mango & Prune Stuffed Pork Loin, and a curious breakfast dish known as the Kentucky Scramble.

It all adds up to one fine collection of dishes from a high-brow dandy who has surely not forgotten, nor forsaken, his downhome Dixie roots. Pig out, y’all! 

From Publishers Weekly

If pig is indeed king, then there is trouble at the castle, for Villas (Dancing in the Lowcountry) has stormed the gates and had at him, leaving no sweetbread, shoulder, or chop untasted. So let the commoners rejoice: here are 300 recipes from Southern hog heaven that are juicy, flirtatious, and, at times, scary. Brave hearts will want to immediately dive into the Variety and Special Meats chapter for some deviled pork liver; hog’s head stew; and brains and eggs. The upper crust might prefer a pork pie. Choices include spicy Tennessee sausage; Pork, Apple and Raisin; or Bacon and Corn.
 
A section on barbecue and ribs includes both North and South Carolina styles of BBQ and half a dozen sparerib options. And where lesser authors might stray off-topic when moving to side dishes, Villas, with 13 cookbooks and two James Beard awards under his belt, knows better. All 39 vegetable and rice dishes are chock full of oink, from the mushy turnips with bacon and pork to the slab bacon hoppin’ John.
 
Similarly, there are 20 breads that are decidedly not fat-free. That other Southern king, Elvis, would surely have appreciated the bacon-peanut butter muffins, perhaps chased down with a lard hoecake or some bacon-grease hush puppies.
 
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