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Southern Cuisine

Southern My Way

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by Charles G. Thompson

smw_cover.jpgModern Southern is a bit of an oxymoron. Anything “Southern” tends to have old-fashioned built into it. Gena Knox, however, embodies “modern Southern,” and her new cookbook “Southern My Way” echoes that. I mean look at that cover photo. Well-dressed, coiffed and poised. Modern Southern! Modernity aside her cookbook covers all the Southern classics albeit often updated.  Which I think is nice. Too many Southern cookbooks tend to stick to the tried-and-true, the old standbys that everyone is used to.

Knox is a native of a small town in South Georgia. She started helping her mother in the kitchen at a young age. She grew up cooking with fruits and vegetables out of the family’s garden, or from local farms and farmers. Home cooking was the norm for the area. “Southern My Way” is her answer to her upbringing: a compilation of traditional Southern dishes updated with a lighter, healthier approach with a focus on using local ingredients. In fact, cleverly interspersed throughout the book are one to two page breakaways that highlight a local artisan, farmer, or purveyor like for instance the pages on Ted Dennard’s Savannah Bee Company, a small artisan honey company. As I read through the book I liked more and more that Knox was hitting all the 100 miles touchstones.

Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen

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by Matt Armendariz

saras-cover-400px.jpgI met Sara a few years ago in the Bahamas and quickly discovered she is the kind of person everyone knows. As the owner of Foster’s Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Sara is the author of several cookbooks and has numerous appearances on Martha’s show as well as the Today show. I have yet to make it to her market but in the meantime I’m so happy to have this book.

Her latest, Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen is filled with traditional Southern favorites as seen through Sara’s kitchen. It’s a book that you can’t help but get hungry from just looking at it as it’s packed with Southern favorites that I want to eat this very second. All the classics are there with contemporary twists like Shrimp Jabalaya, fried chicken, brisket and spare ribs. Now can you see why I’m all about this book?

Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly

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by Charles G. Thompson

cider-beans-cover.jpgAs I made my way through Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly I was reminded of my paternal grandmother and the food I knew she cooked.  Southern Appalachia and the people who live there are in kind to where my father came from, to the food and customs.  Distant eastern cousins I’d venture to say. I found this book comforting in many ways. 

It is not a book of high cuisine; in fact I think I can correctly say it’s all about low cuisine and that’s a good thing. Author, Joan E. Aller, a transplant to southern Appalachia fell in love with the place once she was there. Wanting to preserve a lifestyle that she saw quickly changing she set about collecting the best recipes southern Appalachia had to offer by traveling around the area and gathering up recipes, stories and histories from the area’s inns, hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, taverns and cafes.

Quick-Fix Southern

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by Charles G. Thompson

ImageThis review comes with instructions: #1. Buy the book. #2. Turn to page 112. #3. Make the recipe “Slow Cooker Pot Roast.” Now, to be as un-journalistic as I can be: OMG! If you like pot roast you’ll love this recipe. It is so easy to make (as long as you own a slow cooker), and the end result is a truly magnificent braised meal. Perfect for the winter months. The recipe worked to a ‘T.’ The beauty of this dish for me? All I had to to do was buy the boneless chuck roast ($13.47 at Whole Foods). Happily, I already had the onions, carrots and potatoes from my C.S.A. More beauty? I managed to get three meals from one roast. All the recipes I tried from Quick-Fix Southern worked very well. Author Rebecca Lang knows how to cook and this book reflects her talents.

Southern Plate

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by Seale Ballenger

ImageWhen blogger Christy Jordan founded SouthernPlate.com in 2008, she never dreamed her posts about the classic comfort food she grew up with in northern Alabama would spark an internet frenzy of interest from foodies everywhere. Now, just two short years later, with millions of visits to her site, her blog has grown by leaps and bounds. And with that growth spurt, Jordan is taking the next step in her career as the darling of easy, no-fuss Southern favorites with the publication of her first cookbook, SOUTHERN PLATE.

In preparation for the book’s launch, Christy and her family recently sat down with reporter Donna Florio of Southern Living magazine.

Basic to Brilliant, Y'all

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by Amy Sherman

basictobrilliant.jpgVirginia Willis is like the Southern cousin you wish you had. She's smart, funny and warm and has a mischievous sparkle in her eye. I finally got to meet her earlier this year in Monterey at Cooking for Solutions. She did a cooking demo where she had the audience laughing over a story about her appearance on the Paula Dean show (the story is in her latest book, by the way). But what I remember most is the spectacular dish she made with trout. I can still taste it in my mind. It was pan-seared trout drizzled with pecan butter and topped with an incredibly rich smoked trout salad. And the recipe is dead simple. That's the signature of Virginia Willis, amazing food that really isn't all that difficult but definitely something extra special.

Virginia's latest book, Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, is all about the "something extra special." Each recipe has a simple component--like the seared trout, and an optional brilliant flourish--like the topping of smoked trout salad. It's what makes this cookbook a real keeper (even if you have other Southern cookbooks). The recipes are fresh and modern and reflect both Virginia's Southern roots and her French training so you'll find recipes like Savory Monkey Bread, Coca Cola Cake and Creole Country Bouillabaisse.

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe from Southern Pies

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by Susan Russo

ImageI'm pie challenged. But I'm working on it. About a month ago, my mom and I spent an entire morning making pie crusts. Two weeks ago I took a class on pie making. And last week, I became the proud owner of Nancie McDermott's cookbook, Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan.

Whether you're pie-challenged like me or love baking pies (apparently there are people for whom the latter is true), you should have a copy of Southern Pies on your bookshelf.

Upon my first perusal, I was captivated by Leigh Beisch's stunning photography and the book's clean, simple design. When I began reading the recipe titles, I realized that I had never heard of many of them, despite the fact that I lived in North Carolina (McDermott's home) for nearly seven years.

Tell me. Have you ever heard of "Syrup Pie," which McDermott describes as "good and plain and pure, just like the syrup in the pitcher on the kitchen tables in many an old-time Southern home"? How about "Sweet Tea Pie" made with strong brewed tea and lemon juice? Or "Irish Potato Pie" made from mashed white potatoes seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg?

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