Prudence Hilburn: Cookbook compiler finds best of the best in Southern recipes
Some cookbooks ignite a spark of interest, while others make a big impression. “Southern Living Community Cookbook” made that big impression. It is one of the best cookbooks I have read in a long time.
Sheri Castle, in an effort to compile a cookbook that truly spotlights our Southern cuisine, decided to read every recipe published in Southern Living magazine from February 1966 to February 2014. This was more than 45,000 recipes. By doing this, she was able to put the very best community cookbook recipes from around the South in this one cookbook. Great idea.
People seem to forget that the cuisine of the “South” is more than just collard greens, fried chicken, cornbread and biscuits, to name a few. The South is a very diversified part of our country.
When I started to read the recipes, I couldn’t help but think how much I wish I’d had this book when I got married years ago. I found that much-needed recipe for gravy.
There are some great recipes from Cajun/Creole country as well as the “low country” in the Carolinas, Tex-Mex recipes from the Texas area and Burgoo from Kentucky. Can’t forget the Spanish influence as well as French and Italian.
There are many of the “old-fashioned” Southern recipes and some not quite so familiar. Maque Choux with Andouille Sausage certainly doesn’t sound “Southern,” but here again is that Louisiana touch. Full of flavor and made with simple ingredients, it will certainly impress your guests.
The dessert chapter shares some of the best from our past, such as fresh coconut cake, Lane cake, delicious cheesecakes, cobblers and much more. For just a bite of something sweet, how about some Saltine Cracker Candy.
There is no way I can do justice to this wonderful cookbook in one column, but you can be sure this “best of” cookbook will be close at hand so I can use it often.
Saltine Cracker Candy
24 saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
12 ounces milk chocolate morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Arrange crackers in a single layer in pan. Microwave butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe glass bowl at high for 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour butter mixture over crackers. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate morsels evenly on top, and let stand 30 seconds or until melted. Spread melted chocolate over surface. Sprinkle evenly with pecans. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch squares or break into pieces. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Maque Choux with Andouille Sausage
4 ounces andouille sausage, diced
1/2 cup sliced sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
1 cup sliced fresh okra (optional)
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook 5 minutes or until almost tender. Add corn, tomato, onion tops and okra, if desired. Cook, stirring often, 10 minutes or until tender. Add Cajun seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including “Kitchen Keepers.” Write her at email@example.com or visit prudencehilburn.com.