Friday, June 3, 2011

Let us now praise 4 GREAT Southern cookbooks

And yes, we'll give one away. Read to the end to find out how.

The thing that keeps me endlessly interested in writing about Southern food is how it takes so many guises: It can be as down-home as a Paula Deen-knitted afghan, and as cutting-edge as sous vide pasture-raised pork. It can be soul food, it can be tea room food. And it's still all good.

And this year, we have a particularly fine crop of cookbooks from authors right here in North Carolina. Consider, and definitely consider buying:

"Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes," by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter, $35). Quite a year for the chef of Chapel Hill's Lantern. She got the James Beard medal as Best Chef Southeast, and she turned out this terrific book. She writes more as a food lover than a chef, with a natural and warm style. The result is both a cookbook and a vibrant portrait of the food culture in the Triangle. Even better: She's cooking with the food that's all around us, right here and right now. There is serious inspiration to be had here.

"Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen," by Sara Foster (Random House, $35). The owner of the Foster's Market cafes in Durham and Chapel Hill has written several cookbooks. This feels like her most personal book yet, and much more Southern. Like the food in her cafes, the recipes are good-times dishes with comfortable style. Lots of tips for working with ingredients and changing up the dishes. Lots of great pictures, too, for those who need to see it before they'll cook it.

"The New Southern Garden Cookbook," by Sheri Castle (UNC Press, $35). If you're a CSA member or a farmer's market regular, you need this. It's broken down by ingredient, from apples to zucchini. This is the book for those times when you stumble on really great figs or green garlic, or a dozen others. The recipes are a mix of old favorites, like "kilt" lettuce (an Appalachian version of a wilted salad) and more contemporary tastes, like garlic custard, collard pesto and smoked tomatoes.

"Tupelo Honey Cafe," by Elizabeth Sims with chef Brian Sonoskus (Andrews McMeel, $29.99). It's as much a celebration of the "Foodtopia" of Asheville as it is about the sweet cafe near Pack Square. This is not one of those "postcard to me" chef books with food you'll admire but not make. The recipes here are completely doable and kitchen-friendly. For proof, see the recipe below for Warm Pimento Cheese And Chips.

OK, a giveaway: I've got a copy of "Tupelo Honey Cafe" to share. Send me an email with "Tupelo Honey" in the subject line and I'll pick a winner at random. Deadline: 9 a.m. June 9.

Warm Pimento Cheese And Chips From "Tupelo Honey Cafe," by Elizabeth Sims.

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely diced roasted red bell pepper
Tortilla chips

Combine all the ingredients except the tortilla chips in a large bowl to mix. Transfer to a microwaveable dish and microwave about 20 seconds, or until hot. Or put in a baking dish in a preheated 350-degree oven about 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with the tortilla chips.


Anonymous said...

Those of us raised (properly) in the South know you don't need no book when you cook. Cookin' is done by feel. You can't get no feel out no book.

Willa said...

The warm pimento cheese dip sounds great. All the gooey of a grilled sandwich even easier!

All these books look great. Favorite reading is a cookbook.