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Mar 29, 2009 05:52 PM

Bon Appetit Y'All by Virginia Willis... The thread

In response to several suggestions I'm starting this thread so that I can report on the recipes I make as I periodically work my own individual way through this cookbook. I sincerely hope others will be encouraged to post results of their own experiences with Ms. Willis' sweet, nostalagic book.

I'll preface this by saying that of necessity I have to adapt the prep for these recipes to my situation. Namely, I can no longer stand at the stove and make traditional Risottos and Polenta. Believe me, I have made my share of those, I assure you. I'll be baking them in the oven instead of stirring over the stove top. Also, I'm going to trim back the amount of butter, oil, cream, salt, etc. Nuts will not be used unless they can be pulverized. I think these adaptations will not diminish the flavor and taste of the recipes.... that has not happened in the past.

This is a lovely book and I am looking forward to a month of good eating and sharing the experience with all of you who would like to participate.
Bon Appetit, Y'All!!

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  1. Aunt Lee's Macaroni and Cheese, Ch. 7: Grits, Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Pg. 166

    For last Friday night's Lenten dinner we made the quintessential southern Mac & Cheese recipe. 5 ingredients " all mixed up in the dish till it looks right," says Ms. Willis' Aunt Lee.

    >Bring water for the macaroni to a boil and add 2 cups of elbows. I used 1 lb. of Ziti and increased the other ingredients accordingly, but I'll give the original amounts here.
    >Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a casserole dish.
    >In a large bowl combine the drained macaroni, 2 cups whole milk
    (I used 2%), 2 lightly beaten large eggs, 8 oz. cubed extra sharp cheddar, Kosher salt and FGBpepper. Mix it all up then transfer to the casserole.
    >Bake for 25 minutes or till bubbly golden brown.

    She advises leaving it a bit longer if you want the topping to be "dark, chewy, cheesy." We didn't. This couldn't have been easier or quicker and it was absolutely delicious. Dh had 3 servings and declared he had no room for the salad I had prepared.....

    NB: I did use the extra sharp cheddar but added cubed Fontina as well.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Classic Cole Slaw, Ch. 2: Salads and Slaws, Pg. 35

      Apparently this is a classic slaw in Georgia. There are 3 kinds of southern slaws:

      BBQ from western North Carolina, Mustard slaw from western South Carolina &

      eastern North Carolina and this Classic one....

      The dressing is made first and consists of:
      1/4 cup sugar - I used less
      1/2 cup mayo - I used TJ's organic..she recommends her homemade on pg. 282
      1/4 cup buttermilk
      juice of 1 lemon
      1 T apple cider vinegar
      1 t grated Vidalia onion - I used a large white
      1/2 t dry mustard - I used Penzey's "Oriental"
      about 2 cups cored & shredded red cabbage...
      2 cups green cabbage...I used all red cabbage
      1 shredded carrot
      Kosher salt & FGBpepper

      Everything except the cabbage and carrot is combined in a large bowl and

      whisked till smooth. The cabbage & carrot are then added, mixed well and

      seasoned with salt and pepper.
      Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

      Taste & season with S & P if necessary.

      Ms. Willis recommends using this slaw with Pulled Pork Sandwiches, pg. 81, but I

      served it with the Catfish Sloppy Joes from the Fish book which is the current

      COTM. I'll be making this cole slaw again.

      1. re: Gio

        this slaw sounds like the kfc clone recipe in that it uses buttermilk, and is slightly sweet. i love kfc cole slaw.

        KFC Cole Slaw Clone Recipe

        8 cups finely chopped cabbage
        1/4 cup carrot, shredded
        1/3 cup sugar
        1/2 teas. salt
        1/8 teas. pepper
        1/4 cup milk
        1/2 cup mayonaise
        1/4 cup buttermilk
        1 1/2 tbls. white vinegar
        2 1/2 tbls. lemon juice

        but, with all due respect to mrs. willis, i don't know of "classic" southern cole slaw using but just a wee bit of (if any) red cabbage.

        1. re: alkapal

          That recipe from KFC is scary! They are the same recipe except fot the 1/4 cup of milk. The statement by Ms Willis about the slaws is in the intro notes to the recipe. i wonder who is copying who. Thanks for that Alka!!

          1. re: Gio

            i could eat a quart of that slaw at one sitting. maybe with some fried chicken or pulled pork. mmmm, that sounds like good eating for today! oh, add a couple of good fluffy biscuits, too.

            1. re: alkapal

              I love KFC coleslaw too!!! seriously, It just tastes good! I could just sit and eat it while watching a movie...

        2. re: Gio

          Had some leftover cabbage so thought I’d give the Classic Cole Slaw a try. I followed the recipe as written, except that since I was using up leftovers, I used only green cabbage, not a combination of white and green as called for. And I made my own mayonnaise according to her recipe on page 282. This is the first cole slaw I’ve ever made that I really liked. Most are too vinegary or have caraway seeds and I’ve just never been happy with any of them. I wonder how much of it had to do with the homemade mayo? If nothing else, this was a great reminder of how good the homemade stuff really is and how easy it is to do. She says the cabbage should be “finely shredded” and I may have gone a bit overboard in that direction; next time I’ll try shredding a bit less finely and see if I like it even better.

          Funny, Gio, that you served it as a side for a “Fish Without a Doubt” recipe. So did I. I served it with Broiled Bluefish Dijonnaise, which calls for a mayo/Dijon topping. I was somewhat concerned that the two dishes with mayo and mustard might seem terribly unbalanced, but they were really terrific together.

        3. re: Gio

          I made this tonight Gio, also using 2% milk, and it was somewhat watery. I did use a reduced-fat sharp cheese in a bid to cut the calories a bit. Could that have been the problem, do you think?

          1. re: greedygirl

            I'm making it right now - it's in the oven - and it seems like way too much milk for the amount of pasta. Perhaps Gio may have used 2 cups of milk for her 1 lb. of pasta, instead of 2 cups of milk to 2 cups of dry pasta? (I'm going by the recipe as she paraphrased it above).

            Or did you make it from the cookbook recipe and it still turned out thin, greedygirl?

            1. re: chompy

              I used two cups of milk to 400g of pasta. I left it in the oven for a bit longer (maybe 10 more minutes) after my panic-post and it thickened up. Mr GG loved this - I thought it was just OK, but I think I might like it better if I followed the recipe more closely and used full-fat milk and cheese!

              1. re: greedygirl

                I used four cups of milk to four cups of pasta (probably somewhere around your 400g) and ended up having to bake it almost an hour, but it the end it turned out OK. (I guess this is the danger of not having the cookbook). Anyhow, it was fairly tasty.

          2. re: Gio

            As you know, I'm a newbie to this book and haven't cooked all that much from it yet. But fixed this last night and it's another winner, isn't it??? I did a half recipe for the two of us. Had it as a side with a little steak. Had a power failure right before dinner so it was all ready and we ate by (major) candlelight. This is my favorite combination - good and easy. Oh, yeah, and cheese.

          3. Ooh, yay, I'm picking this book up from the library on my way home tonight! Can't wait!

            1. I will be posting on this thread later. I've had the books for a few months and have cooked several things in it, really enjoy it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bayoucook

                Oh I'm so glad you and Katie Nell are going to be cooking from this book, and, I'm glad that you're excited about the recipes. I have a list a mile long to try. Tonight we're making the Pork Chops with Dried Plums. Can't wait.

              2. Hey Gio, thank you for starting this thread. It sounds like a lovely cookbook. Curious--you mention that you'll be trimming back the amount of butter, oil, and cream in the recipes. Not having seen this book, I will say that one of my concerns was that it might be heavier on the butter and fat than my lifestyle permits, as well as lower on whole grains. Totally unfair of me to make this assumption, but for those who have seen and cooked from this book, what is your impression about how "light" the recipes are? Are a lot of them pretty heavy on the cream and butter?


                1 Reply
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Well, she does use butter, cream etc. and the occasional buttermilk, but I don't think it's any heavier on the fats than other recipes I've encountered. Many or her dishes are French based and as such relfect that cuisine. I always "trim back" the fats....LOL

                  Here's a link to 17 of her recipes or those inspired by her cooking.

                  And - here's the recipe page at her web site:

                2. Picked this one up at the library today in honor of your efforts Gio. I hope to be able to get a look at it this week and start cooking from it next week. I seem to be in the midst of a bit of kitchen ennui, but I have a feeling fellow hounds can nudge me out of it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    That's great, LLM.... Thank you Very much!
                    The recipes are simple but loaded with flavor. I hope you'll enjoy them. They all seem to be the essence of Comfort Food. We all need some comfort every now and then. Mostly now, (n_n)