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Sept 2009 COTM: SOUTHERN Starches

September 2009 Cookbooks of the Month:

SCREEN DOORS AND SWEET TEA: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook, by Martha Hall Foose (SDST)
&
BON APPETIT Y'ALL: Recipes and Tales from Three Generations of Southern Cooking, by Virginia Willis (BAYA)

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for grits, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. This thread includes:

BAYA
Chapter 7: Grits, RIce, Pasta and Potatoes

SDST
all starchy recipes from throughout the book, especially
Chapter 5: Field peas, greens, sides and the like

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy Cooking!

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  1. Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, Pg. 158

    Last night as I entered the kitchen to start dinner, DH took the cookbook from the shelf and announced He would make dinner.... alone. And so he did while I retreated to the den. The page was bookmarked and he set about getting everything needed: Fusilli, breadcrumbs, some grated parmigiano for the crumbs, extra sharp cheddar, milk, flour, minced garlic, mustard, S & P. He followed straight through and produced the epitome of comfort food: Mac & cheese....proving that even someone who professes to not know how to cook can if given the right incentive and this recipe was just that. Delicious! He served a few fresh veggies from the farm: radishes, celery, carrots...cold and crisp to accompany.
    Ahhhhhh.....life is good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Aw, that is sweet! I'm glad it turned out well.

      ~TDQ

    2. Baker's Potatoes BAY'A page 171

      This recipe calls for placing sliced Yukon Gold potatoes (but not all the way through) on a bed of sliced Vidalia (preferably) onions in a gratin dish. Chopped garlic and thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil are drizzled/sprinkeld over all. Then chicken broth is poured over and into the oven it goes. Baste occassionally and bake for about 45 minutes.

      Now I've got a plethora of sweet onions from the garden, so this recipe appealled to me. I substituted red potatoes, and halved the recipe. It came out very well, although my potatoes didn't seem to be getting tender by the 45 minute mark. So, as the main dish (Chicken Fricasee) was rapidly approaching done, I covered the dish in an attempt to speed things along. Ten minutes later, still not done...so I forked the potatoes apart a bit. Still, they took a good 70 minutes to cook.

      All in all, very simple. I should have added more salt though, and next time I would up the garlic, as these were just a bit bland for my taste....

      1 Reply
      1. re: clamscasino

        Baker's Potatoes, BAY'A, p. 171

        I made these to go along with the Herb Roast Chicken. Using clamscasino's tips, we thought these were great. I baked three russets, but used the full amount of garlic (2 cloves) and lots of fresh thyme, and also homemade roasted chicken stock for added flavor. And I agree that they take longer than 45 minutes. I'm glad clamscasino reported on these first so I knew to allow more time, and they took me about 75 minutes.

        Recipe link:
        http://www.virginiawillis.com/recipes...

         
      2. Corn Spoon Bread, BAYA p. 164

        Spoon bread isn't something I grew up with, but it always sounds good to me. However, I've never made it before now, so I can't compare this recipe to any others. All I can say is that it was very tasty, fairly easy to put together, and everyone liked it.

        It seemed a bit thicker and heavier than I expected. Perhaps I cooked the corn meal and milk mixture too long? I'd be curious to hear from more experienced spoon bread makers.

        I made it to accompany Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts with Pecan Crust and Smoky Collard (chard) greens.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

          Karen, wow! Four recipes in one day! My Chowpup wants me to make that spoon bread. I've never had it and am curious about your comment that "It seemed a bit thicker and heavier than I expected." Do you think it could serve as the main dish for a light dinner? Say just serve with a green salad? Inquiring minds want to know....

          1. re: clamscasino

            Definitely! It's clearly a kissing cousin of polenta. I was just saying to DH at breakfast that we have spoon bread and smoky chard greens as leftovers, and that looks like a meal to me.

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              Cool...I know what's for dinner tonight! Chowpup will be very happy.

                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  Corn Spoon Bread BAY'A pg 164

                  This recipe went together easily. But we thought it was just blah....That being said, I think it would be a good accompaniment to something with a flavorful sauce, but on iit's own...well: blah...

                  Perhaps salt was the problem. Consistently in this book one adds salt and pepper to taste. But how can one taste a dish with uncooked eggs? I think I would prefer some more specific guidance on the amount of salt required to achieve the author's intended dish.....

                  1. re: clamscasino

                    Oh, too bad. We quite liked it, although I have to say, we were eating it with the salty, garlicky chard greens, so that probably provided the necessary contrast. Though I did think the sweet kernels of corn provided a pleasant contrast too.

                    My biggest complaint is that I would have liked it to be a bit more delicate and custardy than mine turned out. Possibly my fault rather than the recipe's. What was your texture like?

                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                      Karen, I agree with your complaint. I too would have liked it to be more custardy. The picture on the front cover certainly makes it look creamy and delicious. Mine? I think it was a tad dry. I'm thinking that one might achieve something more creamy by not whipping the egg whites separately. On the other hand, for lift, and a more light soufle quality, perhaps one should use three egg whites instead of two.

        2. Aunt Lee's Macaroni and Cheese BAY'A pg. 166

          In Willis' intro to this recipe she writes: "Many Northern macaroni-and cheese recipes use a béchamel sauce to coat tender elbow noodles, but the only time most Southerners put flour in a skillet is to make gravy - certainly not for a white sauce for macaroni." Tee hee! The recipe in Screen Doors, which Gio's DH so lovingly made for her, uses, guess what? A béchamel sauce.

          Anyway, I looked at both recipes and decided the Screen Doors one was too much like the way I always make mac and cheese, so I chose to try Willis' version. It is quite simple. The cooked noodles are combined in a bowl with two cups milk, 2 slightly beaten eggs, 8 oz. of extra-sharp cheddar (cut into 1/4 inch cubes) and, well that's it. Except for one thing...The recipe calls for one tablespoon of butter, but the only time butter is mentioned in the directions is to "Butter an ovenproof casserole dish." And I suspect that she doesn't mean to use an entire tablespoon to butter the baking dish. So I cubed it too, and added it into the mixture. Then the mixture is baked for 25 to 30 minutes.

          Oh, how I wish I had made the Screen Doors version....that will have to wait for my next hankering for Mac and Cheese. My finished dish just tasted like noodles in milk, with little chunks of cheese that didn't really melt as much as I would have liked them to. Guess I'm just a Northern gal.

          4 Replies
          1. re: clamscasino

            What a shame! That was the very first recipe I made from the book way back on 29 March. We really liked it. The reason DH made the SDST recipe is because we had already made BAY'A's.
            Here's my report:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6078...

            1. re: Gio

              Perhaps my problem was that I didn't use whole milk....I usually buy organic 1% and haven't ever had a problem subbing it in recipes. But maybe this one really needed it?

              1. re: clamscasino

                Dunno..... I used 2% milk....it couldn't have mattered That much. I don't have the book in front of me but I think there's another BAY'A mac & cheese recipe there.

            2. re: clamscasino

              I haven't tried either of these mac and cheese recipes, but grew up with (and prefer) a mac and cheese without flour/bechamel.

              I doubt the 1% milk made all that much difference, although maybe it could have had a slight effect on the richness. Sorry it wasn't a hit for you!

            3. (I skimmed both threads and don't believe anyone else has reported on this that I can tag onto.)

              Bon Appetit Y'all
              Creamy Stone-Ground Grits with Mushrooms and Country Ham; Grits, Rice, Pasta and Potatoes, page 155

              Actually I didn't do the mushrooms and ham part. I served large grilled shrimp over this and a Batali roast asparagus dish. I loved that half the water was replaced with milk and that you whisk in rather than pour. You simmer for about 45 minutes and then add Parm-Reg, parsley and butter. I increased the butter simply cause that's the way I like grits. I had drizzled olive oil over the shrimp and seasoned with cajun seasoning, s&p and some red pepper flakes. After the asparagus came off the grill, the shrimp went on for about four minutes total. My Westerner husband was even moaning over this :) I threw some over to the side of a skillet this morning with some bacon drippings and a couple of sausage patties. After the sausage was done, I removed those and fry a couple of eggs in that skillet. Put the eggs over the grits and we had a great breakfast. SO good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                I don't even like grits but the description of your breakfast this morning almost makes me want to try eating them again! :-)

                1. re: smtucker

                  Come on out, girl, and we'll have some good food. Oh, did I mention that I made the sausage?!? :)

              2. Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (Bon Appetit, page 163)

                Although this was the one major disaster from my Thanksgiving menu, I’m reporting on it anyway because it clearly has great potential. Over sweet potatoes cut half an inch thick and layered in a buttered casserole dish, you pour a just-brought-to-a-boil mixture of light brown sugar, bourbon, butter, and sorghum, cane, or maple syrup. I used sorghum. These are baked in a 350F oven for 45 to 60 minutes, basting and turning occasionally until done. Mine went from almost done to a bottom layer of charcoal in seemingly the blink of an eye. But then, it was Thanksgiving and I had a lot going on.

                I was able to salvage and serve the top layer, at least, and knew right away I’d be trying these again. Perhaps because I used sorghum, they were sweet without being cloying as are too many candied yam dishes. And the bourbon, more than is called for in other recipes that contain it, wasn’t at all overwhelming. Probably won’t have an opportunity to make these again until next year, but I’ve made a note to do so. And to be sure watch them like a hawk.

                3 Replies
                1. re: JoanN

                  Sounds like a wonderful dinner for those boys. Too bad about your Bourbon Sweet Potatoes though, Joan. We made them during the first go-around with BAY'A in April of '09.. As I recall the finished dish was pretty good, with my only negative was that I thought it was too sweet, I had used Grade B maple syrup, but G loved it. Here's my report:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6078...

                  1. re: Gio

                    Thanks for the link, Gio. Didn't occur to me to look for a report in the adjunct thread. Had some trouble finding sorghum up here in the northeast, but so glad I persevered. Grade B maple syrup would have been my alternate choice, but I'm discovering I love the less sweet flavor of sorghum. (Thank you, Edward Lee.) Still, making note to try it with only a quarter cup of sugar next time. Bet it will still be sweet enough for me.

                    (The boys were sooo appreciative. I think they'd been living on pretzels and Oreo cookies for the past couple of days. Sent them home with all the leftovers, minus the carcass, and they were pretty happy about that as well.)

                    1. re: JoanN

                      How great the boys got your leftovers! They won't ever forget the special Thanksgiving meal you prepared.

                      I'll have to look for surghum if you say it's less sweet than other sweeteners. Plus reducing the sugar will help as well. I do not too sweet anything, even fruit!