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The Gift of Southern Cooking

by Edna Lewis Scott Peacock

Edna Lewis--whose The Taste of Country Cooking has become an American classic--and Alabama-born chef Scott Peacock pool their unusual cooking talents to give us this unique cookbook. What makes it so special is that it represents different styles of Southern cooking--Miss Lewis's Virginia country cooking and Scott Peacock's inventive and sensitive blending of new tastes with the Alabama foods he grew up on, liberally seasoned with Native American, Caribbean, and African influences. Together they have taken neglected traditional recipes unearthed in their years of research together on Southern food and worked out new versions that they have made their own.Every page of this beguiling book bears the unmistakable mark of being written by real hands-on cooks. Scott Peacock has the gift for translating the love and respect they share for good home cooking with such care and precision that you know, even if you've never tried them before, that the Skillet Cornbread will turn out perfect, the Crab Cakes will be "Honestly Good," and the four-tiered Lane Cake something spectacular.Together they share their secrets for such Southern basics as pan-fried chicken (soak in brine first, then buttermilk, before frying in good pork fat), creamy grits (cook slowly in milk), and genuine Southern biscuits, which depend on using soft flour, homemade baking powder, and fine, fresh lard (and on not twisting the biscuit cutter when you stamp out the dough). Scott Peacock describes how Miss Lewis makes soup by coaxing the essence of flavor from vegetables (the She-Crab and Turtle soups taste so rich they can be served in small portions in demitasse cups), and he applies the same principle to his intensely flavored, scrumptious dish of Garlic Braised Shoulder Lamb Chops with Butter Beans and Tomatoes. You'll find all these treasures and more before you even get to the superb cakes (potential "Cakewalk Winners" all), the hand-cranked ice creams, the flaky pies, and homey custards and puddings.Interwoven throughout the book are warm memories of the people and the traditions that shaped these pure-tasting, genuinely American recipes. Above all, the Southern table stands for hospitality, and the authors demonstrate that the way everything is put together--with the condiments and relishes and preserves and wealth of vegetables all spread out on the table--is what makes the meal uniquely Southern. Every occasion is celebrated, and at the back of the book there are twenty-two seasonal menus, from A Spring Country Breakfast for a Late Sunday Morning and A Summer Dinner of Big Flavors to An Alabama Thanksgiving and A Hearty Dinner for a Cold Winter Night, to show you how to mix and match dishes for a true Southern table.Here, then, is a joyful coming together of two extraordinary cooks, sharing their gifts. And they invite you to join them.

In Pursuit of Flavor

by Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis, whose name has become synonymous with honest American food, simply and lovingly prepared, gives us the secrets of a lifetime in pursuit of flavor. With almost 200 delicious recipes, plus notes and special boxes on important ingredients (from black-eyed peas and Virginia hams to Peking ducks and oysters) and personally developed cooking techniques (making your own jelly bags, peeling chestnuts), Mrs. Lewis shows us how to get the best flavor from the foods we buy today in supermarkets and farmers' markets. Examples... · She puts together lovely combinations of vegetables--tomatoes and cymling squash, green peas and Vidalia onions · She seals in the subtle aromas of fish fillets or chicken breasts by baking them in parchment. · She boils fresh corn in its husk for added flavor. · She roasts browned bones and meats with just a little water to make a deep, rich, savory stock. · She braises a game bird in a clay pot with aromatic vegetables to keep it succulent. · She shows us how to use cut fresh herbs and when to add them. · She shares her secret of mixing one's own non-chemical-tasting baking powder. · She persuades us to listen for signs of when a cake is done. ...and much more. Following the seasons, Edna Lewis leads us through the chapters of this book--From the Gardens and Orchards, From the Farmyard, From the Lakes, Streams, and Oceans, For the Cupboard, From the Bread Oven and Griddle, and The Good Taste of Old-fashioned Desserts--and drawing on her childhood in Freetown, Virginia, a farming community founded by her grandfather and his friends after emancipation, she recreates some of the simple good dishes she grew up on. In addition to these "old friends" she has peppered the book with "new discoveries," in that wonderful mingling of old and new that has made her food so sought-after at Fearrington House in North Carolina, Middleton Place in South Carolina, Uncle Sam's in Manhattan, and other kitchens she has presided over. Above all, every recipe--from Oyster Stew with Salsify to Damson Plum Pie--is illuminated with Edna Lewis's remarkable cooking insights, which help the home cook to prepare a dish just as she has done it. And the whole book--with its charming illustrations--is flavored with the kind of personal warmth that makes it a joy to cook with Edna Lewis at your side.

The Taste of Country Cooking

by Edna Lewis

In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. With menus for the four seasons, she shares the ways her family prepared and enjoyed food, savoring the delights of each special time of year:* The fresh taste of spring--the first shad, wild mushrooms, garden strawberries, field greens and salads . . . honey from woodland bees . . . a ring mold of chicken with wild mushroom sauce . . . the treat of braised mutton after sheepshearing.* The feasts of summer--garden-ripe vegetables and fruits relished at the peak of flavor . . . pan-fried chicken, sage-flavored pork tenderloin, spicy baked tomatoes, corn pudding, fresh blackberry cobbler, and more, for hungry neighbors on Wheat-Threshing Day . . . Sunday Revival, the event of the year, when Edna's mother would pack up as many as fifteen dishes (what with her pickles and breads and pies) to be spread out on linen-covered picnic tables under the church's shady oaks . . . hot afternoons cooled with a bowl of crushed peaches or hand-cranked custard ice cream.* The harvest of fall--a fine dinner of baked country ham, roasted newly dug sweet potatoes, and warm apple pie after a day of corn-shucking . . . the hunting season, with the deliciously "different" taste of game fattened on hickory nuts and persimmons . . . hog-butchering time and the making of sausages and liver pudding . . . and Emancipation Day with its rich and generous thanksgiving dinner.* The hearty fare of winter--holiday time, the sideboard laden with all the special foods of Christmas for company dropping by . . . the cold months warmed by stews, soups, and baked beans cooked in a hearth oven to be eaten with hot crusty bread before the fire.The scores of recipes for these marvelous dishes are set down in loving detail. We come to understand the values that formed the remarkable woman--her love of nature, the pleasure of living with the seasons, the sense of community, the satisfactory feeling that hard work was always rewarded by her mother's good food. Having made us yearn for all the good meals she describes in her memories of a lost time in America, Edna Lewis shows us precisely how to recover, in our own country or city or suburban kitchens, the taste of the fresh, good, natural country cooking that was so happy a part of her girlhood in Freetown, Virginia.

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