Ah, buttery biscuits and cheesy grits. Southern stuffed chicken and bourbon pecan pie. These are some of the recipes we've bookmarked from the impressive Southern cookbook, Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern. Whether you're an old pro with okra or you're new to Southern cooking altogether, this book has you covered.
Title & Publisher: Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern. Published by Oxmoor House, 2010.
First Impressions: This is a tome, indeed. With 1001 Southern recipes and 120 pages of beautiful photos, if you're even remotely into Southern food and culture, you'll have a tough time putting this one down. The nice thing about this book is that it's really a cookbook for cooks, bakers, all-around food lovers, and folks who just like to eat out. It touches on all of the above with solid recipes, inspiring desserts, equipment and technique tips, and Southern restaurant recommendations.
The Angle: This is a book about Southern cooking, but there's much more than just recipes here. Along with sections on Southern restaurants worth visiting, Southern Living touches on ingredients and technique to make approaching the book and the genre of Southern food accessible: definitely a book geared towards the home cook with a busy life.
The Recipes: We were pleased to see the expected classics here, including fried okra, dirty rice, cheese grits, gumbo, buttermilk biscuits and chess pie. And we were also pleased to see everything from jam and preserves to Southern cocktails. Southern Living has also made an effort to keep the directions rather spare and simple, and the ingredient list for each recipe is always kept to a minimum. These are good, solid recipes but ones that won't require an entire afternoon at the grocery store stocking up.
Other Stuff: We loved the sections on "Taste of the South," enjoyable interruptions that detail the history and lore behind classic Southern foods like hush puppies, crab cakes, hot cross buns, and mint juleps. There are also little sections entitled "Taking Sides" which outline the controversy behind people's preferences around making cornbread or whether or not cane sugar, sorghum or molasses is best on biscuits.
Overall Impressions: This book is informative, photographed beautifully, approachable and inspiring. It seems very much a reference book — as all good cookbooks should. This is the place you can now turn to for a quick pimento cheese recipe or a reliable barbecue sauce. It has made its way to the front of our shelves.
There were a few recipe inclusions that did strike us as odd: Creme Brulee in a Southern cookbook? Lamb Curry? These seemed like a stretch.
Recommended? Yes. The popularity of Southern food certainly seems to be on the rise. And this time of year especially, there's nothing like settling into an evening of good old-fashioned comfort food.
Recipes for Right Now: Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake, Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread. Pork Roast with Hopping John Stuffing, Buttermilk Fried Corn, Faidley's Crab Cakes.
Do you have a favorite Southern cooking book? We'd love to hear your recommendations, too!
Buy the Book: Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, $22 on Amazon.com
(Images: Oxmoor House (Book Jacket) and Megan Gordon (Biscuits))
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.