Writing about such a broad topic as Southern Cuisine sends my mind in so many directions. In my last article, I introduced a part of my childhood and memories of spending time with my grandmother and recipes that have been pasted on.
My picture in the last issue was an old picture taken when I won my first SPAMERICA'S CUP. I have updated my picture from a cook that experimented with a fusion of techniques and flavors to a chef that likes to cook foods the way they used to be prepared. Simple ingredients, fresh produce, a variety of spices and that was raised or grown as close to home as possible. This is what makes food in the south so comforting.
Southern Cuisine is a melting pot of comfort foods with influences from Native Americans, English, Spanish, French and West Africans. A menu of fried chicken, pork chops, butter beans, stewed okra, greens, and sweet tea can only be described as Southern. But so can Gulf Coast fare such as jambalaya, gumbo and blackened shrimp. Or low-country favorites, She crab soup, Captain Country, perlau and Hoppin' John. Not to leave out Florida with conch fritters, swamp cabbage and Key Lime pie. You eat what the territory provides.
And who could pass up a snack of RC Cola and Moon Pies? Or a pimento cheese sandwich with fried green tomatoes. And throw in some deviled eggs.
I have a collection of about 600 cookbooks and a collection of recipes that is in the thousands. And I get excited when I find a church published cookbook from the South. The older the better. Some of the cookbooks have sections about sauces and condiments. Two items that I think people don't use enough. But I digress.
The recipes in older cookbooks used real ingredients such as sweet milk and heavy cream, butter, bacon drippings, lots of eggs, and lard. So beware faint of heart, my recipes are going to include real ingredients, not quinoa, not low fat cheese, or sugar free caffeine free anything. Some of the recipes call for items such as a crust for a nine inch pie pan, or melted shortening. Use the pie crust you prefer and the shortening you like best. But when the recipe calls for lard or a specific ingredient, don't substitute something else. Pie crusts are to die for when made with lard. Another topic, another time.
These are my variations of recipes I have found in these gems of long lost cookbooks. They will all have a common link. They are a snapshot of the lives of the people who submitted them, their favorite recipe and like so many of the recipes that I will share with you, handed down from generation to generation.
These two recipes today are both about 100 years old. Be aware that some old recipes were guidelines not set rules and some of the recipes I have were handwritten. So sometimes what was written wasn’t exactly what was meant. That’s the joy of cooking, experimenting with flavors and customizing it to your tastes.
The crawfish pie is a great change from quiche and the Maque Choux is the Cajun succotash.