Monday, December 6, 2010

A Southern Cookbook For All of Us, Just in Time for Gifting

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 10:34 AM

A strong entrant in the list we began last week of cookbooks for giving: The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.

Nostalgically spiral-bound and hardcover, book bears the stamp of editor John T. Edge's impulse to cast the widest net possible. Though Food Network personality Alton Brown wrote the introduction, and the cast includes several Southern culinary luminaries (Frank Stitt, Leah Chase, John "Hoppin' John" Martin Taylor, Nathalie Dupree, Bill Neal), there are plenty of caterers, restaurant owners, academics, and just regular good cooks represented.

That variety sets the tone, and ensures that the book includes of plenty of genuinely new and genuinely Southern food to prove that it's still a living, breathing cuisine, where Collard Green and White Bean Gratin and Fried Dill Pickles are as likely as Red Beans and Rice.

Tennesseans and Nashville residents make a respectable showing in the book, including Nashville resident Timothy Davis, who collaborated with author Edge. Recipe contributors with Tennessee connections include former Capitol Grille chef Sean Brock (Deep Fried Peanuts), our own Martha Stamps (Rice Pudding), ham-and-bacon maker Allan Benton (Country Ham with Redeye Gravy), John Coykendall of Blackberry Farm (Cushaw Griddle Cakes), new Nashvillian Louis Osteen of Fish & Co. (Chicken Bog), and Nashville native Eliza Brown (Pickled Okra).

To order a copy, clink of this link to Oxford, Miss., publisher Square Books. (More book details and a recipe after the jump.)

SFACC puts less emphasis on celebratory food and ritualistic recipes and more on recipes that will help the everyday cook, like Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad and Blue Ribbon Pimento Cheese. Game and birds, so often overlooked but still a big part of many Southerners' diets, get a chapter on their own, and the editors were careful to include the traditions of new Southerners (Pork Carnitas, Mississippi Madras Okra Gravy and Refried Black-Eyed Peas).

Personally, I like that there are "new" recipes that aren't yet part of the canon but seem like real innovation from gifted cooks: Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette, Roasted Root Vegetable Chicken Pot Pie, Sriracha and Citrus Remoulade, and Slow-Cooker Crab Dip, which sounds like a great potluck dish for a holiday party, so I'll share the recipe along with its headnote.

Slow-Cooker Crab Dip

Think queso, that goo that’s omnipresent in Americanized Mexican restaurants. Think
fondue. What would tailgate parties be without peppers and processed cheese kept warm
in a slow cooker? For that matter, where would this cookbook be without them?

1 tablespoon butter
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pound block processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, such as RO*TEL
1 pound crab meat, picked and bits of shell removed
Hot sauce
Tortilla chips, crackers, toast points, or crudités, for dipping

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the green onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer into a small slow cooker. Stir in the processed cheese, Monterey Jack, and tomatoes. Cover and cook on high until the cheeses melt, about 1 hour. Stir in the crabmeat. Cover and cook on low until the crab is warmed through and the flavors meld, about 1 hour. Season with hot sauce. Serve warm with crunchy things for dipping.

Ann Garner Riddle of Winston-Salem, N.C.

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