We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

Southern Living Ultimate Quick & Easy Cookbook edited by Jane E. Gentry (Oxmoor House) urges readers to imagine finding all of their childhood favorites in one source revised into simpler, more streamlined recipes.

Readers voted "Quick & Easy" their favorite feature in Southern Living. Now they can enjoy over 450 fast recipes in one cookbook.

Compiled by Jane E. Gentry, an editor at Southern Living, Southern Living Ultimate Quick & Easy Cookbook has these features: colorful banners beside titles identify features like 5 Ingredients or Less, Make Ahead, Ideas for Two, Freeze It, and No-Cook Creation. Hundreds of shortcuts and tips streamline cook time. Readers will find ideas for Two Meals in One, Gadget Magic, and Fix it Faster, which offers options for making a quick recipe even quicker. More than 100 photographs show just what the recipes look like. The staff at Southern Living share their best secrets for organizing the kitchen for speed, stocking up on quick-cooking staples, and breezing through the grocery store in record time. Starbursts indicate dishes that cook in 10, 20, and 30 minutes or less.

Here’s a sampling of some of Southern Living’s editors’ favorites:

  • Bring back memories with creamy Corn Pudding – only has 5 ingredients.
  • Prep fresh Crunchy Fried Okra in 6 minutes: batter up small, tender whole okra pods and skip the slicing.
  • Dress up chicken breasts with three ingredients to make Pecan Chicken.
  • Pan-Seared Steaks with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce offer unbelievable flavor with only five ingredients and 10 minutes start to finish.
  • Chicken-Fried Steak 'n' Country Gravy is on the table in 30 minutes.
  • Pop some fries in the oven when preparing Fried Catfish Sandwiches, and readers will have dinner finished in 25 minutes.
  • Spiced Pecans are sure to disappear quickly – only takes 15 minutes.
  • Five-ingredient German Chocolate Squares take only 8 minutes.
  • New-fashioned Banana Pudding makes everybody happy – instant pudding mix with a little half-and-half to give it homemade flavor.
  • Caramel-Nut Pull-Apart Bread is easy on the cook with just four ingredients.

A cross-referenced recipe index makes finding favorite recipes faster than ever.

With Southern Living Ultimate Quick & Easy Cookbook, readers will find a collection of editors’ best recipes with fewer steps and quicker times without sacrificing flavor. Whether it's the home cooking or the cozy feelings, it's good to have these simple versions of the foods we Southerns grew up with.

Southern Living Annual Recipes 2003 by Leisure Arts (Oxmoor House) Some foods and trends have changed over the years, but one thing hasn't, Southern Living Annual Recipes continues to provide readers with every single, kitchen-tested recipe, secret tip, and entertain­ing idea from a full year of the magazine. This special 25th anniversary volume of Southern Living Annual Recipes is a collector’s "must have."

From quintessential Southern comfort food like Chicken and Dumplings to the ultimate Fried Chicken, Southern Living Annual Recipes 2003 recipe collection gives old and new readers alike the means for making every meal a diner’s delight.

For the bonus section of this special anniversary volume, Southern Living has gone through nearly 25,000 recipes to select the five all‑time best recipes in each of these categories:

  • Quick & Easy recipes in a flash

  • Ultimate Southern – tried and true classics

  • Desserts – sensational sweets

  • Family Favorites – delicious dishes for the gang

  • Chocolate – rich, luscious desserts

Organizational features of Southern Living Annual Recipes 2003 to help readers find what they’re looking for include:

  • Easy-to-find ingredients with convenient substitutions that are marked by an asterisk (*)

  • Favorite monthly features: Taste of the South, Top‑Rated Menu, From Our Kitchen, What's for Supper?, Quick & Easy, and Living Light

  • A Menu Index for everything from casual family suppers to elaborate holiday dinners.

  • Seasonal foods in the Month‑by‑Month Index.

  • A Recipe Title Index to search for a name.

  • A General Recipe Index, useful when searching for a recipe by ingredient or type of dish.

For over 35 years, the Southern Living Foods Staff has been a trusted source of Southern cuisine, and Southern Living Annual Recipes 2003 can be a guide to memorable meals for family and friends all year long. Highly acclaimed for its clear organization and photography, the volume is easy to use and deserves a place on every cook’s bookshelf.

New Soul Cooking: Updating a Cuisine Rich in Flavor and Tradition by Tanya Holland (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) When the term "soul food" is tossed around these days, certain indelible and unforgettable images come to mind: fried okra, cornbread, black‑eyed peas, collard greens, country ham, fried chicken, sweet potato pie. Once considered a "regional cuisine" confined to the American South and African‑American communities throughout the country, soul food is now more popular than ever, and finding its way into both the home kitchen and restaurants. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, soul food is now "the fifth most‑sampled cuisine, ahead of... Cajun/Creole, No. 6; Thai, No. 11; and Indian, No. 12." Tanya Holland, chef, restaurateur, and co‑host of Food Network's popular "Melting Pot" program, updates and reinterprets soul food in New Soul Cooking. Using the traditional ingredients and dishes associated with soul food, Holland incorporates influences from the Caribbean Islands , Brazil , and Africa to create a truly global cuisine.

New Soul Cooking features 95 mouth‑watering recipes that will satisfy both devotees of classic soul food and a new generation of home cooks and chefs who rely more on fresh and seasonal ingredients and modern cooking techniques. The recipes also reflect the more health‑conscious way people eat today, and there is little to none of the animal‑fat content found in traditional soul food. The book offers chapters by course: appetizers, soups and salads, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and a closing chapter on condiments and sauces. A beginning chapter on the "New Soul Pantry" is a useful guide to the ingredients commonly used in both traditional and new soul food cooking.

Filled with exciting new ideas for maximizing flavors – New Soul Cooking reinvigorates many of the classic soul food dishes. Holland 's Okra Tempura and Molasses‑Barbecued Chicken will convert the surest skeptics, and inventive dishes like Seasonal Squash Jambalaya, Peppered Gruyere Baked Grits, and Lemon Chess Turtlettes add another dimension to those soul food favorites. Perhaps the ultimate soul food staple, cornbread, gets a "confetti" makeover with colorful and tasty vegetables mixed in the batter.

With brilliant full‑color photography and the author's insightful notes on each and every recipe, New Soul Cooking is a warm and delightful guide to new frontiers beyond traditional soul food cuisine.

The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great Southern Cooks by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock (Knopf) What makes The Gift of Southern Cooking so special is that it represents two different styles of Southern cooking – Edna 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. Now in her mid-80s, Lewis brings out the best of Southern cooking with a collaborator less than half her age. It's written in Peacock's voice and, unless he says so, there's no telling where his recipes end and hers begin, but it doesn't matter: they are two peas in a pod. Together they share their secrets for such Southern basics as:

  • Pan-fried Chicken

  • Cornbread-Pecan Dressing

  • Old-Fashioned Creamy Grits

  • Country Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy

  • Hot, Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Southern Greens Cooked in Pork Stock

Peacock describes how Miss Lewis makes soup by coaxing the essence of flavor from vegetables, and he applies the same principle to his intense, scrumptious dish of Garlic Braised Shoulder Lamb Chops with Butter Beans and Tomatoes. And, as if to prove that the Southern kitchen does not begin and end with the pig, several modern innovations appear: Sauteed Frogs' Legs with Brown Butter and Capers, Silken Turnip Soup, & Chanterelles on Toast. You’ll find all this and more before you even get to the superb cakes, the hand-cranked ice creams, the flaky pies, and homey custards and puddings.
Interwoven throughout
The Gift of Southern Cooking are warm and friendly memories of the people and the traditions that shaped these 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. 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.
The Gift of Southern Cooking is the coming together of two extraordinary cooks, sharing their gifts. The rest of the country owes its thanks to this unlikely pair for bringing Southern comfort back to everyone's table – as one chapter puts it, “Praise the lard and pass the biscuits.”

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