American


Aunt Peggy’s Bestever Cake

  The cake above is not just any cake—it’s not even just the bestever cake, it is the last thing I ate prepared by my late aunt Peggy. I got news of her sudden and unexpected death a few weeks ago. That night as I lay sleepless, recalling her, I remembered that she’d made this […]

Baked Green, and Not-So-Green, Tomatoes

One evening, I burnt the tip of my left index finger while frying green tomatoes in a cast-iron pan. Instead of using a spatula to flip the cornmeal-dusted rounds, I got right in there, with my fingers. Now, a week and half later, the spot looks like the veneer on an old piece of furniture, […]

Cream of Celery Soup with Roasted Fennel Bulb

  This soup has been patiently waiting in posting queue, and now its time has come.   I developed it early last winter to make use of a powerful fermented flavoring accent called Salted Herbs. But it never got airtime because my attention was soon drawn to other ingredients and their stories: first to black […]

Maple Black Walnut Ice Cream

  This custard-style ice cream is for devoted black walnut lovers, and wannabe lovers. It gives a double dose of the nut’s unique flavor: First, toasted nuts are ground into a flour and steeped in the cream and milk to impart their flavor, sight unseen; second, at the end of churning, finely chopped toasted black […]

Bloody Butcher Cornbread—The Official Bread of Halloween

  Owing to its phenomenal flavor, striking blood-red color, suitably macabre name, and Old Dominion pedigree, I name Bloody Butcher Cornbread the official 2015 Virginia State Bread of Halloween.   Even though not as commonly associated with Virginia as, say peanuts or ham, Bloody Butcher corn traces its roots directly to the state, where the […]

Holly’s Cow Peas — Authentic Country Cooking

It’s honest, simple food that speaks plainly of its origins, its parts, and aspirations. It’s the humblest of food that fit for a king, and it’s startlingly delicious.   Like Hank William’s “Lost Highway,” it’s direct and from the heart; it cannot tell a lie. Like the vernacular dogtrot house or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling […]

Bean Cuit

  I wrote this post more than a month ago, when green beans were still plentiful. Then, before I had a chance to put the finishing touches on it, I got a story assignment, my first since moving to Richmond. (It’ll be published in the November/December issue of Edible Richmond Magazine). Of course I fell […]

Succotash—More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Succotash is a perfect subject for this posting, my first on the foods of Virginia. You could argue that no dish is more Virginian than succotash, going way back, as many claim, to the Powhatan Indians, a tribe that lived along the eastern shore of what is now called Virginia. And it’s the dish that […]

Strawberry-Rhubarb Galette with Suet-Butter Pastry

Filled with seasonal, locally grown strawberries and rhubarb, this galette recipe could be in the newest DCCC pick, Ripe, a gorgeous book devoted to 23 fruits and nuts. But it is not. I haven’t quite left Fat yet, the last DCCC pick. (The club seems to be on a trend of sensual, single word titles.) […]

The Best Chocolate Pudding

The mission at Cook’s Illustrated is “to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods.” Who can’t recall creamy chocolate pudding as a favorite food, if from a distant childhood past? The problem with those childhood versions, however, is that they lack the amount of dark chocolate oomph needed to appeal to […]

Pretty Little Pink-eyed Peas and BBQ Across Two States

It’s time for Pink-eyed Peas! Pink-eyed Peas! Pink-eyed peas? Who ever heard of pink-eyed peas? I hadn’t, before taking a trip to Alabama last month, and none of my Northern friends or family members has either. But down south locals are eating them with some smoky, salty pork goodness and, depending on who you talk […]

Cousin Deonna’s Perfect Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese is a classic side for barbecue, which of course it not the same thing as grilling, the subject of the current DCCC book (Global Grilling by Jay Solomon.) But there are some dishes in the book, burgers and baked beans, for example, that would go fabulously with an all-American mac & cheese. This is […]

Crescent Dragonwagon’s Gumbo Zeb

  Filé powder. Dark chocolate-brown roux. Cayenne pepper. These are the some of the ingredients that help give gumbo its signature and soul-satisfying flavor. When I discovered that Crescent Dragonwagon devoted an entire chapter in her cookbook Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread to this distinctively, and to Northerners, exotic, American soup, I knew I […]

Old-Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

  When cookbook author Crescent Dragonwagon ran an inn and restaurant in Arkansas, her skillet-sizzled cornbread was a favorite menu item of hers and her customers. Clearly cornbread is important to her. After writing Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook, she went on to write The Cornbread Gospels; she also likes […]

Chilled Strawberry Soup with Crème Fraîche

It’s strawberry season, and flyers for strawberry dinners, held at local churches, can be seen around town. The only thing strawberry at these dinners, however, is the dessert—usually homemade strawberry shortcake. This recipe, from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon, is meant to be served at the start of the meal, the […]




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