Southern food is one of the most distinctive cuisines to have emerged in the United States, conjuring images of gracious hospitality, of languorous days and of tables laden with food. Southern food evolved in days that moved far slower than our own, making lengthy cooking the rule of thumb, but,author Rebecca Lang tell us that we can cook top quality southern food quickly and without sacrificing romance. Lang, a contributing editor to Southern Living Magazine, has devised recipes that save time, but don't lose southern grace and hospitality. "Even if your home is lacking the quintessential screen door and magnolia tree outside," writes Lang, "you can cook Southern just like those of us raised below the 'gnat-line.'" Her informal recipe introductions are akin to being in a southern kitchen, cooking an chatting at the same time.
Lang offers cooking tips and shortcuts throughout the book. As one example, cooking greens, once a long and time-consuming process is shortened by cutting the greens into smaller sizes, and enlivened by the addition of flavorings. Prompted by the southern love for hosting gatherings, she has organized the recipes thematically:
Rise and Shine
Sipping on the Screened Porch
Appetizers and Snacks
Picnics and Packable
Salads Soups and Sandwiches
Tailgates and Gatherings,
Busy Weeknight Supper
Girls' Night In
The book is filled with quick, but classic, southern favorites. Try a Short-Cut Barbecue, a Rib eye with Bourbon Pecan Butter or a Pecan-Crusted Racks of Lamb Eat great southern greens such as Spicy Mustard Greens, or a classic okra dish such as Pickled Okra and Ham Wheels. Imagine sitting on a wide veranda enjoying Tarragon Chicken Tea Sandwiches. While nibbling, sip Classic Sweet Tea, or enjoy a Lime Mint Julep, possibly Magnolia Mimosas, or an Herbed Bloody Mary.
On a busy weeknight, you can choose among recipes for Soft Catfish Tacos, Divine Chicken and Dumpling, Sausage, Vidalias, and Tomatoes. And when you're after that family casserole, try Petite Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, Double Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, Country Ham and Swiss Casserole. Top the meal off with one of the delicious southern sweets, such as Benne Seed Sugar Cookies, Blueberry Peach Float, Mini Key Lime Tarts, Real Fast Pralines.
Lang writes easily and with an awareness of the home kitchen. The recipes are workable and guarantee success. She includes a a list of sources for real ingredients, such as country ham and bacon, southern flour, pecan and peanuts.