Do you know the phrase "Everything Old is New again". Well when it comes to food, sometimes that's exactly how I feel.
Joan Aller's cookbook Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly: Recipes from Southern Appalachia reminds me of the way my grandparents cooked when I was coming up. Although neither of my grandparents were from the Southern Appalachia region, the food in this book is quite similar to the food of the coastal Carolina regions they are from.
Southern cuisine is quite in vogue at the moment, but if you ask me it should have always been. While I used to be embarrassed by the grilled Okra, Corn Pone, and Catfish of my youth - I now wish I had paid more attention in the kitchen! It's not that the food I grew up on wasn't delicious because believe me it was. It's just that like many kids I wanted to eat what my friends were eating: Grilled Cheese with Tomato soup out of the infamous red and white can, not Black eyed Pea stew or Smothered Cabbage with white rice. What was I thinking? I'm the one who had it good.
One of my favorite childhood meals, whose roots are quite Southern, is fried catfish with grits. Grits, often referred to as the polenta of the south, are usually coarse ground and made from white cornmeal instead of yellow. It's a perfect accompaniment to any meal; breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
Grits have certainly gotten a culinary makeover over the years and one dish that is loved by everyone even those who say they don't like grits is the now classic Shrimp and Grits (see recipe below), plump well seasoned shrimp on a bed of creamy buttery grits…I think I may need some right now and I think you do too.
So, if you're looking for a nice introduction to Southern cuisine, or Southern Appalachia cuisine in particular, with all the history and folklore that goes along with it, then this book is for you.
Shrimp and Grits
From Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly: Recipes from Southern Appalachia by Joan E. Aller (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010).
Serves 2 to 4
The Inn at Merridun in Union, South Carolina, is an antebellum mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Situated in the gently rolling upstate region of South Carolina, it is surrounded by shady oaks and century-old magnolias. It was once known as Keenan Plantation, and today the Georgian house is one of the most regal homes in Union. This recipe from the inn combines two southern favorites-shrimp and grits.
- 8 ounces peeled, deveined shrimp
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and cayenne pepper, or Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, butter, or bacon grease
- ½ small yellow onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped bell pepper (green, red, or yellow)
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 to 4 cups cooked creamy grits
In a bowl, sprinkle the shrimp with the lemon juice and seasonings; set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and bell pepper until the onion begins to turn transparent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the shrimp to the skillet and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink.
Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the wine to the skillet and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Return the shrimp mixture to the skillet and heat just until warm. Serve immediately over the hot grits.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.