For years, my cooking handbook was “Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.” Then, my husband bought me a copy of “The Joy of Cooking,” a book I had always wanted and it has been my go-to cookbook for years.
Southern Living has produced the book “Home Cooking Basics” and it looks as though the tome could easily be a great kitchen guide for anyone.
Southern Living touts the book as perfect for those who didn’t have a Southern grandmother to teach them the ways of the kitchen.
I did have a Southern grandmother who was a great cook, not just because she was my grandmother. Everyone in her coal camp respected her culinary skills because her food was delicious and she could make a lot from a little, a skill that might be unique to cooks who survived the Great Depression.
Although practice has given me confidence in the kitchen, I learned to make pound cake, chicken and dumplings, fried apple pies and potato salad by hanging around Grandma’s kitchen and being put to work cutting up fruit and skinning poultry.
With beautiful photography and easy-to-see print, “Home Cooking Basics” defines cooking terms, tools and procedures as well as offers a variety of good recipes.
The “Home Cooking Basics” is available at book stores from Oxmoor House. It would make a great gift for anyone interested in cook.
Even if you’re an expert and need no guide, there are recipes, and all cooks know how delicious Southern Living recipes are.
CREAMY CUCUMBER SOUP
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 green onions
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 large English cucumbers (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, chopped,and divided
3 cups fat-free Greek yogurt
Salt to taste
Garnishes: toasted slivered almonds, freshly ground pepper, chopped red bell pepper.
Process chicken broth, green onions, vinegar, salt, pepper, and half of chopped cucumbers in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Add yogurt, and pulse until blended. Pour into a large bowl; stir in remaining chopped cucumbers. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Season with salt to taste just before serving. Garnish if desired.
GERMAN CHOCOLATE PIE
1 (4-ounces) package sweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 (12 ounces) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened whipped cream
3 tablespoons chocolate shavings
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare pastry; place in a 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie plate. Set aside.
Combine baking chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in evaporated milk; set aside.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl; add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Gradually stir in chocolate mixture, using a wire whisk. Pour mixture into unbaked pastry shell, and sprinkle with coconut and chopped pecans.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. (Pie may appear soft but will become firm after cooling.) Cool at least4 hours. Top cooled pie with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. sprinkle ice water, 1 tbsp. at a time, evenly over surface; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape into a disk; cover and chill until ready to use.
Roll pastry to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under, and crimp. Chill. Proceed as directed.
1/2 cup cold butter
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Self-rising soft-wheat flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut 1/2 cup cold butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over 2 1/4 cups flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 time, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter size piece of paper). Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).
Press or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into 2 x 2 inch squares with a pastry cutter, or cut with a 2 inch round cutter, and place, side by side ona parchment paper lined or lightly greased jelly roll pan. (Dough squares or rounds should touch).
Bake at 450 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 tbsp. melted butter.
NATALIE’S CAJUN-SEASONED PAN-FRIEND TILAPIA
4 (4 to 6 ounces) tilapia fillet
1 1/2 teaspoons cajun seasoning, divided
3 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/2 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoons. butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)
Garnish: fresh parsley sprig
Sprinkle fillets with 1 tsp. seasoning. Combine remaining seasoning, flour, and cornmeal. Dredge fillets in flour mixture, shaking off excess.
Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat; add fillets, and cook 3 to 4 minutes on eah side or until fish flakes with a fork. Squeeze juice from lemon over fillets, and garnish if desired. Serve immediately.
8 baby yellow and red beets
8 baby candy cane beets
10 small carrots with greenery
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. cut tops from beets, leaving 1/2 inch stems. Peel beets, and cut in half. Cut tops from carrots, leaving 1/2 inch of greenery on each.
Toss yellow beets and carrots with 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl; place in a single layer on one side of an aluminum foil-lined 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle vegetables in pan with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Toss candy cane beets and red beets with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil; arrange beets in a single layer on remaining side of jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 salt and 1/4 pepper.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes; stir once, and bake 15 more minutes or until tender.
While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to email@example.com.