Sometimes it’s tempting to start at the back of a cookbook where the sweets and desserts are – both to look at the photographs and to read recipes that make you hunger for the end of a meal.
That’s true in the case of Paula Deen with Melissa Clark‘s Southern Cooking Bible (Simon & Schuster 2011) after all, the back of the book features the smiling blue-eyed powerhouse grandmother holding a lattice topped pie. Look for that recipe for Apple Pie (pp. 313-4). It’s topped with cinnamon sugar and the recipe includes a line drawing on how to make the lattice. Paula cooks the bottom shell first so that the pie pastry doesn’t become mushy. There are other, more unusual pies in the chapter, like a Butterscotch Pretzel Pie (p. 318) with a pretzel crust and a filling of brown sugar topped with whipped cream. The Down-Home Grits Pie (p. 327) is filled with buttery grits and served with whipped cream and strawberries. The key is sweet and buttery.
Beyond Pies, the Southern Cooking Bible has four other chapters dedicated to desserts and sweets:
Oh, my goodness, I was like a kid in a candy shop trying to fit everything wonderful abut the Southern table into this cookbook, and y’all, I have hardly scratched the surface. I mean, what Southern cook worth her sale–or sugar– would feel content with only five dessert chapters? You’ll see that beyond the Divinity (page 414), the Lemony Chess Pie (page 324) the Nutty Brittle (page 418) and the Coconut Cake (page 363), there is infinity of other beautiful treats just waiting to be shared.
If you are a fan of Paula’s enthusiasm, and adore her “y’all” on practically every page, you will love this book!
Paula’s classics are sprinkled throughout the book. Praline French Toast Casserole (p. 100) is rich in all the things Paula loves: cream, butter, eggs, brown sugar, pecans, and some extra raspberry liquor. Chicken-fried Steak with Cream Gravy (p. 127) is another rich dish – this time a tenderized piece of steak is seasoned and fried like chicken:
But whoa, Mama, is that a tasty way to cook meat! What you end up with in your skillet are the making for one of the finest sauces in the whole wide world: cream gravy. It’s nothing more then pan drippings, broth, and cream, but it comes together like magic.
Paula’s Chicken with Drop Dumplings (pp. 165-6) is rib-sticking comfort food. The chicken is cooked in broth, and then drop biscuits with a touch of cayenne are cooked in the broth, and then the broth is thickened with cream. Most recipes have extra notes:
Dumplin’ Dos and Don’ts: Dumplings are delicate creatures, so take care cooking them. Never stir them or let your simmer get going too fast, or they may break apart. If you’re not sure your dumplings are done, try sticking a toothpick in them. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s time to serve. (p. 166)
Southern Cooking Bible is the perfect holiday gift for fans of Paula’s. Melissa Clark has done a terrific job with the recipes, while letting Paula’s big personality come through.