Monday, May 16, 2011

Quick-Fix Southern

Southern cooking is the slow food queen of America. It is brisket made tender after hours spent in the homemade smoker. It is braised greens seasoned with hot peppers straight from the garden. It is the sizzle of cornbread batter being poured into the hot cast iron skillet. It is dressed up with home grown tomatoes and sweet onions. It is sweetened with crumbles made from wild berries gathered along country roads. And it is washed down with a tall glass of cool, sweet tea.

Unfortunately, Southern food takes an awful lot of time to prepare both in and out of the kitchen. And let's not forget the mountain of washing up to be done afterwards. To accommodate busy lifestyles, cookbooks featuring recipes that rely heavily on processed ingredients to make semi-scratch Southern food are plaguing the shelves of local bookstores. This has given Southern food a bad reputation in recent years. Although I love Southern food, I do not cook it often unless I want to showcase my “heritage” food at a special dinner. Since I don’t practice cooking Southern dishes often, I am rarely satisfied with the results. This predicament was recently resolved after discovering Rebecca Lang's new cookbook.

I am especially grateful for receiving a review copy of Rebecca Lang’s Quick-Fix Southern cookbook in the mail. Ms. Lang’s cookbook is a user friendly guide to preparing Southern “scratch” cooking in short time. This week, I prepared a Southern feast from Quick-Fix Southern with Ms. Lang’s recipes for “Mustard and Sage Pork Tenderloin” with a “Creamy Sage Sauce,” “Grilled Vidalias,” “Little Beet Salad,” and “Sweet Potato Biscuits.”

The grilled tenderloin was unbelievably tender and delicious. Serve it alongside the tasty “Grilled Vidalias” which are abundant in the markets right now since the season began in April.

Finding decent looking beet greens at my local market was impossible so I was forced to omit them from the "Little Beet Salad." This warm salad was a perfect accompaniment to the pork tenderloin and grilled onions.

It has been ages since I have made biscuits from scratch. As a child I helped my grandmother pat out the soft dough. I was instantly reminded of her showing me how to make efficient biscuit cuts. It’s important to cut the biscuits as close together as possible so the dough doesn’t have to be pressed out too often. Overworking the dough causes the biscuits to be tough. Ms. Lang’s sweet potato biscuits didn’t disappoint – they were soft, fluffy and buttery.

Many of the recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. The ones that require time to chill, marinate or pass hours in the slow cooker obviously will not be ready in a short amount of time. This just means that you spend about 5-10 minutes preparing the ingredients and your trusty appliance does the rest.

This cookbook includes useful “cooking school” tips and interesting historical information with the recipes. It does not inundate the cook with excessive ingredient lists and preparation details. This is a huge time saver for most folks trying to cook from a recipe. If you are looking for a glossy food pictorial this is not your book. This cookbook is for those of us wanting quick, get-it-right-every-time Southern food using whole ingredients.

Lang, Rebecca. Quick-Fix Southern. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011.

Copyright © 2009-2011 Madame Monaco All Rights Reserved

Click the picture below to purchase Rebecca Lang’s Quick-Fix Southern.

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