- Virginia Johnson
Legendary New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne wrote more than 20 cookbooks, but surely none could have been closer to his heart or his roots than Southern Cooking.
When he was growing up, his mother ran a boardinghouse in the Mississippi Delta, and home-cooked meals were a part of the deal. Some of her best recipes are featured in this homage to Southern tastes, but Mr. Claiborne also had many friends who have contributed recipes. Some were famous chefs such as Paul Prudhomme, but others were just really good home cooks with roots below the Mason-Dixon line.
Charming features of this volume are the author’s childhood memories and melodious introductions: “There are more recipes for corn bread than there are magnolia trees in the South.” If you are familiar with Southern cooking, then you are probably aware that calories are not so much a consideration as taste. Though not as heavy as some of Paula Deen’s unreformed recipes, this is no diet cookbook. The Corn Fritters may be lightened with egg whites, but they are fried in a combination of butter and oil and many dishes are French in origin which do not spare butter or cream. Bourbon Pecan Pie isn’t going to please calorie counters, but as special occasion dishes, these recipes really shine—simple though most of them are to prepare, and the author gives very clear instructions.
Most cooks have a few core cookbooks they turn to time after time when something satisfying is needed for a covered dish supper or dinner with friends. Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking definitely has its place. Check it out from the library to see what marvelous, mainly old school recipes lie within, such as:
Catfish Baked with Cheese
6 catfish fillets (about 2 pounds)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup flour
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
8 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup sliced almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Wipe the catfish dry
3. Blend together the cheese, flour, salt, pepper, and paprika
4. Combine the egg and milk in a flat dish
5. Dip the fillets in the egg mixture, and then coat with the cheese mixture. Arrange the fillets in one layer in a baking dish, and pour the butter over all. Sprinkle with the almonds.
6. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings