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The New Southern Table: Classic Ingredients Revisited Paperback – March 1, 2014
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Sweet Potato Cornbread
"This is one of my favorite takes on traditional corn bread. Sweet potato purée, when mixed in with cornmeal, adds a nice depth of flavor and nutritional integrity and a beautiful bright orange color. This is the base recipe, but the variations are endless: Try adding diced hot chiles, fresh herbs such as rosemary or chives, or grated aged cheese, or substituting sour cream or crème fraîche in place of the yogurt. "
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork and bake directly on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour, or until tender all the way through. Alternatively, cook the sweet potato in a microwave on high, turning over once, about 10 minutes, or until tender. Let the sweet potato cool slightly, then peel and purée either with a potato ricer or masher. You’ll need 1 cup (255 g) of purée. Butter a 9 x 9 x 2-inch (23 x 23 x 5 cm), or similar size, baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 cup (255 g) puréed sweet potatoes, eggs, buttermilk, and yogurt. Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a food processor, and pulse until combined. Add the butter to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add this cornmeal mixture to the sweet potato mixture, stir until just combined, and pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until the corn bread is golden brown on top and a paring knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.
- 1 pound (455 g) orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 large)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup (115 g) full-fat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) lemon zest
- 2 1⁄3 cups (322 g) finely ground cornmeal
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (11 g) baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) fine salt or table salt
- 2 teaspoons (9 g) granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 10 tablespoons (143 g) cold unsalted butter, diced
"Brys Stephens's The New Southern Table has that hallmark quality of all truly great Southern cookbooks: It makes us want to get in the kitchen and cook sweet potatoes the first day we flip it open!" ?" Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors, The Lee Bros Charleston Kitchen
"You don't need to leave the South to find good produce. But to compose globe-straddling dishes such as watermelon-and-pistachio pudding, miso-dressed sweet potato salad, and okra-and-quinoa pilau, it helps. Veteran food writer and G&G contributor Brys Stephenshas done his fair share of traveling, from his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to France and Italy to remote corners of Southeast Asia. All this bears fruit in his new cookbook, The New Southern Table, in which he layers international flavors with some of Dixie's most iconic ingredients?"okra, peaches, peanuts, and collard greens, to name a few." ?" Garden and Gun Blog, gardenandgun.com
"In The New Southern Table Brys takes Southern staples and introduces us to his life's journey in food and its effect on the classics. His recognition of a host of cultures in and around the South, as well as from his travels, creates a delicious world view of Southern cooking. It is that fascinatiing twist and refreshing look into Brys's beloved Southern table that makes this cookbook a must-have in your home." ?" Chris Hastings, James Beard Award-Winning Chef of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Alabama
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Top customer reviews
Stephens takes fourteen classic southern ingredients -- okra, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes, pecans, and the like -- and, dedicating a chapter to each, gives the reader a demonstration of the full spectrum of their possibilities. The recipes at the front of each chapter, although original and interesting, tend to reflect more traditional uses of each ingredient in southern cuisine. With each subsequent recipe, however, the ingredients are used in progressively more unexpected ways, as traditional southern treatments often lead to recipes inspired by world cuisines.
Who knew that okra, native to Africa, is as prevalent in markets in the Mekong Delta as it is in farmer's markets across the American south? That field peas and peanuts were used mostly as livestock feed until the 20th century? The book is full of edifying factual nuggets like this. This cultural and geographic information that infuses the book makes it clear that Stephens did his homework, and this deep understanding of tradition is reflected in the quality of the recipes.
Like a jazz musician who must first master music theory and the classics before learning to improvise, or a poet whose free verse is only as good as her grounding in meter and rhyme, this book reflects the chops of a culinary artist whose knowledge of tradition serves as a solid launching pad for delicious flights of fancy, for a surprising, boundary-expanding tour of "southern" cuisine that leaves the reader with the distinct feeling that they have seen the whole world.
I grew up in the South and adore Southern cooking, but as an adult I moved away and have learned a different cooking style for my day-to-day meals. For example, I now tend to rely more on fresh ingredients and less on canned "cream of something" and other prepackaged products. This book has challenged me to cook with the familiar flavors of the South -- pecans, sweet potatoes, greens -- in a way that fits with my newer style. Frankly, it's been a fun and rewarding challenge. I'm still relatively new at cooking -- and certainly at being confident in my cooking -- and this book has helped me expand my repertoire with some delicious -- impressive even -- staples.
- Sweet Potato Gratin -- I'd mastered the Thanksgiving sweet potato crunch from the canned sweet potato years ago, but I'd been a little intimidated and completely ignorant of what (beyond simply baking it) I could do with a fresh sweet potato. Boy oh boy, this was super easy to prepare and amazingly tasty. My husband has requested it multiple times.
- Collards with Peppers, Currants, and Pine Nuts -- I didn't know collards could taste so fresh and light! I'd only ever eaten collards that had been slow cooked in pork fat -- which is delicious but not exactly the healthiest food to eat on a regular basis. This dish has become an easy and nutritious go-to meal for us. I never would have guessed.
- Pecan Habañero Pimento Cheese -- I stumbled upon the author doing a book signing at a store. He was serving this cheese spread on slices of bread. One slice and I had to buy the book!
- Kale, Apple, and Pecan Salad with Black Benne Dressing -- This was a tasty and refreshing way to eat kale and a great salad for healthier eating in the New Year.
We also tried and enjoyed a couple of the watermelon dishes over the summer, and I'm looking forward to working my way through some of the peanut and corn dishes this winter.
As a book of recipes, this is an amazing way to reinterpret Southern food. The recipes are organized by classic southern ingredients (e.g. rice, okra, pecans, etc.). This led to some surprises--pecan crusted pork chops next to oatmeal pecan cardamom cookies--that pushed some of my flavor ideas into new territory. The instructions are well-thought through and each recipe includes a short introduction that is a bit historical, a bit personal, and a bit like tasting notes for wine.
Here's a small window into how some of the recipes become new southern classics: the reinterpretation of greens (collards,, chard, and escarole) is much fresher than many classic ways to prepare the dish and soy sauce and rice vinegar bring a whole new fresh flavor to this classic.
Just love this book and am cooking my way through it.