Carla Hall’s Soul Food by Carla Hall, EPUB, 0062669834

  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Publisher: Harper Wave
  • Publication Date: October 23, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062669834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062669834
  • File Format: EPUB

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Dedication

 

To all my ancestors, whom I call upon daily for strength and inspiration.

In memory of George Hall.

 

 

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

 

Introduction

How to Cook from This Book

Appetizers

Olive Oil Deviled Eggs

Shortcut Deviled Eggs with Bread & Butter Pickles

Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus with Crudités

Baked Blooming Onion with Gruyère Cheese

Grilled Celery with Pecans and Cheddar Spread

Harissa Spiced Nuts

Salt and Pepper Butter Crackers

Biscuit Crackers

Pimento Cheese

Vegetables

Mixed Bitter Greens with Smoked Trout Pot Likker

Creamed Kale

Caramelized Leek and Mustard Green Soup with Chow Chow

Coconut Callaloo Soup

Chopped Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Seared Okra

Grilled Okra with Spiced Sprinkle

Chunky Tomato Soup with Roasted Okra Rounds

Cast-Iron Blackened Beans with Lemon and Chile

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions

Tomato, Cucumber, and Dill Salad

Peach and Tomato Salad

Tomato Pie with Garlic Bread Crust

Panfried Corn with Tomatoes

Tomato, Basil, and Mayonnaise Sandwiches

Succotash Salad with Corn and Lima Beans

Dilled Cucumber and Celery Salad

Pickled Cucumber Salad

Quick-Braised Cucumbers and Radishes

Summer Squash and Pesto Salad

Seared Summer Squash with Sage

Summer Squash and Pepper Hash with Country Ham and Fried Eggs

Red Pepper Bread Soup

Red Cabbage and Beet Slaw with Horseradish-Ginger Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins and Lemon-Pepper Millet

Broccoli Slaw with Pecans and Raisins

Pan-Roasted Cabbage and Celery Root

Smashed Carrots with Curry Oil

Roasted Whole Carrots with Benne

Parsnips with Honey-Orange Glaze

Smashed Beets with Red Onion and Mint

Barbecued Celery Root

Curried Mushroom and Coconut Soup

Smashed Red Potatoes with Mustard Mayonnaise Drizzle

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Pudding with Clementines

Creamy Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Cassava with Coconut Milk and Lime

Sorghum with Butternut Squash, Onion, Celery, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Kelewele: Marinated Fried Plantains

Watermelon with Mint and Lime

Watermelon Salad with Radishes

Beans

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette

Quick-Cooked Red Beans

White Beans with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Salt

Creamy White Bean Soup with Coconut and Chile

Mustard Seed–Marinated White and Pinto Beans

Speedy Bacon and Three-Bean Skillet Stew

Field Peas with Country Ham

Pigeon Peas and Red Rice

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Cornmeal

Johnnycakes

Hot Water Cornbread

Skillet Cornbread

Spoonbread Dressing

Glorified Grits Soufflé

Klaklo: Plantain Corn Pancakes

Breads

Sorghum Drop Biscuits

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Zucchini Cheddar Bread

Sweet Potato Rolls

Benne Clover Leaf Rolls

Poultry

Pineapple-Habanero Honey Fried Chicken

Barbecued Chicken Legs

Molasses Baked Chicken Wings

Baked Chicken with Pan Gravy

Piri Piri Poultry

Brown Sugar Baked Chicken

Caribbean Smothered Chicken with Coconut, Lime, and Chiles

Chicken Meatloaf Balls

Brunswick Stew

Dirty Rice

Meat

Hot Dogs!

Ham Steaks with Cantaloupe and Blackberry Sauté

Clove and Cider Glazed Holiday Ham

Bahamian Souse Soup with Pork Belly and Potatoes

Garlicky Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Black-Eyed Pea Vinaigrette

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Curried Lamb Stew with Potatoes

Meaty Tomato Mac and Cheese

Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup

Ghanaian Peanut Beef and Tomato Stew

Oxtail Stew with Brown Sauce

Seafood

Fried Fish with Spaghetti

Grilled Salmon with Mustard Sauce

Salmon Patties

Roasted Whole Chile-Stuffed Fish

Braised Plantains with Shrimp

Sea Island Shrimp and Grits

Superfast Seafood Stew with Fish and Shrimp

Cracked Shrimp with Comeback Sauce

Seasonings and Condiments

Poultry Seasoning

Seafood Seasoning

Barbecue Spice Blend

Piri Piri Spice

Curry Powder

Harissa Spice Mix

Hot ’n’ Zesty Broccoli Panko Crunch

Lemon-Thyme Benne

Barbecue Sauce

Pineapple-Habanero Hot Sauce

Comeback Sauce

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Ginger

Chile-Lime Mango Jam

Sorghum Butter

Tangy Tomato Sauce

Serrano Kale Pistou

Harvest Chow Chow

Red Onion Pickles

Pickled Delicata Squash

Pickled Beets

Mustard Corn Relish

Desserts

Sweet Potato Pie

Pecan Pie

Blackberry Peach Crumble Pie

Nutmeg Eggnog Buttermilk Pie

Carla’s Classic Pie Dough

Plum Cobbler

Banana Pudding

Vanilla Shortbread

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Sandwiches with Buttercream Filling

Chocolate Pound Cake

Poured Caramel Cake

Yellow Sheet Cake

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut Cream Layer Cake

Coconut Cake

Strawberry Cake

Drinks

Mango Coconut Frappé

Sweet Tea Soda

Habanero Ginger Simple Syrup

Watermelon Juice

Cantaloupe Juice

Celebration Menus

Sunday Supper

Juneteenth

Summer Cookout

Game Day

Thanksgiving

Holiday Dinner

New Year’s

Spring Brunch

Easter

Spring Picnic

 

Acknowledgments

Index

About the Authors

Also by Carla Hall

Copyright

About the Publisher

 

 

Introduction

 

 

I’ve been eating soul food all my life and cooking it my whole career. I don’t just know soul food. Soul food is in my soul. This book is a collection of my favorite recipes. It combines easy weeknight meals centered on seasonal vegetables with rich celebration dishes for special occasions. Even though the recipes have roots in history and heritage, they’re my present-day twists on the classics and my original creations.

By definition, soul food refers to the dishes of the Cotton Belt of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama that traveled out to the rest of the country during the Great Migration. (The term itself came around the middle of the twentieth century.) You know what travels well? Fried chicken. Mac and cheese. Delicious, but not what anyone’s meant to eat every day. I’m here to redefine soul food, to reclaim it.

Soul food is the true food of African-Americans.

The roots of our cooking are in West Africa. And from there, the American South, from the slave ports along the eastern coast to the southern border. We relied on seasonal vegetables, beans, and grains, with meat on rare occasions. Let’s be clear: those were horrible times of suffering under the most unspeakable evil. I don’t want to romanticize any of it. Not even the food. Remember, we didn’t get to choose what we ate. But we made the most delicious dishes from what little we had. And what we cooked for the slave owners effectively became what we know as “American” food today.

After emancipation, African-Americans relied on the land and water for their daily meals. Collards in winter, peas through spring, tomatoes come summer. Chickens were for laying eggs, not frying. Fish and shrimp were abundant for coast and river folks. We lost that connection during the Great Migration and in the decades since as industrialized convenience food has made us unhealthy and sick. Our celebration foods—smoked whole hogs, candied yams, caramel cake—became what we ate all the time. We forgot about all the amazing daily meals we created from greens and beans and grains.

This book shines a light on those everyday foods my people were eating for generations in the South. That, my friends, is as much soul food as our celebration meals.

You may be wondering, “What’s the difference between Southern food and soul food?” Easy answer: black cooks. And I’m one of them. A lot of the dishes, seasonings, and techniques are the same, but there’s an extra oomph in soul food. It’s like the difference between a hymn and a spiritual. Both sound beautiful and express the same message, but the spiritual’s got a groove. Southern food’s delicious any which way, but when it’s made in the Black-American tradition with influences from Africa and the Caribbean, it delivers the kind of warmth and joy that makes you want to get up and dance.

I got that soul food in my bones. I was born into it in the South, with roots that go back generations. I grew up dunkin’ cornbread into pot likker at the table, snapping green beans for church suppers, slicing chess pie at every baby shower and graduation party. At my very core, I’m always going back home to Tennessee when it comes to what I cook and eat. I’ve got a Nashville-born-and-bred palate, which marries heat and spice with tart and tangy and a sweetness that’s not too sugary. Coming from that heritage, I got a hold on the food with the soul that bears its name.

For this book, I tried to imagine what my ancestors would be cooking from the farm if they were alive today. By looking to our roots, I’m showing you how delicious and healthy true soul food is. African-Americans were cooking farm-to-table centuries before it was a label to slap on hip restaurants. Foraging, pickling, preserving—that’s how we survived. Our farms were all “organic.” You think you discovered kale? Child, we’ve been eatin’ those greens for hundreds of years. I’m going back to all that.

The bulk of this book is vegetable-centric weeknight recipes so comforting they taste like big ol’ hugs. Just like the celebration foods. Even though I don’t think you should eat feast foods every day, I still love ’em. You’ll find my spins on the celebration foods that’ve been passed down by black cooks for generations for Sunday suppers, holidays, Juneteenth, family reunions, and parties.

Everything in this book will be fresher and lighter than most recipes out there. That’s how I’ve always cooked. I’m never consciously thinking about how to cut calories or fat or anything like that. What I am always doing is trying to make the main ingredients shine as much as possible—and that results in lighter dishes.

 

Granny, my greatest inspiration in the kitchen, raised me on good-for-you soul food. Granny was a dietician at a hospital and prepared meals at home for her husband, who needed heart-healthy dishes. She never skimped on flavor or made anything too lean, but cut back where she could. I’m pickin’ up the torch and adding my own twists to Granny’s dishes. The recipes in this book capture all the soulfulness of soul food but don’t make you feel like you’re gonna die afterward.

Or during the cooking process. I keep it all easy. Mama didn’t teach me how to cook—because she didn’t know how to cook well herself. Neither of my grandmothers taught me either, even though they both whipped up the best food I’ve had to this day. So if you’re not experienced in the kitchen, I know where you’re coming from ’cause I’ve been there. I want present and future generations to preserve true soul food, and I know the recipes need to be easy for that to happen. I’ve made the dishes in here super-simple after years of streamlining meals for busy home cooks as a host of The Chew. For all the everyday dishes, I keep the cooking times short and cut out extra pans and fuss wherever I can.

This book is about so much more than food. It collects and re-creates soul food memories. My personal ones, of course, but also communal ones among African-Americans. By drawing on memories in the kitchen, I re-create not only the taste of the dishes, but also the deep joy and comfort in sharing them. Now that’s cooking with love. Anyone making this book’s recipes will feel like they’re at the family table and taste the deep roots of the food. This isn’t just a collection of anonymous recipes, it’s an intimate taste of true soul food.

Soul food needs to continue growing and evolving as a cuisine, and I hope this book is a part of it. Even though my Southern palate remains at the root of my cooking, my experiences with international cuisines and my farm-to-table instincts result in dishes that simultaneously have big, satisfying flavors but also feel bright and light.

Yes, this book celebrates soul food. And that means it celebrates American food. Because that’s what soul food is—a cuisine created on this land. This book champions delicious dishes everyone will love and will show you how to embrace it as your own.

THE JOURNEY

Nashville was a great place to grow up. Maybe it’d be nice to retire there too. But I needed to be somewhere else in between. To get some perspective before I could come back. Mama’s from a well-respected doctor’s family and raised me and my sister, Kim, on the “good” side of town. Still, I got slurs thrown at me. Some boys even spat on me.

Despite that disgusting racism and prejudice, I was comfortable with my African-American identity and hanging out with white folks. My best friend Karen was white, and we had a grand ol’ time playing together. Granny gathered my cousins, aunts, and uncles for Sunday supper each week after we spent the day at our historically black churches. My theater troupe was totally mixed, but we felt more connected to each other than to all the other kids.

Then I went to Howard for college. Woke.

Then Europe to model. In London, I cured homesickness with soul food.

Back in Washington, D.C., I started a lunch delivery service. My soups, sandwiches, and pound cakes fueled the guys at the barbershops. I found my life’s passion in the kitchen, so I went to culinary school.

Like a lot of African-Americans who go to cooking school, I couldn’t run fast enough from soul food as soon as I was taught European dishes. Early in my career, I was like, “Now I’m educated and I don’t need to do soul food. You can’t pigeonhole me in mac and cheese.” Once I learned traditional French techniques, I got all uppity. I stopped frying chicken and started stewing it in red wine. With my European cooking, I rose through fancy restaurant ranks to become executive chef, private-cheffed for the super-rich, started my own catering company. Then I showed the world what I could do as a contestant on Top Chef.

In the intensity of the competition, I found my way home. When the pressure to win felt almost unbearable, I remembered what Granny always told me: “It’s your job to be happy, not rich. If you do that, then everything else will follow.” Nothing makes me happier than Granny’s food. So I started cooking it, working in techniques I’d learned in professional kitchens. The judges, fellow contestants, viewers—everyone—could feel the love in my food.

Cooking soul food with love got me into the Top Chef finals and voted fan favorite. That opened the door for me to become one of the hosts on ABC’s The Chew. Over my past six years of cooking for millions of Americans on TV, it’s been all about coming back to soul food.

That was the inspiration for this book.

To really return to my roots, I knew I had to go back home. I had to travel the route so many African-Americans did before me, so I took a Southern road trip with my writer, Genevieve; and photographer, Gabriele. We started where the slave ships came into Charleston, South Carolina. From there, south along the sea islands of the Gullah-Geechee communities to Savannah, Georgia. Inland to Civil Rights landmarks throughout Alabama. Up through the bittersweet beauty of the Mississippi Delta. Back home to Tennessee.

 

Along the way, we shared meals and stories with African-American farmers, chefs, cooks, legends. On farms, at markets, in restaurants, at home. Always breaking bread at the welcome table. And we traveled through time.

 

SELMA

I went to Selma for the first time on the road trip for this book. As soon as I started up the bridge, I felt it. The energy. Of the marchers. Of my ancestors. Sharecroppers. Slaves. My tears started and wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want them to. There’s power in those honest emotions. The pull of the bridge was so strong, I had to touch it. I had to lie against the steel to feel it. All that energy.

The torture we endured. The death, the loss of dignity, all of it. We need to remember it and keep it in the forefront and acknowledge that it happened. What we have came at a serious cost. But when our bodies were broken, we held on to our souls.

With my back against the bridge, I felt the resistance and strength and unity. The fellowship of our people and how we share food. No matter how little you had, you always had enough to share.

And then I felt pride. Everyone I talked to on the trip—and all the African-Americans I’ve known who feed others—take pride in their food. We all should. There may have been times when, as black people, we didn’t feel proud of that food history. At Selma, I went back in time and looked at this history and said I’m not ashamed of soul food. I’m proud of it. This is part of our heritage.

 

The sky went from gray to gold, the sun through the clouds. The light in the darkness. I was cleansed. I rose from the bridge’s railings. Walked to the middle of it, where Dr. King and hundreds of others endured pain and hate to overcome. Their march was not in vain.

All of those emotions are in these recipes. They’re soul food, coming from my soul. Yes, they’re Southern too, but not in the way some understand Southern food. Those hot spots in the nicer neighborhoods where foodies are discovering “real” Southern food? Those places are built on the backs and shoulders of African-American cooks. You may not see many African-Americans as executive chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants, topping lists, or winning the big awards. Not yet. You don’t see us, but we’re here. We’re in hotel kitchens, at catering companies, on the line at those starred places. We’ve always been here. And we’re rising.

Now, I’m here to help y’all see us. Because, yes, you can see me. But I don’t want you to ever think that I’m better than you are, better than any other chef out there. I certainly don’t. But I’ve been blessed with this platform. I’m using it to say: I want all of us to be proud of soul food. Soul food is ours. Claim it. Reclaim it. I’m just here to share a taste.

Welcome to my table.

 

 

How to Cook from This Book

 

 

Any way you want! But here are a few pointers:

Everyday dishes work well on weeknights. Some are one-pot meals, but most—especially the vegetables—are meant to be on the table with other plates. Follow the Southern cafeteria-style dining concept of meat and three, where you choose a bit of meat and then three vegetable sides. Often, I just do the three. You can try that too.

Celebration dishes should be reserved for holidays, gatherings, and parties. Yes, because they’re rich, but also because they’re a commitment of time and energy. Cook them with friends and family members for a good time. To round out a party menu (see here), make lots of the everyday vegetables, which taste special enough for company.

Follow the formulas first, then play around. If you’re already a pro in the kitchen, you can skim my recipes for inspiration and go at it. If you’re just learning how to cook or don’t feel too confident in the kitchen, measure the ingredients and follow the instructions carefully. The process will teach you how to balance flavor and texture.

Taste and season. I give measured salt amounts because folks often season too much or too little. Try my measured amounts, but always taste as you cook to see whether you need more or less salt. (If less, just hold off on adding any more while cooking.)

 

INGREDIENTS

Soul food’s American food, so you’ll find everything you need for these recipes in your local supermarket. I’m here to shine a light on ingredients that originated in Africa or are prevalent in the Caribbean. Those should be easy to find too—if not in a brick-and-mortar, then online. You’ll find out more about the ingredients in their recipes.

 

Since this book champions farmers, past and present, go find them! Buy their wares at their stands or in farmers’ markets.

Meat’s something I enjoy in moderation. So when I get some, I go organic. It’s pricey, but if it’s a once-in-a-while meal, it’s worth spending more to ensure the meat’s good for you and the earth.

Get Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt if you can. That’s what I used for the measurements of savory dishes in this book. Morton’s Kosher Salt is saltier and David’s Kosher Salt saltier still. And don’t swap in table salt for kosher. If you use anything but Diamond Crystal, start with less and taste before adding more. For baking, I use fine salt because it dissolves more readily. (I just call it “salt” in this book.)

Vegetable oil in this book means any neutral-flavored oil, like canola, grape seed, or sunflower.

 

 

EQUIPMENT

You don’t need anything fancy to cook these dishes, but a few things get used a lot:

 

Sharp knives will change your life. Don’t hack away with dull ones.

Box grater and Microplane zester, for grating big and small.

Cast-iron skillets are heavy and require care, but they’re a cheap nonstick option that heats more evenly than anything else.

Ditto Dutch ovens for soups, stews, and braises.

Stand mixer if you want to bake a lot.

Wooden spoons for mixing, silicone spatulas for scraping.

Jars for keeping condiments.

 

 

Appetizers

 

 

Simple is good. Simple is easy to execute. Don’t overthink things. Simple is often the best path to success.

 

 

Olive Oil Deviled Eggs

 

MAKES 1 DOZEN Celebration

 

For a lighter, less cloying version of this soul food staple, I swap in some olive oil for some of the mayonnaise. It balances the creaminess of the filling and adds a fruity note.

 

 

6 large eggs, at room temperature

 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

 

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

 

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Pinch of cayenne pepper

 

Put the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add 1 cup ice. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl filled with ice and water. When cooled, peel and halve lengthwise.

Put the yolks in a bowl and add the oil, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and cayenne. Mash and mix until smooth. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve if you want an extra-silky filling. Transfer to a piping bag or resealable plastic bag with a hole snipped in one corner.

Pipe the filling into the egg white cavities and serve.

Make ahead: The deviled eggs can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.

 

 

Shortcut Deviled Eggs with Bread & Butter Pickles

 

 

MAKES 8 Celebration

 

I often call soul food cooking with love. It may be because so many classics require so much TLC. Take deviled eggs. A party’s not a party without them in the South. But you have to boil and peel those eggs, empty them, make a stuffing, and refill them. With this technique, I’ve streamlined the steps while keeping the soul of the dish intact. I soft-boil eggs, split them, then top them with a mayonnaise-mustard blend. The almost-set yolk is still creamy but stays in place. When you chew it, you end up with an even silkier version of all the yolky richness in a standard filling. No less love, but a lot less hassle.

 

 

4 large eggs

 

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

2 bread & butter pickle slices, diced

 

Snipped chives, for garnish

 

Put the eggs in a small saucepan in a single layer and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice and water.

When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel. Carefully cut each egg in half lengthwise (the yolks should be a little runny) and place on a serving plate, cut sides up.

Mix the mayonnaise and mustard with a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Dollop the mixture over the yolks, then top with the pickles and chives. Serve immediately.

 

 

Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches

 

 

MAKES 3 CUPS SALAD; ABOUT 3 DOZEN SANDWICHES Celebration

 

Recipes are meant for sharing. When I taste something that blows my mind, I find out everything I can about it. That’s what happened with this egg salad. I was at an event, took a bite of an egg salad sandwich, and screamed, “What the what?!” I felt like I was eating a deviled egg, but I was staring at egg salad! The chef who made it told me that the secret is tearing medium-cooked eggs by hand instead of cutting them with a knife. Those rustic irregular chunks end up feeling super-creamy in your mouth. I rushed home, tinkered with the seasonings, and hit on the blend here. To play up the deviled egg idea, I stuff the salad into biscuit rounds with cavities cut out of their tops the way you’d stuff an egg white with yolk filling. But this salad is just as delicious between slices of bread or by the spoonful.

 

 

6 large eggs

 

¼ cup mayonnaise

 

2 tablespoons sour cream

 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

 

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish

 

Angel Biscuits

 

Cucumbers, cut in matchsticks, for garnish

 

Put the eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 7 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice and water.

Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a large bowl. Peel the eggs, then tear them into ½-inch pieces with your fingers and drop them into the mayonnaise mixture. Add the dill and fold gently until everything is evenly coated.

Using a small serrated knife, cut a deep cavity in each biscuit by angling the knife toward the bottom of the biscuit while cutting off the top. Remove the tops and save to snack on later. Fill each biscuit cavity with the egg salad the way you would fill a deviled egg, mounding the salad above the top.

Garnish with cucumber and dill sprigs and serve immediately.

 

 

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus with Crudités

 

 

MAKES SCANT 2 CUPS Everyday & Celebration

 

Come to my table and I’ll come to yours. Sharing food and recipes brings us together like nothing else. Sometimes I literally bring cultures together in my dishes. Here, I’m using a beloved African-American ingredient, the black-eyed peas that we eat for good luck on New Year’s, in hummus, a Middle Eastern spread usually made with chickpeas. The black-eyed peas give this hearty dip a little personality and prove that mixing things up is a good thing.

 

 

1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

 

2 tablespoons tahini

 

¼ teaspoon chile flakes

 

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

 

Kosher salt

 

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Crudités, for serving

 

Pulse the black-eyed peas in a food processor until finely ground. Add 3 tablespoons water and pulse until very smooth. If needed, add another tablespoon water to get the beans to a very smooth consistency.

Add the tahini, chile flakes, vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt and process until incorporated. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Season to taste with salt.

Serve with crudités.

Make ahead: The hummus can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

 

 

Baked Blooming Onion with Gruyère Cheese

 

 

SERVES 6 Celebration

 

Here’s my fresh spin on a familiar favorite. This is basically French onion soup as an appetizer spread. In culinary school, I learned how to caramelize onions and loved how they could melt in your mouth. You get the same effect without all the work when you let them collapse in the oven. The garlic, wine, and rosemary make them taste like the soup onions. So do the blanket of Gruyère on top and the baguette toasts you spread this hot mess on.

 

 

2 jumbo onions

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

2 tablespoons dry white wine

 

1 teaspoon minced garlic

 

½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus leaves for garnish

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

 

1 small baguette, sliced and toasted

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Trim the tops and bottoms of the onions, leaving the roots intact. Cut each onion from top to root into 12 wedges without cutting through the root. Put them side by side in an ovenproof baking dish that holds them snugly and fan out the onion petals.

Whisk the oil, wine, garlic, and rosemary in a small bowl. Pour over the open onion petals, then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake until the onions are tender, about 1½ hours. Uncover, sprinkle with the cheese, and return to the oven.

Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Serve hot, scooping the cheesy onion onto baguette slices.

 

 

Grilled Celery with Pecans and Cheddar Spread

 

 

SERVES 8 Celebration

 

Ants on a log were my favorite snack when I was a kid. This is my savory grown-up version. I pipe a spicy cheddar spread down celery, then press in toasted pecans. It’s a great creamy-crunchy appetizer that feels indulgent but won’t leave your guests too full for dinner. It’s tasty with raw celery too.

 

 

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

 

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

 

¼ small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

 

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

1 cup grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese

 

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

 

4 large celery stalks, tough strings removed with a vegetable peeler

 

¼ cup pecans, toasted

 

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat.

Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, and cayenne in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in the cheddar cheese until evenly distributed. Transfer to a large resealable plastic freezer bag and massage to soften the cheese.

Rub the oil all over the celery stalks. Place on the hot grill grate or pan, curved side down, and grill until grill marks appear, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When cooled, cut into 4-inch lengths at an angle.

Snip a hole in the corner of the bag with the cheddar spread. Pipe the spread into the cavity of each celery stalk. Press the pecans into the spread. Serve immediately.

Make ahead: The cheddar spread can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Soften before piping.

 

 

Harissa Spiced Nuts

 

MAKES ABOUT 2¼ CUPS Everyday & Celebration

 

Down South, we tell folks, “Do drop in!” And we mean it. When neighbors, friends, and family walk through the door unexpectedly, you’ll want to have these nuts ready for them. Sweet, salty, and warm with spices, they’re the nibble that’ll make your guests feel like they can stay a while.

 

 

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

 

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

 

1 tablespoon Harissa Spice Mix

 

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

 

⅛ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

 

1 large egg white, at room temperature

 

2¼ cups mixed raw walnut halves, whole almonds, and pecan halves

 

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

Mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, harissa, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk the egg white in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the nuts and gently fold until the nuts are evenly moistened. Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture on top and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the prepared pan.

Bake, stirring and separating the nuts every 15 minutes, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack, separating the nuts with two forks while they’re still hot. Let cool completely.

Make ahead: The nuts keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

 

Salt and Pepper Butter Crackers

 

MAKES 4 DOZEN CRACKERS Everyday & Celebration

 

Homemade crackers beat store-bought by a long shot. Especially these. They’re flaky but sturdy, nutty from whole wheat, sweet from butter. Make them for parties, make them for snacks. Just make them. You can thank me later.

 

 

1½ tablespoons sugar

 

1 teaspoon table salt

 

⅔ cup cold water

 

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

 

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

 

1 tablespoon baking powder

 

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 2 tablespoons, melted

 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Whisk the sugar and table salt into the water in a small bowl until dissolved. In a food processor, pulse the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and baking powder to mix. Add the cold butter cubes and oil and pulse until coarse crumbs form with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Add the water mixture all at once and pulse just until the dough comes together. Form into a 1-inch-thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle ⅛ inch thick. Use a fluted 1½-inch square cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Place them on the prepared sheets, spacing them ½ inch apart.

Use a fork to poke 3 rows of holes in the center of each cracker. If the dough has softened too much, freeze until firm. Lightly brush the tops of the crackers with the melted butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Bake, rotating the positions of the sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets on wire racks. The crackers will crisp as they cool.

Make ahead: The crackers keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

 

Biscuit Crackers

 

 

MAKES AS MANY AS YOU WANT Everyday & Celebration

 

Chances are you won’t have any leftover biscuits. But if you do, you must make these crackers. As a matter of fact, they’re worth making extra biscuits. They are so yummy! Crunchy, buttery, salty, spicy. Yassss-suh. You want these.

 

 

Unsalted butter, for the pan

 

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

 

Kosher salt

 

Cayenne pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a half-sheet pan.

Cut the biscuits from top to bottom in ⅛-inch-thick slices. Place on the prepared pan, spacing ½ inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne.

Bake until the bottoms are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Flip and bake until the other sides are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on the pan.

Make ahead: The crackers keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 day.

 

 

Pimento Cheese

 

MAKES 3½ CUPS Celebration

 

This is the party cheese y’all. You’ve gotta have some if you’re throwing one. And if you do have some, anyone who comes over will think you’re having a party. There’s nothing easier than pimento cheese, but I like to make mine in a mixer. It smashes the cheese into the creamy base, softening it into the spread while leaving something to chew on. Serve this with crackers (Salt and Pepper Butter Crackers or Biscuit Crackers) as an appetizer or slather on bread to make a sandwich.

 

 

2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane

 

1 whole roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, and chopped (½ cup)

 

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

 

½ cup mayonnaise

 

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)

 

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)

 

Combine the garlic, bell pepper, cream cheese, mayonnaise, cayenne, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until well mixed, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and beat on low speed until the cheese is evenly distributed.

Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight. The garlic will mellow over time and the flavors will meld.

Make ahead: The cheese can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

 

Food is universal and our enjoyment of it is not limited by race or geography.

 

 

Vegetables

 

 

Mixed Bitter Greens with Smoked Trout Pot Likker

 

 

SERVES 8 Everyday & Celebration

 

For centuries, a mess of greens graced the tables of African-Americans. But they weren’t just collards. Anything dark and leafy and coming up out of the earth found its way into the stew pot: turnip, dandelion, mustard, kale, and beet greens, to name just a few. All have a pleasant bitter edge that mellows when the greens are slow-simmered with vinegar and smoky meat. Choose whichever greens look the perkiest, with no blemishes or rotted spots.

Pork jowls and ham hocks are commonly cooked with greens, but I use smoked trout for a lighter take. You can find it in the refrigerated seafood section of your market. It makes for a super-flavorful pot likker, which is all that seasoned juice left from cooking the greens. It’s been a staple of African-American diets since the beginning. In documented interviews from the 1930s, ex-slaves spoke of “potlicker.” What others may have wasted, we saved. That savory broth tastes delicious swirled back into the greens, soaked into cornbread, and as stock for other dishes.

 

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

2 onions, cut into very thin half-moons

 

Kosher salt

 

2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane

 

¼ teaspoon chile flakes

 

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

2 fillets smoked trout

 

1 pound leafy sturdy bitter greens, such as collards or kale, tough stems removed, leaves cut into ½-inch ribbons crosswise

 

1 pound leafy tender bitter greens, such as dandelion or chard, tough stems removed, leaves cut into ½-inch ribbons crosswise

 

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the chile flakes and vinegar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Fold in 1 trout fillet and the sturdy greens until well mixed. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the greens are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Discard the trout. Return the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Fold in the tender greens, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt if you’d like.

Remove the greens from the heat. Peel off and discard the skin of the remaining trout fillet and flake the meat. Transfer the greens with their pot likker to a serving dish and top with the trout.

 

 

Creamed Kale

 

 

SERVES 8 Celebration

 

I love creamed spinach, so I figured I’d really love creamed kale. I was right! Because the leaves are so much sturdier, they don’t break down in the sauce or release much water. That means a more satisfying chew with each bite and more nutrients too. This may sound like a trendy take on a classic, but kale’s been a soul food staple for hundreds of years. Everyone’s figuring out now what we’ve known forever: kale really is delicious.

 

 

2 cups heavy cream

 

4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

 

½ teaspoon chile flakes

 

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

1 onion, finely chopped

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

3 bunches Tuscan kale (about 2 pounds total), tough stems removed, leaves cut into ¼-inch slices

 

Bring the cream to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced to 1½ cups. Add the garlic, chile flakes, nutmeg, half the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add the greens, a handful at a time, stirring to wilt after each addition. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Uncover and grab a bunch of the greens with tongs to squeeze out any excess water. Transfer to the cream mixture. Repeat with the remaining greens. Stir well to coat with the cream mixture. Serve hot.

 

 

TRUE RICHES

On September 11, 2001, Cindy Ayers Elliott knew it was time to leave Manhattan and return home to Jackson, Mississippi. After the terror attacks, she was convinced of how much more she wanted to do with her life than investment banking. She traded her high heels for work boots and founded Foot Print Farms, where she and her fellow farmers grow fruits and vegetables and raise livestock. They welcome the community to farm on the land, harvest the crops, and taste their wares at local farm markets. Cindy says, “I know for sure this is where I’m supposed to be at this time. I’m not making nearly as much money as I used to make, but I have more than I’ve ever had.”

Part of Cindy’s mission is to teach kids—and adults—how to eat all of these fruits and vegetables. When she first started sharing her produce with the local community, she got a lot of blank stares if she handed out bunches of greens and herbs. She realized that her neighbors were so far from their great-grandmothers’ cooking that they didn’t even know where to start. Cindy and her team began teaching them old-school soul food staples like fresh mint tea and callaloo. Now, the community members swap recipes and ideas on their own, often with the kids leading the conversation. Cindy took her Jackson community back to its roots to move it forward, with lots of beautiful vegetables along the way.

 

 

Caramelized Leek and Mustard Green Soup with Chow Chow

 

 

SERVES 6 Everyday

 

When cooking for themselves, slaves had to stretch what little they had. The spirit of making the most out of humble ingredients lives on here, where I turn one bunch of fresh greens into a big ol’ pot of soup. To give the broth a one-two punch of tangy yum, I blend chow chow, a classic Southern pickle relish, right into the mix, then dollop more on top right before serving. With each steamin’ spoonful, I go from ooh! with the bright pickles and bite of the spicy greens to ahh with the creamy sweetness of caramelized leeks.

 

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 

2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into thin half-moons (4 cups)

 

Kosher salt

 

4 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

 

1 teaspoon chile flakes

 

½ cup Harvest Chow Chow or store-bought chow chow, plus more for serving

 

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

 

8 cups packed chopped mustard greens or kale

 

Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the leeks and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes.

Meanwhile, puree the ½ cup chow chow with 1 cup broth in a blender until smooth. Add to the leeks along with the remaining 3 cups broth, 2 cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the greens and stir gently just until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Pulse until the greens are finely chopped. Taste and add more salt if you’d like. Divide among serving bowls and top with more chow chow.

 

 

Coconut Callaloo Soup

 

 

SERVES 6 Everyday

 

Callaloo describes both the leafy greens from taro, dasheen, tania, amaranth, and yautia plants and the name of the dish made from those greens. Whether the dish originated in West Africa, Trinidad, Tobago, or Jamaica remains contested. Its deliciousness is not. The greens simmer to silkiness in either palm or coconut oil, often with chiles and crab. I turned it into a vegetable-only soup, doubling up on coconut with oil and milk. If you can find callaloo greens, use them. Otherwise, buy a big bunch of spinach. Yes, the boxed baby stuff is convenient, but fresh bunches from the ground have much more flavor. Trim the ends, but keep the stems and chop them too. They’ll all soften together in this creamy soup.

 

 

2 tablespoons coconut oil

 

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

 

1 small onion, chopped

 

4 garlic cloves, smashed

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

2 sprigs fresh thyme

 

1 habanero chile, slit

 

1 cup sliced fresh okra

 

3 cups unsalted vegetable broth

 

1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk

 

1 russet potato, peeled and chopped

 

1 bay leaf

 

1 large bunch spinach, chopped (5 cups)

 

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the thyme and chile and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the okra and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, coconut milk, potato, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the potato is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf, thyme, and chile. Transfer half of the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the heat and stir in the spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 

 

Chopped Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

 

 

SERVES UP TO 8 Everyday & Celebration

 

The dressing makes the salad here. It’s tangy, creamy, and just the right kind of hot. The sharp bite of horseradish intensifies with a little cayenne and black pepper, then mellows in buttermilk and mayo. In the summer, toss this with tomatoes, cucumber, and corn. In winter, it’s nice over shredded kale or brussels sprouts. Spring and all year round, it’s yummy with chopped salad greens, carrots, and radishes. You can toss in herbs like dill and parsley or crunchies like toasted pecans or cornbread croutons. This is your salad, baby. Make it your way.

 

 

½ cup buttermilk

 

½ cup mayonnaise

 

2 tablespoons fresh or bottled horseradish

 

½ small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

15 cups chopped vegetables, for the salad

 

Whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic, vinegar, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. You should have 1¼ cups dressing.

Toss the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Season lightly with salt and toss again. Drizzle on just enough dressing to coat and toss gently until everything’s skimmed with dressing. Serve the salad with more dressing on the side for anyone who wants it.

Make ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

 

 

OKRA

Jones Valley Teaching Farm covers a big city block in downtown Birmingham. Across the street from project housing, catty-corner from the schoolyard’s playing fields, within sight of a big highway overpass. And near where chef John Hall grew up. He walked me up and down the garden rows one summer afternoon, plucking purple okra and popping the seeds like it ain’t no thing. He told me what it’s like to return home after cooking in Michelin-starred restaurants in Luxembourg and New York City.

“I didn’t think in a million years I’d come back. But I feel an obligation to the community. To lead by example, teach up, coach up. Farm-to-table’s how we always knew food to be in my family, with my grandfather’s farm out in Alabama country. But I want to teach the kids here now how to cook and eat these vegetables.”

John’s feeding the city well through his restaurants and through this community farm program. And he taught me a thing or two. Hearing him crunch on raw okra reminded me that we can get the next generation to love vegetables if we cook them right. I flash back to my childhood: Screaming eeew! at the way slime dripped out of okra like a runny nose. Swearing I’d never eat that nasty thing. But I’m grown now. I know that okra turns slimy only when stewed too long, so let’s all unite in barely cooking it at all. For the sake of the children.

As mosquitoes chased us out of the green bean vines at dusk, John said, “What I love about this place is that it gets vegetables in the kids’ minds early. They attach the good food here to a good way of life.” Amen to that.

 

 

Seared Okra

 

 

SERVES 4 Everyday

 

This is for all the people who hate okra because it’s slimy. Liking okra’s in my DNA. It’s native to Africa and it’s a major Southern crop. Even so, I used to hate it. It’s a texture thing. But this. This is a revelation. There’s something about searing okra in a pan over really high heat that brings out its beauty. Crisp, charred, delicious. It’s such a simple thing. You need a good ol’ pot for this. The heavy cast-iron kind that used to hang over an open fire. You also better have your plate ready to go. When you know you need to get these out of the pan, you’ve got to be ready.

 

 

1 pound okra, halved lengthwise

 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Get a big cast-iron pan smoking hot over high heat.

Toss the okra, oil, and salt in a large bowl with your hands until the okra is evenly coated. Add the pieces to the hot pan cut side down, leaving space between them. Don’t crowd the pan. You can sear them in batches.

Sear until nearly blackened, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

 

Grilled Okra with Spiced Sprinkle

 

 

SERVES AS MANY AS YOU WANT! Everyday & Celebration

 

When okra’s fresh and plump in the summer, it’s best barely cooked. With this quick grilling technique, it ends up as crunchy as a cucumber and smoky like barbecue. I sprinkle on the spice right after cooking so the residual heat from the grill takes the edge off the spices without burning them.

 

 

Okra, stems trimmed

 

Vegetable oil, for coating

 

Kosher salt

 

Barbecue Spice Blend, for sprinkling

 

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling over hot coals, or heat a gas grill or grill pan to high.

Toss the okra pods with just enough oil to slick them. Grill them, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear and the okra turns a shade darker, about 5 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with salt and the spice blend to coat. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

 

Chunky Tomato Soup with Roasted Okra Rounds

 

 

SERVES 4 Everyday

 

This. This is what this whole book is about. Revolutionizing soul food is about cooking faster and cleaner today. The old-school method for this soup required stewing until the broth got thick and gelatinous from the okra. Here, I keep the tomato broth superlight. I add cold water to quickly extract the flavors from the vegetables and I keep the okra out of it. Until the end, that is. I flash-roast okra rounds until they’re as crunchy as fries. Those get scattered on just before chow time so they stay crisp. I start with indigenous ingredients—the tomato, onion, and garlic base of African stews and the okra prevalent in the South—and end with a fresh bowl of comfort.

 

 

1 pound okra, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices

 

2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

2 onions, diced

 

3 garlic cloves, sliced

 

2 carrots, diced

 

1 celery stalk, diced

 

½ teaspoon chile flakes

 

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F with a half-sheet pan on the center rack.

Toss the okra, 4 teaspoons oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl until the okra is evenly coated. Spread on the hot pan in a single layer. The okra should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan.

Roast until the okra is browned and crisp-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, chile flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, 3 cans (from the empty tomato can) of cold water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the soup among individual bowls and top with the roasted okra. Serve immediately.

 

 

Cast-Iron Blackened Beans with Lemon and Chile

 

SERVES 8 Everyday

 

The tasty thread that runs through soul food is the trinity of sweet, heat, and sour. You can get a taste of it in ten minutes with this dish. The base is flat beans as wide as your thumb. My aunt grew these tough-skinned string beans in her garden and I loved when she slow-cooked them to silky softness. After moving north, I didn’t see the beans anywhere. It wasn’t until a recent trip to London that I had them again! Our hostess was a real hoot, but also a really great cook, and she dunked the flat beans from her garden into boiling water for less than a minute so they were still nice and chewy. She told me flat beans are sometimes labeled Romano beans. Once I made that connection, I realized that they were at my local markets!

To retain their grassy flavor and simultaneously get rid of their toughness, I sear these beans—hard—in a cast-iron skillet, then quick-steam them in the same pan. As they blister in the smokin’ hot pan, they take on a lip-smacking char.

Tip: Look for perky beans with a smooth skin. If they’re wrinkled or floppy, they’ll taste tough after cooking.

 

 

1¾ pounds flat (Romano) beans, tipped and tailed

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

¼ teaspoon chile flakes

 

Lemon wedges, for serving

 

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, toss the beans, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Add the beans to the skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until browned in spots and soft enough to bend easily, about 6 minutes.

Add ¼ cup water, cover, and cook until the water evaporates, about 3 minutes. Uncover and toss in the chile flakes. Transfer to a serving dish and squeeze lemon juice on top. Serve hot.

 

 

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions

 

 

SERVES 8 Everyday & Celebration

 

In Granny’s garden in Nashville, pole bean plants poked their little heads out in spring and ended up taller than me by summer. When I was little, Granny’d ask me to pluck the beans and I’d whine the whole way across the yard. But once I faced those vines, I’d be awed by the magic of their stalks. The pretty little tendrils looked thin as thread, but they had a monster grip on those garden stakes. And the beans, soft and dry as worn leather, nearly dripped juice when I snapped them. Every time I stopped to snack on my little harvest, I’d be shocked by how something so green could be so sweet. I try to capture that sweetness here by tossing blanched beans in a wisp of oil, salt, and pickle juice. In season, there’s no need to smother fresh beans with tons of gravy! Simply cooked until bright and crisp, slender beans need only the pop of quick pickles.

 

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1½ pounds green beans, tipped and tailed

 

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

Red Onion Pickles

 

1 hot chile, very thinly sliced

 

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and generously salt it. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Add the beans to the boiling water and boil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to the ice water. When cooled, drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

Toss the beans with the oil and 2 teaspoons liquid from the pickles. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the red onion pickles and chile and serve.

Make ahead: The cooked green beans can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

 

 

Tomato, Cucumber, and Dill Salad

 

 

SERVES 4 Everyday & Celebration

 

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. That’s the feeling this salad delivers. Granny and Mama set it down all season long. Fat tomatoes, slick cucumbers, crisp onion dragged through dressing. That dill—like lying on cool grass. Altogether, a plate of goodness.

 

 

¼ cup distilled white or apple cider vinegar

 

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

1 teaspoon sugar

 

¼ teaspoon chile flakes

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

4 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into wedges

 

1 white onion, thinly sliced

 

1 seedless cucumber, sliced into half-moons

 

¼ cup celery leaves or parsley leaves, torn

 

2 tablespoons picked fresh dill

 

Whisk the vinegar, oil, sugar, chile flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, celery leaves, and dill. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

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Beloved TV chef (ABC’s Emmy Award-winning The Chew and fan favorite on Bravo’s Top Chef), Carla Hall takes us back to her own Nashville roots to offer a fresh, lip-smackin’ look at America’s favorite comfort cuisine.

In Carla Hall’s Soul Food, the beloved chef and television celebrity takes us back to her own Nashville roots to offer a fresh, lip-smackin’ look at America’s favorite comfort cuisine and traces soul food’s history from Africa and the Caribbean to the American South. Carla shows us that soul food is more than barbecue and mac and cheese. Traditionally a plant-based cuisine, everyday soul food is full of veggie goodness that’s just as delicious as cornbread and fried chicken.

From Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette to Tomato Pie with Garlic Bread Crust, the recipes in Carla Hall’s Soul Food deliver her distinctive Southern flavors using farm-fresh ingredients. The results are light, healthy, seasonal dishes with big, satisfying tastes—the mouthwatering soul food everyone will want a taste of.

Recipes include:

  • Cracked Shrimp with Comeback Sauce
  • Ghanaian Peanut Beef Stew with Onions and Celery
  • Caribbean Smothered Chicken with Coconut, Lime, and Chiles
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins and Lemon-Pepper Millet
  • Field Peas with Country Ham
  • Chunky Tomato Soup with Roasted Okra Rounds
  • Sweet Potato Pudding with Clementines
  • Poured Caramel Cake

With Carla Hall’s Soul Food, you can indulge in rich celebration foods, such as deviled eggs, buttermilk biscuits, Carla’s famous take on Nashville hot fried chicken, and a decadent coconut cream layer cake.

Featuring 145 original recipes, 120 color photographs, and a whole lotta love, Carla Hall’s Soul Food is a wonderful blend of the modern and the traditional—honoring soul food’s heritage and personalizing it with Carla’s signature fresh style. The result is an irresistible and open-hearted collection of recipes and stories that share love and joy, identity, and memory.

>>>Download<<<

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