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October's Book
Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History
by John Egerton

The bookclub Cookbook: Some Favorite Recipes

On this edition of bookclub@ket, our panelists shared not only their opinions of John Egerton’s Southern Food but also some tasty dishes, including several prepared from recipes in the book. Art Wrobel prepared Woodford pudding (pages 338-339), Gabrielle Ivey made jam cake with caramel icing (pages 316-317), and Wilma Brown brought corn muffins prepared in a heavy black iron mold. A recipe for corn muffins is on page 227. (All page numbers are from the 1993 paperback edition.) Special guest Lynn Winter brought homemade buttermilk biscuits with Finchville country ham and sorghum butter. Lynn, the owner of Lynn’s Paradise Café in Louisville, was featured in the October 2003 edition of Kentucky Monthly magazine.

As promised, they also brought us some of their favorite recipes. So here are some offerings from the KET family cookbook:

Nanny’s Sweet Pickles
Mother’s Scalloped Potatoes
Grandmother’s Croquettes
Uncle William’s Cornbread Stuffing
Baked Buttermilk Chicken
Basic Bean Soup
Cornbread
Spoon Bread
Poppyseed Stollen


Nanny’s Sweet Pickles
contributed by Bill Goodman, host of bookclub@ket
This comes from my mother-in-law, Naomi Hall of Sulphur in Henry County, KY. It’s the best sweet pickle you’ve ever put in your mouth!

2 gals. cucumbers, cut lengthwise regardless of the size

Pour 1 gallon of cold water and 1 pint of salt over the cucumbers and let them stand for a week. (Cucumbers on top may be soft or moldy—discard those.)

After a week, drain cucumbers, then cover with boiling water. Let stand for 24 hours.

The next day, drain and again cover with boiling water plus 3 tablespoons of powdered alum. Let stand for 24 hours.

Drain and cover with the following mixture, heated to boiling: 2-1/2 quarts of vinegar, 7 pints sugar, and 1/3 cup mixed pickling spices (can be tied in a cheesecloth or allowed to mix in with the cucumbers). Let stand for 24 hours.

Every day for three days, do the following:

  1. Drain and save the pickling mixture.
  2. Heat it to a boil and pour it back over the cucumbers.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring.

On the third day, put the cucumbers into canning jars. Boil the liquid mixture and cover the pickles in the jars, then seal.

Finally, ENJOY!


Mother’s Scalloped Potatoes
contributed by Wilma Brown, bookclub@ket panelist

5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 T butter
3 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 cups whole milk
1 cup grated American cheese

  1. Measure sliced potatoes to 5 cups. Cover with water and boil a few minutes until tender. Drain.
  2. Make a white sauce by melting the butter in a pan over medium heat and adding the flour, salt, and pepper to make a paste. Add the milk gradually and heat slowly until sauce is thickened, stirring constantly so sauce will not burn. Add cheese and let it melt.
  3. Place potatoes in a 1-1/2 quart buttered casserole. Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees.

Grandmother’s Croquettes
contributed by Gabrielle Ingram, bookclub@ket panelist
We always looked forward to when my grandmother Romelia used to make these on what we thought were special occasions. Little did we know that it really was a way to get rid of leftover chicken, turkey, or fish after a big family gathering! If you use fish, omit the nutmeg. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

Serves 10 (approx. 20 croquettes)

4 cups of leftover chicken
salt and black pepper
red pepper to taste
1 quart of milk
1/2 onion, sliced very thin
rind of 1 lemon, cut into large pieces
3 eggs
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1/4 whole nutmeg, grated
1/2 lb. butter, softened
1 heaping T cornstarch
3 T flour
3 T milk
bread crumbs

Place two eggs and one egg white in a bowl and add parsley, nutmeg, and red pepper. Set aside.

Mix remaining egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of milk. Set aside to use later for breading the croquettes.

Cream butter, cornstarch, and flour together.

Put onion and lemon rind into 1 quart of milk and let it come to almost a boil in a saucepan. Be careful not to let the mixture boil, because you don’t want the eggs to cook when you add them.

When milk is almost to a boil, remove onions and lemon rind with a slotted spoon and add the creamed butter mixture, stirring constantly.

Add seasoned egg mixture slowly and continue to stir until it thickens.

Add leftover chicken.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour the mixture into a flat pan to cool.

Shape croquettes with your hand, dip them into egg yolk mixture, and roll them in bread crumbs. Fry in deep hot fat until done (about 350 degrees).


Uncle William’s Cornbread Stuffing
contributed by Gabrielle Ingram, bookclub@ket panelist
My uncle William was a great cook. The hardest thing, though, was to get a recipe from him. He did everything from scratch and didn’t measure the ingredients. Sometimes he would add shrimp to the stuffing, other times oysters or jalapeños for an extra kick. I’ve converted the recipe the best I can below.

2 c cornmeal
1 c flour
2 T bacon drippings (can use shortening)
1 T Tabasco sauce
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 c milk
2 eggs
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped onion
1 slice of white toast, crumbled
salt and black pepper to taste
1 c chicken or turkey stock

Mix cornmeal, flour, bacon drippings, salt, baking powder, milk, and eggs. Pour into large skillet and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool overnight.

Crumble cornbread and add celery, onion, toast, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Add 1 cup of stock and stir.

Add just enough of the remaining stock until you reach the consistency that you want for the stuffing. Season to taste.


Baked Buttermilk Chicken
contributed by Gabrielle Ingram, bookclub@ket panelist
When I was growing up, my mother marinated chicken in buttermilk before she fried it. I haven’t been able to master the art of frying, so I love this recipe because the buttermilk gravy covers up everything and makes it taste great!

Serves 4-6.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c butter
1 10-1/2 oz. can cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Dip the chicken in 1/2 cup of buttermilk and roll it in the flour mixture.

Melt butter in a 9 X 13 X 2" pan. Add chicken and bake uncovered for 45 minutes, turning once after chicken has cooked for 30 minutes.

Mix 1 cup buttermilk with soup. When chicken has baked for 45 minutes, remove it from oven and pour the buttermilk/soup mixture over it. Bake for another 15 minutes.


Basic Bean Soup
contributed by Sheri Cummings, a member of the KET web team
We couldn’t find a recipe for bean soup—or soup beans—in Southern Food, but to many of us this dish is quintessential Kentucky food. This recipe has enabled Sheri to win KET’s annual staff bean soup contest two years running. She says, “It can’t get any simpler. My grandmother taught me.”

Take one small bag of beans, rinse them off, pluck out the bad ones, and soak the rest all day in lots of water.

Rinse them again, add fresh water and two small packages of country ham pieces (the kind that is vacuum-packed), and put them in a slow cooker. (As an alternative, replace the country ham pieces with a ham hock; use a fork to shred the ham off the bone after cooking.) Turn the slow cooker on low and let it cook all day.

To finish, take some of the beans out and mash them with a fork. Return them to the pot and let them simmer a little longer. This makes it good and thick.


Cornbread
contributed by Arthur Wrobel, bookclub@ket panelist
Art says he received this recipe from a friend. Its lineage: a recipe of Mark Johnson’s Grandma “Mac,” via Janet C. Gilmore and James P. Leary.

1 egg
1/2 c sugar
1 c corn meal
1 c sour milk (I put 1 tsp. vinegar in whole milk.)
1/4 lb. melted butter
1 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder

Beat egg lightly; add sugar and corn meal. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Add melted butter and spread in greased pan/dish. Bake at 400 degrees about 20 minutes.


Spoon Bread
contributed by Arthur Wrobel, bookclub@ket panelist

2 c milk
1 c white corn meal
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
2 sticks butter
5 eggs, separated
1-1/2 t bourbon

Scald milk. Stir in corn meal and beat and cook until thick.

Remove from heat and add butter, salt, and sugar. Beat vigorously until butter is melted. Set aside to cool.

Beat egg yolks. Stir in and fold stiffly beaten egg whites. Add whiskey (still folding).

Put in buttered casserole dish. Bake in 350-degree oven for 40 minutes.


Poppyseed Stollen
contributed by Arthur Wrobel, bookclub@ket panelist
Art is a transplant to Kentucky. He says his mother cooked German food for the most part. Here’s one of her recipes.

Makes two stollens.

DOUGH:
4 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c milk
pinch salt
1/4 lb. butter
grated rind of one lemon
3 beaten eggs
2 pkg. dry yeast

Add the yeast and sugar to the sifted flour.

Melt the butter, add the milk and salt, and heat until hot to the touch (125-130 degrees).

Add hot liquids to dry mixture. Mix in the beaten eggs and the grated lemon rind.

Work and knead the dough into a ball. (The dough will adhere somewhat to your hands, so have a bit of lukewarm water close by to dip your hands into in order to inhibit this. The dough must not be too loose; if it is, add a bit of flour.)

Moisten bottom and sides of bowl with milk or water so that the dough can rise more easily. Cover with towel and let it rise to two times its size; work it over again and divide in half.

Place towel (dusted with flour) on a rolling board and roll thin. Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.

Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

POPPYSEED MIXTURE:
1/2 lb. ground poppyseeds (use a blender)
1-1/3 c (6 oz.) sliced or slivered almonds
4 eggs (keep back one egg white)
3/4 c sugar
2 c raisins
2 T flour
1-1/2 c milk

Bring milk to a near boil and pour over the ground poppyseeds. Mix well. Add sugar and eggs. Mix well.

Spread half of the mixture on half of the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with half of the almonds and raisins. Repeat for the second half of the dough.

Using both ends of the towel, roll up to form a stollen and roll onto a greased cookie sheet. Let loaves rise again.

Brush loaves with egg white and bake at 350 degrees until light brown. Reduce heat to 200 degrees and continue baking another 15-20 minutes.

After loaves are baked (35-40 minutes; rich brown in appearance), brush with butter.



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