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Posts posted by souljoy

  1. Hi Jhlurie,

    I read your message, jumped up and ran into the kitchen, got out a ruler and measured the 3-inch deep, 12-inch in diameter cast iron skillet that I have been lugging around with me--well I can't say how long because you can guess my age--but for years.

    That's what I fry chicken in; that's what my mother and all the women in my family fried chicken in. We were not of the deep-well school. Fill this skillet about three-fourth full with oil, heat to 350 to 360 degree and fry away.

    Remember to use lots of black pepper for real soul flavor. Dust the chicken lightly with flour but no gummy wet batter, please. Enjoy.

    Great recipe in my cookbook, "Soul Food." I tell you how to cover the pan for a brief during the frying, resulting in a crackling-like skin.

  2. Hi Elyse,

    You need to run out right now and buy my new dessert cookbook, "Brown Sugar." Got scores of cookie recipes in there; all sweet and soulful, including the mother of them all: Tea Cakes.

    This old plantation favorite is real popular down home. I feature a variation made with grated lemon peel and coriander. Perfect with iced or hot tea. The recipe for these cookies, Lemon Coriander Tea Cakes is in eGullet's recipe archive.

    Other popular soul cookies are Sand Tarts, Cocoa Cookies, and some old family favorites: Sesame wafers, Molasses Lace Cookies, and Lemon Wafers. Go!

  3. Hi Marsha,

    In the African-American community that "going home" dinner is often referred to rather regally as a funeral repast. And it ranges from a few dishes to an elaborate feast.

    I can remember when my mother passed a few years back. I returned home to Alabama for the funeral, which was held at our local church. After the burial ceremony we returned to the church for a bountiful feast: cakes, pies, fried chicken, greens and fresh butter beans, hot biscuits and corn bread, fruit cobblers, all prepared by neighbors and friends. My spirit soared.

    Later, more close friends and family gathered at our old country home, and we passed the rest of the day, eating, drinking, talking, reveling in our love and friendship. And let's face facts, with the drinking and eating, sometimes these gathering can slid right into a "party." But it is the thought that counts.

  4. Hi Lady T,

    I grew up in Alabama near the Mississippi border and we ate both; yellow and white cornmeal, leaning toward white more than yellow. Made of course, without a drop of sugar, and with, always, buttermilk.

    I grew up hearing that cornbread made with sugar was "Yankee cake."

    Things change. Today I prefer yellow cornmeal and use Indian Head stone ground, the closet I can get to my childhood longing. And I make cornbread at least four or five times per week. Better than any baguette of bread, Paris style.

  5. Hi Kpurvis,

    I know exactly what you mean. I cringe every time I see one of those steam tables at some church function. I yearn for the old days; with Mama and Aunt Agnes and my sister Helen cooking for days for church events, and the food was homey and fingerlickin' good.

    But times have changed. In the past 75 years we African-Americans have moved in overwhelming numbers from rural outposts to urban centers. Our lives are busy and complex. Don't have time to cook for those church dinners like we did years ago. Too bad. But the church moves on and so does the food. And sometimes it is very good.

  6. Hi Jason,

    Thanks so much for having me here. I am really enjoying this forum. And I love your complex questions. Not surprisingly; soul food isn't a simple topic.

    Many influences shaped the cuisine of the Old South, where African-American soul food was born. Native Americans were already there. European settlers came, some bearing slaves from Africa, other with little more than the clothes on their backs.

    Later, French settlers from Acadia, known as Cajuns today, migrated to the South, particularly Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama, from Canada. And of course, this was the pattern through out the Americas, where the food is very similar to Soul Food, USA.

    I remember spending some time in Brazil years ago and was startled to discover that the country's national dish, Feijoada, was so like the pot of beans, and pork and collard greens that I ate at home in Alabama. The same can be said of much of the food in the Caribbean.

    A key point to remember: African slaves did the majority of the cooking in all of these regions, and of course, the final product is and was similar, bearing varied nuances.

  7. Coconut-Peach Cake

    Serves 12 as Dessert.

    From Brown Sugar by Joyce White. Used with permission from the author. This is a fancier than the version found in The Daily Gullet article, click here.

    "This elegant cake is perfect for a wedding reception. Very lightly toasted coconut adds a tawny color to the cake, but if you prefer a snowy pristine look, don't toast the coconut. Place the cake on a nice crystal platter and ring it with candied violets.

    Toni likes the cake stacked with homemade peach preserves, but it is just as pretty, and delicious, with plum preserves made with black or Santa Rose plums, which turn into a delightful purplish-red color. So both recipes are included.

    And on a hot, humid day, whipped cream is a fine covering for a coconut cake -- a nice substitute for temperamental boiled icing."

    Pages 85-88, Brown Sugar.

    Cake Layers:

    • 3 c cake flour
    • 1 T baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 lb butter, softened
    • 1-1/2 c granulated sugar
    • 4 large eggs, room temperature
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 c whole milk, room temperature
    • 2-1/2 c freshly shredded coconut, lightly toasted

    Peach or Plum Filling:

    • 1-1/2 c Peach or Plum Preserves, preferably homemade
    • 2 T peach brandy or peach schnapps

    Vanilla Icing:

    • 3 large egg whites, room temperature (see note below)
    • 1-1/2 c granulated sugar
    • 1/3 c water
    • 2 T light corn syrup
    • 1/4 tsp cider vinegar or cream of tartar
    • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter threee 8 x 1½-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and shake out any excess flour.

    Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside.

    Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use a large mixing bowl and a handheld electric mixer. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula.

    Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating about 30 seconds after each addition, and scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set the mixer at low speed. Alternately add the flour and milk to the creamed mixture, mixing only until blended after each addition, ending with the flour.

    After the last addition, beat the batter on low speed for 30 seconds, or until the batter is smooth and satiny.

    Using a measuring cup, pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly. Shake the pans gently to settle the batter.

    Place the cake pans in a triangular patter in the hot oven on the middle shelf. Make sure that the cake pans don't touch. Bake the cake layers for 20 minutes, and then quickly change the position of the pans in the oven for even browning, shifting the pans from front to back and vice versa.

    Bake for 5 to 7 minutes longer or until the cake layers are brown and puffy and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or until the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

    Remove the cake layers from the oven, place on wire racks, and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Don’t turn off the oven.

    Run a knife or metal spatula around the edges of the cake pans, tap gently, and carefully turn the cake layers out onto the wire racks and cool completely, top side up.

    To toast the coconut: Scatter 1½ to 2 cups of the coconut on a baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. Set the pan on the middle rack of the 350-degree oven. Toast the coconut for about 5 minutes, or until it is barely tinged golden brown, shaking the pan or stirring the coconut with a wooden spoon once or twice. Watch carefully and don't let the coconut burn or overbrown.

    Use the remaining 1 cup of coconut for the filling, untoasted.

    To make the Peach or Plum Filling: Combine the preserves and brandy or schnapps in a medium bowl. Beat briskly until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

    To prepare the Vanilla Icing: Carefully crack the eggs one at a time and place the yolk and egg white into two separate small bowls, making sure that not one speck fo yolk mixes in with the egg white. If the egg white is free of yolk, transfer it to a large spotless clean bowl for shipping. If the egg yolk drips into the egg white, discard that egg white and break another egg, using a clean bowl. Set aside the egg whites to warm to room temperature and return the yolks to the refrigerator. The egg yolks can be frozen and used in a custard, or scrambled for breakfast.

    Have ready a long-handled wooden spoon, a pastry brush, a cup of hot water for brushing down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan, a candy thermometer, and a hand mixer with clean beaters.

    When the egg whites reach room temperature, combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water, and the corn syrup in a heavy 3-quart saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid.

    Stir briskly with the wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Set the pan on medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cover the pan, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook for 3 minutes.

    While the sugar is boiling, using the hand mixer set at medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Sprinkle over the vinegar or cream of tartar and continue beating until the egg whites form soft peaks. Don't over beat; this should take no more than 3 minutes. Set aside.

    Uncover the pan, dip the pastry brush in the hot water, and wipe away any crystals on the inside of the pan. Attach the candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, raise the heat a bit, and cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 238 to 240 degrees. (This should take about 4 minutes.)

    Remove the syrup from the heat, let cool for 1 to 2 minutes, and then pour in the egg whites in a thin stream while beating on high speed. Continue beating until the icing is thick and glossy and holds a shape, for about 7 minutes.

    Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and spread the icing immediately over the cooled cake.

    If the icing begins to harden, stir in a little of the hot water and beat briskly.

    Makes 3 generous cups vanilla icing

    To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer top side down on a cake platter. Spread with half of the peach preserves or plum filling--3/4 cup--smoothing with a metal spatula. Sprinkle on ½ cup of the untoasted coconut.

    Place on the second layer, top side up, and spread with the remaining preserves and the remaining ½ cup untoasted coconut. Top with the third later, bottom side down. Secure the cake in place with metal skewers if it is leaning.

    Spread the cake all over--sides and top--with the Vanilla Icing or with Whipped Cream Frosting (page 93 of Brown Sugar), swirling for a pretty effect.

    Coat the cake all over with the toasted coconut, patting lightly with your hand.

    Set the cake in a cool, dark place until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftover cake.

    Makes 10 to 12 servings

    Note: If you aren't sure about the safety of the egg whites you plan to use in the icing, consider using pasteurized egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites instead. Powdered egg whites or meringue powder can be ordered from Wilton at 1-800-794-5866, or on line at www.Wilton.com.

    Keywords: Dessert, Cake, Topping/Frosting, American, Stand Mixer, The Daily Gullet

    ( RG602 )

  8. Lemon Coriander Tea Cakes

    Serves 8 as Dessert.

    These crisp cookies are infused with coriander and lemon and are perfect with a hot cup of tea, or paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a fruit sauce for an elegant and quick summer dessert. Coriander has a flavor similar to lemon and sage, and it works beautifully in these tea cakes, which folklore says came out of the Southern plantation kitchens

    Recipe is from: Brown Sugar: Soul Food Desserts from Family and Friends, by Joyce White, used with permission from the author.

    • 1/3 c golden raisins
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • 2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 T coriander seeds, crushed
    • 12 T unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 T crystallized sugar for sprinkling, such as Sugar in the Raw

    Chop the raisins finely and mix in a glass bowl or cup with the lemon juice.

    Sift together the flour baking soda and salt. Set aside.

    Lightly toast and then finely crush or ground grind the coriander seeds. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the coriander seeds to use as a topping. Combine the remaining seeds, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

    Using a handheld electric mixer at medium-high or creaming speed, beat until light and fluffy, for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well-blended.

    Using a large spoon, stir in the raisins. Add the flour and mix only until blended. Form the dough into a ball, dusting lightly with flour if sticky.

    Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until the dough is firm and easy to handle.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

    Divide the dough in half, and return one piece back to the refrigerator.

    Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and about 8 inches in diameter.

    Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on one of the baking sheets.

    Combine the remaining teaspoon of coriander seeds with the sugar and sprinkle each cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar-spice mixture. Gently press the topping with you fingers so that it sticks.

    Set the pan of cookies in the center of the hot oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes or until the bottoms are just lightly brown and the cookies are pale golden around the edges, switching the position of the pan around in the oven halfway through the baking.

    Remove the cookies from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the pan and then remove from the baking sheet with a metal spatula. Cool on a wire rack.

    Bake the remaining dough in the same way, one pan at a time, rerolling scraps.

    Makes about 24 cookies.

    Keywords: Dessert, Kosher, Vegetarian, Intermediate, Snack, Brunch, Cookie, American

    ( RG596 )

  9. Hot Corn Fritters

    Serves 5 as Sideor 2 as Main Dishor 16 as Hors d'oeuvre.

    These are great for breakfast topped with hot syrup or melted hot fruit preseres. For cocktail nibbles, stir 1/2 cup grated cheese into the batter.

    Recipe by eGullet Q&A Special Guest, Joyce White, adapted from the cookbook: Soul Food: Recipes and Reflections from African-American Churches - used with permission from the author.

    • 1 large ear fresh corn
    • 3 c Vegetable oil for deep frying
    • 1 c all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin or coriander seeds
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 c whole milk
    • 1 T vegetable oil

    Husk and silk the corn and then cut the kernels from the cobs, scraping the cobs well to extract the corn milk. Discard the cob. You should have 1 generous cup of corn kernels. Set aside.

    Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep, heavy kettle or pot to reach a depth of at least 3 inches. Place the pot on high heat and insert a deep-frying thermometer to gauge the oil temperature.

    In the meantime, in a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, black pepper, baking powder, cumin or coriander seeds and cayenne pepper. Add the eggs, milk and oil. Mix only until blended and then stir in the corn, mixing lightly.

    Check the thermometer to make sure the oil has reached 370 degrees. If so, using a tablespoon and a rubber spatula to scrap the batter out of the spoon, drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Don't overcrowd the pan.

    Turn the fritters over in the hot oil, and fry for 2 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown.

    Remove the fritters from the oil with long-handled tongs. Drain on paper toweling, and keep warm in a 250 degrees oven while frying the rest of the batter.

    Makes 16 to 18 fritters.

    Note: You can substitute buttermilk for the whole milk. If so, use 1/2 teaspoon baking soda instead of the 1 tsp baking powder.

    Keywords: Hors d'oeuvre, Amuse, Appetizer, Side, Kosher, Vegetarian, Intermediate, Vegetables, Breakfast, Brunch, Snack, American

    ( RG595 )

  10. Spicy Grilled Corn

    Serves 4 as Side.

    Recipe by eGullet Q&A Special Guest, Joyce White.

    • 4 large ears fresh corn, preferably bi-colored
    • 2 T olive or corn oil or melted butter
    • 1 T dark rum
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
    • 1/2 tsp ground chile pepper
    • 1/3 c grated cheese, such as Parmesan, Feta or Cotijo

    Soak a couple chunks of mesquite wood for an hour or so in water. (Sassafras and apple woods are also fine with corn.) Heat the grill, using hardwood charcoal, which isn't full of chemicals. Pull back the corn husk and remove the silk. Pull the husks back up around the corn and soak the ears in a pan of cold water while the grill heats up.

    When read to grill, whisk together in a cup or small bowl the oil or butter, rum, black pepper, salt, thyme, and chile pepper. Squeeze out the water from the corn husk and brush the oil mixture all over the corn.

    When the charcoal is ashy, spread out, drain the woods and place on the fire. Place the corn on the grill. Grill covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the corn is tender and lightly charred, turning often. Before serving spread with the grated cheese.

    Keywords: Side, Vegetables, Intermediate, Lunch, Dinner, Hot and Spicy, Barbeque, American, Grill

    ( RG594 )

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