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Southern Food – Flavorful and the Best Kind of Comfort!

In the South, Southern hospitality includes our rich, southern cooking which is not light on the calories! Why else would Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons” restaurant in the Historic District of Savannah be such an incredible hit?

I put together some authentic Southern recipes for you. These may already be foods you associate with us Lowcountry folk. My first source of inspiration came from none other than Joan Taylor’s cookbook collection. The first lady of Spinnaker has been traveling to these parts since the 1970’s and developed a love for southern cooking. One cookbook acquired over the years is titled Great Cooks Rise… with the May River tide by the historic Bluffton Church of the Cross ladies. It’s been a long standing tradition with their congregation to collect recipes and they have for decades enjoyed regular fellowship over home-cooked food.

I culled two classic southern recipes from its pages:

Bananas Foster

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
A dash of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons banana extract
1/2 cup rum
2 medium bananas, sliced
High quality vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in medium sauce pan on low heat. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, extract and rum; whisk together until blended. Add banana slices in mix and sauce gently until warmed through. Pour heated mix over good ice cream and serve immediately.

Yellow Grits and Shrimp

3 cups yellow grits
2 cups heavy cream
1 stick butter
Garlic powder to taste
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
3 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook grits according to package ingredients. Combine remaining ingredients. Fold onto the cooked grits. Pour into 13 x 9 inch baking dish; cover and bake 20 minutes. (Yield 12 servings)

The next cookbook classic brought me to a dusty paperback I file on my china cabinet. The cookbook brings me fond memories of childhood Christmases spent in my father’s hometown, Colonial Williamsburg. The restaurants around Colonial Williamsburg still hold such fond memories for all of my family. King’s Arms Tavern and Chowning’s Tavern are two favorites. My mother still makes King’s Arms Tavern sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Here’s one of my favorites from the cookbook Favorite Meals from Williamsburg published by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Pumpkin Fritters

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin well drained
Vegetable oil for frying confectioners’ sugar

Beat together egg, white and brown sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
Add cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and mix well.
Add flour, pumpkin and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate for at least three hours.
In heavy skillet heat to 375 degrees with enough oil to cover fritters.
Drop batter by tablespoons into deep hot fat and fry about three minutes. When fritters rise, turn and continue cooking until golden.
Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serve immediately.

This last cookbook was given to a friend when she first moved to the area from Cincinnati, OH. The book uses humor while still delivering great content – Deep South Parties or How to Survive the Southern Cocktail Hour without a Box of French Onion Soup Mix, a Block of Processed Cheese, or a Cocktail Weenie by Robert St. John. 

Pimento Cheese… The Pate of the South (One of three recipes for pimento cheese in the cookbook)

12 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded and at room temperature
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or top quality store-bought
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon dehydrated onion

Using a paddle attachment of an electric mixer, combine all ingredients until well blended.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, allowing flavors to combine.

Virginia Ham and Pimento-Cheese Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
3/4 cup homemade pimento cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, combine flour and sugar, and pulse to mix. Add butter and pimento-cheese pieces, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour buttermilk into the well and gently blend together the dough, being careful not to overmix.

Do these Southern recipes have you in the mood to get in the kitchen and try one out? Or better yet – why not come vacation with us here in South Carolina? There is no shortage of restaurants on Hilton Head Island and the surrounding areas like Savannah, Beaufort, Bluffton and Charleston ready to serve you up some Southern-style cuisine! If you have a favorite southern dish, send me an email with the recipe! I might just share it in a future blog.


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