by Sybil PrattMay 2011
Bring on the good times
The Deen brothers, Jamie and Bobby, grew up loving the outdoors as much as they love good Southern food—after all, their mama is Paula Deen. In The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up, their new addition to the Deen family cookbook collection, they celebrate these dual passions, cooking up a storm of Southern sensations to be savored al fresco, while the sun or the stars shine down. The more than 125 recipes Jamie and Bobby share here are outside-informal, the kind of food that’s meant for paper plates and lots of napkins. These boys don’t hold back—no calorie counting when you’ve got Stuffed Corn Bread with Ham and Cheese on the grill, Hot Buffalo Burgers with Blue Cheese or a whole turkey breast filled with smoky kielbasa. Off for a hike or a picnic? The brothers have the right stuff, like Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Classic Southern Slaw and Muffaletta Salad, prepped in advance to make the day easy and special. In fact, “easy and special” goes for all the Deen boys’ entertaining ideas.
Under the Tuscan sun
Tuscany: Just the word conjures up visions of Bella Italia, with its incredible landscapes, fantastic art and fabulous cuisine. Now Tuscany, a cookbook with 50 recipes plus gorgeous photos and travel essays by Mario Matassa, offers us a new way to appreciate this fabled region. Most Americans think of Tuscany as one place, but like everything Italian, it’s really made up of many local areas, each with its own special topography and culinary traditions. There are actually 10 treasure-packed Tuscan provinces, each proud of its signature dishes, from mountainous, marble-producing Massa-Carrara in the north, where savory pancakes called Testaroli are cut up and served with pesto, to Etruscan-based Grosetto in the south, with its penchant for wild boar, bottarga (salted mullet roe) and gnudi (ricotta and spinach dumplings). Some beloved standards, like Cacciucco (fish soup) from Livorno, have noble lineages, while others, like Tomato and Bread Soup, are hearty examples of la cucina povera, peasant cooking born of necessity. Take this Tuscan tour cooking in your kitchen, or dreaming in your armchair.
Cookbook of the Month
Sara Foster has shared her love of fresh, seasonal eating and simple home cooking in all of her best-selling cookbooks. In her latest, Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen, she’s gone home, returning to her Southern roots and the regional dishes that inspired her love of food. Ever an innovator, Sara adds her own twists to classic dishes, mixes and matches new ingredients with old favorites (like Grilled Peach Salad with Shaved Country Ham), cuts out some of the down-home fat and never boils her greens for hours, though she maintains, in good Southern style, that “you can never have too many vegetable sides.” Her riffs on grits, rice, biscuits and cornbread are worth the price of admission alone, as is “Pig: A Food Group of Its Own,” a whole chapter devoted to the delights of Southern-style pork. Sara’s very personal take on the traditional goes from breakfast fare to her luscious, linger-longer sweets (including a to-die-for Molasses-Bourbon Pecan Pie), plus more than 80 full-color photos and sidebars galore filled with tips on techniques, ingredient swaps and what to serve with what. What Sara calls “a little slice of Southern” is a big, beautiful cookbook.