Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Celery Popovers

Celery Popovers

Popovers are sort of kitchen secret weapon. They are so easy to make but produce such impressive results. Watching the simple batter transform into fluffy sculptures is one of the glories of cooking. My sister-in-law was given a popover pan years ago and I used to ask her to make them all the time because I thought she had some special secret. She eventually got tired of my requests and showed me how easy they are to make. I bought myself a popover pan the next day and now I love experimenting with different flavors, like these equally as interesting Pumpkin Popovers.

These celery popovers take on a lovely celadon hue from the celery and have this elusive, delicate celery-scented taste. These are marvelous with any soup, as the light celery note doesn’t compete with any other flavor, but I think they are a special treat with this Cream of Celery Soup. They are a fun treat for a meal anytime you have a little celery hanging around. A popover pan isn’t strictly necessary, but once you learn how easy it is to make them, I consider it a decent investment. I use this version. You can use a deep muffin tin, but the batter won’t rise as high and give you the full popover effect, though they will be delicious. Serve these warm, ready to dip into a bowl of soup or with good butter.

Celery Popovers

2 thin stalks of celery (about 2 ounces total)

2 -3 celery leaves

1 cup whole milk

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Spray a 6 well popover pan with cooking spray and put it in the oven while it preheats to 375°.

Break the celery into small pieces, pulling off any strings. Drop the pieces into the carafe of a blender, then add the celery leaves, milk, celery salt and kosher salt. Blend until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, flour and cooled melted butter and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the carafe as needed.

Carefully take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter between the wells, filling them about 2/3 full. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for 30 minutes without opening the door. Open the oven and quickly poke a hole in the top of each popover with a sharp knife, then close the oven and cook a further 5 minutes.

Serve warm.

Makes 6

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Brown Butter Bubble Bread

I like to call this bubble bread, particularly with the alliterative use of browned butter, but some people call it monkey bread. The sweet breakfast version was always a treat when I was a kid – I had a friend whose mom made it after sleepovers – but that version used canned biscuit dough. It never really occurred to me that you could do it from scratch until a few years ago. But you can and its easy and it doesn’t have to be the sticky, sugary, sweet cinnamon version. I started making this with simply melted butter, and I love that it is like having a whole pan of dinner rolls with much less trouble and a fun presentation. And then it occurred to me to try browning the butter first, and I really hit on something special.

The mixer makes this an easy bread to prepare, but the browned butter adds complexity that totally belies the simplicity. A hint of black pepper in the dough adds some extra dimension. And I love that this is communal food – just made for sharing with friends. Put it on a big platter and pass it around so everyone can tear off a perfect piece. It is rich and buttery on its own, but you could serve it with some browned butter spread. I also think this is fun for dipping – place a bowl of cheesy or creamy dip in the center and let your guests tear and share. You can make this during the day, leave it for its final rise and have the dishes washed and put away before popping it in the oven just in time for your guests.

Also, I was on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family last week making Country Ham Cheesecake from my latest book, Southern Snacks. Check out the recipe!

Brown Butter Bubble Bread

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (about 110°- 115°)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup vegetable shortening, cut into cubes and at room temperature

1 large egg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½  ground black pepper

4 – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer, then with the paddle attachment, beat in the sugar, shortening, egg, salt and pepper and 1 cup of flour on medium speed until combined. Add the remaining flour a 1/2 cup at a time, until you have a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat until you have a smooth and elastic dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl in a tight ball, about 5 – 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl (use the wrapper the butter comes in), turn to coat and cover. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, cut the butter into small pieces and place in a small saucepan (light colored or stainless is best so you can see the butter as it browns). Heat over medium high heat, watching constantly, until the butter is melted. It will start to spit and hiss, then you will see brown speckles appear. Stir the butter to distribute the browned bits, and as soon as the butter has an even brown color and a nice nutty smell, pour it into a measuring jug. Leave to cool, but not solidify. When it is cool, pour it into a shallow bowl, leaving the browned bits in the measuring jug.

Spray a 9-inch tube pan with baking spray. Punch down the dough, then pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into 1 ½ inch balls. Dip each ball in the browned butter to fully cover and drop it in the tube pan, arranging them evenly. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top of all the balls of dough in the pan. Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°, then bake the bread until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool for five minutes in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter. Serve the bread warm.

Savory Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cakes

I’ve never been completely sure what to title this recipe. They are more than muffins, but this is based on an old recipe I found in an English cookbook where they were called dumplings, but I don’t really think that translates. There’s a biscuit-y batter, but turn them upside down and there is a pretty and sweet onion surprise. Muffins, cakes, dumplings, upside down surprise, I still can’t quite decide.

What I do know is that these are delicious and unique and the perfect Vidalia for in-season sweet Vidalia onions. Caramelized Vidalias are one of my favorite uses for onion so I am always looking for ways to incorporate them into my repertoire when they come into season. I love these served with a good grilled steak, but honestly they make a lovely luncheon dish or dinner with fresh salad on the side. Sage complements the nutty walnuts and give the whole a sweet and savory woodsy feel, but you could use thyme, marjoram or chives.

Savory Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cakes
Yields 6
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For the Onions
  1. 2 Tablespoons butter
  2. 2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
For the Cake Batter
  1. ½ cup chopped walnuts
  2. 1 cup self-rising flour
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. ½ cup unslated butter, at room temperature
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 2 Tablespoons buttermilk or milk
  7. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
For the Onions
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and begin to brown. Pour in ½ cup of water, stir well and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are a rich caramelized amber color. Remove the onions from the heat.
For the Batter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor until they are well crushed. Add the flour, baking powder, and butter and pulse until combined and crumbly. Add the eggs, milk and sage and process until smooth and combined. You can add a little more buttermilk if needed to create a smooth, thick batter.
  2. Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with cooking spray, then divide the onions between the cooks. Divide the batter between the cups covering the onions. Press the batter down into the cups with a spatula, then smooth the tops. Bake for 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let the cakes cool for about five minutes in the pan, then invert the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. Let the inverted pan sit for a few minutes before you lift it off the cakes. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

I have combined a lot of words I like here. Strawberries and biscuits and chocolate. I’m not sure I can do any better for a strawberry season brunch treat. I think strawberries and chocolate are a timeless pairing, though usually found in desserts and candies. Of course, I’m not saying you can’t eat these for dessert, but they make a really lovely surprise on a breakfast or brunch menu. Classic Southern biscuits get an upgrade with seasonal strawberries and a little sweet sugar. Inspired by my Fresh Corn Buttermilk Biscuits, these pale pink beauties are tender and moist and packed with strawberry flavor. Traditional Southern chocolate gravy is rich and chocolate-y without being cloying or tooth-achingly sweet.

These biscuits are also wonderful for strawberry shortcake, split open and layered with whipped cream and sliced, macerated berries. Or mix up a little strawberry butter to spread on them, or your best homemade strawberry jam. The chocolate gravy is wonderful (and traditional) on plain buttermilk biscuits – but if you make these for breakfast or brunch and have some extra gravy, it is very good on ice cream after dinner!

Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
Yields 12
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For the Biscuits
  1. 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  2. 12 ounces strawberries
  3. 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  5. 4 ½ - 5 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  6. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  7. A pinch of salt
For the Gravy
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. ¼ cup cocoa powder
  3. 3 Tablespoons flour
  4. 2 cups whole milk
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
For the Biscuits
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Hull the strawberries, cut into chunks and place about 10 ounces in a blender with 4 Tablespoons sugar (1/4 cup). Puree until very smooth (you can add a drop of cream to get things going if needed). Pour the puree into a 2-cup measuring jug. You should have about 1 cup puree. Puree some more strawberries if needed. Add cream to measure 2 cups of liquid. Return the liquid to the blender, add the melted butter and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 ½ cups flour, the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the baking powder and salt with a fork until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using the fork, blend everything together, pulling the flour into the wet ingredients until everything is incorporated. Lightly flour your hands and work in up to another 1 cup of flour until you have a soft, cohesive dough. Don’t treat the dough too rough – you want a tender biscuit. Cut three or four strawberries into small pieces and sprinkle them over the dough. Lightly knead in a little more flour and the strawberry pieces until you have a nice, soft, cohesive dough dotted with berries. Don’t be tempted to use more berries – they can make the dough watery.
  3. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Lightly knead the dough, folding it over on itself, about 6 times, then pat it out into a circle 1-inch thick. Using a floured 2- inch biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits by just pressing down and lifting out – don’t twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, almost touching. You can pat out the dough scraps to cut more biscuits, but they are never quite as pretty. I usually get nine biscuits on the first go, then three more from a second pat out. Refrigerate the biscuit dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees/
  5. Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle a light sparkle of sugar over the top. Bake the biscuits for 8 minutes, rotate the pan and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes until they are firm and cooked through.
For the Gravy
  1. Sift the sugar, cocoa powder and flour together into a medium saucepan. You want the dry ingredients lump free from the start. Add the milk and vanilla extract and cook over medium high heat, whisking frequently until the gravy is smooth and thick (like gravy). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until it is melted and smooth.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Herbed Focaccia Dinner Rolls

If you search through the bread recipes on this site, you will see that it maps out my quest to bake fresh bread without too much effort. I am not one who is going to carefully nurse starters or delicately knead and form stylish loafs of artisan breads. The mysteries of yeast sometimes elude me. I love a shortcut, but I do love the smell of fresh bread baking and the sense of accomplishment of serving a basket of warm bread that I made my own self, so I am always intrigued by easy ideas. I shared my simple method of Super Simple Focaccia a while ago, and this is a take on that idea. Individual muffin tin dinner rolls look gorgeous piled in a pretty basket, and a dozen rolls passed around can be a little tidier to serve than a tear-and-share pan version. The zippy herb and garlic topping adds interest and a nice pop pf flavor.

I love the Italianate flavors of rosemary and oregano in this recipe, but of course you can vary the herbs to your taste and menu. I think a dose of cracked black pepper would be a nice touch. You can easily mix up these rolls, set them to rise and have the bowl washed and put away before guests arrive and just pop them in the oven.

Herbed Focaccia Dinner Rolls
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 7 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  2. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  3. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  4. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  5. 1 package (1/4 ounce) package quick rise yeast
  6. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  8. 1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
  9. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  10. Flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place 5 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon rosemary, 1 Tablespoon of oregano and the garlic clove. Heat over medium heat until shimmering, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Place the yeast, sugar, salt and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Leave for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. Add the flour, remaining 2 Tablespoon olive oil and the remaining herbs and beat for about 2 minutes until everything is well combined. The dough will be sticky.
  3. Divide the dough evenly between twelve regular muffin cups. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the roll dough has risen, remove the garlic clove from the seasoned oil then spoon it evenly over the rolls, making sure to distribute the chopped herbs evenly. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with flaky sea salt, then bake until golden and firm, about 20 - 25 minutes. Place a sheet pan on a lower rack in the oven under the pan in case any oil bubbles over. Let the cooked rolls sit for about 5 minutes, then use a dull knife to loosen from the tins and remove.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/