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.

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea

Strawberry season is in full swing and I am incorporating them into as many delivery systems as I can. With baskets and baskets of berries in my house and family coming over for lunch, I decided to veer from my normal sweet tea punch and put the berries to good use.

This flavored teas is miles and miles from any packaged product packed with “real fruit flavor.” The fresh berry taste shines through with just enough sweetness to highlight it. Sure, this takes a little more work than pouring water over tea bags, but the reward is well worth it. My whole family loved it (maybe more than the actual lunch). And with a fresh berry and mint garnish, its pretty to boot.

Fresh Strawberry Iced Tea
  1. 12 ounces strawberries, hulled
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  4. 3 -4 stems of mint
  5. 4 family size tea bags
  1. Puree the strawberries in a blender, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. You should end up with about 1 cup of strawberry juice. Add water to make two cups, then pour it into a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir well, then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove from the heat, stir in the mint and leave to cool.
  2. Place the tea bags in a 1 gallon jar or pitcher. Pour over 7 cups of boiling water and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the strawberry syrup back into the tea through the strainer to remove the mint leaves and stir well. Add 4 cups of cool water.
  4. Garnish with sliced strawberries and mint leaves and serve over ice.
The Runaway Spoon

Southern Boiled Custard

Southern Boiled Custard

Boiled custard is one of my great childhood Christmas memories.  We spent a lot of Christmases at my grandparents house in Columbia, Tennessee and my grandmother always served boiled custard in Santa Claus mugs and caramel cake for dessert at Christmas lunch.  Boiled Custard was something you bought.  I never really thought of it as something people make. I assumed it was some mystery product that only the professional dairies could ever produce.  Over time, our Christmas traditions changed and some of our gathering don’t have that nostalgic love of boiled custard, but my mom always buys a little carton, even if only a few of us drink it.  But I have over the years gotten more and more interested in making things from scratch, and low and behold, I discovered that lots of Southern cookbooks have recipes for boiled custard.  I am now pretty sure there are some people who think bought boiled custard is an absolute sacrilege.  So, feeling nostalgic, I set out to create a fresh family recipe for an old-time favorite.  And it is delicious.

After my Grandmother died, my cousin claimed the old Santa mugs.  They were so chipped and cracked no one thought they could possibly be useful and every offer to buy her a new set was refused.  I totally understand that.  Those mugs filled with boiled custard are a part of Christmas.  But I bought my own Santa mug, similar to the old ones, just for me, just for boiled custard.

Southern Boiled Custard

This is a rich drink so small servings will do.  If you want to make more, I recommend making it in several batches.  It is very difficult to create a larger double boiler and more liquid takes longer to cook and is likely to produce lumps.

1 quart whole milk

½ of a vanilla bean

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup heavy cream (If needed)

Set up a double boiler and bring the water in the bottom pot just to a low boil.  If you do not have a double boiler, place a metal or glass bowl over a saucepan.  The bowl should not touch the bottom of the pan or the water in it and must fit securely so steam does not escape.

Pour the milk into the top of the double boiler, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk.  Heat the milk until it is hot to the touch and just bubbling.  Do not boil.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined.  Add the sugar and beat until light and the sugar has dissolved.  Slowly add  ½ cup of the hot milk into the eggs and beat thoroughly.  Repeat with another ½ cup milk.  Pour the egg mixture into the milk in the pan and whisk to combine.  Continue whisking as the milk cooks.  Cook until the custard lightly coats the back of a metal spoon, and when you run your finger through the custard on the spoon it leaves a gap.

While the custard is cooking, wash and dry the bowl and place a wire mesh sieve over it.  When the custard is ready, pour it immediately through the sieve.  Leave it to cool for a few minutes, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard.  This will present a skin from forming.  Refrigerate the custard until cold, then pour into a pitcher. If the custard is too thick, whisk in about ½ cup heavy cream.

Serves 6 small glasses

Halloween Hot Chocolate (Liquid Candy)

I see lots of recipe for using up leftover Halloween candy.  I’m not sure I see the point, as just eating it straight is generally fine with me.  Mind you, not in one sitting, but over time, stashed in drawers and cabinets.  But I do want to make my contribution with this creamy, rich hot chocolate.  Make it as soon as the little monsters come in from the trick-or-treating chill, or as a special after school treat later in the week.

You must use soft candy that will melt, and nuts are too chunky.  Milky Way,  Rolo, Kisses, Reese’s,  Hershey’s Milk or Special Dark all work beautifully.  The final product may not be a chocolaty brown depending on the type of candy used, but it will still be delicious.  Using the blender makes a creamy drink with everything smoothly combined, plus it creates a nice foamy top.

Halloween Hot Chocolate (Liquid Candy)

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

1 ounce chocolate candy (4 mini-size squares)

Combine the cream and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium just until bubbles form on the surface. Do not boil.

Unwrap the candy and place in the carafe of a blender.  Pour over the warm milk and leave for a few seconds to soften the candy bars.  Vent the blender lid and carefully hold it with a folded tea towel.  Blend until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately, or pour back into the saucepan and reheat gently if needed.

Makes one serving, can be doubled or tripled

Melon Rosé Sangria

Pink and pretty and refreshing.  Okay, a little girly. But this lovely summer sipper will cool you off with a little sophistication.  The pink wine available in the US has come a long way from “white zin” and the eighties wine bar, and I urge you to seek it out.  It is a crisp summer wine and there are great, affordable versions from France like La Vieille Ferme and South Africa such as Mulderbosch.

I like the attractive little balls of melon, but if that’s more work than you are willing to do, cut the melons into small cubes.

Melon Rosé Sangria

½ cup sugar

4 sprigs of mint

2 cups fresh melon balls (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe), juices reserved (plus more for garnish)

¼ cup elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain)

1 750 ml bottle rosé wine

2 cups lemon-lime soda

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and drop in the mint leaves.  Leave to cool.

Place the melon balls and reserved juice in a large pitcher.  Pour over the liqueur and leave to sit for about 15 minutes.  Add the rosé and mint simple syrup and gently stir.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before serving, add the soda and gently stir. Serve over lots of ice with a sprig of mint and a few melon balls in each glass.

Serves 6- 8

Sweet Tea Julep

It is hot out there!  It’s hot every summer in the South, but it still seems to be one of our favorite topics of conversation.  And we always talk as if it is some sort of surprise. “Can you believe how hot it is?  It might hit 105° today!” But somehow we manage.  Our homes are air-conditioned, our porches have fans, and our clothes are made of seersucker and light linen.  We love a good cold meal, like tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese and cold wedge of watermelon.

Our primary tool for keeping our cool is endless pitchers of cold sweet tea, and after five o’clock, icy mint juleps, served in chilled silver cups, cool to the touch with a bracing drip of cold condensation.  Tea is refreshing, bourbon is revivifying.  Combine the two in a minty punch and you’ll have a whole new outlook on life. Try it in a julep cup, but a plastic cup is just fine.  You may not even mind the heat!

Sweet Tea Julep

7 cups water, divided

2 cups sugar

1 cup loosely packed mint leaves (plus more for garnish)

3 family-sized black tea bags

1 ½  cups bourbon

Stir together 4 cups of water and the sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat and add the mint leaves and tea bags.  Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags.  Leave the mint leaves in while the mixture cools to room temperature.

Strain the tea into a pitcher. Stir in 3 cups of water and the bourbon. Chill, then serve over lots of ice, garnished with mint sprigs.

Makes about 9 cups