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.

Mardi Gras Slaw

Mardi Gras Slaw

Mardi Gras is a fun season for food.  Not only can you draw from the great canon of Louisiana cooking, you can play with the bright signature colors of purple, green and gold and be a little silly.  This slaw is simple but the multi-colored vegetables and the tangy dressing make it a special dish.  It is beautiful served beside or on top of a po’ boy, but is also a great starter or side with other favorites like Shrimp Creole or Red Beans and Rice or Grillades and Grits. But this slaw is also beautiful at a summer barbecue or picnic, long after Mardi Gras season has passed.

Mardi Gras Slaw

For the dressing:

1/3 cup creole mustard (I use Zatarain’s)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

a couple of dashes of hot sauce

For the slaw:

½ head purple cabbage

½ head green cabbage

2 yellow bell peppers

For the dressing:

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or in a small bowl with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is creamy.

For the Slaw:

Cut out the core of each cabbage half.  Slice the cabbage with the slicing blade of a food processor.  You’ll need to do this in batches.  Transfer the sliced cabbage to a very big bowl.  Remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers and finely dice.  Add to the cabbage in the bowl.  Use you clean hands to toss everything around until evenly distributed.  Discard any large cabbage pieces or remnants of hard core.

Give the dressing a last whisk to make sure it is creamy and pour it over the slaw.  Stir and toss to coat everything well.  I like to do this with clean hands as well.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  This is best served soon after it is made, but will keep for up to a day.

Serve 10 – 12


Buttermilk Bread


Buttermik Bread

Making a fresh loaf of lovely, real homemade bread gives me more of a sense of accomplishment than just about anything.  I am not an expert at it, you see, and I am still a little wary around yeast.  So I look for simple recipes and adapt them as best I can for my skill level.  Because I love that moment when you see that your dough has risen to a beautiful, soft round and then the smell of baking bread coming from your very own oven.  And my love for buttermilk is well known, so  creating a simple bread that makes the most of buttermilk tang was a natural step for me and this has become my go-to loaf.

This bread is delicious with any kind of jam or jelly and makes a very nice sandwich.  But for out January soup month extravaganza purposes, it’s amazing with a big bowl of soup.  Spread with a nice butter, toasted if you like.

Buttermilk Bread

1 packet (.25 ounces) rapid rise yeast

¼ cup warm water (about 110°)

¾ cup whole buttermilk

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ – ¾ cups bread flour

Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the warm water.  Give it a little swirl to distribute then leave it to proof until bubbly and creamy, 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the buttermilk and the butter, cut into chunks, in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, just until the butter melts.  Let the mixture cool slightly – you want it just warm enough to touch.

Add the honey, salt and warm buttermilk mixture to the yeast in the bowl, then add 1 ½ cups of flour.  Use the dough hook on medium speed to blend the ingredients together until you have a wet, shaggy dough.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook if necessary.  Add more flour, ¼ cup at a time, beating at medium until you have a mass of smooth dough (you may not use all the flour).  Continue beating until the dough is smooth and elastic and comes together in a nice ball.  All this should be about 5 minutes on the mixer.

Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large, buttered bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.  Here’s a tip I learned from my bread-baking friend Holly. The microwave is a warm, draft free place great for rising dough.  Just leave a post-it not so no one turns it on.  Even better, create a moist, warm dough habitat by putting a measuring cup with ½ cup of water in the microwave before the bowl of dough and zap for 2 minutes, until the inside is nice and steamy.  Quickly stick the dough bowl in and shut the door.

Punch down the risen dough and form it into a loaf.  Transfer it to a buttered 8 by 4 inch loaf pan and leave to rise until it fills the pan, about another hour.

Heat the oven to 375°.  Bake the bread until it is nicely browned, about 30 – 35 minutes.  Turn the bread out into your oven-mitted hand and tap on the bottom; it should give a nice hollow thud.  Remove it from the pan and wrap in it in a clean tea towel to cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf

Cheddar Chutney Spread

Cheddar Chutney Spread

It is always nice to have a simple, quick party recipe in you back pocket during the holidays.  Something you can whip up quickly and without too much pre-planning and take to the party of gathering you forgot about – you know, you volunteered a month ago to bring a snack, but completely let it slip your mind.   And this is it.

Good ingredients make a good recipe, and by using a good bottled chutney and curry powder, you get a sprightly punch of flavor with little effort.  I have always loved this spread and I promise it is a hit at parties.  I always get recipe requests when I take this somewhere.  The unusual and slightly exotic taste makes it seem much more complicated and labor intensive than it is.  And it is easy to make it look elegant by molding it into a nice round dome.  Put it on a pretty holiday platter with some crackers and you are ready to go.  It needs a couple of hours in the frideg to firm up, but can be made days ahead.  And any leftovers are pretty great as a sandwich.

Cheddar Chutney Spread

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) jar good mango chutney (Major Grey style)

4 green onions, chopped

1 Tablespoon mild curry powder

1 chopped green onion for garnish

1 handful of roasted peanuts for garnish

Use the grating blade on the food processor to grate the cheddar cheese.  Switch to the metal blade, then add the cream cheese, chutney, green onions and curry powder.  Blend until smooth.

Now you can go simply scrape the spread into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours until firm and serve sprinkled with green onions and peanuts. Or do what I do to make it a little fancier.  Line a nice round bowl with plastic wrap, smoothing it out as much as possible, then press the spread into the bowl, compacting it as much as possible.  Pull the ends of the plastic wrap to cover the top and refrigerate for several house or overnight until firm.  Unwrap the top of the spread and invert it onto a plate.  Remove the plastic wrap and smooth the top with a knife.  Sprinkle over chopped green onions and peanuts.

Serve with buttery crackers.  Can be made several days ahead.

Eggnog Bars

Eggnog Bars

I can’t make it through the holiday season without the flavor of eggnog.  I cook and bake with eggnog in all sorts of ways, from Overnight Eggnog French Toast Caserole to Eggnog Pie and I fall for all the eggnog seasonal flavors on the grocery shelves.  That perfect holiday richness with the whiff of nutmeg really puts me in the holiday spirit.

These simple bars are a perfect take-along to a party or great wrapped up as a gift.  I like them with a mug of eggnog or steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Eggnog Bars

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup refrigerated dairy egg nog

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper with some overhang on each end, which makes it easier to remove, then slice the bars.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy.  Add the egg, beating well, then add the eggnog and vanilla.  Beat until thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled.

Add the flour, baking powder and nutmeg and beat until the batter is completely incorporated and smooth.  Stir in the white chocolate chips.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg over the top of the batter. Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool the bars in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently lift them out using the overhanging foil and palce on a rack to cool completely. Cut into small squares.

The bars will keep for 2 days in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper.

Makes 16 bars

Butternut Squash Pickle

Butternut Squash Pickle

The beautiful orangey amber cubes dress up any autumn platter. This is a quick pickle, one for the refrigerator not the canning process.  Make it ahead of your holiday cooking as the flavor needs a little time to develop.

Cutting the butternut can be a little time consuming, but a little patience and sharp, sturdy knife will pay off.  I really prefer to have small pieces, and I admit I use my as-seen-on-TV onion chopper.  The small pieces are so versatile, making this a relish to serve alongside roasted turkey or pork, or a great topping for bruschetta or a sandwich.

Butternut Pickle

1 ½ pounds cubed, peeled butternut squash (1 large butternut, about 2 pounds)

2 ½ cups cider vinegar

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon pickling spice

2 cinnamon sticks

Peel the butternut completely, making sure to remove all the skin.  Cut the squash in half and scrap put all the seeds and fibrous insides.  Get it all out.  Cut the butternut into small cubes.   Place the cubed butternut in a large bowl

In a high-sided pan, combine the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and add the pickling spice and cinnamon sticks.  Boil for five minutes. Pour the boiling syrup over the butternut in the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 8 – 12 hours, which can easily be overnight.

Drain the syrup from the butternut back into the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Add the butternut with the cinnamon sticks, bring to the boil and boil for five minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Spoon the squash into sterilized jars, pressing down lightly to fill.  Pour over the syrup, covering the squash in the jars.  There may be extra syrup; discard it.  Screw the caps on the jars, leave to cool and then refrigerate for at least a week, but up to a month unopened.  Once opened, use quickly.

Makes 2 half-pints