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.

Surprise Fun Finds! Stock the Pantry and Support Southern Producers

So maybe you are at home, in the kitchen, looking to expand your repertoire, try a new recipe or conquer a project you’ve always wanted to try. Or maybe you just need something different. But you don’t want to go to the grocery. Or maybe you’d like to send a little something to a friend you haven’t seen in a while.  So I thought I’d put together a list of mail-order ideas. These are some independent, Southern-based retailers that are shipping fabulous products around the country. And like most small businesses, they could use a boost.  As usual, I have received no compensation for these products, they are just things I like. At the time of writing, all of these businesses are still shipping and have most products in stock, but things are moving fast so I apologize if items are no longer available. But keep checking back!

If you haven’t already, give Anson Mills heirloom grits and grains a try. Having a bag of grits in the freezer (which is the best way to store them) is a real boon. Cook them simply with water or jazz them up with cheese or spices you have on hand.  War Eagle Mill has a whole array of flours, cornmeal, and grains, plus baking and bean soup mixes. Those mixes are fabulous pantry meal savers. Two Brooks Farms offers a whole host of rice varieties, plus rice grits and rice flour. Try the red rice or sable for a change. Baking bread seems to be all the rage right now, and Bellegarde Bakery can ship you some amazing milled heirloom flours. Slather homemade bread with creative jams from Friends Drift Inn.

New Orleans based St. James Creamery will ship cheeses from around the world. Sweet Grass Dairy makes some of my favorite cheeses, and they offer great gift boxes. Don’t miss the “Quarantine Blues” collection featuring their Asher Blue. Or Dayspring Dairy can ship some fabulous goat milk cheeses. And add a jar of their caramel sauce while you are at it! Callie’s Charleston Biscuits are always comforting. Try a variety pack to mix things up! Keep up your vitamin intake with citrus from Boudrias Groves. They even have tomatoes!

The Harris family in Georgia are pioneers in sustainable farming, and you can order their White Oak Pastures grassfeed beef, pork and pastured chicken and turkey for shipping – they even have lamn and rabbit. Porter Road Butcher in Nashville has an impressive array of sausages, plus meat cuts of all kinds.  Hebert’s Meats from Louisiana will ship crawfish pie, boudin, stuffed crabs, gumbo and more for a real taste of the bayou. And don’t forget Benton’s bacon. If you’ve wanted to try, it now is the perfect chance. And don’t forget their famous country ham either! Whether you are planning a (small, socially distant) Easter celebration or just know how practical a ham can be, New Braunfel’s Smokehouse has you covered. I particularly like that they sell smaller hams, but they also have other smoked meat. Fresh filets, smoked trout, trout dip, trout sausage. Take your pick from Sunburst Trout Farm. In addition to a variety of sweet versions, Southern Baked Pie Company will ship chicken pot pie or quiches. And of course, you can have world-famous Memphis barbecue shipped from The Rendezvous or Central Barbeque.

Memphis’s own Shotwell Candy will send a sweet treat to you or your friends. I love their flavored caramels and toffee. I am always recommending Sugaree’s Cakes, and what could be more comforting than a caramel cake right now? Makeda’s butter cookies are a Memphis must have, but you can order them anywhere! Muddy Pond makes the deepest, richest, sweetest sorghum syrup, perfect for baking or for drizzling on pancakes or waffles. A classic cheese straw is a welcome snack or a perfect nibble for at home cocktail hour. Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory makes a good one – but wait to you try their sea salt caramel cookie straws!

Asheville-based Spicewalla will really zazz up your pantry cooking, and give you a chance to try new flavors. Order a spice collection for inspiration. Beautiful Briny Sea creates unique salt blends and super fun sugars (hello, Mr. Gigglepants). You know I love a good homemade sweet tea punch, but on a regular basis I sip Southern Breeze tea, which has sweetener mixed right in the teabags. Try some new coffees from Muletown Coffee for a change.

And I would never forget the cocktails. We may all need a few these days! Camp Craft Cocktails sell beautiful and tasty kits for infusing your own cocktails, so it’s a project and a party! Withco serves up really unique mixers. I’ve long been a fan of Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup and their other bar essentials are worth a taste as well. Flying Fox Vermouth is delicious and beautifully packaged. Mississippi’s Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka is perfect for spring sipping. And Charboneau Rumfrom Natchez is a very special bottle. (There are restrictions on shipping liquor state to state).

Goldbelly is a nationwide business, but they offer restaurant and bakery favorites from around the South, from Central Grocery Muffalettas to fried chicken biscuit kits to low country shrimp boils and Delta tamales, coconut cakes and key lime pies.

The spring growing season is ramping up, so look into local CSA (community supported agriculture). These local growers will often deliver or have convenient pick-up for fresh, seasonal, local and heathy produce with the added bonus of supporting your neighboring businesses. Here’s a tool to find one close to you. And check in with your local farmers markets – many vendors are offering pick-up and some delivery. Support local!

Here’s wishing you and your family a safe and healthy Spring, isolated but not alone!

All photos from vendors.


Orange Poppyseed Drizzle Muffins

Muffins are so easy. I mean, there are so many recipes that produce beautiful muffins with just a bowl and a spoon. And the little individual size treats always look so sweet. These are a little different. They require a little more washing up and a few additional steps, but the difference between “oh, good…muffins” and “wow, you make great muffins” makes the small effort worthwhile. They are in no way difficult – just more than dump and stir. Anyone you share this with will thank you.

Sunny orange is perfect for these not winter-not spring days. Don’t skip the step of soaking the poppy seeds. It softens them up and brings out some of their lightly woodsy flavor, rather than just being the thing that gets stuck in your teeth. Buttermilk always makes for tender muffins, and the drizzle of sugary topping adds just the right amount of sweet. These muffins hold well in an airtight container, so you can make them the day before and serve them at breakfast. You can use the same method for lemon poppyseed muffins, obviously replacing the orange, or even use both for a citrus blend. I garnished these with some candied orange rounds I picked up at Trader Joe’s. 

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

¾ cup whole buttermilk

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Zest and juice of one navel orange (about 5 Tablespoons juice)

2/3 plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

Heat the buttermilk in the microwave for 30 seconds or until its hot to the touch. I do this in a small measuring jug. Stir in the poppy seeds and leave to cool to room temperature. While the buttermilk is cooling, put the sugar in a small bowl, then grate in the orange zest with a microplane. Process until the orange zest and sugar are well combined. The sugar will be damp. Measure out two Tablespoons of the orange sugar and place in a small saucepan and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray 12 muffin cups with baking spray.

Put the sugar into a bowl and add the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and mix with a fork to completely combine the sugar and flour. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and 4 Tablespoons of orange juice until very well combined. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir just until the ingredients are mixed. Do not mix too vigorously. Divide the batter between the muffin tins (I use a scoop) then bake for 18 – 20 minutes until a tester inserted in the center come out clean. While the muffins are cooking, add the remaining orange juice to the sugar in the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

Run a small knife around the edge of the muffins to loosen them from the tin. Spoon the orange sugar syrup over the tops of the muffins and leave too cool. The muffins will keep in an airtight container for a day.

Makes 12

Festive Food Finds 2019

Food gifts are the best – they just keep on giving! I’ve pulled together a list of some of my favorite treats that make amazing gifts, or a little something for yourself! As always, these are just some personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products or compensated me in any way. Photos are from the vendors. 

And check out my Festive Finds 2019 list for more ideas!

I love country ham so these little ham filled angel biscuits from the Hamery are a favorite treat for myself, but they also make a fabulous quick party appetizer. A regular part of my Easter. And sometimes Christmas table is the Tale of Two Hams from Edward’s Virigina Smokehouse,  perfectly sized petite country and city hams that are small in size but big on flavor. My favorite childhood food memory is country ham on beaten biscuits, which I can now buy from Critchfield’s Meat Market. But never forget that Memphis barbecue! Send a pack of Central Barbecue ribs, pulled pork and sauce anywhere 

Olive oil is a popular gift, poured into bottles at specialty shops. But for something different, try Holy Smoke smoked olive oilLindera Farms magnolia vinegar could not be more Southern and makes a very unique gift. Make sure to check out all their varieties.  Cochon Butcher is a must-eat in New Orleans, and their sweet potato habanero hot sauce is spicy special. You can even spice up your cocktails with GrisGris Cocktail Magic Jalapeno Hex simple syrup.

Sugaree’s Cakes are so amazing, it’s hard to choose between the decadent caramel and the perfect strawberry. Fortunately, you can choose to have half of each! For a real old-fashioned treat, send some Divinity from Savannah Candy Kitchen. Dale’s Fried Pies are delicious and make a food gift with a twist (or a treat for yourself). Sure, there is apple and chocolate, but give the chicken and waffles or Benton’s bacon fillings a try in a select your own 12 flavor pack. The Mississippi Cheese Straw Company makes darn good cheese straws, but their Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Straws are the star of the show.

Mint Julep Jelly from Bourbon Barrel Foods is perfect for biscuits or with a pork loin.  The spiked set from Backhouse Foods features tipsy butterscotch and hot fudge sauces. Felicia Suzanne’s restaurant is a Memphis favorite and her Flo’s gift set of chow-chow, pepper jelly, tomato jam and bread and butter pickles makes the perfect Southern gift. I am still obsessed with Jacko’s Pepper Jelly and this seasonal pear, plum and honey version is a must.  

Burlap and Barrel’s single origin spices are a gamechanger and for the true gastronome on your list will be thrilled with a gift set. Any baker or real food fanatic will love Bellegarde Bakery’s stone milled, heirloom grains. For the luxury lover, Cajun Caviar bowfin caviar harvested in Louisiana will make a unique gift.  J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works has revised the tradition of salt producing in Appalachia. Their gift set includes finishing salt, smoked salt and ramp-infused salt for a taste of Appalachia. And while you’re there, pick up some Dr. Dickinson’s natural hangover remedy packets

And check out my annual Festive Finds list for more delightful ideas!

Festive Finds 2019

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products or compensated me in any way. Photos used are from the vendors.

And check back tomorrow for my first Festive Food Finds lift for all your edible gifts!

Le Creuset has introduced the pot I didn’t know I needed – a deeper version of the classic Dutch oven (are you listening, Santa?). Get snazzy with this Great Jones Holy Sheet pan. Make your cookies look cool or use it to serve a snack board. It is easy to jazz up simple meals during the busy holidays, or add zing to healthy new year meals with Spicewalla’s amazing blends in adorable tins. And I don’t know what your budget is, but hey, it’s fun to look at this AGA range created for Tiffany.

Last year I did a fun family gift themed around hot chocolate that was a big hit. The centerpiece was the amazing Carl the Snowman, and now he has a peppermint friend! Or drop one of these Butler’s Hot Chocolate drops in a mug of milk for a decadent treat. Make any mug festive with these mini gingerbread house mug buddies. Customize Yeti stackable mugs to keep warm drinks in hot on the go. Keep the theme going with this thermos -patterned tote that can be monogrammed!

Totally customize this leather trimmed wine tote with colors, trim and monogram – perfect for men or women. Or to keep your drinks cool on the go, there is nothing more chic than this Corkcicle tote. And serve it up some bubbles in an elegant champagne bucket. For the cocktail lover, these infused ice cubes make creative drinks in an instant The bourbon drinker in your family will proudly wear this needlepoint bourbon bottle belt from Pappy & Co. Cocktail napkins that feel like linen, come on a roll of 50 and can be washed or thrown away? Yes please.

Cheese and charcuterie boards are all the rage, and a great way to entertain. Make yours special with this stunning navy blue board. D’Artagnan’s easy chacrcuterie kits make it all a breeze. These little monogrammed wooden picks add an extra special touch. A fabulous Ben and Lael copper meat fork is a showpiece for any display. Reed Symthe’s magnificent basket is woven by women of the Mississippi Choctaw Nation.

If you are looking for some fun food-themed stocking stuffers, I’ve got you covered! This milk and honey soap from Memphis’s Thistle and Bee is gorgeous, and supports survivors or trafficking. Happy socks for happy chefs are a fun little happy for your favorite food person. I keep boxes of these trivia games out for guests and they are a big hit and this food version is perfect for your own kitchen wizard. Colorful, environmentally friendly Swedish kitchen towels add a fun pop of color.

Spicy Pepper Jam and Goat Cheese Spread

Spicy Pepper Jam and Goat Cheese Spread

Cream cheese topped with pepper jelly is a classic appetizer that carries a lot of memories for me. And I truly don’t think you can get more payoff for a simpler presentation than a block of cream cheese and a jar of good pepper jelly. Of course, over the years more and more fancy, artisan, small batch etc. pepper jellies have hit the market, and I am a big fan. Also, goat cheese has become a more and more standard ingredient and I’ve switched that up on occasion with the cream cheese. But me being me, I have also learned to make my own cream cheese, and every year I can Red Pepper Relishfor this very use. But somewhere along the way, I realized I wanted to mix it all up. A fresh, bright homemade pepper jelly style topping that didn’t make huge amounts or require canning. And instead of one or the other, a nice blend of tangy goat and creamy cream cheese. This has become a favorite of mine and a frequently requested recipe and I figured it was time to share.

I am not a person prone to spiciness, so I think this has the perfect blend of sweet heat. But if you do want to make it spicier, substitute one habanero or 2 cayenne peppers for the jalapenos. But know your audience – if you don’t know the spice tolerance of those you’re serving to, stick with the original formula!

Spicy Pepper Jam and Goat Cheese Spread

For the Jam:

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

2 jalapeno peppers

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

For the Goat Cheese:

12 ounces creamy goat cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

For the Pepper Jelly:

Cut the seeds and the ribs from the bell peppers and cut into chunks. Place in the bowl of a food processor (a mini is fine). Cut the seeds and the ribs from the jalapenos, cut into pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until the peppers are finely diced – still textured and not pureed.  Scrape into a medium saucepan, add the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened. Scoop a little spoonful onto a small dish and leave to cool for a few minutes. It should set, but just a little bit runnier than you want the finished product to be. It will thicken some as it cools. This can take anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes, so watch closely and stir often. Scoop the cooked jam into a glass container or jar, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

For the Goat Cheese:

Unwrap the goat cheese and place it in a small bowl with the cream cheese and leave until everything is soft. Using a fork or a hand blender, mix until the cheeses are combined and smooth.

Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray, then spread the goat cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the dish – I sometimes find that damp, clean fingers are the most efficient way to do this. Spread the pepper jam over the top of the goat cheese in an even layer. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the edges of the dish to remove any stray pepper jam; a little stuck on the side can burn and make quite a clean-up job. The dish can be covered and refrigerated for several hours at this point.

When ready to cook, take the dish out of the fridge to come to room temperature, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 15 minutes until everything is warmed through and the jam is runny and melty. Serve with simple crackers.

Note: If your pepper jam has firmed up too much before spreading on the goat cheese, microwave it for 30 seconds, give it a good stir and blast for another 15 seconds if needed until it is spreadable.