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.

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.

Summer Fun Finds 2019

Summertime and the living is easy – and it should be fun, functional and beautiful as well! It’s been awhile since I shared some of my summertime favorites, but I just couldn’t resist as I dive right into the season. These are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products.

If you are grilling this summer, make everything extra special with these amazing single origin spices from Burlap & Barrel. I am a huge fan of these unique and incredibly flavorful spices and they will up your game easily. And don’t just grab any old sauce from the store, go with the experts and order a selection of original Memphis sauces from Central Barbecue. And ketchup is fine, but blow your burger away with Memphis made Jacko’s Pepper Jelly Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper version.

And everyone needs to keep cool this summer, right? Keep you cocktail cold in this insulated canteen with a creative monogram from Emily McCarthy. The pour out your libation into Limelight Paper’s double wall insulated cups with your own special design. And make those cocktails really special with personalized stir sticks from Two Funny Girls. Carry it all in the fun for summer watermelon insulated tote from MarleyLilly.  When it’s really hot out, make your own frozen drinks on the go with this handheld portable frozen drink maker. You will also want to keep cool with ice cream.  Serve it up in personalized cartons, and make it extra fancy with Fancy Spinkles Ice Cream Social toppers and unbelievably decadent with Backhouse Food’s Hot Fudge Sauce.

My favorite part of summer is the abundance of the farmers markets. I’ve been carrying my haul home in a bag similar to this snazzy oil cloth carrier from Beth’s Bags for years. It’s roomy and wipes clean. And I fill it with these reusable produce bags to cut down on plastic waste and leave the baskets for the vendors to use again. My market sells wooden tokens to use with vendors, so I like to keep them in my bag in a pouch like this fun beaded watermelon coin purse. When I get home, I like to pull out these small colandersto store my produce.

And as we all enjoy summer with our family and friends, don’t forget our neighbors in need. Many children rely on school lunches and food pantry programs and struggle providing proper nutrition during the summer months. Find your local food bank and donate food or funds through Feeding America.

Curry Biscuits with Ginger Pork Tenderloin and Mango Chutney

Ham biscuits are a staple of any brunch buffet for me, particularly at Easter. Whether it’s a whole ham on a pretty platter with a basket of biscuits on the side or a tray of pre-assembled bites, I can’t do without them. And one of my favorite classic southern party dishes is pork tenderloin with lovely rolls and a nice spread, from mustard to flavored butters (it even made it onto the cover of my last book, Southern Snacks). But sometimes I like to mix things up a bit. These biscuits are absolutely packed with flavor, and the bright sunny color makes them a real standout on a party spread at any time. The pork is marinated with a nice hit of ginger that complements the curry profile, and a dollop of mango chutney adds a bright fruitiness. These are delicious for more than brunch – try them for a Kentucky Derby party or as a pre-dinner appetizer. The bright color and punchy flavors always draws oohs and ahhs.

Make sure the green onions are very finely diced – I cut them into small rings, then run knife through them as if I am chopping herbs. I like the simplicity of this mixer method, but you can certainly do it all by hand with a basic biscuit method. Mix the flour and spices and cut in the shortening, then blend in the buttermilk. I prefer these in a square shape, because frankly its easier. The biscuit dough can be frozen on a baking sheet until firm, then stored in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Bake from frozen, adding a little cooking time if needed. You can make the pork tenderloin a day ahead and store it wrapped in the refrigerator then slice and assemble. There are lots of delicious mango chutneys available at the grocery, choose one that is not too chunky as it makes the biscuits a bit hard to eat. I serve these at room temperature to make it easy.

Curry Biscuits with Ginger Pork Tenderloin and Mango Chutney

For the Biscuits:

4 cups soft white wheat flour (Like White Lily)

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons mild curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 green onions, finely minced

½ cup shortening, cold and cut into cubes

1 ½ cups cold buttermilk

For the Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-inch piece of ginger

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

To Serve:

Mango chutney

For the Biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the flour, baking powder, curry powder, salt and turmeric in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low for a few seconds to blend everything, then add the finely minced green onion and turn the mixer on again just to combine. Add the cubes of shortening and run on medium low until the shortening is mixed in but with a few small BB sized pieces visible. Turn off the mixer and add about ¾ of the buttermilk then start the mixer on beat on medium low until the dough starts to come together. Add more buttermilk if needed. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl just to incorporate any flour left on the bowl.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently bring it all together, kneading just a few times. Handle with care and don’t overwork the dough, or the biscuits will get tough. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches, using the back of a large knife or bench scraper to square off the ends.  Flour the knife or scraper and cut the dough into 1 ½-inch squares.  Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, lightly brush the tops with a little buttermilk and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm, or wrap tightly and store in an airtight container, gently reheat before serving.

You can shape the biscuits and place them on the baking sheet and freeze them until they are hard. Transfer to a ziptop freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Bake from frozen, brushing over the buttermilk and sprinkling the salt. Add a few minutes to the baking time.

For the Pork Tenderloin:

Slice the ginger (no deed to peel) and crush it slightly with the side of the knife. Place the ginger, garlic and olive oil into large resealable plastic bag. Add pork to marinade. Close bag and turn pork to coat. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally. 

When ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 425°. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Scrape of any garlic and ginger pieces from the pork and season generously with salt and pepper. Brown the outside of the tenderloins on all sides.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the tender to an internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 15 minutes.  Let the pork rest at least 5 minutes before thinly slicing. The pork can be cooked up to a day ahead, wrapped tightly and refrigerated.

Cut the biscuits in half, place a thin slice of pork on one side and dollop on a little mango chutney. Place the other half of the biscuit on top and serve.

Makes 18

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

A few years ago, I started reading about “one pot pasta” recipes on the internet. I pinned a couple, and was a little curious, but didn’t jump right on the bandwagon. I’ve never really thought of boiling the pasta separately as an overburdensome task. But then I did think about dirty dishes. I do A LOT of dishes, and many of my recipes have been streamlined to dirty as few as possible, so it suddenly seemed like an idea I should explore. My first few attempts, following popular recipes, where underwhelming. After reading all the headlines and recipe titles about “super-easy” and “so simple”, I think in my mind the idea was you could just chuck everything in a pan and wait 20 minutes and voila, dinner! It is not quite as simple as that, as there is some watching the pot involved. And it turns out that what I like about the recipes I have successfully developed is not having one pot to clean or the perceived ease of the dish, but the way the flavor really does permeate the pasta. My first success was this Creamy Gorgonzola One Pot Pastathat is just full of the rich flavor of gorgonzola. I made that so much it got a little predictable. So I decided to adapt one of my favorite simple pasta dishes that I’ve been making with two pots and a bowl. Soft leeks, tangy lemon and creamy goat cheese meld for a sprightly sauce with a touch of sunshine. The lovely lemon flavor really permeates a dish in way that is difficult to achieve in a pour-over sauce.

The secret to creamy one pot pasta is to stir the pot almost constantly, particularly at the end to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. It is a little difficult to stir when the noodles are first go in, but just make sure to keep things moving and at a low boil. Serve this pasta immediately so the sauce retains its luscious creaminess.

Leek, Lemon and Goat Cheese One Pot Pasta

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 leeks, light and white green parts only

¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth

Zest of one lemon

Juice of two lemons

4 cups chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ pounds spaghetti, broken in half

4 ounces soft goat cheese

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ cup parmesan cheese, divided

Chives for garnish

Slice the leeks in half, then into thin half moons. Rinse well in a colander and shake some of the water off. Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add the leeks and sauté until soft and glassy, then add the white. Bring to a bubble and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the leeks are very soft. Add the lemon zest, juice, broth, cream and spaghetti and bring to a low boil. Crumble in the goat cheese and season well with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the spaghetti is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, just coating the pasta. Stir in the parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately garnished with snipped chives.

Serves 6

Cerveza Chicken Chowder

Writing a weekly blog post has its drawbacks. I love developing recipes, I spend weeks working on them, sometimes years actually. But I don’t always have an amazing story to tell. No deep childhood memory or lesson I learned on my travels. I just know it’s a good recipe and I want to share it. This is one of those recipes. I love a rich, creamy and comforting soup in the winter, chowder, cheesy filling bowls of warmth. So I knocked this up, it took a few tries to get something special (though I enjoyed every iteration). It started pretty basic, but swapping out some broth with a Mexican beer gives it a little zip. I tried different cheeses, but really liked the balance of a pre-shredded mix of Mexican cheeses, which is not usually the way I go, but it melted perfectly with a nice tang. A little hint of spice adds interest. It can be a fun interactive meal – lay out some extra cheese, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, even avocado chunks or some salsa. So there you go. I hope you enjoy this hearty bowl as much as I do.

Cerveza Chicken Corn Chowder

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon chile powder

Kosher salt

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles

1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

1 12 ounce bottle lager beer, preferably Mexican like Sol or Pacifico Clara

½ cups half and half

8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend

2 cups frozen corn kernels

Chopped cilantro

Fresh limes

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the chicken breasts in a small baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (165°internal temperature). Shred the cooked chicken with two forks and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onions until they are soft and transparent and just beginning to take on some brown color. Add the garlic and cook a further minute, then sprinkle over the cumin and chili powder and a generous pinch of kosher salt and cook about 30 seconds until the spices are fragrant. Add the diced chiles, tomatoes, chicken stock and beer and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. At this point, I like to give the soup a little whir with the immersion blender to break down the tomatoes and onions a touch, but it is not required. Measure out 1/2 cup of the cheese and set aside. Stir in the half and half and heat through. Do not boil the soup, but when it is steaming, stir in the rest of the cheese until it is melted. Add the corn and the shredded chicken and gently heat through.

Serve the top sprinkled with a little extra cheese, some chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime.

Seves 6

Festive Finds 2018

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.

Memphis made Jacko’s Pepper Jelly is a new obsession of mine, and the Cranberry version is absolutely perfect for the holidays. Try it over cream cheese, a wheel of brie – and it is out of hand on a leftover turkey sandwich. Everything is better with and Atlanta-based Banner Butter makes some fantastic compound butters that would make an amazing gift. Pair it with some biscuits from Callie’s Biscuits and breakfast is in the bag. These unicorn grits from Millers All Day and Geechie Boy Mill of South Carolina are delicious and a conversation piece. They make beautifully pink tinted grits naturally because of the special variety of corn.  

Build a beautiful cheeseboard for your parties or as a gift. This customized map glass board adds a personal touch. This assortment of Southern cheeses is a great sampler. I love panforte, the rich Italian fruit and nut treat and I’ve ordered from Italy over the years, but this California made version from Beaujolais Granola is delicious and beautifully packaged. Truffle Honeycomb from Regalis is a magnificent blend of Tennessee truffles and Georgia honey. Try it drizzled over fine cheese.

Izard Chocolate is made in Little rock, Arkansas and the packaging is stunning. This variety selection will impress the chocolate lover on your list. Backhouse Foods rich and decadent hot fudge sauce and praline sauce make a sweet gift.  I love pecan oil for making really unique, Southern salad dressings and this bottle from Congaree & Penn is beautiful to boot. For a truly special gift, snap a picture of your favorite recipe card have a family favorite recipe engraved on a wooden board for serving or display.

Keep a running grocery list or daily menu in style with the fun and functional hanging note roll. Glass serving pieces go with everything and look pretty on a table. This simple serving bowl is made special by a monogram. I snapped up this gorgeous round baker recently. It is perfect for roasting a chicken or making a colorful vegetable gratin – the muted colors let the beautiful food shine through. Scout’s Bagette market tote has cut down on my plastic grocery bag use immensely. They are cute, colorful and collapsible. Even the cashiers at the store comment on them! And you can add a monogram.

A good enameled cast iron pot is a kitchen workhorse, but it can be pretty too, like this version from Great Jones. I love the bright colors. For a perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer, stock up on these beautifully packaged and creatively fragranced soaps from New Orleans’s Sweet Olive Soap Works. A notepad in the kitchen is always helpful for jotting down recipe ideas or grocery lists. These cute vegetable themed pads make a great gift. My go to gifts are homemade preserves I make during the summer. I love these cute labels from Nancy Nikko Design and use them on most of my canned gifts.

These cute printed insulated cups perfect as a quick gift or for serving hot chocolate at your holiday parties. For a more permanent gift, this insulated mug from Emily McCarthy has a fun choice of monogram options. Make sure to check out all her personalized products. Liven up the kitchen with this fun C’est Si Bon kitchen towel. For a professional, but super chic look, this patterned, check out chef’s coat from Pomegranate, one of my favorite linen brands.

And of course, I think Southern Snacks is the perfect gift for any cook in your life – or great to keep yourself in preparation for holiday parties.


Glazed Double Almond Bars

I’m returning to a classic here. These are neither hip or new or with some special twist, they are just a recipe I have been making for years and return to when I need a little comfort. I love the old-fashioned taste of almond paste. I don’t now why exactly I say old fashioned, there is just something reminiscent about the rich, grainy, almond-y taste to me. I have no particularly childhood memory of almond desserts, or any proof of my feeling that they somehow seem very Jane Austen-ish, or even Little House on the Prairie-ish (though I know that can’t be true). These bars just take me to a happy place.

These bars are the perfect treat when you want to move away from classic brownies or cookies for a different taste. They are so easy to make but pack a real flavor punch. As an added bonus, they will keep for several days in an airtight container, so they can be made ahead. I have even shipped these to my niece in college.

Glazed Double Almond Bars

For the Bars:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

7 ounces almond paste

2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 ¼ teaspoon almond extract

5 – 6 Tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 300 °. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper with some overhanging ends.

Beat the butter and the almond paste together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy and well combined. Add the sugar and the eggs and beat until combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the flour and salt until the batter is smooth, again scraping the bowl as needed. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Use clean, damp fingers to press it out into an even layer if needed. Bake for 1 hour until firm and lightly golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Spread the glaze over the bars as soon as you remove them from the oven.

For the Glaze:

Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, almond extract and enough milk to make a glaze as thick as heavy cream. Pour over the warm bars and leave to cool completely.

Cut the bars into squares. The bars will keep in an airtight container for  2 days.

Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors

I am excited to announce that my third cookbook will be released on September 10, 2018. Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors is packed with recipes for classic Southern favorite appetizers, and some new twists that highlight the best Southern ingredients. It’s the perfect collection of recipes for tailgating, back to school, holiday entertaining and gift-giving. You’ll find chapters on Dips and Spreads, including the Creamy Collard Dip, Pimento Cheese Style recipe below. A chapter on Cheese, Please includes variations on classic cheese straws and one of my favorites, Country Ham Cheesecake. Look for Fried Grits with Tomato-Bacon Jam in the Deep Fried Love chapter, or Citrus Pickled Shrimp in Seafood and Eat It. Plan your holiday entertaining with Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Biscuits and Green Onions Butter from The Meat of the Matter chapter, or Party Tomato Pies from The Garden Path. Round it out with The Nuts for Snacks section, including Sweet Tea Pecans and Barbecue Peanuts.

You can buy Southern Snacks from your local independent bookseller, or online from UNC PressAmazonBarnes and Noble, Target and Walmart.

I’ll be signing books throughout the fall and I would love to see you at any of the events listed below:

novel., Memphis, TN, September 12, 6 pm

Square Books, Oxford, MS, September 21, 5 pm

Turnrow Books, Greenwood, MS, September 22, 11 am

Page158 Books, Wake Forest, NC, October 4, 6 pm

McIntyre’s Books, Pittsoboro, NC, October 6, 2 pm

Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN, October 14, 1 pm

Me and Mrs. Jones, Memphis, TN, October 27


Follow me on Facebook or Instagram @therunawayspoon for some fun giveaways and updates to the event schedule!


“A delightful addition to the pantheon of Southern cookbooks–an inspirational resource for home and professional cooks alike, brimming with ideas for bringing something different to the next get-together.”–Foreword Reviews

“Anyone from south or north involved in party planning or catering will find plenty of inspiration here for passed hors d’oeuvres to seriously enliven any party, plain or fancy”.–Booklist

Photos by Justin Fox Burks

Creamy Collard Dip, Pimento Cheese-Style

5 strips of bacon, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
¼ cup water
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped collard greens, thawed and well drained
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce (such as Crystal), to taste (optional)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy and move to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain. Pour the bacon grease into a measuring cup and let cool briefly. Add 2 tablespoons of grease back to the skillet. Cook the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, then add the water and cook until it has evaporated and the onions are a light toffee color, stirring frequently. Add the pimentos and stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute further. Stir in the collard greens, separating them and distributing the onions and pimentos evenly. Cook until the collards are heated through and soft. Add the cream cheese, cut into cubes, and stir until melted. Add the grated cheddar and stir until melted. Stir in the sour cream and mayonnaise until the dip is smooth and creamy. Add the crumbled bacon and stir until all the ingredients are well distributed. Scrape the dip into a 2-quart baking dish.

The dip can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point for up to a day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dip until it is warm through and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with corn chips or toasted baguette pieces.

Serves 10-12

From “Southern Snacks,” used with permission by University of North Carolina Press,