Trying to be creative, with Southern flair


May 09, 2007|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun reporter

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas


By Craig Deihl

Wyrick & Co. / 2007 / $34.95

There's a reason people pay big bucks to dine at great restaurants. Not only do they give us a respite from cooking, they offer a showcase for the best chefs to create works of edible art, using fantastic ingredients most diners don't have the time or wherewithal to obtain.

For the same reason, cookbooks like Cypress, by the noted young chef of a Charleston, S.C., restaurant, can be hard to penetrate. Cypress may call itself "a lowcountry grille," but its fusion cuisine is high-end. Its cookbook follows suit, with recipes as complicated as they are creative.

The recipe for the "Maryland-style" crab cakes, for example, comes with "truffle-essence arugula and sweet corn puree" and is really five recipes in one -- you've got to make your own corn stock and basil oil, along with putting together the puree and dressing the arugula. For that kind of trouble, I'll wait until I can visit Charleston to try Craig Deihl's expert preparation of the dish. But if you're a budding chef who loves to experiment, this book has plenty of fuel for kitchen adventures.

Delaware Creamed Succotash

Makes 8 servings

2 1/2 cups fresh lima beans

6 strips bacon, diced

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 1/2 cups corn kernels (plus milk scraped from the cobs)

2 cups peeled and chopped ripe tomatoes, juices included, or canned diced tomatoes

3/4 cup half-and-half

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Tabasco sauce to taste

Place the lima beans in a medium saucepan with enough salted water to cover. Bring to a moderate simmer, cover, cook till tender, about 15 minutes, and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, fry the bacon over moderate heat until almost crisp and pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add the onions and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the lima beans, the corn plus the milk from the cobs, the tomatoes and their juices, the half-and-half and nutmeg. Stir well, and continue to cook another 5 minutes.

Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Continue to cook, stirring carefully to prevent sticking, until mixture has thickened slightly. Transfer the succotash to an earthenware tureen or deep serving dish. Serve hot.

Adapted from "The Glory of Southern Cooking"

Per serving: 190 calories, 9 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 14 milligrams cholesterol, 131 milligrams sodium

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