by MELISSA GORDON
A couple years ago I went to the South for work. While there I visited an acquaintance, and as typical when I’m visiting someone’s house, I casually surveyed her cookbooks. To my surprise, I didn’t recognize a single one! Usually, I’m familiar with at least some cookbooks in somebody else’s kitchen, but with titles like “Southern Cooking” and “The Southern Kitchen” I was in totally foreign territory. With great curiosity I paged through a few and was startled to see just how different her cooking repertoire was from mine. Fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread — I never made stuff like that! I knew people ate differently in different parts of the country; I just didn’t think they ate that differently!
So next time you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at one of these three Southern-inspired recipes – or make an entire three-course meal. But remember: I’m a midwesterner, so take these recipes with a dash of hot sauce!
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one- to two-inch strips
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 3 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
• 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
• Pinch each of salt and ground black pepper
• 1 cup crushed cornflake cereal (about two cups whole flakes)
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, milk, mustard, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken strips with the yogurt mixture and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil a sheet pan. Roll each chicken strip in the crushed cornflakes and place on the sheet pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the crust is just browning and the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Adapted slightly from FoodNetwork.com
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup yellow cornmeal
• 2 tablespoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 cups milk
• 1/4 cup honey
• 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
• 1 1/4 cup aged extra-sharp cheddar, grated, divided
• 1/3 cup chopped scallions
• 3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, honey, eggs, and butter. Gently pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring just until most of the lumps are dissolved. Mix in one cup of the grated cheddar, most (but not all) of the scallions and all of the jalapenos. Set the mixture aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Garlicky Black-Eyed Peas ‘N’ Greens
Adapted slightly from the Moosewood
Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites by The
• 2 cups dry black-eyed peas, rinsed
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled
• 3/4 pound collard greens or kale
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2-4 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• Salt and pepper to taste
Place beans and whole garlic in a soup pot, and fill it with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain, cover, and set aside.
Rinse the greens, give them a quick shake, and set aside.
Heat the oil and saute the minced garlic and thyme in a large skillet for one minute, stirring the entire time. Add the damp greens and continue to stir until they are wilted, but still bright green. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, combine the beans and greens, and season with salt and pepper.