Food & Drink

N.C. writers pen 6 new cookbooks

Kale Salad with Tangerines, Avocado and Crispy Ham adapted from “Foster’s Market Favorites,” by Sara Foster.
Kale Salad with Tangerines, Avocado and Crispy Ham adapted from “Foster’s Market Favorites,” by Sara Foster. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Our patch of the South is home to many cookbook authors.

They have published a crop of cookbooks this fall; six of them, in fact.

Three authors have books in the University of North Carolina Press’ Savor the South cookbook series. One author explores the tradition of Southern soups and stews. Another offers a book of easy vegan recipes. And Sara Foster wrote a book to mark 25 years since her cafe, Foster’s Market, opened in Durham.

If you like to eat and shop local, now you can cook local with these cookbooks from North Carolina authors:

“Crabs & Oysters,” by Bill Smith (UNC Press, 2015: Bill Smith, chef at Chapel Hill’s landmark restaurant, Crook’s Corner, grew up in New Bern, where seafood was often on the dinner table. “Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the food I grew up with in Eastern North Carolina is a lovely cuisine,” Smith said. Smith explores that tradition in this 111-page book, sharing recipes for oyster stew, crab pilaf and hard-crab stew. The latter is served with whole crabs that require cracking at a newspaper-covered dinner table. Smith explains to home cooks how oysters and crabs are graded and how to clean each. His 50 recipes are under such headings as “Sit-down First Courses,” “Dinnertime,” and “Out in the Yard.” There are also small chapters offering variations on crab-claw cocktails, crab cakes and Micheladas (a sort of Mexican Bloody Mary).

“Beans & Field Peas,” by Sandra Gutierrez: In her fourth cookbook, Latin food expert Sandra Gutierrez guides home cooks through the sometimes confusing world of beans and field peas. Gutierrez loved exploring this humble food, which people around the world turn into sumptuous dishes. “I don’t think beans and peas have been given the respect that they are owed,” she said. Her 50 recipes are divided into classic Southern dishes (Red Beans and Rice, Hoppin’ John), new Southern dishes (Purple Hull and Benne Seed Hummus, Pickled Green Beans Escabeche) and international dishes (Cuban black bean soup, Pasta e Fagiole).

“Sunday Dinner,” by Bridgette Lacy: First-time cookbook author Bridgette Lacy’s book is in many ways a love letter to her grandfather. James R. Moore Jr. was a blue-collar worker who spent his days working in a Lynchburg, Va., foundry and his time off cooking in the kitchen and working in his garden. The meals he cooked for Lacy as a child – fried chicken, ham and Nilla Wafer Brown Pound Cake – were feasts for the eyes as well as the stomach. “I feel like my grandfather was the first artist I ever met,” said Lacy, a former News & Observer reporter and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh. Lacy also hopes her recipes inspire others to gather around the table for Sunday dinner: “It’s also a call to action.”

“Southern Soups & Stews: More than 75 Recipes from Burgoo and Gumbo to Etouffee and Fricassee,” by Nancie McDermott: This is the 11th cookbook for Nancie McDermott of Chapel Hill, who may be most familiar to home cooks for her earlier single-subject books, “Southern Cakes” and “Southern Pies.” McDermott described the research as starting with what she knew as a Southern native and then taking “a field trip from my chair.” When she would try to determine the answer to such a question as “What makes a gumbo?” she would find answers that broke every rule offered. “There usually was never one answer,” McDermott said. Thus, her 176-page book offers seven recipes for gumbo, as well as four recipes for Brunswick stew and countless others for burgoos, muddles and chowders.

“Foster’s Market Favorites,” by Sara Foster (released Nov. 2): Durham business owner Sara Foster, who once worked for Martha Stewart’s catering company, opened Foster’s Market in Durham long before that city became a culinary destination. Foster wanted so much to mark her business’s 25th anniversary that she decided to self-publish a cookbook of the restaurant’s favorite recipes. “We had a lot to say about being around for 25 years,” said Foster, who has four previous award-winning and best-selling cookbooks to her credit. The book includes recipes for such dishes as Pimiento Cheese Puffs, Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey and New York Crumb Cake.

“The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless,” by Kathy Hester: Kathy Hester of Durham has churned out five cookbooks in the last five years, including the best-selling “The Vegan Slow Cooker.” She decided to offer a book of easy vegan recipes to help the people who told her: “I want to go vegan but it’s so hard. It takes too long to cook. It takes too long to cut up vegetables.” Hester’s latest book shows home cooks how to stock your pantry and especially your freezer with prepped vegetables to make vegan meals easier. The 204-page book includes recipes for make-ahead vegan cheeses and bouillon as well as soups, stews, pastas, stir fries, desserts and more.

Meet The Author

Nancie McDermott will sign copies of her book “Southern Soups & Stews” at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

White Bean and Chicken Chili

Two cups dried white beans will make about 1 pound cooked beans, or substitute 2 (15-ounce) cans of white beans, drained and rinsed. From “Beans & Field Peas,” by Sandra Gutierrez (UNC Press, 2015.)

8 Anaheim peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and deveined

1 cup minced onion

12 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and quartered

2 jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped, seeded and deveined

2 garlic cloves

1 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems, packed

2 teaspoons salt, plus more, to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small cubes

1 pound cooked white beans (navy, white, or great Northern)

1 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Combine Anaheim peppers, onions, tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin and coriander in food processor or blender. Add enough broth to get the motor started and puree until smooth.

Heat the oil in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat; add chicken and cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add beans and the remaining broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and ladle into bowls; serve hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a generous amount of cheese.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Deviled Crab Dip

From “Crabs & Oysters,” by Bill Smith (UNC Press, 2015).

1/2 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over for shell

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Carefully fold all the ingredients together, taking care not to break up the crab too much. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with Ritz crackers.

Yield: about 10 servings.

Fragrant Sunday Chicken with Olives and Apricots

Adapted from “Sunday Dinner,” by Bridgette Lacy (UNC Press, 2015)

1 head garlic, peeled and finely minced

3/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup green, Kalamata or prune olives

4 ounces capers with some of the juice

3 bone-in split chicken breasts, cut in thirds

12-15 chicken wing drumettes

1/2 cup finely packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup white wine

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, apricots, olives and capers. Pour the marinade into a large plastic lidded container. Add the chicken pieces and marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch casserole, arrange the chicken in a single layer and pour in the marinade. Sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar and pour the wine around the sides of the casserole. Bake for 50-55 minutes, basting periodically with pan juices, until the largest chicken pieces register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Serve hot or warm with rice.

Yield: 6 servings for Sunday dinner, plus leftovers

Pableaux Johnson’s Red Beans and Rice

From “Southern Soups & Stews: More than 75 Recipes from Burgoo and Gumbo to Etouffee and Fricassee,” by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books, 2015).

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds good smoked sausage, preferably andouille, sliced into coins

3 cups chopped onions

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet or hot paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 1/2 pounds dried red beans, soaked in cold water for 6 hours, or overnight

1 tablespoon dried basil

Pinch of rubbed sage

3 bay leaves

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Hot sauce, such as Crystal

Cooked rice, for serving

Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot. Add sausage and cook, stirring often, until it is handsomely browned. Transfer it to a small bowl and set aside. Add onions to the pot and toss them in the oil.

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, black pepper, cayenne, thyme and salt with a fork to mix them together. Add this seasoning mixture to the pot and toss to mix everything together.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are fragrant, softened and lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes more, tossing often. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until they are shiny, fragrant, and softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain red beans and add them to the pot. Cover them with fresh water. Rub the basil between the palms of your hands as you add it to the pot. Add the sage and bay leaves, along with the browned sausage. Stir well.

Bring mixture to a lively boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of the beans and liquid, placing them in a medium bowl and mashing them with a potato masher or a large spoon until the mixture looks creamy. Add them back to the pot and stir well.

Add the green onions and almost all of the parsley, reserving about 1/2 cup in a small bowl to be added at the table. Season the beans well with hot sauce. Service the beans hot with rice, reserved parsley and more hot sauce.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Kale Salad with Tangerines, Avocado and Crispy Ham

Adapted from “Foster’s Market Favorites,” by Sara Foster (Story Farm, 2015).

Splash of olive oil

2 slices thinly sliced country ham or proscuitto

1 bunch curly purple or lacinato kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped

3 tangerines, clementines or mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, skin removed and cubed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heaping tablespoon mustard

3 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet until sizzling hot. Add ham and cook until crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain.

Place kale in a large bowl and gently squeeze with paper towels to remove excess water and slightly bruise. Break ham into pieces. Add ham, tangerines, avocado and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine mustard, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl, measuring cup or coffee cup. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss to fully coat. Serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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