Southern New Year

Like I said in my last post, I’m playing catch-up. So this is all about New Years Eve and what I cooked. I went a bit overboard with the cooking, but I was home all day anyway, avoiding the crowds in the city. The recipes all came from The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas. I also cooked Christmas dinner from this book, but I didn’t take any pictures, so let’s just focus on New Years.

First came the Cheddar Spoonbread (page 253). I really had no idea what this recipe was going to be like, because I’ve never made or even tried spoonbread before. The cheddar adds just the right touch to what otherwise might be a little bit plain to newcomers. I guess it’s like a soft polenta, being made from white cornmeal. You bake it though, and it turns out pretty like this. Okay, not the best photo, but you get the idea. Serve it right from the baking dish. Mmmmm.

Next came the Mushroom, Cheddar and Hominy Casserole (page 123). I’m not too knowledgeable about hominy, but I have to fess up that I made this recipe once before, while the book was still in galleys (pre-publication). This dish is creamy, cheesy on top, with the hominy hidden on bottom. In terms of texture, it’s a nice companion to the pudding. I’m not sure if it’s the pimientos, but I find myself craving this dish. I took the photo after I’d scooped some out, so you could see what it’s like under the cheese.

The main course was this Catfish Stew (page 117). One of the best things about it was that I could buy those bargain catfish “nuggets” at the market, rather than the fillet at twice the price, since I had to cut up the catfish anyway. The ground cloves add a touch of aroma that will mystify your guests. And the potatoes make this dish a lot more satisfying than you might have guessed. I strongly recommend you try it, if you’re looking for deceptively tasty and satisfying recipes that won’t break the bank. I served some Buttermilk Biscuits (page 311) on the side too, of course.

Yes, this meal gets even better. Caramel Pound Cake (page 346) is the stuff that dreams are made of. For the record, I think Jim Villas went overboard with the quantity of icing. You could ice two cakes with all of that. But don’t worry about — you must try this recipe. It’s like heaven. Bake it on the long side, just so it’s cooked all the way through, and don’t rush to flip it out of the pan so it doesn’t get stuck. Other than that, it’s really simple, and rich, and perfect for people who aren’t such chocolate fiends. (Then again, I’m a chocolate fiend, and I still love it.)

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