nenes, i know. three posts in a row! what is this? 2005??
do you know hugh acheson? he of the unibrow on top chef who looks like the love child of henry rollins and bill berry from REM? he's sorta my favourite chef at the moment, and his book, "a new turn in the south" is fast becoming a staple in mah kitchen. southern food is a cuisine i don't think about often, but acheson's book shows how healthy and vibrant and exciting it can be. yes, exciting. i don't like to think that my dinner is more interesting than me, but well. this food is.
my absolute favourite recipe in the book is something i cooked tonight: frogmore stew. it was the first recipe i'd tried, and i just cannot get enough of it; a low country staple, it is basically a seafood boil where shellfish is the main ingredient, fortified by sausage, potatoes and corn, in a not-too-spicy, citrusy, unctuous broth. when assembling it, i think, oh, okay, this looks good, but once it gets to where it needs to be? oh maaaan. it tastes magic: fresh tomato juice is the foundation, with andouille sausage adding a dimension to the prawns and that only pork products can, chopped arugula and fresh thyme along with traditional old bay seasoning adds a freshness to what could be a musty mix. and it's so pretty.
another favourite is a simple update on an old school southern staple: pimento cheese. you know the stuff--cheese paste with pimentos. NOM. i am not a big fan of sharp cheeses, roasted red peppers nor plain grilled cheese sandwiches, but one made with pimento cheese (which is basically cheddar cheese and roasted red peppers) is just enough to take the flat plasticky dimension out.
of course, if you are mixing things up a bit, you might as well add some thinly sliced ham and locally grown arugula. might as well.
i like chef acheson's book because although it is undeniably a southern food cookbook, the recipes seem lighter than what i associate with the cuisine, yet there is still a deep traditional vein running throughout (he even has a recipe for cane vinegar cooked chicken which sounds almost filipino). the recipes are sometimes ingredient intensive, but with items that are common enough to find or substitute, even on guam. the techniques used, however, are as simple as pie. which reminds me, there's a delicious-sounding peach pie recipe in the book that i will have to get to this summer.....
you can find the frogmore stew recipe here and pimento cheese recipe here. oh, and the cane vinegar chicken here.