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New cookbook fancies up Southern cuisine with a ‘French Accent’

‘Field Peas to Foie Gras’
‘Field Peas to Foie Gras’

Ever wondered what would happen if classic French cuisine were to collide with Mississippi’s food culture?

What if Charleston, Mississippi, were to bump into Paris?

That’s the premise of Charleston native and chef Jennifer Hill Booker’s new cookbook titled “Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent.”

Booker grew up on a Mississippi farm and found her way to the La Cordon Bleu-Paris, where she has made a career as a culinary instructor and now executive chef and owner of Your Resident Gourmet, LLC in Lilburn, Georgia.

“Field Peas to Foie Gras” is her first cookbook, and it is quite an accomplishment as a first effort.

Her book proves that Southern cooking can stand up to any other food style in the world just by upping the game a bit. Use the best ingredients — no more soup out of a can, no more processed cheese. Use locally sourced ingredients when possible. Pay special attention to plating and presentation.

“Fried Peas to Foie Gras” presents Southern food with panache. Every page seems to offer a tempting culinary gift — for instance the recipe for blackberry sauce.

The serving suggestions for the blackberry sauce are for sweets such as ice cream and pound cake, but with a little imagination, you could serve this wonderful mixture of fresh blackberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest glazed on a roasted pork shoulder.

I also love Booker’s take on green tomato cha cha. We called it chow chow and uppity restaurants call it tomato chutney these days. This is a condiment that makes cornbread and peas sing, and almost always includes onions, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and cloves.

Booker adds cabbage, green tomatoes, bell peppers and pickling spice.

Black-eyed pea salad, Southern fried corn and a wild mushroom ragout stand out in the vegetable section.

The inclusion of some traditional recipes, such as hoe cakes and crackling bread are also much welcomed additions.

Check out the tips on cleaning greens.

You will find the “What’s for Supper” chapter hog heavy, and what a blessing it is.

Try the bacon jam recipe, hogs head cheese and fried gizzard recipes on for size. There are way too many good recipes to recount here.

Check out a sample of recipes provided here and enjoy.

Cookbook

‘Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent’

By Jennifer Hill Booker

Pelican Publishing Company

Fresh Pork Sausage

2 pounds fresh pork, loin and shoulder, cut into ½ inch strips

3 pounds unsalted, uncured, pork belly in ½ inch strips

¼ cup dark brown sugar

1-2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sage

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all the ingredients, mix well and place in the refrigerator to keep. Booker suggests working over a bowl of rock salt and ice. Run the mixture through a meat grinder, form into patties and refrigerate for 24-36 hours before frying.

“From Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent” by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company

Buttermilk Biscuits

3 ½ cups AP flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup lard

1 cup butter milk

½ cup melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients, cut the lard into the flour (it should resemble cornmeal), add 1 cup buttermilk. Flour a working surface and pat into ½-inch thickness, fold 4-5 times, pressing to 1 in thickness each time. Cut into biscuits round and bake 10-12 minutes.

“From Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent” by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company

Deep-fried Mississippi catfish

Try this catfish recipe on a po-boy!

1 quart (32 ounces) lard

(6) catfish filets

3 cups cornmeal

1 ½ cups flour

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup paprika

Heat lard to 350 degrees. Remember to never fill a pot or pan more than ½ full of oil. Combine the dry ingredients, dredge the filets in it and fry until golden brown. Drain and serve at once.

“From Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent” by Jennifer Hill Booker, © 2014, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company

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