The dynamic duos of rice and beans and peas and rice have their roots in the Akan, Aja, Yoruba and Igbo kitchens in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and Gabon. When Africans arrived in the Americas, they continued cultivating these crops, so rice and beans dishes can be found throughout the African diaspora: red beans and rice; Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas and rice); black beans and rice; and pigeon peas and rice. The popularity of these dishes as staples and special occasion foods continued after the abolition of slavery.
In the seventeenth century, West Africans from Cape Verde to the Gold Coast cultivated large amounts of rice. They grew so much rice, in fact, that they became known as the people of the Rice Coast. White rice planters in the South sought out West Africans for purchase as slaves because of their knowledge of rice cultivation. These West Africans brought their methods of cooking long-grain rice with them to the colonial South. The African cook made her greatest culinary mark on areas like Savannah, where blacks outnumbered Europeans. Mulatto rice is evidence of diasporic links between Africa and several regions of the Americas. Zora Neale Hurston begins and concludes her classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God with rice and bean dishes. While Janie tells her friend Phoebe about how her grandmother escaped from slavery in Savannah and migrated first to Atlanta and then to West Florida, Janie is enjoying a plate of mulatto rice. “Mah mulatto rice ain’t so good dis time. Not enough bacon grease, but Ah reckon it’ll kill hungry,” says Phoebe. “Ah’ll tell you in a minute,” Janie says, lifting the cover off the plate. “Gal, it’s too good. You switches a mean fanny round in a kitchen.”
Mulatto Rice Recipe
6 strips bacon ½ cup onions, minced 2 cups water 1 cup tomatoes, diced 1 cup rice
Fry bacon in a pan then remove the bacon and brown a minced onion in the bacon grease. Next, add diced tomatoes. After it is hot, add a pint of rice to the mixture, and cook slowly until the rice is done.
Source: Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food: Recipes, Remedies and Simple Pleasures
The dish features a daring combination of jet-puffed marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple and mandarin oranges. It’s most commonly finished with a smattering of cool whip (originally sour cream) and chilled in the fridge overnight, encouraging the ingredients to congeal into a dense, syrupy mass. More gourmet renditions have been known to include homemade marshmallows, crushed pecans, maraschino cherries and other fresh fruit. But beyond the various recipes, each ambrosia salad offers the same feeling: The quiet thrill of knowing you’re about to do something you shouldn’t, followed by pure, sticky bliss as you place that first goopy spoonful into your mouth.
A fruit salad without morals, nothing about ambrosia indicates that it should be served as a main course. Nevertheless, this is where it’s most likely to appear. I have never seen ambrosia on a dessert table. But have bared witness to it resting amongst mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and stuffing at countless potlucks and celebrations.
The mixture of refrigerated coconut and sour cream is rumoured to have begun in the southern U.S. in the 1800s, with the earliest written reference of the salad published in a cookbook from 1867, Dixie Cookery by Maria Massey Barringer. Thanks to newly built railroads that linked the west coast with the east, imported ingredients like coconut became easier to access. By the 1870s, the proliferation of imported ingredients meant ambrosia recipes were common.
Bananas Foster is a dessert on which a restaurant empire was built. The story begins with three New Orleans siblings in the early 1950s. John Brennan, a produce supplier facing down an excess of bananas in his warehouse, gave the bananas to his brother, Owen, who was making the family name synonymous with fine Creole cuisine at Brennan’s Vieux Carré Restaurant. Owen passed the bananas along to their sister, Ella, with instructions to create a dessert to honor a New Orleans civic grandee named Richard Foster.
Working with the restaurant’s chef, Ella devised the classic tableside preparation, which involves brown sugar, butter, a good splash of rum, a flick of the wrist, a tip of the pan, and a gleeful whoosh of fire. But the brilliance of bananas Foster is how it recasts cherries jubilee—a recipe invented fifty years prior by Auguste Escoffier in honor of Queen Victoria—with New World ingredients. And it left its imprint on a generation of American dinner-party hosts looking to dress up overripe bananas.
Hominy is corn, but not straight off the cob. Hominy is whole kernels of dried field corn (aka maize) that have been nixtamalized, a process that cooks have been doing since ancient times, starting with those living in what we now call Mesoamerica. The corn kernels are soaked in lye or lime solutions and then rinsed several times, which removes the hulls and turns the inner kernels tender and plump. This process improves the corn’s nutritional content, and also keeps the corn from sprouting during long storage, which were big deals when cooks needed as many ways as possible to make the corn harvest last through the winter. Puffy, slightly chewy kernels of hominy have complex flavor and aroma, more like stoneground grits or freshly made tortillas than fresh corn.
Making hominy from scratch is a rather tedious multistep process, which is why most of us simply go to the grocery store and buy it. Ready-to-eat canned hominy includes a little liquid, like other canned vegetables. Dried hominy comes in bags like dried beans or whole grains, and needs to be soaked before it’s used. Wet or dry, hominy makes a reliable pantry staple
A benne seed is to a run of the mill sesame seed as a juicy heirloom tomato is to the anemic supermarket variety. They may look the same, but there’s a world of difference in taste. Benne came to the South from West Africa by way of the slave trade, the plant often grown in secret by the enslaved, who used the leaves, stems, and seeds as both a nutritional supplement and a flavor enhancer.
Over the years, as benne became commoditized and was grown mostly for oil, those flavorful seeds became the more muted sesame seeds we know today. With a renewed interest among history-minded chefs and farmers, heirloom varieties of the seed have made something of a comeback in the South, though short of a trip to a Charleston-area farmers’ market, your best bet is ordering a bag from culinary revivalist Anson Mills. So, no, the benne seed is not the sesame seed, exactly; the benne seed is living history.
Source: S Is for Southern by Editors of Garden and Gun
1 pound sweetbreads (Sweetbreads are an organ meat from the thymus and pancreas.)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons lemon juice
½ pint oysters
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup cream
½ cup butter
Puff Pastry (homemade or store bought)
Soak the sweetbreads in cold water for 1 hour.
In a large sauce-pot or stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to boil with 1 teaspoon of salt and lemon juice.
Drain the sweetbreads and use a slotted spoon to place them carefully in the boiling water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove to drain on paper towels.
In a separate pot over medium heat, stew the oysters in their liquor just until they curl. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, cream, and butter. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a pan with the puff pastry. Spoon the oysters onto the pastry and arrange the meat atop the oysters. Pour the oyster sauce over that and top with the other pastry, pinching the sides to seal. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
For an old school style potluck, party appetizer or snack this salmon log is a quick easy party pleaser. There is nothing fancy about it, but tastes good. Make sure you carefully pick through the canned salmon for bones and skin. The higher quality salmon you buy the fewer bones you’ll have to pick from it. I’ve taken this to a lot of parties when I do not have time for something more elegant and it has always been a crowd pleaser.
1 1 Lb. Can Salmon
12 Oz. Cream Cheese
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
2 Tbs. Grated Onion
1 Tsp. Horseradish
¼ Tsp. Salt
¼ Tsp. Liquid Smoke
½ Cup Chopped Nuts
3 Tbs. Parsley
Drain Salmon. Mix with next six ingredients. Chill for several hours. Combine nuts and parsley. Shape salmon into loaf. Roll in nut mixture. Chill well. Serve with crackers.
Mix together all ingredients thorough salt thougherly. Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of a small walnut. Roll in mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until light brown at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, but still soft. These cookies will puff up at first, then flatten out with a crinkled top