Side Dish: Southern Oven

HHH

Reviewer’s rating
Cookbook rating system:
HHHHOutstanding, HHHExcellent, HHGood, HFair

“From a Southern Oven: The Savories, the Sweets”

Wiley, $32.50

272-page hardcover.

Now that we’ve survived the Mayan doomsday of Dec. 21 and the excitement of Christmas Day, we can complete plans — or make them if you’re a procrastinator like I am — for New Year’s Day dinner.

Southerners, of course, include black-eyed peas and cabbage or mustard greens on the menu to ensure prosperity in the new year. That tradition often sends me on a search for a new way of preparing cabbage to entice reluctant family members to have some. This year’s search sent me to Jean Anderson’s new book, “From a Southern Oven: The Savories, the Sweets.”

Anderson, a long-time food editor and cookbook author who grew up in North Carolina, has been cooking since she was 4 years old. Her cookbooks are always thoroughly researched and usually include some recipes she’s found in old Southern community cookbooks. Her latest book is no exception. It includes some recipes which date back to Colonial times while others are modern recipes of foods that are baked, braised or broiled in the oven.

The book is divided into two sections: The Savories, with its appetizers, main dishes, vegetables and breads; and The Sweets, with recipes for pies and pastries, puddings, cobblers, cakes and cookies. The recipes, many illustrated with full-color photographs, are clearly written and have been tested and retested to make sure they work for today’s cooks. Among them are Pecan-Cheddar Pennies, Colonial Chicken Pudding, Eggplant Gratin, Peach Muffins, Chocolate-Bourbon-Pecan Pie, Coconut Buttermilk Pie, Antebellum Rice Pudding, Fresh Apple Cake and Pecan Thumbprints.

This would make a welcome gift or a good choice for your own cookbook collection.

Wishing all our Food readers a wonderful new year.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.

Lady Cabbage

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Recipe is from “From a Southern Oven: The Savories, The Sweets” (Wiley Hardcover, October 2012). Anderson says she “found this recipe in a little Natchez fund-raiser that I picked up years ago while on article assignment for Food & Wine magazine. It’s a collection of antebellum Mississippi dishes that clearly have never been tested. The introductory headnote says, ‘This dish resembles cauliflower and is found by most to be very digestible and palatable.’ I also found it a tad bland and for that reason pumped up the flavor with two seasonings largely unknown to those long-ago mistresses of the house: finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and hot red pepper sauce. Would they find the pepper sauce unladylike? I don’t think so. They didn’t object to a little cayenne in their sausage or head cheese — most of it made right at home.”

1 large green cabbage (about 3 lbs.)

1 quart water mixed with 1 tsp. salt (salted water)

2 large eggs

1⁄3 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbl. melted unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper sauce

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spritz shallow 11/2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Cut cabbage into eight wedges through the root end. Bring salted water to a boil in large heavy nonreactive saucepan, add cabbage, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Drain very well and set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in large bowl until frothy. Gradually whisk in cheese, heavy cream, butter, salt, hot red pepper sauce, and black pepper and continue whisking until well blended.

4. Slice off any cabbage core that is still firm and discard. Cut cabbage into 1/4-inch pieces and toss with egg mixture. Transfer to casserole and spread evenly.

5. Slide onto middle oven shelf and bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes until wisps of cabbage on top begin to brown.

6. Serve at once as an accompaniment to roast turkey, chicken, pork, beef or lamb.