Friday, August 25, 2017

Cooking from Deep Run Roots Cookbook

Y'all--I'm obsessed with this cookbook.

If you haven't watched the show "A Chef's Life" or heard of Vivian Howard and you love southern food--you are missing out! We have watched the show since Season 1 came out and I fell in love with all the recipes, the stories, and the culture of Eastern North Carolina foodways.

Vivian Howard stars in "A Chef's Life" and recently released her first cookbook--Deep Run Roots. If you are not familiar with her story, after being in New York working in the restaurant industry for some top chefs, she returned to where she grew up and started her own restaurant--Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina. It features local ingredients and showcases food grown from farmers all within something like a 75 mile radius of the restaurant. We have been once to the restaurant and it was amazing!

I got the cookbook for Christmas this past year and I haven't been able to put it down--I just love how it's organized and I can't wait to try all of the mouthwatering recipes. The commentary, stories, and photographs are wonderful as well. The cookbook is quite large--it contains 24 chapters each showcasing a different but significant Eastern North Carolina ingredient.

I'm gradually working my way through the cookbook and have been pretty pleased with the results of the recipes thus far. Some of them are a bit more involved and time consuming than you might want to take on for a simple week night meal, so I try to save them for weekends or a special occasion. So far, I have tried a handful of recipes including:

  • Sage Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Bacon-Roasted Rutabagas
  • Mom's Cornpone
  • Turnip Root and Green Gratin
  • Crispy Ginger Rice with Leeks, Shiitakes and a Fried Egg
  • Grandma Hill's Hoecakes
  • Salt and Butter Roasted Pecans
  • Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Pomegranate with Blue Cheese Honey Vinaigrette
  • Slow-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Herb-Scented Turnip Puree and Turnip Gremolata
  • My Favorite Beet Salad
  • Squash and Onions
  • Blueberry Rosemary Pudding
  • Grilled Corn with Bacon Mayo and Pecorino Romano
  • Shirred Eggs with Stewed Tomatoes and Ham Chips
  • Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Sugar Cookie Crust
  • Squash and Fontina Casserole Pudding

Today I'm going to make Fried Okra Hash since okra is in season and we are getting it from our CSA!

The recipe is as follows (on p. 402 of Deep Run Roots):

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups okra sliced 1/3 inch thick (about 15 medium okra)
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Rinse okra well with water and toss the damp okra with the cornmeal mixture. Set aside. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add okra once oil begins to sizzle, spreading it out in a single layer. Lower the heat slightly and sizzle on one side for 4 minutes.

Toss the okra around and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer okra to paper-towel-lined-plate to drain with a slotted spoon. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Serve warm.

I'd love to know if any of you have Vivian's cookbook and which recipes are your favorites. Happy cooking (and eating)!