In this installment of Recipes from the Road, we head to the South, where you can find great home cooking along with good old Southern hospitality. Perhaps it’s because I was born in the South, but these flavors remain some of my favorites. From a bowl of creamy grits to homemade pies, Southern food is all about comfort. Click here to view more Recipes from the Road.
One of my favorite Southern dishes (almost as good as real fried chicken) is grits. This is a simple recipe for grits courtesy of Azalea Inn & Gardens in historic Savannah, Georgia. (You can check out more recipes from some of Savannah’s most enchanting inns here.) I have tried this recipe with all of the suggested fillings, as well as with a handful of shredded cheese. Absolutely delicious. I’m also including a copy of Sweet Dream Cookies from Azalea Inn. Nothing makes you feel more at home than the smell of fresh-baked cookies. When I walk into a B&B and smell cookies or bread, I always feel right at home.
Creamy Georgia Grits
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup grits
- 1 TBLS plus 1 tsp chicken broth
- Filling of choice: butter/half-n-half/cream cheese/shredded cheese
- Boil 4 cups of water with chicken stock.
- Add one cup of grits and stir. Allow to cook on high for one minute.
- Turn to low, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring very often.
- Add filling of choice.
Sweet Dream Cookies
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 (12 oz) package semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Cream butter.
- Beat in brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
- Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Blend into butter mixture.
- Fold in chips and walnuts.
- Refrigerate until firm. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).
- Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease baking sheets.
- Break off small pieces of dough. Roll between your palms into 1-inch rounds.
- Dredge rounds in confectioners’ sugar.
- Arrange rounds on greased baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake 10 minutes.
- Let cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to racks and cool. Store in airtight container.
Yields 2 dozen cookies.
These cookies look undercooked when you take them out of the oven. Do not be tempted to put them back in just a bit longer – you will have the hardest just-baked cookie you have ever tried to eat! You can freeze them and bake from the frozen state, just lower the oven temp to 350 and bake about 2 minutes longer.
Hotel Roanoke Spoonbread
This a recipe that comes from a place close to my hometown in Virginia. The famed Hotel Roanoke, built by the railroad back in the early 1880’s in Roanoke, has long served a spoonbread that locals still talk about. The simple corn meal Southern staple is closer to a Yorkshire pudding than a bread. It was particularly popular around the turn of the 20th century.
- 1 ½ cups corn meal
- 5 eggs
- 1/8 pound butter
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 1 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Mix corn meal, salt and sugar together and scald with boiling water.
- Add melted butter.
- Beat eggs and add milk to eggs.
- Combine two mixtures and add baking powder.
- Pour into baking pan and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Apalachicola Oyster Stew
I fell in love with the coastal towns in Franklin County, Florida. One of my favorite towns there is Apalachicola, the home of what many consider to be the best oysters in the world. Leavins Seafood has been a leader in the Apalachicola oyster industry for more than four decades. Here’s one of their recipes using those sumptuous oysters.
- 1 pt. small oysters
- ¼ c. chopped onion
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- ¾ c. milk
- ½ c. Carnation cream
- Salt and pepper
- Sauté onions in melted butter, but do not brown.
- Add oysters with their own juice.
- Simmer about eight minutes, until edges of oysters curl.
- Heat milk and cream, but do not boil.
- Add to oysters.
- Serve with oysterette crackers.
- May add a dash of parmesan cheese.
Shaker Lemon Pie
I love Lexington, Kentucky. There’s something magical about those rolling green hills, miles of white fences and powerful Thoroughbred horses. Then there’s the food. It’s hard to find another city that has such consistently great food. When visiting Lexington, make sure you head out of town about 30 miles to Harrodsburg and visit the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Even if you don’t opt to stay at Shaker Village, you’re in for a real treat when you dine at the Trustee’s Office Dining Room. The meals, served family style, are hearty fare with fresh ingredients. One of their most popular is the Shaker Lemon Pie. (This recipe is from The Shaker Cook Book by Caroline B. Piercy, which is available online and features other great dishes you can find at Shaker Village.)
- 2 large lemons
- 4 eggs, well beaten
- 2 cups sugar
- Slice lemons as thin as paper, rind and all.
- Combine sugar; mix well.
- Let stand two hours, or preferably overnight, blending occasionally.
- Add beaten eggs to lemon mixture; mix well.
- Turn into nine-inch pie shell, arranging lemon slices evenly.
- Cover with top crust. Cut several slits near center.
- Bake at 450° F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° F. and bake for about 20 minutes or until silver knife inserted near edge of pie comes out clean.
- Cool before serving.
Baked French Toast
To round out the trip through the South, let’s head back to Florida. This time, to St. Augustine on the Atlantic coast. There are several beautiful inns in historic St. Augustine, each offering more of that Southern hospitality and plenty of great food. The first recipe is for Baked French Toast from Bayfront Westcott House. I stayed at Bayfront Westcott House and it was luxurious yet comfortable. The bay views were amazing and I took advantage of the porch for gazing out across the water. In addition to the great food I enjoyed at Bayfront Westcott House, I enjoyed the tastes at restaurants across town. Check out my culinary adventures here.
- 1 pound loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1-inch slices
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 ½ cups half-and-half cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ TBSP light corn syrup
- Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish .
- Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom .
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon .
- Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight .
- The next morning, preheat oven to 350 ° F.
- In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup .
- Heat until bubbling .
- Pour over bread and egg mixture .
- Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Do you have some favorite Southern recipes? I’d love to see them. Check out more Recipes from the Road here.