I got busy over Memorial Day weekend and cooked a lot out of Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen. Pretty much every recipe was an unqualified winner, with a couple of minor exceptions. First, the good.
You know how sometimes when you make a recipe, you think: That’s it! I don’t have to try another version, because this is the one I’m going to stick with forever. That’s how I felt when I made these baked beans. They weren’t at all hard to make, and they were absolutely delicious. They use butter beans (but you could substitute any cooked bean), and I have never thought butter beans tasted so good. Usually, I’d rather not taste them at all. But these beans were sweet and smoky and spicy, all at the same time. They were everything you’d want baked beans to be, and they made the perfect accompaniment to all the hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken we were grilling up. Add some watermelon, and you’re set.
Speaking of watermelon, I also made the Watermelon-Tomato Salad with Shaved Feta and Handfuls of Mint. This was another keeper. The watermelon added a touch of sweetness that rescued somewhat bland tomatoes, which aren’t at their peak yet. Lots of basil and mint and a garnish of feta rounded it out. I need to make this salad every summer.
I also tried the Crispy Chicken Cutlets with a Heap of Spring Salad. This is a simplified version of buttermilk fried chicken. The cutlets are dipped in flour, soaked in buttermilk and egg, and then coated in homemade bread crumbs. They are shallow-fried until crisp. These cutlets were just great, much better than the Chicken Nuggets I made a while back. I liked the springtime salad they were served with, and I thought the Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing was a nice accompaniment. It was light and herby, perfect for this time of year. My only complaint is that it was a little thin for my tastes, probably because I made it with plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise, which was one of the suggested variations. So it was lighter, but a little too watery.
Finally, I attempted to make dessert. I have to admit up front that baking is not my forte, and I am about ready to give up on making cakes and their kin altogether. This time I attempted Granny Foster’s Simple Pound Cake. This was a true pound cake, for it required a pound of eggs, a pound of butter and a pound of flour. And it was gigantic, probably way too much batter for the pan. As a result, it took forever to cook, and even when I took it out of the oven after almost two hours, it still wasn’t set in the middle. It did firm up as it cooled, though, so we were able to eat it. It tasted darned good, although a bit on the sickly sweet side for my tastes. Everyone enjoyed it, and after piling some ice cream on top, we didn’t really notice the slight mushiness. But this is the first recipe from this book that I’ve tried and would not make again. Still, I can already tell that this book is a definite keeper.
My challenge this weekend was to make some barbecue classics, and I think the baked beans certainly qualify.