an inspirational childhood . . .
. . . leads southern cook gena knox into a world of tempting southern cuisine that's fast and delicious
she will tell you she's not a chef, simply a cook whose childhood was centered around the kitchen, helping her mother mix and master meals. the basics of cooking turned into a family affair, spending sundays after church - as most southern families can confess to - sitting around the table enjoying fried chicken and fixings.
growing up in small town reynolds, georgia, gena now "cherishes growing up in a small town, back then i didn't." she remembers a bountiful garden on their farm which her family shared with neighbors, putting up butterbeans in the freezer, and her mother cooking every meal at home.
"there were no restaurants," recalls gena. "there was one little burger joint, so it forced mom to cook every meal. there were three of all and we all had to help in the kitchen. now, i'm really thankful for that."
gena was in sixth grade before she experienced a mcdonald's drive-thru, and she states that she has never taken her two (neely and genevieve) through one.
in her third cookbook, the second in her southern my way series, she strives to make it easy for cooks to serve delicious foods whenever they want, thus forgetting the easy drive-through alternative. she puts a fresh spin on three generations of family favorites.
"the recipes are more approachable and the ingredients are easy to find," states gena. described as containing family-friendly recipes, she states that "it's not a diet cookbook but a healthier approach."
in addition to her cookbooks, she offers the supper club, a menu for you and your friends or family to experience, delivered to your inbox every month. "it's designed to be healthier dishes, and i break it down to where one does the entree, another the sides."
what's one thing she's discovered on her cooking journey? "when you're tasting a sauce, a lot of time it needs something to brighten it. finish with an acid, whether vinegar or lemon juice, it brings everything together and lightens your palette. like spaghetti sauce, finish with balsamic vinegar."
southern my way: food & family is a celebration of recipes and good food. it is also a visual masterpiece containing some of the most incredible photography (brian woodcock) ever seen in a cookbook. not only does she share each recipe's beautiful end-result but also takes you home to where her family traditions began.
we are proud to share these recipes with you. however, these aren't the ones that should entice you to purchase the book. it's the my mama's spaghetti, pecan horseradish-stuffed trout, skillet creamed corn, and mama chess' caramel cake (you know the kind with the gritty icing that for the life of you, you just can't duplicate - but gena did!) that should whet your appetite for gena's home cooking. you can find gena's cookbook at www.amazon.com.
fresh fig flatbread
3/4 cup warm water
1 package rapid rise yeast
2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
cornmeal for dusting
8 to 12 fresh figs, cut in half or in quarters depending on size
2 ounces thinly sliced country ham or prosciutto
2 ounces good-quality blue cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups baby arugula
olive oil for serving
stir yeast into warm water and set aside to dissolve, about 5 minutes. in a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. coat a large mixing bowl with 1/2 teaspoon oil and set aside. once yeast has dissolved, stir 3 tablespoons olive oil into yeast mixture. with motor running, slowly pour yeast mixture into flour until a sticky ball forms (you may not use all the liquid).
place dough inside mixing bowl, toss to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. set in a warm, draft-free place and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size. preheat oven to 425 degrees. punch dough down and place on a floured work surface. sprinkle lightly with flour and knead with hands until dough is no longer sticky, about 20 minutes. divide dough in half and, using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 7x14 inch rectangle.
sprinkle two baking sheets lightly with cornmeal to prevent sticking. transfer one dough rectangle to each sheet. bake until edges are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. arrange ham over; top with figs and blue cheese. drizzle lightly with olive oil and return to over for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese melts. drizzle with honey, top with arugula and serve.
five herbs you must try
waldorf chicken salad
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 apple, cored and cubed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
2 large handfuls arugula
preheat over to 350 degrees. place raisins and orange juice in a small bowl; set aside. drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. roast on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees, about 35 minutes. remove from oven and cool. with your hands, shred enough chicken to yield 4 cups.
toss cubed apple with lemon juice; set aside. in a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and zest. fold in chicken; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
stir in raisins and juice, celery and pecans; chill until ready to serve. just before serving, gently fold in arugula.
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
preheat oven to 350 degrees. spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. transfer pecans to a plate and let cool.
using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1/3 cup sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. reduce speed to low and add vanilla. incorporate flour into mixture, one large spoonful at a time. add pecans and mix until well incorporated.
form into 2 logs, each 2 inches around. wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. slice into 1/2-inch rounds and sprinkle with sugar, pressing lightly to adhere. place on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.