Recipes from the Heart – April 21

While being homebound isn’t a prison sentence, it obviously wears us down over time. Food is a time-proven antidote to isolation and boredom. Enjoy these culinary treasures representing the best of Florida and Tennessee. Eat well, love one another and stay safe. 

Chef Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake

Chef Art Smith, a Florida native, has cooked for his holiness, the Daili Lama,  Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and has restaurants in Atlanta (Southern Art in Buckhead) and Walt Disney World. He made this version of a Southern classic for Maya Angelou’s 75th birthday.

Art Smith is a major force in American kitchens.


Hummingbird Cake is an Art Smith specialty

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped ripe bananas
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped pecans (optional)

Frosting Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 1/2 cups, sifted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Make sure you position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven.
  2. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans, sprinkle evenly with flour and tap out the excess. You can also line the bottom of each cake pan with rounds of parchment paper, then flour the pans and tap out the excess.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir or whisk the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Do not use an electric mixer. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. Do not beat. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly into the pans.
  4. Bake 30-35 minutes until the center of cakes spring back when pressed. Transfer the cakes to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks (remove the parchment paper now if you used it). Turn cakes right side up and cool completely.

To make the icing:

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. On low speed gradually mix in the sugar, then the vanilla to make a smooth icing.

To frost the cake:

Place 1 cake layer upside down on a serving platter. Spread with about 2/3 cup of the icing. Top with the second layer right side up. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake.

The cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored, uncovered in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.


Lynne Tolley’s Creole Crab Dip and Homemade Pita Chips. 

Lynne Tolley is a nationally celebrated Tennessee cook.

(Ms. Tolley is the great grandniece of Jack Daniel).


Lynne Tolley’s recipes incorporate Jack Daniel’s whiskey

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup minced shallot
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp Creole seasoning
1 Tbs olive oil
4 Tbs finely chopped green pepper and/or yellow pepper
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey
1 (8 oz) container lump crabmeat, drained and picked free of shells
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, Swiss cheese, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and creole seasoning; set aside.
  3. In a small skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add peppers and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add whiskey and cook until liquid is reduced, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add pepper/garlic mixture to creamed cheese mixture. Fold in crabmeat along with salt & pepper. Put into prepared dish.
  5. Bake until mixture is hot and lightly browned on top, about 25 minutes. Garnish with sliced green onion. Serve with pita chips.

Homemade Pita Chips

4 whole pita pockets, cut into wedges and separated
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay wedges in a single layer on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely then store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. (Goes stale quickly).


Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. |
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