A Salute to African-American Cooking
The culinary legend Edna Lewis said that “the South gave America its food.” I selected one of her recipes along with two others as a tribute to the talents of African-American cooks. Ms. Lewis was so gifted. A native of Virginia who began working early on in New Your City, she became a popular seamstress who made dresses for Marilyn Monroe and became well known for her African-inspired dresses.
She opened a restaurant, Café Nicholson, in Manhattan’s East Side and became a local legend and cooked for many celebrities such as Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Tennessee Williams, Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Salvador Dali, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Truman Capote. Edna Lewis became well known for her delicious Southern cooking.
She received an honorary Ph.D. in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts; Presented with the “James Beard Living Legend Award” (their first such award), and was named “Grande Dame” (Les Dames d”Escoffier).
Marvin Woods has prepared White House formal state dinners, served as a national ambassador for healthy eating for children, prepared meals for Hollywood, TV and sports legends and hosted the hit TV show, “Home Plate Cooking” for Turner Network Television.
Chicken Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Chef Marvin Woods
A Creole dish featuring chicken, andouille sausage, celery, bell peppers and onions cooked with rice.
3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup sliced celery
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green peppers
½ cup chopped bell peppers
½ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper, divided
6 ounces andouille, chorizo or other smoked sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
2¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1½ cups medium-grain white rice
4½ cups water
1 bay leaf
¼ cup chopped green onions
Heat the oil in large sauce pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add celery, onion, bell peppers and ¼ teaspoon of the ground red (cayenne) pepper; cook and stir 5 minutes or until caramelized and dark brown in color.
Add sausage; cook and stir 5 minutes longer, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
Season chicken with the remaining ¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper. Add to the sauce pot. Brown chicken on all sides about 10 minutes, scrapping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles.
Stir in rice for about 2 minutes to coat it evenly. Stir in water and bay leaf until well mixed. Cover. Without stirring, cook 30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Stir in green onions before serving.
Deep South Mac and Cheese
The recipe for this wonderful dish is inspired by “The Gift of Southern Cooking” (Knopf, 2003) by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
8 oz. hollow pasta, preferably elbow macaroni
Butter, for greasing
7 oz. extra-sharp cheddar, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 1/2 cups), plus 6 oz. grated (about 2 cups)
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup grated onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire
Heat oven to 350°. Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Stir in the cubed cheddar cheese and set aside.
Combine 1 1/2 tsp. salt, flour, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Add the sour cream and the eggs and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, heavy cream, onions, and Worcestershire. Pour egg mixture over the reserved pasta mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the surface. Bake until the pasta mixture is set around the edges but still a bit loose in the center, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Soulful Banana Pudding
Half & Half
Making the Custard for the Pudding:
Combine your flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Lightly beat your egg yolks and whisk to combine with milk, cream and half and half in a large bowl or even use a large liquid measuring cup, such as a 4-cup.
Whisk your egg yolk mixture into your dry ingredients in the saucepan set over medium to low heat. Stir constantly until the custard is thickened, remove from the heat and stir in your vanilla extract.
Assembling the Banana Pudding:
Arrange vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 2-quart dish, such as an oven-safe glass bowl or dish.
Slice bananas and place on top of the vanilla wafer layer.
Pour 1/3 of the pudding over the wafers and bananas.
Repeat layering process, ending with a layer of wafers.
The Meringue Topping:
Use very clean beaters and bowl that have been refrigerated for a few moments. Then, whip the egg whites with your electric mixer at very high speed.
Once the egg whites begin to foam, add the cream of tartar and then gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whip the egg whites until all of the sugar has dissolved and stiff peaks have formed, then incorporate the vanilla extract.
Spread the meringue over the top of the pudding, taking care to completely spread to the inner edge of the dish to completely cover the pudding.
Bake for 25 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven until the meringue has lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: Champagne pairs with nearly everything. Let’s serve something regal that is approprite for our celebration of wonderful food.
Stay safe. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.