Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cookbook Thursday: Southern Living’s “Superfast Southern: Comfort Food in 20 Minutes or Less!”

            Food is a religion in the South, but more and more the modern world impedes our best intentions to produce the meals we love. Southern Living comes to the rescue with “Superfast Southern: Comfort Food in 20 Minutes or Less!” This easy-to-read cookbook with large, bright photos so you know exactly what you’re cooking offers up a wide variety of Southern favorites that take 20 minutes or less to prepare — sometimes 15.
            There are quick bites for entertaining, featuring recipes such as spicy crawfish spread and shrimp shooters. Spring greens with strawberries makes a healthy alternative and you can utilize those Southern strawberries hitting streets this spring or go for the mac ’n’ cheese four ways and forgo the diet. There’s a variety of sandwiches, such as an easy muffuletta, and dinner ideas such as fish tacos, crab cakes, stir fry, skillet sheppard’s pie and so much more.
            What would be a Southern cookbook without dessert? “Superfast Southern” offers recipes for Key lime pie, banana pudding and other Southern favorites. Our favorite was the biscuit beignets, creating those famous New Orleans pastries out of a can of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. We used to make these at home as a kid and were surprised at how good they turned out, not to mention in record time.
            Ingredients are usually kept to a minimum, many times featuring fresh produce found throughout the South, so these recipes shouldn’t be hard on the pocketbook either and help with sustainability practices.
            Included in the book are 10 “superfast secrets” to cooking at “lightning speed,” advice such as keep a well-stocked pantry, know your produce section and cook fewer times than you eat, meaning to double up to have meals for later.
            We couldn’t resist leaving you with a recipe for something truly Southern, Deep-Fried MoonPies.

Deep-Fried MoonPies
From Southern Living’s “Superfast Southern”
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 MoonPies
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Vegetable oil
            Directions: Whisk together first five ingredients in a medium bowl. Dip MoonPies in batter until coated; dredge in panko. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat over medium heat to 350 degrees. Fry MoonPies, in batches, 20 to 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Cut into quarters to serve.

            Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.