The New Southern Garden

The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle, UNC Press 2011, $35.00 cloth, 456 pages

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m hanging around nurseries, choosing seeds, and helping to start the vegetable garden at my office. I’m thinking about bouquets of rainbow chard, snappy sweet melons, and corn to cry for.

I’ve got Sheri Castle right by my side. Her recipes will inspire you at the farm market and help you get over that moment when you can’t stand to look at one more zucchini.

She sorts her recipes by ingredient, so when you’re faced with a glut there are plenty of options. I don’t know if it’s possible to have too many cherries, but if you do, try Castle’s recipes for Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Cherries, Fresh Cherry Compote with Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Smoked Turkey and Cherry Salad in Melon Rings, Black Cherry Hand Pies, or Ground Cherry Pie. You can make the most of any season and any ingredient—from sweet to savory.

And even if you’re not a huge vegetable gardener or eater, Castle’s book has plenty of good cooking. Chili peppers inspire a Chicken and White Bean Chili. Greens add color and flavor to Greek Shrimp with Spinach, Feta, and Orzo. Even the humble onion is glorified in Vidalia Souffle Dip or Roast Beef Panini with Red Wine and Onion Marmalade.

Maybe that Panini caught your eye. Just because this is a Southern book, doesn’t mean everything is encased in gelatin or long-simmered with a pork hock. (Not that there’s anything wrong with jello molds or pot likker!). Castle offers Southern classics, but is inspired by fresh flavors and combinations. Ramps get turned into a pesto (I think pickled ramps are pretty good in that other Southern classic—pimento cheese). Muscadine grapes are cooked into a streusel pie and Hoppin’ John is turned into a risotto served with collard pesto.

But it’s only Mother’s Day! How will I ever make it to corn season?

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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