Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recipes off the beaten path

If you’re traveling around the South this summer, you might want to pick up a copy of "Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings.”

This Southern Living book is a guide of where to eat on "less-traveled trails” from Texas to Maryland. It also includes plenty of recipes for those of us who won’t be traveling to Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Ga., for pimiento cheese fondue or to Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport, Miss., for seafood pasta with Monica sauce.

Author Morgan Murphy traveled the region, making stops at popular restaurants from barbecue joints to night clubs. He sampled the cuisine with such regional favorites as salsa fuego chili con queso in Fort Worth, Texas; peanut butter pie in Richmond, Va.; and Miss Hudson’s banana pudding in Birmingham, Ala.

Carrie Hudson has been making banana pudding for the meat-and-three eatery Niki’s West since 1957. It’s stories such as hers that make this cookbook not only a good source of recipes but a good read as well.

For instance, I enjoyed reading his description of Oxbow in Clarksdale, Miss. The restaurant is staffed by a chef who worked for Wolfang Puck and features decor from "found objects” such as wooden pallets and homemade light fixtures. Murphy sings the praises of the burgers at Oxbow, which include a "quickle,” a quick pickle that I tried over the weekend.

Other recipes I want to try from this book include buttermilk cornbread muffins from Weaver D’s in Athens, Ga., and the Stinky melt from Stinky & Coco’s Diner in Winchester, Ky. The Stinky melt is a combination of grilled cheese and a burger and is served on white bread. It looks yummy!

And I would love to visit Best Buns Bread Co. in Arlington, Va., or at least try one of the four recipes they shared: bacon-cheddar scones; blueberry-lemon muffins; English toffee cookies; and ginger crinkle cookies.

"Second Helpings” includes three North Carolina restaurants: The Admiral in Asheville; Dish in Charlotte; and Grady’s Barbecue in Dudley. If you aren’t familiar with Grady’s, it’s located at 3096 Arrington Bridge Road and is about a 40-minute drive from Wilson.

I enjoyed reading this book, looking at the photos of the interior and exterior of restaurants and reading about menus from other states. If I find myself traveling in these states anytime soon, I’ll be sure to pack this book when I go.

"Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings” has a list price of $22.95 but it’s less online.

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt*
  • 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 bay leaf
Cut cucumber into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline or V-slicer and place in a large glass bowl.

Bring 2 cups water, vinegars and next 5 ingredients to a boil in a medium-size nonreactive saucepan, stirring often, until sugar and salt dissolve.

Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumber slices. Cool to room temperature (about 3 hours). Cover and chill at least 24 hours; store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

From Oxbow in Clarksdale, Miss.

"Off the Beaten Path: Second Helpings"

Notes: I used a knife to cut my cucumber. Also, these were too salty for my husband and me. I cut the salt in half the second time I made them. I did use an English or hot house cucumber, but pickling cukes should work fine. (Hot house cucumbers are wrapped in shrink wrap in the produce section.) There’s plenty of liquid if you want to use more cucumbers. I had fresh dill but wouldn’t have used it otherwise.

Quickles are served on a burger at Oxbow.


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