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Two routes to Southern meals

The Baltimore Sun

Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen

By Trisha Yearwood

Bon Appetit, Y'all

By Virginia Willis

Ten Speed Press / 2008 / $32.50

Virginia Willis, a French-trained chef, unapologetically presents a more refined Southern cookbook - with more than a few "exotic" ingredients that would probably have Trisha Yearwood in fits.

The book reads as if Willis couldn't decide where her true allegiance lies - on the Georgia farm with her biscuit-making grandmother, or with her fellow gourmet graduates of L'Academie de Cuisine. She flits from Old Fashioned Pot Roast to Boeuf Bourguignonne, from Bourbon Sweet Potatoes to Celeriac Puree, from her Meme's Yeast Rolls to Burgundian Honey Spice Bread.

If she's a bit conflicted, she doesn't take it out on the food - it all tastes good.

Her recipe for Buttermilk Corn Bread was as easy and inexpensive to put together as it was delicious. I loved that she included a way to make the bread as muffins as an alternative to using a traditional cast-iron skillet.

The Savannah-Style Marinated Shrimp involved a ceviche-style preparation - the shellfish is supposed to "cook" in an acidic brine, then be served cold. Though I marinated the shrimp longer than called for, by dinner time it didn't seem done. A 60-second saute did the trick.

Kyle's Lemon Poundcake

Serves 12

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 cup buttermilk, well shaken

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Sift the flour together with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat an additional 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating only until the yolks disappear into the batter. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and beat only until well blended. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool slightly, then turn the cake out of the pan while the cake is still warm. Cool completely on a wire rack.

From "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen"

Per serving: 407 calories, 6 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 57 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 91 milligrams cholesterol, 259 milligrams sodium

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