Cooking with Faith: 125 Classic and Healthy Southern Recipes

Overview

Beloved comic actress Faith Ford puts a fresh and healthy new spin on down-home cooking with 125 updated Southern classics and traditional favorites cooked by three generations of her family.

You wouldn't know it by looking at her — either during her years as Corky Sherwood on CBS's Murphy Brown or now on her hit ABC comedy Hope & Faith — but Faith Ford loves to eat.

Growing up in Pineville, Louisiana, Faith learned how to cook the great ...

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Cooking with Faith: 125 Classic and Healthy Southern Recipes

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Overview

Beloved comic actress Faith Ford puts a fresh and healthy new spin on down-home cooking with 125 updated Southern classics and traditional favorites cooked by three generations of her family.

You wouldn't know it by looking at her — either during her years as Corky Sherwood on CBS's Murphy Brown or now on her hit ABC comedy Hope & Faith — but Faith Ford loves to eat.

Growing up in Pineville, Louisiana, Faith learned how to cook the great Southern classics from her mother and grandmother: Old-Fashioned Smothered Chicken, Mom's Smoky Beef Brisket, Southern-Style Fried Catfish, Cora's Skillet Candied Sweet Potatoes, Snap Beans and New Potatoes, Buttermilk Biscuits, Fluffy Lemon Icebox Pie, and more.

Then, at age seventeen, she left Pineville for a modeling and acting career in New York City and later Los Angeles. She longed for the comforting foods of home but sought to adapt them to match her new, California, health-conscious sensibility. Thus began a lifetime of experimentation in the kitchen, developing healthier versions of foods from her childhood by cooking with olive oil; incorporating loads of vegetables — staples on the family farm in Louisiana — into every meal; oven-frying; and using chopped fresh herbs for maximum flavor. The delicious results — Golden Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken; Broiled Red Snapper with Olives, Onions, and Tomatoes; Grilled Veggie Po' Boys; Dilled Egg White Salad; Green Beans Braised with Balsamic Vinegar and Soy Sauce; Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette; Peaches-n-Creamy Shake; and Sweet Summer Melon-Mint Salad — regularly wow friends in Los Angeles and have even won over Mom and the folks back home.

An inspired combination of the best of both worlds — the homespun, heirloom dishes Faith grew up on (because every once in a while you need to indulge and only the "real thing" will do) and her own healthier, more modern versions and creations — Cooking with Faith is also about the bonds that grow between family and friends as they spend time together in the kitchen. After all, says Faith, "well-made food is an experience. It's about taking pride in what you eat. It's a remedy for an increasingly fast-food-reliant society — I mean, how can you be that much in a hurry?"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416569626
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 7/1/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,383,139
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa Clark is the author of thirty-two cookbooks, including her latest, Cook This Now. She is a New York Times food columnist, and her work has also appeared in Food & Wine, Gilt Taste, and other publications.

Candice Bergen’s film credits include The Sand Pebbles, Carnal Knowledge, Starting Over (for which she received an Oscar nomination), and Miss Congeniality. On television, she made headlines as the tough-talking broadcast journalist and star of Murphy Brown, for which she won five Emmys and two Golden Globes. She later starred with James Spader and William Shatner in the critically acclaimed series Boston Legal.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

When people first meet me, they think it's a novel idea that I'm an actress who cooks. But I've been cooking for longer than I've been acting. Growing up in the small town of Pineville, Louisiana, I was the shy and scrawny kid (even though I ate like a pig) who disappeared into the wall. Since I wasn't particularly outgoing, I guess I found my way to popularity by learning to cook at a young age. People always like someone who bakes a killer brownie, or invites you over for a homemade meal.

I learned how to make my first recipe when I was about eight years old. It was purple hull peas, cooked until they're soft with a little bit of bacon. If you've never had them, purple hull peas are related to black-eyed peas but the pea is greener. My maternal grandparents, Larry and Cora Walker, grew them on their farm, and my grandma Cora and my mother, Pat Ford, made them for me ever since I was a baby. So I loved them from when I was old enough to chew (or even before — my mother says she craved them when she was pregnant with me!). But there was one thing I always noticed: my grandmother made hers a little bit better than my mother did.

One summer when my sister and I came home after spending a couple of weeks with my grandma Cora, I said, "Mama, I think you need a new stove." When she asked why, I said, "Well, your stove just doesn't cook purple hull peas like Grandma Cora's stove."

My mother laughed. "Well," she said, "I don't think it's the stove. I think it's the way Grandma Cora makes those peas. I tell you what, the next time you go over to Grandma Cora's, I want you to watch her like a hawk. And when you come home you can be in charge of making the peas from now on. So you have to learn how to make them just like she makes them."

And I did.

That's how it started. I discovered that I loved to cook, and that I was good at it, too. As a teenager I would spend hours watching Julia Child and her local Pineville equivalent, Mildred Swift, on television. I was fascinated by the way Julia kind of bumbled around until she came up with something great. I could relate. For me cooking was always about finding my way in the kitchen, trying out new ideas until I found one that worked. Then it became part of my repertoire.

But even before all that, I had learned the basics from my mother and grandmother, like how to assemble your ingredients and do the prep work before you start cooking. My grandmother was an amazing cook and my mother and her sister, my aunt Brenda, still are. Not that they would cook anything fancy, just good, old-fashioned, homey food — Southern-style, naturally, since we lived in the South. They didn't use written recipes, they simply cooked from their souls.

In addition to giving me their vintage recipes, my mother and grandmother taught me about all the little details and techniques that go not just into making a dish, but into making it special. Even toast could be special. I make toast the way my grandma used to. She never had a pop-up toaster, so she'd use a toaster oven or broiler, toast the bread a little bit, spread butter on it, and put it back in, so that when you took it out it had little pools of butter on the top. It's amazing toast. To this day only a toaster oven or broiler will do for me. That same care and attention makes everything a little more delicious, even if it's as simple as spreading the mayonnaise out to the corners of the crust when you make a sandwich, or standing and stirring, not walking off, when you make brown gravy.

Another thing I learned from my family was how to eat balanced, healthful meals. This may surprise you if you think that all Southern cooking is heavy and fat-and-carbohydrate based. And while we certainly ate plenty of the traditional dishes like chicken and dumplings, roast beef po' boys, gumbo with andouille sausages, and all those heavenly Southern desserts like pecan pie and banana pudding, we also loved vegetables, and made them a large part of every meal.

My grandma and grandpa Walker had a farm and my parents a garden, so we grew our own mustard and turnip greens, squash, cabbage, peas, okra, and tomatoes. There was little we didn't grow. My dad, Charles, and his parents, Grandpa Dewey and Grandma Bernice Ford, grew a special kind of speckled green beans — Grandpa Ford was so proud of those. We always had fresh corn from my Grandpa Walker's farm — we helped harvest it each year. And there were so many purple hull peas that my sister and I would stain our fingers lilac having pea-shelling contests. Whoever won got a nickel or an extra dessert, which seemed like a big haul at the time!

In the heart of summer, our meals were based around our home-grown fruits and vegetables. With breakfast biscuits there were homemade fig preserves with figs from Grandma Walker's three huge fig trees, and peaches from her peach trees. At lunch we'd have purple hull peas, of course, and greens simmered until falling-apart tender, creamed corn, fried okra, cornbread, and fresh sliced tomatoes, with peach ice cream for dessert. I never forgot the way those tomatoes tasted. It's the kind of thing you hang on to.

All of it is. Once you know what it's like to eat meals made with love and care, and plenty of homegrown fresh fruits and vegetables, you'll find a way to keep doing it.

I did, even when I moved to New York City at the age of seventeen. I moved there to model for the summer and make money for school, but it didn't work out that way. I ended up taking acting classes and working commercially, and, at the same time, cooking more than ever. Auditioning and running around the city can wear you down, and I would find myself coming home from a stressful day and chopping vegetables. The meditative aspects of cooking helped me relax. It was comforting. So I'd cook up a beef stew or a big vegetable soup or pot of greens. I don't know who I thought was going to eat all that food, and I'd end up feeding all my roommates and inviting friends over. Sharing food is a great way to create bonds with people.

In New York I was exposed to a lot of other influences when I went out to eat. We never really went to restaurants when I was growing up. Sure, there was barbecue and pizza and things like that. But going out to dinner in New York opened my eyes. If I had a dish I liked at a restaurant, I would try to memorize its flavors and re-create it at home. I still do that today.

After four years in New York, I moved to Los Angeles and continued working and taking acting classes, and cooking, of course. I would use my cooking skills to bribe people to come over to my house to rehearse so I didn't have to schlep out to theirs. I also would cater our showcases — where we would perform for agents, managers, and casting directors. I guess I thought if I didn't get an acting job I could get some kind of cooking job from it. But eventually, I did get an acting job — the role of Corky on Murphy Brown.

For me, working steadily didn't mean giving up cooking. I'd make food for people on the set all the time. I would prepare my breakfast — maybe a scooped-out bagel filled with egg white salad and tomatoes — and when I sat down to read through the script Candice Bergen would say, "Well, that looks really good. Can I have one?" So I would make her one, too. Once on the set of a movie I even found myself in the catering truck, teaching the caterer to make a giant pot of authentic Louisiana gumbo! Food and cooking may not have been part of the script, but they were always on my mind.

It was in Los Angeles that my own cooking style started to develop. That's when I began experimenting, and making the traditional recipes I grew up with a little lighter. As an actress, I had to keep fit. I started using olive oil in things instead of lard or bacon, just to see what would happen. That's how I adapted my mother's Sizzlin' Salad. She always made it with bacon grease, which is delicious. But I thought, what if I try making this with olive oil? And it worked! That was just the beginning.

But always, at the heart of my cooking style are my mother and grandmother's treasured dishes. I never go long without making something of theirs. But I also continue to update and lighten them so they fit into my lifestyle in Los Angeles. It's probably in part because of the culture I live in now, but I find that I care more each day about what I put into my body. Striving to eat healthfully means keeping my cooking really clean, simple, and natural.

I don't go overboard. As with my family's meals during my childhood, balance is what I look for. Let's face it, if I'm going to have fried catfish, I'm going to have fried catfish. Sometimes I'll make oven-fried catfish, which is less messy and a little healthier, but there are times when only deep-fried catfish will do. So I'll serve it on a bed of greens and to me, the vegetables balance the meal. And maybe I'll eat a little less catfish because the greens filled me up. It's a real change from the all-you-can-eat catfish places I went to as a kid, where the fried fish was served with hush puppies and potato logs and then you might have a little bit of coleslaw and some pickles. I do things differently now.

Whenever I can, I make healthy substitutions, and I always try to use fresh ingredients. I don't cook my greens to death anymore like we used to. It takes eight to ten minutes to cook mustard and turnip greens, whereas we used to cook them for hours. And we used salt pork. Now I rely on turkey sausage, turkey bacon, and turkey tasso. Where I can, I cook with olive oil or vegetable oil instead of lard, and add butter as a flavoring at the end of cooking.

All of this keeps my cooking a little bit more healthful, but still fulfilling and delicious.

And that is the philosophy behind Cooking with Faith.

This book is about the way I cook now — a combination of the homespun, heirloom dishes I grew up with, and my own lighter, healthier, more modern versions and creations. It's also about the relationships in my family, as I've cooked and adapted family recipes. We continue to learn from each other in the kitchen and my mom shares her opinions in the "Mom Says" notes throughout the book. There is food here for anyone, and anytime, whether you feel like making my grandmother's fabulous peach cobbler, my mother's meat loaf with brown mushroom gravy, or my warm chicken salad with field greens and hot-and-sweet pecans. I want to encourage daughters who might not cook to try to with their mom or their mom's mom. I think women have so much to gain from cooking together, especially moms and daughters.

But as much as it's about what I love to cook, Cooking with Faith is also about helping others tap into a way of cooking that is simple yet full of flavor and feeling. This kind of cooking is timely because we've gotten away from the traditions that I learned growing up. Well-made food is an experience. It's about taking pride in what you eat. It's a remedy for an increasingly fast food-reliant society — I mean, how can you be that much in a hurry?

As I've learned through the years, meals don't need to be extravagant, just made with love. I hope this book shows people that even basic, homey food is excellent if you pay attention to details. Cooking and sharing my recipes is a way of preserving something that was important to me in my formative years, something that I know every cook will understand. It's not the fanciest cooking in the world, but whether it's a steaming bowl of grits, a crisp salmon cake, or a fluffy slice of lemon pie, it tastes so much better — and means so much more — when you take the time and the care to do it right.

Text and family photographs copyright © 2004 by Faith Ford

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Candice Bergen

Introduction

Chapter 1: Appetizers, Snacks, and Sandwiches

Chilled Sugar Snap Peas with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce

Artichoke-Parmesan Dip

Sweet and Spicy Skillet-Toasted Pecans

Perfect-for-a-Potluck Deviled Eggs

Rest of the Pot Roast Po' Boys

Catfish Po' Boys with Creole Tartar Sauce

Smoked Turkey and Avocado Po' Boys with Sweet Tangy Mayo

Grilled Veggie Po' Boys with Homespun Basil Hummus

My Favorite Chicken Salad Sandwich with Roasted Red Peppers on Sourdough Toast

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

Fried Mini Meat Pies

Baked Cajun Chicken Pies

Chapter 2: Salads

Sit-Down Sizzlin' Salad (a.k.a. "Wilted Lettuce")

Faith's Sizzlin' Salad

Spinach Salad with Creamy Dill-Horseradish Dressing

Arugula Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing and Cheese Grits Croutons

Brenda's Make-Ahead Seven-Layer Salad

Grandpa Walker's Favorite Crunchy Southern Slaw

Pleasingly Purple Cabbage Salad with Basil Balsamic Dressing

Asian Cajun Slaw

Cora's Creamy Country Potato Salad

Faith's Old-Is-New Potato Salad

Cajun Grilled Vegetable Salad

Bernice's English Pea Salad

Faith's Fresh Petite Pea Salad

Warm Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Warm Corn Salad with Bacon and Sage

Warm Pasta Salad with Chicken Andouille Sausage, Mustard Greens, and Black-Eyed Peas

Chapter 3: Soups, Gumbos, and Chilis

Broccoli Ginger Soup

My Sister's Soothing Soup

Cures What Ails Ya Chicken Soup

Spicy Chicken Soup with Fresh Green Chiles

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Sausage and Mustard Greens

Spicy Turkey Chili

Mama's Vegetable Beef Soup

North Louisiana Smoked Turkey Gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo with Turkey Andouille

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille

Homemade Chicken Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Chapter 4: Fish and Shellfish

Mama's Tuna Boats

Crab Cakes on Avocado, Tomato, and Arugula Salad

Salmon Cakes with Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce

Southern-Style Fried Catfish

Oven-Fried Pecan-Crusted Catfish

Cajun Better'n Blackened Catfish

Broiled Red Snapper with Olives, Onions, and Tomatoes

Dilled Grilled Salmon Niçoise with Zesty Lemon-Herb Dressing

Cousin Sue's Quick Shrimp Etouffée

Aunt Brenda's Shrimp Sauté

Chapter 5: Poultry

Southern Fried Chicken

Golden Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts

Saturday Night Chicken Sausage and Cabbage Sauté

Dinner-on-the-Ground Chicken 'n' Dumplin's

Ragin' Cajun Roasted Chickens

Faith's Chicken with Barbecue Salsa

Old-Fashioned Smothered Chicken

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Mustard Green-Pecan Pesto

Smoky Turkey Roast

Mom's Dutch Oven Turkey Breast

Bacon-and-Sage-Wrapped Turkey Breast

Homey Pot Pies

Faith's Turkey and Veggie Meat Loaf with Fresh Salsa Gravy

Herb-and-Parmesan-Stuffed Turkey Burgers on Toasted Garlic Buns

Curried Turkey, Brown Rice, and Veggie Hash

Chapter 6: Meat

Golden Brown Beef Stew

Spicy Beef Stew with Vegetables and Tomatoes

Mom's Smoky Beef Brisket

Smothered Steak with Onion Gravy

Juicy Beef Pot Roast

Old-Fashioned Oven Pork Pot Roast

Citrus-Roasted Pork Loin

"Hammy" Cabbage, Peas, and Carrots Stew

Tiny Meat Loaf for Two

"Student Union" Burger on the Griddle

Mom's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sweet Cabbage Sauté

Chapter 7: Side Dishes

Southern-Style Mustard Greens

Faith's Double "S" Mustard Greens

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes (with a Hot and Spicy Variation)

Crispy Traditional Southern-Fried Okra

Oven-Fried Okra

Grandma Cora's Purple Hull Peas

Red-Hot Black-Eyed Peas

Southern-Style Green Beans

Green Beans Braised with Balsamic Vinegar and Soy Sauce

Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Balsamic-Braised Broccoli

Snap Beans and New Potatoes

My Sister's Yellow Squash Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumb Topping

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Cora's Skillet Candied Sweet Potatoes

Oven-Baked Sour Cream and Cheese Mashed Potato Casserole

Creamy Irish New Potatoes

Dilled Rice with Corn and Garlic

Three Hens' Cornbread Dressing

Faith's Herbed Cornbread Dressing with Sausage, White Corn, and Scallions

Devon's Wild Rice and Sage-Sausage Dressing

Chapter 8: Breakfasts, Breads, and Beverages

Creamy Cheese Grits

Country Cheese and Herb Grits Frittata

Smoked Salmon-Egg White Scramble

Dilled Egg White Salad

Honey-Peanut Granola

Mixed Nut Granola

Maple-Pecan Granola

Blackberry Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup

Skillet Drop Biscuits with Variations

Buttermilk Biscuits

Cheese Biscuits

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

Sausage Surprise Biscuits

Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

Granola Biscuits

Mom's Angel Biscuits

Mom's Southern-Style Cornbread

Spicy Cornbread Muffins with Fresh White Corn

Parmesan-Herb Cornbread Muffins

Peach-Pecan Bran Muffins

Mom's Banana-Walnut Bread

Peaches-n-Creamy Shake

Blueberry Brain Shake

Fresh Mint Iced Tea

Chapter 9: Desserts

Big-Time Brownies

Buttermilk Brownies

Chocolate Chip-Coconut Brownies

Faith's Peach and Granola Crumble

Cora's Peach Cobbler

Mom's Blackberry Cobbler with Biscuit Topping

The Best Pie Crust

Apple Crunch Pie

Pint-Sized Blueberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie with Whipped Cream

Classic Vanilla Cream Pie with Variations

Banana Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Caramel Cream Pie

Coconut-Caramel Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate-Coconut Cream Pie

Peachy Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Pineapple Cream Pie

Pineapple-Coconut Cream Pie

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Pie

Mini Maple Pecan Pies

Heavenly Pineapple Pie

Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie

Fluffy Lemon Icebox Pie

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing

Grandma Cora's Spicy Fresh Pear Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

Fig Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

Faith's Chocolate-Pecan Layer Cake

Grandma Cora's Fluffy Catahoula Coconut Cake

Aunt Brenda's Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Sweet Summer Melon-Mint Salad

Chapter 10: Preserves, Pickles, and Seasonings

Bernice's Bread and Butter Pickles

Mom's Dill Pickles

Blackberry Syrup and Blackberry Jam

Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Preserves

Maw Maw Ford's Mayhaw Jelly

Maw Maw Ford's Mayhaw Syrup

Fig Preserves

Faith's Special Seasoning

Sources

Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2004

    Excellent recipes and easy to do....

    I purchased the book this week and have already used recipes out of it. The oven fried pecan crusted catfish and the dill tarter sauce are great! I really like the fact that Faith gives you the more traditional, not so good for you, recipes then she follows many with her own, much better for you, recipe. It allows you to be health conscious but also provides for those occasional 'splurges'. Great job Faith!

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