Cooking with Heart and Soul: Making Music in the Kitchen with Family and Friendsby Isaac Hayes, Susan DiSesa
Long before Isaac Hayes became the voice of "Chef" on the wildly popular and irreverent television show South Park, he was a food lover. His fondest and most enduring memories are those associated with his Tennessee boyhood and helping his grandmother to prepare traditional Southern soul food. Before becoming an Academy Award-winning composer, Hayes was a short-order cook. And somewhere in a career spanning more than four decades, he was a single father who cooked for five children and shared recipes with friends, professional chefs, and family. The commercial successes in music, film, television, and radio came and went and came again-but always there was the food.
Cooking with Heart and Soul is pure Isaac Hayes-one part hot buttered soul, one part chocolate salty balls, and a big helping of comfort. It's a mix of traditional home cooking and healthy eating, with a touch of the gourmet-and lots of stories from a life lived to the fullest. This is a rare collection of recipes and reminiscences that reveals Isaac's passionate and eclectic interests from soul food and soul music to superstars and super-nutrients. It is as inspiring and satisfying as his Mama's Fried Cream Corn recipe.
- Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt
Starters and My
Sweet Elizabeth's Salmon Croquettes
This is a variation on the salmon patties I often ate as a child. Back when I was in the first grade, I had a crush on a girl named Elizabeth. We didn't have lunch boxes or buckets out in the country; we carried our food in an old molasses pail. Whenever she unwrapped the wax paper and saw that she had salmon patties sandwiched between two biscuits, she always shared them with me. So now I'm sharing them with you. I like to use a commercial deep-fryer for this recipe, but you can use a frying pan if you prefer. Serves 8 to 10
2 14 3/4-ounce cans salmon, with juice
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/8 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon ground Jamaica allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 whole eggs, beaten
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 15-ounce can Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cup canola oil
Put both cans of salmon with the juice in a large bowl. Break the salmon up gently with a fork and remove all bones. Add the peppers, onion, spices, and herbs and mix well. Gently mix in the eggs. Mix with your hands, add cornmeal and flour until the mixture holds together.
Form the salmon mixture into patties and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Coat thepatties with the bread crumbs.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the canola oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, fry the croquettes until browned and heated through, turning once. Remove the croquettes from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Serve with Southern-Style Baked Grits (see page 29).
CHEF'S NOTE: Old Bay seasoning is a commercial mixture of cayenne pepper, graduated garlic, paprika, and sea salt. If you can't find it in your local market, you can always make up your own by mixing even portions of the ingredients.
Oscar-Winning Seafood-and-Crab Cakes
Crab cakes are a renowned southern specialty, and you'll find dozens of different approaches to this favorite appetizer. By adding shrimp and scallops, you produce a dish with a truly original flavor. Some chefs use almost as much bread as they do fish in their crab cakes, but when I promise you seafood in every bite, I deliver! Serves 2 to 4
2 tablespoons butter
2 white onions, chopped
1 clove elephant garlic, minced
2 fresh sprigs thyme, finely chopped
1 fresh sprig parsley, finely chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
6 tiger shrimp, peeled, deveined, and
2 large sea scallops, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs plus
additional for coating
1 cup vegetable oil
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bell pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add crabmeat, shrimp, and scallops. Cook for about 3 minutes, until shrimp are pink. Stir in salt and cayenne pepper. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture for 30 minutes.
Add the egg yolk and bread crumbs to seafood mixture. Mix well with a fork.
Divide the mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a cake the size of your palm. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the cakes; turn and sprinkle on other side.
Fry the cakes until golden brown and heated through, about 1 minute on each side, reducing the heat if cakes brown too quickly.
* * *
My grandfather was a big man. He was tall (of course, everyone looked tall to me when I was a kid!), but it was more than heighthe had a big presence. He was a leader in the community, someone to look up to in so many ways. Because I had no father to raise me, it was my grandfather who showed me how to be a man. He taught me, in words and in everything he did, to stand on my own two feet and be strong.
He had a terrific sense of humor, but far more important than making me laugh, he taught me how to behave. He'd say, "Be respectable, and never say something that you will regret." Or he'd say, "Don't ever lie. You should always be able to back up everything you say."
My sister and I loved helping him shave. He shaved with a straight razor, which he used to sharpen on a leather strap. We often fought over who got to put lather on his face from the shaving mug. Then we'd watch him as he carefully, scraped away the lather until his face was as smooth as smooth could be.
I learned a lot of good things from my grandfather, but singing wasn't one of them. One of my favorite memories of my grandfather was when he'd come back from hunting with maybe five or six rabbits tied around his waist. We'd hear him singing long before we saw him emerge from a clearing in the woods. He had a horrible voice, but that never stopped him from singing at the top of his lungs. In church he would sing loud and wrong, and my grandmother would always hush him.
Carl Lewis's Jerked Catfish Woven
on Cinnamon Kabobs
Most people know that Carl Lewis won a pile of gold medals at the Olympics, and some probably remember that he has a fine singing voice, too. But when you sample this original way of serving hot and spicy catfish, you'll quickly see that the man has a talent for food. Serve these hot! Serves 4
4 2-inch-wide catfish fillets
4 4-inch cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a small baking sheet. Poke a small hole 1 inch from the end of each catfish fillet and one in the middle of each. For each kabob, thread a cinnamon stick through the holes in one fillet so that the fillet forms an S on the cinnamon stick.
In a large, shallow glass bowl, combine the pepper sauce, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and mix well. Add the kabobs and rub with the spice mixture to make sure they are well seasoned. (Be sure to wear gloves during this process or the pepper sauce will irritate the skin.)
Place kabobs on the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Garnish with the onion and bell pepper.
Pearlie's Soulful Cornbread Casserole
My friend Pearlie knows how much I love cornbread, so I like to think this recipe was created with me in mind. She says, "You can serve it as an entrée with a salad, plus some pinto beans or collard greens. Or you can use it as an hors d'oeuvre, cut into small, bite-size pieces." Serves 8 to 10
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 cup self-rising cornmeal plus additional for
1 8 1/2 -ounce can cream-style corn
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the pan in the oven until cornmeal browns, 5 to 10 minutes. Set pan aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown meat, breaking it up with a spoon until crumbled as it cooks. Drain off the fat from the meat.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, eggs, corn, milk, and oil. Spread half the cornbread batter over the bottom of the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the meat. Layer onions, peppers, and cheese on top. Cover with the remaining batter.
Bake the casserole until top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool before cutting.
Alfre Woodard's Seafood Gumbo
You know Alfre Woodard from such films as Passion Fish and Down in the Delta, which were filmed in the South and along the Gulf, where seafood is at its freshest. This recipe for gumbo combines so many flavorsshellfish, smoked poultry, and the vegetable at the heart of most gumbos: okra. You can make this with fresh okra if you can get it, but frozen okra is just as healthy and good-tasting in it. I like it best served over rice. Serves 6 to 8
6 quarts spring water
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut
into 2-inch pieces
1 smoked turkey leg
1/4 cup olive oil
4 onions, diced
5 green bell peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, minceds, crumbled
1 link smoked turkey sausage, cut into
1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 blue crabs
1/3 pound lump crabmeat
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Cayenne pepper to taste
In an 8-quart pot, heat water to boiling. Add the chicken and turkey leg and reduce heat to simmer.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking and sauté the onions until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the green peppers, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes, and add to the chicken mixture.
Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until browned. Add the okra and cook until thawed, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice (to remove slime from okra) and mix well.
Transfer the sausage mixture to the pot with the chicken and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until chicken starts to break up into shreds and the gumbo is thickened, about 1 1/2 hours.
Add the shrimp, crabs, crabmeat, and bay leaves to the gumbo and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add Creole seasoning and cayenne and mix well.
* * *
My grandparents and their neighbors were sharecroppers. A sharecropper works someone else's land and "shares" in whatever the cotton or other crop earns for the land's owner. The man who owned our property planted cotton. When we went to the local store to buy goods, the cost of what we bought would be charged against the cotton account. The system was designed so that a sharecropper just about never got out of debt or was able to go into business for himself. I guess this was a practice that started around the time that slavery ended, and the plantation owners needed a way to keep the workers farming their land.
Trouble was, sharecroppers never got ahead. All our hard work was just to keep our little piece of land and buy food. We might have a little change left over to buy some clothes, but they were usually overalls or other working clothes. We seldom had the money to buy something nicer, something that we would be proud to wear to church. My grandmother even made dresses for herself and Willette out of cotton flour sacks because they were made of printed cloth.
Still, when we lived in the country, I didn't know that we were poor. We had food on the table and clothes on our backs, and that seemed enough, at least for a seven year old who'd known little of life beyond Covington. But that was soon to change....
Southern Quick Biscuits
I could have collected a baker's dozen of biscuit recipes, since each country cook has a slightly different version. But most agree that the less you handle the dough, the flakier the biscuits. Work quickly and confidently, make sure your oven is the right temperature (an oven thermometer is a good investment, since many oven dials aren't accurate), and be ready to serve your biscuits as soon as you can. Makes 12 to 14 biscuits
2 cups sifted self-rising flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a large baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and shortening. With large fork or pastry blender, cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, stirring vigorously, to make a soft dough. Lightly roll or pat the dough on a floured board to about a 3/4-inch thickness.
Cut out biscuits with a floured 2-inch round biscuit cutter and place on the prepared baking pan. Bake immediately for 12 to 15 minutes.
The people who know me best know that I could eat cornbread every single day (and from time to time, I do!). I keep boxes of my favorite cornbread mix on hand in case the urge strikes when the stores are closed. If you don't have any buttermilk in the house, you can try making your ownjust add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular or soy milk and let it sit for a few minutes. You can also try a cup of plain yogurt, though your batter won't be as wet.
2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup Jiffy cornbread mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan with Pan nonstick cooking spray and heat in the oven while making the batter.
In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal and Jiffy mix. Add eggs, buttermilk, and oil, and mix until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened, adding a little water if necessary.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
North Memphis Hoecakes
Hoecakes are another cooking tradition that reaches back to slavery days, when these cornmeal cakes often served as breakfast for the field workers. They were traditionally fried in a skillet, then spread with molasses. Nowadays, this is another good way to get the flavor of cornbread in an easy accompaniment. Serves 4 to 6
2 cups plain cornmeal
1 cup Jiffy cornbread mix
1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, Jiffy mix, and egg and stir in enough water to make a thin, smooth batter.
In a large heavy skillet, heat enough oil to cover the bottom and, using a measuring cup, drop about 1/3 cup batter into the hot oil for each hoecake. Cook cakes until golden brown. Flip over and brown on opposite side.
Drain the hoecakes on paper towels.
Isaac's Breakfast of Champions
Over the years I've experimented to find what works best for me as a morning meal, especially when I've got a busy day ahead (which is most of the time). This is what I call "my breakfast of champions," my first choice for high-energy and easy digestion. I've listed the fruits I like to eat, but you can substitute any you prefer. The key to cooking brown rice is just to let the water boil out, but not too long. If you cook it too much, brown rice gets sticky. Serves 2 to 4
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to
package directions, with 1/4 cup raisins
added while cooking
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sliced fresh peaches
1/2 cup sliced banana
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced apples
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut butter per serving
In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Add the fruits, walnuts, and maple syrup and fold gently to mix.
What I do is put the peanut butter on the lip of the bowl, and when I scoop up some rice on my fork, I pick up a little of the peanut butter with it.
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