Easy Southern Cooking


  June 26, 2006 / Issue # 1

In this issue:

• Easy Summer Soups
•Turn Any Meal Into A Gourmet Treat
•Cooking with Tomatoes
•Banana Pudding

•Featured Cookbook
•New At EasySouthernCooking.com

Easy Summer Soups

Strawberry Soup

Serves 6-8

2 quarts ripe strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons minute tapioca
1 cup sweet white wine

  1. Clean and crush the strawberries.
  2. Add the lemon juice, water, tapioca, and sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from the heat and add the white wine.
  5. Chill thoroughly and serve cold.


Cream of Tomato Soup

This is definitely gourmet soup. You can substitute canned tomatoes for the fresh, but I like the flavor of the fresh.

5 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil to garnish

  1. Put peeled and chopped tomatoes into a saucepan with the chicken broth. 
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.  Be careful with salt as some broths are salty. Remove from heat. 
  4. When ready to serve, add the cream.  Garnish with fresh basil.


*Be careful when reheating. Cream will curdle if boiled, reheat gently. 


2 cucumbers, sliced
5 green peppers, diced
½ loaf of hard bread or equal amount of hard rolls, broken into chunks
5 ripe tomatoes, cut up
3 cloves crushed garlic
¼ onion
¾ cup olive oil
¾ cup wine vinegar
3 cups tomato juice or v-8 juice
cayenne pepper and salt to taste

  1. Place cucumbers, green peppers, bread, tomatoes, garlic and onion in large bowl.  Add oil, vinegar, water and seasonings. 
  2. Refrigerate together at least 24 hours. 
  3. Mix in blender and pour into bowl.
  4. Refrigerate a few more hours and serve in chilled bowls. 
  5. Top with croutons or fresh chopped vegetable garnish.  Serves 8 to 10.

Cooking with Tomatoes

Oh, the joy of summer, a vine ripe tomato. Roasting or grilling tomatoes concentrates their flavor for a rich taste.
To peel: Immerse tomatoes about 30 seconds in boiling water; remove and place immediately in cold water. Remove the stem, and the skin will slip right off.
To seed: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Gently squeeze each half, using your fingers to remove seeds.
Tomato Shells: Cut a 1/2 inch slice off the stem end of each tomato. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp being careful not to pierce the shell.
Roast: Preheat oven to 450° F. Halve tomatoes crosswise. Place halves, cut side down, on a shallow baking pan; brush with oil. Roast until lightly browned, about 20 minutes; cool.
Grill: Cut tomatoes in half. Brush cut surfaces with Oil or dressing made with oil and basalmic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper and basil. Place cut side up on aluminum foil or greased grill over hot coals about 10 minutes. Do not turn.

Recipes for Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Ripe Tomatoes can be found at www.easysoutherncooking.com

Banana Pudding
When I was a child, my grandmother would always make my favorite dessert when we came to visit.  By the way, she made EVERY grandchild’s favorite.  Her chest freezer sat in her dining room, and when we arrived it would be covered by a tablecloth, displaying an assortment of desserts that boggles the mind.  Every grandchild would find their favorite among the offerings, accompanied by her pound cake and a few others for the adults.  She must have baked all week prior to our arrival. 

I always requested Banana Pudding.  She would make a large pan of Banana Pudding crowned with meringue.  To this day, I cannot see a bunch of bananas without thinking of her banana pudding.  When bananas were scarce or too expensive, she would use drained canned pineapple (crushed).  That was excellent, also. 

I admit that I am a lazy cook.  Usually I will leave off the meringue.  It is just a lot of trouble, but you should try it this way- it is worth it.

2 Tablespoons self-rising flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated (see note below)
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 ounce package vanilla wafers- get a good quality wafer
3 large bananas
2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place flour, sugar and salt into a heavy saucepan, stir well and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy, add milk, mix well.
  4. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture and cook over MEDIUM heat, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Layer the vanilla wafers alternately with the bananas in a 1 ½ quart baking dish, beginning with wafers.  Put down 1 layer of wafers, then a single layer of bananas, more wafers, more bananas, so on until all the wafers and bananas are used.
  7. Pour custard over the top of all so that all the bananas and wafers are covered.  You want the pudding to run down between the cookies and cover all.  Usually I will shift them around slightly with a knife to allow the custard to run down into all.
  8. Beat the egg whites at high speed of electric mixer for 1 minute.  Then gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, beating constantly until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved.  This may take 2-5 minutes.  Peaks should be stiff enough to hold their own when the beaters are lifted. 
  9. Spread meringue over pudding, pushing it all the way to the edge of the casserole dish to seal. 
  10. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes until the meringue is golden brown. 


NOTES:  Some cooks add the pudding between the layers: 1 layer cookies, l layer banana, 1 layer pudding.  I usually layer the cookies and bananas first then make the meringue, then the pudding, this way it is poured over the cookies while hot.  The pudding will thicken as it cools.

IMPORTANT NOTES ON MERINGUE:  Raw egg are no longer considered a safe food. I recommend the use of a pasturized egg white product, such as Just Whites. Also, the egg whites must be beat with an absolutely clean – grease free beater and bowl.  Don’t use a plastic bowl as they tend to harbor a layer of grease that never comes out.  You have to clean the beaters thoroughly after the pudding is made, before making the meringue.  I am lazy, so usually I make the meringue before the pudding, then just rinse the beaters and go to the pudding.  The problem with this is that the meringue will deflate a little while it waits for the pudding, but not much if you did it right. 

Note on making the pudding:  You tend to get tired of stirring the pudding, and want to increase the heat to high.  Don’t!  If you get impatient and increase the heat, you risk burning the pudding. 

Discover How To Turn Any Meal Into A Gourmet Treat

Is your family tired of the same old meals? Are you looking for an easy way to turn your old favorites into something special? Lucky for you there is one secret and easy to use ingredient that can help give some class to almost anything you serve.

You might think this magical secret ingredient would be hard to find or cost a lot of money, but it isn’t. In fact it can be found right in your local grocery store for under $5.00.

So what is this wonderful food that will transform your meals?

Frozen puff pastry. You know, that stuff that you probably never bother to use because it thought it was only reserved for Greek desserts and looks to delicate and difficult. Well it’s not, in fact, puff pastry is quite easy to use and very versatile and it’s a wonder why it is one of the most overlooked foods you can use to cook with.

Frozen puff pastry is easy and economical, it handles beautifully and needs no additional prep. It can be used to give a gourmet flair to a variety of staple meals and it works great every time.

From your Friday night family pizza to that Sunday roast lamb, puff pastry can add a bit of class to any meal and make you look like a gourmet chef.

Of course, you might be most familiar with puff pastry when used for desserts. It can be used with a variety of fillings for a light, delicious dessert. When you server a puff pastry dessert your guests will think you spent hours baking when you can whip up something like this fruit tart in about 20 minutes.

Fruit Tart

1. Thaw 1 sheet of puff pastry and cut into 4 pieces
2. Put 1 tablespoon of fruit into the middle of each of the 4 pieces
3. Fold the opposite corners of the pastry into the center and pinch together with your fingers.
4. Glaze the tart with a milk and beaten egg mixture
5. Sprinkle the top with sugar
6. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes

For variations you can add different fillings or make a while pie using one whole puff pastry sheet for the bottom and another one for the top - either in a pie dish or just flat on a cookie sheet.

There’s no limit to what you can do with puff pastry. Use cookie cutters to cut the pastry into interesting shapes - glaze and bake then use to garnish almost any dish. Put them on top of soups and stews or casseroles. Use them on chops or with eggs. The only limits are your imagination!

One great use for puff pastry that even the kids will love is to make little mini pizzas by cutting the pastry into rounds and cover each round with grated cheese, sauce and veggies. You an also use them to make little appetizers - use different shapes and top them with chili sauce, crab mix or anything you want.

Cooking with puff pastry is quite easy but there are a few things you need to be careful of in order to get them perfect every time. One of these things is to make sure you cook them at the right temperature. You should, of course, follow the directions on the package but most ready made puff pastry “puffs” at around 400 degrees F. Also, you must only give it a light glaze since if you add too much on it will cause the pastry to become soggy and not rise successfully. A light brushing of the egg wash with a pastry brush is all that is needed for perfect puff pastry.

So now that the secret is out, you better rush to the supermarket and stock up on puff pastry before it’s all gone!

Lee Dobbins writes for Online Gourmet Foods where you can read more articles about gourmet foods and fine cooking.


Your life is extended 75 days for every new food you taste.
-Japanese proverb


Featured Cookbook

Willie Crawford's Soul Food Cookbook

"Discover the Amazing, Mouth-Watering, Old-Fashioned Soul Food and Southern Recipes Learned While Growing Up on My 96 Year Old Grandmother's North Carolina Tobacco Farm"

NEW AT EasySouthernCooking.com

Guava Duff
She-Crab Soup
Mock Terrapin Soup
Iced Spinach Soup
Southern Fried Chicken with Gravy
Avocado Orange Salad
Fresh Peach Cobbler

We are working hard to add new recipes daily!

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