Chuckle While You Cook - Recipes, Humorous Tales and '50s Photos!
Deep South Parties
How to Survive the Southern Cocktail Hour without a Box of French Onion Soup Mix, a Block of Processed Cheese or a Cocktail Weenie
By Susan J. Young
What I liked most about Deep South Parties is that it’s a cookbook with a writer’s flair.
Certainly, chef, restauranteur and Mississippi food columnist Robert St. John tells you how to adeply cook tasty southern recipes for parties. But the book is more.
It's sprinkled with humorous tales, cook’s tips, entertainment prep talk, and hysterical 1950s retro photos of food preparation, dining and entertainment
Simply put, this book is a fun read. I normally wouldn't say that about a cookbook.
Split into creative sections, Deep South Parties gives recipes for just about everything -- from hors d’ouevres to sweets, from drinks to buffet dishes.
It also gives some “Out of the Freezer” recipes, providing fodder for what to do when unexpected guests drop in!
Here are a few examples of Chef St. John’s recipe selections…
- To Be Passed: Crispy-Fried Oysters BLTs; Crawfish-Andouille Hush Puppies
- Buffet Table: Virginia Ham and Pimento-Cheese Biscuits; Dirty-Rice Cakes Topped with Crawfish Mardi-Gras Mix
- On the Sideboard: Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Avocado Relish & Wonton Chips
- The Wrath of Grapes: Peach Dauquiri, Pimm’s Royale, Presbyterian Punch
- Around & About the House: Mild Mississippi Cheese Straws; Cajun Spiced Nuts
- Out of the Freezer: Chicken-and-Andouille Empanadas; Baked Shrimp Toast
- Cold Dips: Curried-Crab Dip with Vegetable Fritters; Southern Hummus
- Sauces, Blends and Extras: Fig Butter; Blackberry-Tasso Chutney
- Sweets: Miniature Fried Peach Pies; Gingerbread; Bourbon-Pecan Truffles
Think all southern cooking is unhealthy? While cooks in the South do like their fried dishes, St. John answers this way: “We don’t fry everything. It can be healthy. We all wear shoes. And despite what Granny on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies” kept on her stovetop, we don’t eat possum.”
For example, St. John’s Top Five favorite recipes include four that have no fried food.
His absolute favorite is Smoked Crab Dip, followed by Black-Eyed Pea Dip, then Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Avocado Relish and Wonton Chips, then the one fried treat – Fried Green Tomatoes with Shimp Remoulade -- and finally Fig Butter.
Party hosts – regardless of their culinary skills or lack of – will enjoy St. John’s tips and advice for dining and entertainment.
He explains how to remove the corn silk from fresh ears of corn and how to get stains out of cookware. New cooks also learn how to peel hard-boiled eggs and how to handle habanero chilies.
A personal note from the Editor: For me personally, the one "could be improved" item for this book (just in case the publisher is reading this and looking for "next time" tips) is that the photos reflect only the Caucasian culture of the 1950s; we would have preferred to see a bit more ethnic diversity in the photo selection.
The author is a resident of Hattiesburg, MS. He's a restauranteur, chef, writer and self-described world-class eater. Workwise, St. John is CEO, president and executive chef of the Purple Parrot Café, the Crescent City Grill and the Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg and Meridien, MS.
St. John's weekly food/humor column is carried by 27 newspapers. Other books include “Deep South Staples: How to Survive in a Southern Kitchen Without a Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.”
If you're interested in an eclectic party giver's cookbook, one that provides some great fare for entertainment gathering -- whether planned or impromptu -- this book delivers.
Deep South Parties
How to Survive the Southern Cocktail Hour without a Box of French Onion Souop Mix, a Block of Processed Cheese or a Cocktail Weenie
By Robert St. John, Published by Hyperion Books
Publication Date: Oct. 10, 2006, Price for our hardcover edition: $19.95
Photos on this page are from the book, Deep South Parties.