Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slow Cooker Chocolate-Banana Cheesecake in Jars Recipe

Photo credit: Erin Kunkel from "The Southern Slow Cooker" cookbook

Here's a link to the .pdf version of the "Taste of the South" magazine feature on the The Southern Slow Cooker. The editors of the magazine were kind enough to send me a copy of the first page (there were three pages total) which includes a fun interview on the book, cooking by way of West Virginia and Appalachia and how this shaped some of the recipes in the book, my mom's corn pudding, and what it's like to test hundreds of crockpot recipes in the dead heat of summer (hint: it's not so bad!). For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of the July/August issue. This month's magazine cover photo and recipe is for a fried green tomato sandwich, topped with bacon and pimento cheese. 'Nuf said!

Ok, I'm giddy with excitement, not only because I finally got to hold this baby in my hands, but because some of the first print press is starting to come out featuring recipes from The Southern Slow Cooker. One of my all-time favorite Southern-centric magazines is Taste of the South. They seriously have some of the best, drool-worthy, down-home Southern recipes in that mag. A Mess of Field Peas with Ham Hocks? Bring it.

Anyhow, when the food editor of the magazine contacted me several months ago about doing a blurb on the book in their July/August issue, needless to say, I was over the moon, but when I finally received my copy of the magazine, what did I see? A full three pages devoted to the book including a fun Q and A on the book itself, the future of Southern cooking, and my family's tradition of preserving heirloom recipes, along with a slow cooker dessert recipe from the cookbook for Chocolate-Banana Cheesecake slow cooked in canning jars.

Naturally, in my excitement, I want the whole world to take a gander, so grab yourself a copy stat or better yet, subscribe to the magazine and enjoy tasty Southern recipes all year long. The article featuring The Southern Slow Cooker isn't online yet, but you can definitely pick up a copy of the mag at most major grocery stores and bookstores. In the meantime, I am happy to share my recipe for Slow Cooker Chocolate-Banana Cheesecake in jars here on my blog. Call it a little preview of what's to come when the book finally comes out August 20th. Enjoy!


Slow Cooker Chocolate-Banana Cheesecake in Jars

From The Southern Slow Cooker: Big-Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics by Kendra Bailey Morris (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

Serves 6

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened 
condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large banana, cut into thin slices, plus additional sliced bananas for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish
Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together the crushed chocolate wafers, sugar, and melted 
butter. Partially fill six half-pint canning jars with about 3 tablespoons of this mixture, being sure to distribute it evenly. Set aside any leftover chocolate crust mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, still beating the mixture. Pour in the condensed milk and the vanilla and continue to beat.

Fill each jar with about 1½ to 2 inches of the cream cheese mixture. Add an even layer of banana slices along with some of the reserved chocolate crust. Finally fill each jar with more cheesecake mixture, leaving about an inch of headspace. Lay a kitchen towel on the bottom of the slow cooker to protect the ceramic surface and place the uncovered jars in the slow cooker insert, making sure they are not touching each other or the sides of the cooker.

Fill a tea kettle with water and heat to just boiling. Pour just enough water into the slow cooker to come halfway up the glass jars. Cover the top of the slow cooker with several thick sheets of paper towels to absorb additional moisture. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, until the cheesecakes begin to pull away from the sides of the jars. Using a pair of tongs, carefully transfer the jars (they will be very hot) to a wire rack. Cool completely. Screw on the lids and place the cheesecakes in the fridge until well chilled, at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Just before serving, top each jar of cake with additional sliced bananas, a dollop of whipped cream, and shaved chocolate. Serve the cakes straight from the jars with spoons.

Copyright Kendra Bailey Morris from The Southern Slow Cooker: Big-Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Southern Style Potato Salad Recipe: Virginia Community Cookbook Edition

It's officially summer, which means cookouts, picnics, family reunions, outdoor grilling, and 4th of July festivities, and I can't think of a better addition to any table spread than a big bowl of Southern style potato salad. While everyone has their own unique take on this popular side dish often from recipes handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, I just love noshing on the Southern classic version made with hot potatoes doused in a bit of vinegar (it gives them depth of flavor) that are mixed with mayo, onions, celery and a couple of spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish or homemade chow chow relish which is a little secret ingredient I like to add.

In the past, I've always made my mom's potato salad recipe, but this time I decided to crack open an old friend, my copy of Green Springs Country Cooking, a community cookbook published in 1975 by the Historic Green Springs society from Louisa County, Virginia. Historic Green Springs is a national landmark in the heart of Virginia's Piedmont that carries a fascinating history dating back to the pre-Civil War era with protected property spanning over 14,000 acres. Many family plantations and farms still stand in their original form here, allowing visitors a rare glimpse into the oldways of Virginia life during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The beauty of this cookbook, in addition to the fact that many of the recipes are heirloom ones generously shared by family and friends who have lived in this area for hundreds of years, is that each one has been painstakingly handwritten in the original author's best penmanship. Some even include campy sketches.
From Jell-O salads and sausage balls to how to properly soak and season a country ham, it's all in here. There are even recipes for making your own hard soap and some key advice on distilling your own moonshine. Just don't get caught with the latter.
There's nary a drippy close-up of some perfectly sauced meat or any expertly staged photos of chocolate cakes or parfaits in this cookbook since it doesn't boast a single photo. What you get instead are what these kinds of cookbooks are really about, collections of tried and true recipes generously shared by home cooks just like you and me. This is why I am constantly drawn to church and community cookbooks over the flashier contemporary ones. Perhaps it's the simplicity of being so proud of your special dish that you can't wait to share it with the rest of the world, and isn't that what cooking, cookbooks and recipes are really all about?

So, here's my share or should I say Mrs. Paul Farley's share from "Ben Lomond" in Gordonsville, Virginia. If you ever happen to see her, please tell her I said thanks for the great recipe.
Potato Salad
By Mrs. Paul Farley from "Green Springs Country Cooking" (1975)

2 1/2 cups diced cooked potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Sprinkle potatoes with vinegar. Add all other ingredients and toss lightly. Chill. Serve in lettuce lined bowl and garnish with parsley, sliced radishes, cucumbers and hard-boiled egg slices, if desired.

For a change of pace and extra crunch, add 1/4 cup sliced sweet pickles*.

*Kendra's note: Try adding chow chow relish instead. Adds an amazing sweet tang to the salad.

©2013 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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