Friday, June 29, 2018

It's Finally Corn Season!

We can thank the Mayans for the crop that is now the third largest grown in the world for human consumption. The Native Americans educated pilgrims on how to grow Maize, as they called it. Hundreds of years later, Southern cuisine wouldn’t have been the same without it. Not only do we rely on corn for our all-important staple of grits, we like to cream it, fry it, eat it raw in salads, and add it to stews. Keep the husks attached to use as handles with eating corn on the cob. Use a clean toothbrush to gently remove silks from the kernels.
Choose corn with silks that are blonde. The silks darken as the corn ages. Most shoppers check the plumpness of the kernels by peeling back the husks to see the kernels. It’s best to leave on the husks to keep the corn as moist as possible. If you can give the corn a squeeze and see if the kernels are plump, try that method.
Corn should be cooked as soon as possible after picking because the sugars convert to starch very quickly. Store up to one day in the refrigerator in an open bag.

Corn-and-Crab Chowder

My family and I love to stop at our favorite roadside stand for fresh Silver Queen corn on the way to the beach. It doesnt take long to simmer the sweet kernels with fresh-from-the-Atlantic crabs for a summer soup tradition.


6 bacon slices
2 celery ribs, diced
1 medium-size green bellpepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seededand diced
1 (32-oz.) container chickenbroth
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups fresh corn kernels(about 6 ears)
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat,drained and picked freeof shell*
1 cup whipping cream
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄2 tsp. table salt
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground blackpepper
Oyster crackers
Garnish: chopped freshcilantro

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes
or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels,
reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon.
2. Sauté celery and next 3 ingredients in hot drippings 5 to
6 minutes or until tender. Whisk together broth and flour until
smooth. Add to celery mixture. Stir in corn. Bring to a boil;
reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
Gently stir in crabmeat and next 4 ingredients; cook 4 to
5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve warm with crumbled
bacon and oyster crackers.
*1 pound peeled cooked shrimp or chopped cooked chicken may
be substituted.

Creamed Corn

Real creamed corn should be milky, creamy, and perfectly salty. If the corn isnthe freshest possible, you may need to add a little water at a time as it cooks to keep it from drying out. 


13 ears fresh corn, husked
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1⁄2 tsp. table salt
1⁄8 tsp. freshly ground blackpepper
Minced chives (optional)

1. Cut kernels from cobs to yield 6 cups; discard cobs. Cook
kernels in a small Dutch oven over low heat, stirring often, about
30 minutes or until corn is tender. (To prevent corn from drying
out, add up to 10 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time as
needed, during last 15 minutes of cook time.)
2. Stir in cream and butter, and cook, stirring occasionally, about
5 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency. Stir in
salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chives, if desired.

Balsamic Corn Salad

When corn is at its peak, there are few things better. With just a simple dressing, a colorful and bright side dish is created. This salad can be made ahead, so it’s ideal for warm weather parties and picnics. The light hue of white balsamic vinegar keeps the colors vibrant.


1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
31⁄2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 8 ears)
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄4 tsp. table salt
1⁄8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup packed arugula

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté
pan. Add corn kernels; cook 4 minutes, stirring often. Cool to
room temperature.
2. Whisk together 1⁄4 cup olive oil and next 4 ingredients until
3. Transfer cooled corn to a medium bowl. Add tomatoes.
Pour dressing over mixture, and stir well. Chill for 4 hours.
Add arugula just before serving.

Photo by Iain Bagwell from The Southern Vegetable Book by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor House, 2016).
Copyright 2016 Rebecca Lang. All rights reserved. 
Please visit for more information. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

How to Polish Your Silver

You probably own silver that you tucked away in a felt-lined box when you married and put it away to stay safe. Take that silver out of hiding! Pull out your sterling or silver plate and actually enjoy all the wonderful pieces that rarely see the light of day. Silver stays in better shape with less tarnish the more often it is used. So celebrate Christmas with a really good fork in your hand!

Before the holidays get in full swing, set aside just a little time to make sure all the pieces of silver are in their shiniest condition. I like to do this near a sink. It's best if you can also be close to a kitchen hood for ventilation or simply open a window as the smell is pretty unpleasant.
1. Place the silver flatware in a disposable aluminum roasting pan set on a kitchen towel on a heat-proof surface. Don't worry, you can pile them all in the pan together.
2. Pour 1 1/2 cups of baking soda on top of the silver. It will be mounded on top of the silver and you'll think you are using too much.
3. Very carefully pour boiling water over flatware. A massive eruption of bubbles will work away the really deep tarnish. Let sit for about 5 minutes or a few minutes more, if needed.
4. Remove the pieces from the hot water with tongs and rinse with cool water and dry.
5. Polish the silver with a cream silver polish. I have used Wright's Silver Cream for years. Rinse the flatware well and dry with a soft towel to prevent water spots.

To keep your silver in top condition throughout Christmas, hand wash only (do not put in the dishwasher) and dry after each use. Remember, if you never use the silver, you won't enjoy it. Merry Christmas!

(c) 2017 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved. Please visit Photo credit Jennifer Davick

Friday, September 29, 2017

Saving Refrigerated Foods During a Power Outage

Irma crashed her way through Georgia and took much of the electricity with her. Many homes in my neighborhood were out of power for over four days. It’s during this aftermath of her wrath that I was determined to keep each and every morsel of refrigerated and frozen food fresh and safe until the lights glowed again. We have two refrigerators with freezers, and both are normally full of groceries. To lose the inventory of both appliances would be a very expensive and time-consuming endeavor to replace.

Keeping in mind that a refrigerator will hold a proper temperature for 4 hours only (if the doors haven't been opened) and a full freezer will be fine for 48 hours (or 24 hours if it's not full), I made a plan.

I started filling coolers in advance knowing that the storm was coming. The wind started with a vengeance and the electricity went quickly. After about 3 hours with no power, we moved all food out of the refrigerators and into iced coolers. As almost five days came and went with no power, keeping the food cold became a real chore of draining coolers of water and repacking with ice daily.

We have good friends that loaned us additional coolers and brought more ice to help. I went through 520 pounds of ice and am proud to say I saved each and every tablespoon of food. I frequented Twice the Ice locations a lot and it was very economical and convenient. I spent less than $50 on ice the entire time.

Having a good set of resources helps when the power is out and you're trying to keep your kitchen as normal as possible. These helped me.

If using dry ice, calculate how much you need.

(c) copyright 2017 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Designing a Kitchen that Works

Photo by Craig Sheridan
Before you ever think about the reality of a new kitchen, focus on the way you cook. Everyone cooks differently. It's important to work through how you will use your kitchen so it becomes a room that is the most efficient and as functional as possible. After building a house and spending much of my time on the kitchen design, I thought about this all-important room differently and much more than I ever had before.

Do you use your stove, your oven, or your microwave the most? I cook on my stove the majority of the time so it’s best in the very center of my kitchen. I use my microwave most often for softening butter and cream cheese, so it’s under my biscuit counter where I work on baking recipes.
You may rework your plans tens of times. That’s a good thing! The more time you have to think about it, the better. We changed appliance placement several times on the plans and the cabinet design was in constant motion for a few months. 
If at all possible, don’t let an inch go to waste. When planning out cabinets, think of where you will be in the kitchen when you cook certain types of recipes and what equipment you’ll need for those. I planned for a knife drawer near my stove and then placed a cutting board storage area below it. I keep baking sheets in a drawer under my ovens and the cooling racks within arm’s reach. 
Plan out where you will come in to the kitchen with grocery bags. Place the pantry and refrigerator as close to that location as possible. I have my pantry a few steps from the back door and right at the entry into the kitchen. I don't need any excuse to avoid putting up groceries, so if I walk right up to the pantry, I'm more likely to put them away in a timely manner. The bags don’t have to go far into the house. The refrigerator is at the entrance to the kitchen so chilled items can be put away without extra effort.
Traffic is a huge factor in how a kitchen functions. Is the main walking path in front of the fridge or the ovens? I have double ovens so I moved them to a location in the kitchen where there isn’t a lot of traffic. I chose French doors on my refrigerator because it’s in our path to and from the back door. One large door would have been been an expensive barricade to little people running in and out. 
Plan for cabinets to hold plates, glasses, and silverware close to your dishwasher. These everyday items are the most likely to be in the dishwasher more than anything else. If they are stored nearby, it’s faster to unload. 
Deep drawers are more space efficient than small cabinets. I took the largest pot I own to the cabinet shop to make sure we had drawers deep enough to accommodate it. I also did the same for my gigantic mixing bowls. You ultimately want a kitchen that has a place for everything to be put away neatly. If you have any unusual sized items, make a good home for them by planning.
You can’t have too many outlets. I have 12 outlets in my kitchen. All areas of the counters should be within reach of an outlet. 
Plan for a grilling area outside that is a direct path from the kitchen. We added another door to the patio so I wouldn’t be running through the den with raw steaks. Try to think through worst case scenarios (like a steak falling on the sofa) and plan so they can avoided.
Involve an expert when choosing ventilation and the specifications needed. No one likes to wake up to the smell of last night’s supper. We purchased all of my appliances from The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta. They worked diligently to make sure every detail of my hood (and all the other appliances) was perfect. I was lost when it came to ventilation pipe diameter, degree of turns, and CFMs, but luckily they were experts.

My appliance installation company was Beautiful Installations. Unlike a lot of appliance installers, they made a site visit before we even ordered the appliances to make sure that all was in place and I didn't need any non-standard accessories. It also made the installation day much easier because they already knew the logistics of the kitchen (and to be ready to hang a enormous hood on a brick wall). They registered all our appliances and even provided binders with all the owner's manuals neatly organized and tabbed.

Lighting is so important! When planning lighting, make sure work areas are well lit. A dark spot in the kitchen is a waste of countertop.

It is impossible to overthink the planning of your kitchen. You have one chance to make it just the way you want it, so take your time. Cooking in a kitchen that's personally made for you makes every minute of construction worth it.

Resources that made my kitchen a reality:
Architect: JP Curran
Builder: Athens Building Company
Designer: Lauren DeLoach Interiors
Cabinets: Smith Cabinets, Athens, Georgia
Appliances from The Cook's Warehouse
Appliance Installation: Beautiful Installations

(c) copyright 2017 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fennel Love

Add fennel to weeknight meals for a hint of fresh springtime flavor. A cousin of parsley, fennel is a slow growing crisp bulb that is reminisce of anise is normally purchased whole complete with feathery fronds and a very long stem. Larger fennel bulbs are often more tender than smaller, skinnier ones. Garnish with fennel flowers and use the fronds like you would dill.  
Choose fennel that is firm with no wilting and cut the fronds off the bulbs before storing. The core on the bottom of the bulb should be tender when pressed. Store the bulbs separate from the fronds in an open bag for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Skirt Steak with Fennel Slaw

Fennel brings a light and bright flavor to a grilled skirt steak. Skirt steak is packed with flavor and is super-tender after marinating. It’s a mainstay at our house. Try adding corn tortillas on the grill for impromptu tacos.

Serves 4

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb. skirt steak

Fennel Slaw
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced celery
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. diced jalapeño pepper
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. table salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Prepare Steak: Preheat grill to 350° to 400°F (medium-high)
heat. In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine the vinegar, olive oil,
garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine. Add steak to
the bag, seal bag, and marinate 30 minutes. Remove steak from
marinade, discarding marinade.
Grill steak, turning once, 10 minutes for medium-rare. Let
steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Prepare Fennel Slaw: Combine all ingredients. Chill until
ready to serve.
Slice each strip of steak in half to make 2 shorter strips. Slice
down the long side (across the grain) of each strip to create
1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with slaw.

All photos by Iain Bagwell from The Southern Vegetable Book by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor House, 2016).
Copyright 2016 Rebecca Lang. All rights reserved. 
Please visit for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Best Thanksgiving Recipes Ever

Bacon-Covered Roasted Turkey

This recipe gives you triple insurance against the dreaded dry bird: You brine the turkey, rub butter under and over its skin, and lay bacon on top. Choose a fresh turkey—and read the label to make sure it hasn’t been injected with a saline or flavor solution—to ensure a juicy and perfectly seasoned holiday centerpiece.

2 cups medium-flake kosher salt 
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1 (12-lb.) whole fresh turkey
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Kitchen string
6 bacon slices (not thick cut)
Garnishes: roasted carrots, fresh bay leaves

Combine first 4 ingredients and 2 qt. water in a saucepan, and cook over
medium heat 5 minutes or until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat.
Divide liquid between 2 large (10- to 12-cup) bowls; add 4 cups ice cubes to
each bowl and enough cold water to make 10 cups of brine in each bowl. Stir
until ice melts and both mixtures are completely cool (about 5 minutes).
Remove giblets and neck from turkey, and reserve for another use, if
desired. Place turkey in an 18-qt. food-grade plastic container or stockpot.
Pour brine into cavity and over turkey, covering turkey completely. Place in
refrigerator. Cover and chill 24 hours, turning turkey once halfway through.
Combine butter and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove turkey from brine, discarding brine. Rinse
turkey well, including cavity.
Starting at neck, carefully loosen and lift skin from breast and drumsticks
using your fingers. (Do not totally detach skin.) Rub 3⁄4 cup butter mixture
under skin; carefully replace skin. Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck
wing tips under. Place turkey, breast side up, on a lightly greased rack in a
roasting pan; rub remaining butter mixture over skin.
Roast turkey at 350° for 1 hour and 45 minutes, basting with pan juices
every 20 minutes during last 45 minutes of cooking. Remove from oven, and
lay bacon slices, crosswise, over breast and drumsticks.
Return turkey to oven; roast 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 170°, basting every 15 minutes.
Let stand 30 minutes before carving. Garnish, if desired.

Makes: 8 servings 
Hands-on Time: 50 min. Total Time: 4 hr., plus 1 day for brining

All Things Sweet Potato Casserole

When I was growing up, the sweet potato casserole landed on the table right beside less kid-friendly foods like Brussels sprouts and green beans. I always thought someone had forgotten that it wasn’t time for dessert. I never spoke up to correct the “mistake.” I simply devoured as many helpings as I could fit on my plate.

4 1/2 cups mashed baked sweet potatoes (about 4 lb. whole)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided
11/2 cups crushed gingersnaps (30 cookies)
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine potatoes, eggs, next 5 ingredients, and 1/2 cup melted butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Stir remaining 1/4 cup melted butter into crushed gingersnaps. Top potato mixture with marshmallows and the gingersnap mixture in alternating crosswise rows.
Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

Makes: 12 servings 
Hands-on Time: 20 min. Total Time: 1 hr., 33 min.

Note: To bake sweet potatoes, place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° until
tender, about 45 minutes for small potatoes, 1 hour for medium potatoes, or
1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes for large potatoes.

Layered Carrot Cake

Pineapple and freshly grated carrot sing of spring sweetness. Nothing is
sacrificed in this lightened-up cream cheese frosting; it’s just as decadent
as you always remembered.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2tsp. table salt
1 1/2 (8-oz.) cans crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups grated carrots
Vegetable cooking spray

1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tsp. fat-free milk (optional)

Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pineapple and next 4 ingredients; add pineapple mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in carrots. Pour batter into 2 greased (with cooking spray) and floured (8-inch) round cake pans.
Bake at 350°F for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to a wire rack; cool completely (about 1 hour). 
Prepare Frosting: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. (Do not overbeat.) If desired, beat in up to 4 teaspoons milk to desired consistency. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 2/3 cup frosting, and top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

Makes: 16 servings
Hands-on Time: 30 min. Total Time: 2 hr.

Copyright (c) 2106 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. Recipes from Around the Southern Table (Oxmoor House, 2012) by Rebecca Lang and The Southern Vegetable Book (Oxmoor House, 2016) by Rebecca Lang. Photo credits to Jennifer Davick and Iain Bagwell.