Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Day our Skillet Went Cold

Each year on January 27, I re-post my tribute to my grandmother Tom. She will be missed as long as I'm living.

It was on this day, 13 years ago, that our family lost my beloved grandmother Tom. I’ve never written about that day. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve spoken of it with more than a handful of people. There are three days in my life that each and every detail live on so vividly in my mind and this is one of them. I was with her on the exact moment she no longer was on this Earth. It is equally as precious as the minutes when my children were born. 
Tom was healthy her entire life, much more so than any other person I’ve known. She cooked daily until she was 100, never had a problem with arthritis, and often wore Nike running shoes the last few years of her life. Only weeks before her death, she was confined to a hospital bed, but still, uttered not one single complaint. Just like always, she never missed a moment to say, “I love you,” or to hold our hands. 
I have always felt that Tom and I were connected on an even deeper level than that of a grandchild and grandparent. Our pure love of the kitchen bound us like nothing else could. It was her cast iron skillet filled with fried chicken that first taught me how comfort and love could be tasted and shared without saying a word. 
For years, we cooked together, ate together, and talked for countless hours about recipes, cookbooks, and our loves of fat back, Coke in bottles, and Nathalie Dupree. One of her finest days was when Mama brought her to cook with Nathalie and me in the very kitchen she’d seen on television so many times. Simply by sharing a stove, she taught me how imperative the act of cooking can be to a state of real happiness. Being blessed with the gift of sharing the moment when her soul went Home seemed natural and was the ultimate last chapter in our long story together. 
My parents and I were with her all day, talking of everything we could think to say. We tried to fill the empty air with subjects that would keep all of our minds off the fact that her death was eminent. We talked about food, work, family, friends, and memories of days gone by. The nurses kept coming in and out, checking Tom’s pulse and blood pressure, which of course reminded us of why we were all there. 
A family friend, Jane Knowles, came in to visit Tom one last time. She held Tom’s hand, stroked her hair, and sang Holy Ground with a voice that was nothing short of an angel’s. It was during this magnificent song that Tom left us and went on to meet the Lord she so dearly loved. It’s as if she waited for Jane and her hymn to say goodbye to all of us. Recalling these few minutes of witnessing my Tom drift away leaves me short on words and overflowing with tears. 
In memory of Tom and her life so very well lived, I share her fried chicken recipe that has brought me comfort hundreds of times. It is with her skillet that I cook on and never forget.

Tom’s Fried Chicken

1 (3.5 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour 

Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salt and cover with cold water. Soak the chicken for 45 minutes.  
Remove the chicken from the salt water and drain on paper towels. 
Heat the shortening in an 8-inch cast iron skillet or a large deep skillet to about 360 degrees. 
Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Coat each piece completely with flour, shake off the excess and gently place the chicken in the hot shortening.  Fry 10 to 12 minutes per side or until golden brown, about 25 minutes total. Fry chicken in batches to prevent the skillet from becoming crowded.  
Check the temperature of the oil occasionally.  If the oil is too hot, the chicken will be too brown on the outside but not fully cooked through.
Drain fried chicken on a cooling rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. 

Serves 4

Copyright 2012 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved. Visit for more information.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Cookie

Peppermint Wedding Cookies

This recipe tastes like a hybrid of a wedding cookie and a melt-away mint. The
peppermint candy crumbs give a burst of refreshing sweetness with each bite.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
12 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 tsp. salt
10 hard peppermint candies, crushed
12 cup powdered sugar
Parchment paper

1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 12 cup sifted powdered sugar and peppermint extract, beating well. Add flour and salt, beating until blended. Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Place crushed peppermints in a bowl. Place 12 cup
powdered sugar in a second bowl. Shape dough into 20 (114-inch) balls; place 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

3. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until bottoms are golden (tops will be pale). Immediately roll each cookie in crushed peppermints and then in powdered sugar. Generously sprinkle peppermints on top of each cookie, mounding slightly. (Peppermints will stick to cookies as they cool.) Cool completely on wire racks (about 30 minutes).

Makes: 20 cookies

Hands-on Time: 20 min. Total Time: 1 hr., 40 min.

Recipe from Southern Living Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang. Copyright 2012 Oxmoor House

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Celebrating with Southern Living at Dillard's

I'm thrilled to be hitting the road to Celebrate the Season with Southern Living at Dillard's stores across the South. Our schedule is below and we'd love to see you! If you can't make it to one of our live events, go by a Dillard's when you have time to wander and take in the new Southern Living shop inside the store. From tableware, cookware, housewares - it's really like stepping into the pages. Scroll down for just a fraction of what you'll find in the shop. Take a long sheet of paper to start a Christmas list for yourself!

Knoxville, TN at West Town Mall
October 17, 2015 

Jacksonville, FL at Saint Johns Town Center
October 24, 2015

Houston, TX at Baybrook Mall
November 7, 2015

Mobile, AL at Bel Air Mall
November 21, 2015

Photographs used with permission from Southern Living
(c) 2015 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fried Chicken On Sale Today!

May 29, 6:30 to 7:30 pm
June 16, 6 to 8 pm


 Brazilian Fried Chicken

Supposedly the first ruler of Brazil often requested this peasant fried chicken dish, frango á passarinho, instead of the royal dishes he was usually offered. Walk into a bar in Brazil for happy hour and the menu will likely include a version of frango á passarinho, still popular today.

It is time-consuming to cut a whole chicken into 20 pieces without a cleaver. If you don’t have one, heavy-duty kitchen shears will do the job as well. The cuts can be random but some will be straight through the bones. Just make sure the pieces are all about the same size.

Serves 4 to 6

6 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 chicken (about 3 pounds, 8 ounces), cut into 16 to 20 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil, for frying

To make the marinade, place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until minced. Add the lemon juice, onion, parsley, wine, olive oil, salt, and pepper and process until finely chopped. Transfer the marinade to a large mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, oregano, and baking powder. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and leave it in the marinade. Add the flour mixture and stir to coat the chicken evenly. Discard any marinade remaining in the bowl.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat to 365˚F. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Working in batches, carefully place 6 to 8 pieces of chicken in the oil. Fry, turning often, for 8 minutes, or until brown and juices run clear. Maintain a frying temperature of 340˚F to 350˚F. Drain the chicken on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

After all the meat is fried, turn off the heat. Line a plate with a paper towel. Place the sliced garlic in a metal strainer and slowly lower into the hot oil to fry for 10 to 15 seconds or until lightly browned. Quickly remove the strainer from the oil and drain garlic on the prepared plate.

Serve the chicken sprinkled with garlic and additional chopped parsley.

(c) 2015 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC
Recipe and photos from Fried Chicken (Ten Speed Press, May 2015) by Rebecca Lang. Photos by John Lee. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ten-Layer Lemon Cheese Cake

Many Southerners remember this cake from childhood, but it’s rarely found on tables today. There is no cheese in the recipe and it’s not even distantly related to a cheesecake. This heirloom is simply white cake iced with lemon curd. Published lemon cheese recipes are scarce in all formats. Even an online search turns up more New York style cheesecakes than it does this Southern classic. It’s properly pronounced with no space or breath between lemon and cheese.
I’d love to hear about any of your family connections to a Lemon Cheese Cake or memories of this famous cake. I can talk good cakes all day! If you had it as part of a special occasion in the past, you’ll remember it.

Ten-Layer Lemon Cheese Cake

Vegetable cooking spray
4 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
Lemon Curd

Preheat oven to 350˚. Coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. If you have more cake pans of the same size, prepare them as well. More pans makes little layers easier.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a second medium bowl.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, and beat at medium speed 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Increase speed to medium, and beat 1 minute. Pour 3/4 cup batter in each prepared pan.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until centers of cakes spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. Remove from pans to wire racks while cake layer is still very warm; cool completely. Respray pans, pour another 3/4 cup batter in each, repeat baking until all layers are complete.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd to edges (about 3 tablespoons per layer). Repeat procedure with remaining cake layers and curd. Spread remaining curd on top and sides of cake. The lemon curd is translucent so you will see the layers of the cake.

Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
12 large egg yolks, beaten

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in sugar and next 2 ingredients. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the warm butter mixture into the egg yolks. Whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, whisk egg yolks into the butter mixture in the saucepan. Place over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until 170˚ is reached, about 10 minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl placed over an ice water bath. Whisk to cool curd to room temperature. This prevents the yolks from curdling while cooling. Whisk well if curd develops a layer on top while sitting.

Copyright 2015 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.