La Belle Cuisine

LaBelle CuisineIt seems like every day and everywhere, whatever we do, many conversations and commercials bombard us with the topic of losing weight and diets. But every now and then, a little comfort food can be a beautiful thing! La Belle Cuisine – Recipes to Sing About by Patti LaBelle with Laura B. Randolph  is just that! A cookbook with recipes that you can sink your teeth into.

Not all the recipes in La Belle Cuisine  are her own. They are the recipes from her grandmother who passed it down to her father, as well as from her mother and sisters . She shares the “authentic down-home, Southern, country cooking [which] is a generation-to-generation pass-it-down gift.” Ms. LaBelle said that she often fantasized about being a “celebrated singer and a celebrated chef,” and she lives out that dream because she travels with her pots and pans while on tour…she never leaves home without them.

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • When Grandmother Temple was in the kitchen cooking, she wasn’t just making her family’s meals, she was making their memories.”
  • “People gather in the kitchen not just to put food in their mouth, but to put joy in their spirit. To feed their hunger for connection, as well as refection.”

The greatest gift you can give a person is you. Do you have a favorite dish that your mother, father or someone else makes that you just absolutely love eating? If you read our book review on the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. “quality time” is one of the love languages. Ask that person if they wouldn’t mind teaching you how to make that dish…quality time is about the connection, you don’t just want the recipe. Let us know how your dish turned out.

Everybody has a type of dish that they are partial to. Some like desserts and breads, others salads, soups and sandwiches. Then there are the magnificent meat dishes, fabulous fixin’s (side dishes) and scrumptious seafood. We have reprinted a three of our favorites from the Let’s BOND over Books taste test kitchen.

Down-Home Hush Puppies(makes about 20):

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups white or yellow cornmeal (white cornmeal will give it a slightly sweeter flavor)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground hot red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and red pepper. In a small bowl, beat the milk and eggs. Add to the dry ingredients with the onion. Stir just until combined.

In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, add enough oil to come halfway up the sides. heat over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking (365 degrees).

Using 1 TBSP batter for each hush puppy, carefully drop the batter into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Wicked Peach Cobbler (serves 4-6):

  • Basic pie crust for double-crust pie
  • 3 lbs medium *peaches (peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch slices)
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for the top of the crust
  • 4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the peaches, cornstarch, sugar. lemon juice, and cinnamon. Fold in the butter. Spoon half of the peach mixture into the prepared dish.

On a lightly floured surface work surface, roll out the smaller disk of dough into an 8-inch square about 1/8 inch thick (trimming the dough as needed). Place over the peaches in the baking dish. Top with the remaining peaches. Roll out the larger disk of dough into an 11-inch square about 1/8 inch thick (trimming as needed). Fit over the top of the baking dish, letting the dough hang down the sides of the dish. Pinch the dough firmly onto the top edge of the dish. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any of the bubbling juices.

Bake until the fruit juices are bubbling and the top is golden brown (about 40 minutes). Sprinkle the top of the dough with cinnamon. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

*You can substitute 6 cups of blueberries or blackberries, or peeled and sliced nectarines, apples or pears. Frozen fruit is fine, too.

Let’s BOND over Books rates LaBelle CuisineRecipes to Sing About  as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs).

Permission granted through Random House Publishing.

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