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About Virginia Willis
Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Morgan Freeman, and Aretha Franklin with her cooking -- but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen.
Virginia is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
She is author of the popular column “Cooking with Virginia” for Southern Kitchen and Editor at Large for Southern Living. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her traveling exploits at www.virginiawillis.com.
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“I have never felt as good in my adult life, and that's the truth. I created this little book to share with you my everyday tricks, tips, and techniques. I firmly believe you can eat good, delicious, wholesome food -- and still indulge in decadent dishes on occasion. It’s possible to be healthy and strong, lose weight, and not drive yourself crazy with long lists of foods you cannot have."
Here you will find delicious and doable, seasonal, recipes for home cooks along with tips, techniques, and stories. Each recipe features mouth-watering food photography, easy-to-follow instructions, and helpful hints from Southern chef, Food Network Kitchen Instructor, and James Beard award-winning cookbook author Virginia Willis.
The reader feels that Virginia is by their side in the kitchen, as she walks the reader through surefire recipes that work every time. The recipes are rigorously tested and are essential, foolproof dishes you actually want to make and eat!
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
In Secrets of the Southern Table, award-winning chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis takes you on a tour of today’s South—a region rich in history and cultural diversity. With her signature charm and wit, Virginia shares many well-known Southern recipes like Pimento Cheese Tomato Herb Pie and “Cathead” Biscuits, but also some surprising revelations drawn from the area’s many global influences, like Catfish Tacos with Avocado Crema, Mississippi-Style Char Siu Pork Tenderloin, and Greek Okra and Tomatoes. In addition to the recipes, Virginia profiles some of the diverse chefs, farmers, and other culinary influencers who are shaping contemporary Southern cuisine. Together, these stories and the delicious recipes that accompany them celebrate the rich and ever-evolving heritage of Southern cooking.
“Arepas inspired by a Venezuelan stand in an Atlanta market where Martin Luther King Jr.’s family shopped; lemon-herb potatoes born of the Greek fishing village of Tarpon Springs, Florida: to hell with that old moonlight and corn pone schtick. Virginia Willis showcases a contemporary South that is dizzily and honestly diverse.”—John T. Edge, author, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South
“An ode to a regional cuisine rich in culture and soul . . . a culinary quilt filled with reverence for the past, marvel of the present, and excitement for the future of Southern foodways.”—Sandra A. Gutierrez, award-winning author of The New Southern-Latino Table
Topping eight feet, with gorgeous butter-yellow flowers that ripen into the plant's signature seed-filled pods, okra has a long association with foodways in the American South. But as Willis shows, okra is also an important ingredient in cuisines across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Featuring gardening tips, a discussion of heirloom varieties, and expert cooking directions (including a list of "top ten slime-busting tips"), Okra brilliantly showcases fifty delectable recipes: twenty-six southern dishes, ranging from Southern-Style Fried Okra to Gulf Coast Seafood Gumbo, and twenty-four authentic global dishes, from Moroccan Lamb and Okra Tagine with Preserved Lemons to Cuban Pork with Yellow Rice, Okra, and Annatto Oil.
Two divergent influences--Southern cooking and French cuisine--come together in Bon Appétit, Y'all, a modern Southern chef's passionate and utterly appealing homage to her culinary roots.
Espousing a simple-is-best philosophy, classically trained French chef and daughter and granddaughter of consummate Southern cooks, Virginia Willis uses the finest ingredients, concentrates on sound French technique, and lets the food shine in a style she calls "refined Southern cuisine." More than 200 approachable and delicious recipes are arranged by chapter into starters and nibbles; salads and slaws; eggs and dairy; meat, fowl, and fish main dishes; sides; biscuits and breads; soups and stews; desserts; and sauces and preserves.
Collected here are stylishly updated Southern and French classics (New Southern Chicken and Dumplings, Boeuf Bourgignonne), rib-sticking, old-timey favorites (Meme's Fried Okra, Angel Biscuits), and perfectly executed comfort food (Mama's Apple Pie, Fried Catfish Fingers with Country Rémoulade). Nearly 100 photographs bring to life both Virginia's food and the bounty of her native Georgia.
You'll also find a wealth of tips and techniques from a skilled and innovative teacher, and the stories of a Southern girl steeped to her core in the food, kitchen lore, and unconditional hospitality of her culinary forebears on both sides of the Atlantic. Bon Appétit, Y'all is Virginia's way of saying, "Welcome to my Southern kitchen. Pull up a chair." Once you have tasted her food, you'll want to stay a good long while.