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With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.
Throughout the Sweet Magnolias booksten of them to datefood plays an important role. Southern food. Grits and gravy. Fried chicken. Meat loaf. Red velvet cake. Peach cobbler. Bread pudding. Oh, my!
The talk of food is particularly prominent in A Slice of Heaven, Dana Sue's story centered around Sullivan'sher regional success story, a restaurant known for putting a new spin on traditional Southern dishes. But foodand drinkalso come into play at the infamous margarita nights held by the group of old friends who call themselves the Sweet Magnolias, at the cafe in The Corner Spa where less caloric offerings are available and in the many backyard get-togethers of the Sweet Magnolias and their families. These Southern gals are, you seelike the friends you have in your community or neighborhoodalways ready to share a meal and have some fun.
Since the Sweet Magnolias series began, many of you have asked about recipes for some of the dishes mentioned. Here they are, along with many, many more created by Teddi Wohlford, who (like Dana Sue) has put a new spin on many traditional Southern dishes and kicked 'em up a notch. I have worked my way through these incredible recipes and developed a whole new relationship with my treadmill along the way. But trust me, it's been worth it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Southern Smothered Corn Chowder
2 medium peeled, diced red-skinned potatoes
2 (20-ounce) packages frozen creamed white corn, thawed
3 cups water
4 cups half-and-half
6 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup finely diced onion
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring potato and 3 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven, reduce heat, and cook until potato is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside. (Do not drain.)
2. Cook bacon in a small Dutch oven or large saucepan until crisp. Using a slotted utensil, remove bacon from pan, and reserve drippings in pan.
3. Saute onions in drippings until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
4. Add potatoes and their cooking water to the soup. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 5-10 minutes.
5. Ladle into bowls, garnishing each with the cooked bacon.
Carolina Red Rice
4 diced, thick slices pepper-encrusted bacon
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including juice
1 diced, large onion
2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
2 cups converted rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp.
2. Add onion to skillet and saute until transparent.
3. Add rice and stir to coat the grains. Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Why converted rice? Converted rice has been parboiled. When you cook with it, all the grains stay separate and never get mushy. Don't make the mistake of buying instant rice.
Backyard Low-Country Seafood Boil
3 tablespoons shrimp and crab boil (such as OLD BAY Seasoning)
2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 2" pieces
3 tablespoons salt
12 ears freshly shucked corn, broken into 3-4" pieces
1/2 gallons water
4 pounds fresh shrimp
2 pounds quartered medium red potatoes
Note: Do not wait for the liquid to come to a boil when timing the sausage, corn and shrimp.
1. In a large stockpot, add shrimp boil and salt to water. Bring to a boil.
2. Add potatoes. Return to boil, and cook 10 minutes.
3. Add sausage, and cook 5 minutes.
4. Add corn, and cook 5 minutes.
5. Stir in shrimp, and cook 3 minutes. Drain immediately.
Traditionally, this one-dish meal is dumped onto a newspaper-lined table set with paper plates and lots of paper towels. Serve with butter and loaves of warm, crunchy French bread.