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47: Southern Cooking with Chef Virginia Willis: Healthy Southern foods for your family ... no matter where you live

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Summary

Southern cuisine is having a moment! Whether you were raised in the south or you're simply curious about the food, recipes, and farming culture from this diverse U.S. region, I hope you'll tune in to hear my interview with Georgia-born chef and cookbook author, Virginia Willis. Virginia is the author of the gorgeous new cookbook, Secrets of the Southern Table, and she's here with tips for stocking a southern pantry, nutritious recipes your family will love -- including a sweet potato and pecan bread that's to die for, spatchcock chicken, and the best sweet potato & greens gratin recipe on the planet -- and family stories that shaped her love of southern cooking. What you’ll hear in this episode: Southern cuisine is defined as diverse foods from the 13 states in the south, which has a year-round growing season. Why the always-growing immigrant population of the south means the cuisine is always evolving Traditional Southern food includes healthy superstars like corn, tomatoes, butterbeans, green beans, okra, eggplant, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Okra, is a polarizing vegetable, and the key to culinary success is to lightly cook it. Virginia loves to grill or broil it and pair it with an acid, like tomatoes). Virginia’s culinary path: She grew up with fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden in a family of adventurous cooks who loved a variety of foods. What family dinner looked like for Virginia when she was growing up complete with good manners, politeness, and respect for the food. Virginia’s weeknight Southern family go-to: a one-pot or skillet meal with sauteed greens or veggies with seared boneless chicken thighs sprinkled with Cajun seasoning. Tips for parents: get kids’ hands into the food prep process. (Hint: make taco night more healthy.) Virginia’s book, a celebration of the South, and why she included stories of different farmers and ethnic groups. We are giving away a copy of Secrets of the Southern Table. (Giveaway ends Feb. 27th, 2019.) How Virginia grew up eating “gospel bird” every Sunday. Virginia’s favorite recipe from the book: Spatchcock Sorghum Chicken. Brine it first, then cut out the backbone and open the chicken like a book (this cuts down on cooking time and allows more even cooking). Season with butter, smoked paprika, and sorghum (or honey). Other favorite recipes from the book: Smashed fried okra with spicy yogurt dipping sauce Spiced sweet potato and pecan breakfast bread: it’s made with a large sweet potato, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, pecans, and flax seeds Savory sweet potato and greens gratin, which bakes up rich and creamy, with a panko and Parmesan topping Seared scallops with radish and candied jalapeño Peach upside-down cake (use cake flour for a lighter texture) Virginia’s tips for cooking collard greens, which are higher in nutritional value than kale! Virginia’s work for Martha Stewart as the kitchen director for the TV series. She was in charge of all the food and all the farmers’ market shopping! Coming up next for Virginia is a more internationally-focused book, as she ventures away from strictly Southern cooking. Resources: Virginia's website: https://virginiawillis.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/virginiawillis  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virginiawillis/  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChefVirginiaWillis/  Virginia's cookbooks: https://virginiawillis.com/cookbooks.html  Secrets of the Southern Table on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0544932544/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0  Link to How to Spatchcock a Chicken:  https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/01/the-food-lab-how-to-roast-a-butterflied-spatchcocked-chicken.html  www.superhealthykids.com www.parentsondemand.com

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