Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company
Virginia Willis’s legion of fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home Southern feel and reimagining homey Southern favorites en Française. In Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Virginia builds on her signature style, offering 150 soul-satisfying recipes and accompanying each with a new preparation technique, fresh presentation style, or creative recipe variation that transforms an already wonderful dish into an all-out show-stopper. In Virginia’s hands, a cozy Kale Omelet becomes sophisticated brunch fare when it’s baked in a sourdough boule; rich Gruyere Flans elevate a rustic red wine-infused Roasted Tomato Soup; and Spiced Skirt Steak with Shallot Marmalade is enhanced, with just a few simple changes, into a gorgeous roulade. Peach Dijon-Crusted Pork Tenderloin goes from elegant continental entree to the pride of Dixie when it’s cradled between Chive Cornmeal Griddle Cakes, and a country dessert like Sweet Biscuits with Stewed Blackberries is kicked up a notch when served topped with Blackberry Fool.
Throughout Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Virginia paints a vivid portrait of growing up in Louisiana and Georgia, spinning tales of close family and friends and unforgettable food interwoven with vignettes from her years living in and visiting France, drawing you in with vibrant accounts of cooking and eating at La Varenne in Burgundy. Whether you choose the Basic or the Brilliant approach, this bounty of Southern flavors dressed up with time-honored French techniques delivers meals that will keep you and your kin coming back for more.
A classically trained French chef and the daughter and granddaughter of consummate Southern cooks, Virginia Willis is the author of Bon Appetit, Y’all, which was nominated for the IACP Best American Cookbook award. She has been featured in Cooking with Paula Deen, House Beautiful, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and San Francisco Chronicle, and has appeared on Martha Stewart Living and Paula Deen’s Best Dishes.
I have little firsthand knowledge of French food (two very short trips to Paris and one to the south of France don’t count), but I do know Southern food, having come of age in Louisiana. The only problem with getting to know food in the South is that you will continue to expect the same quality for “everyday” food — and will most often be disappointed — for the rest of your life. The solution is to learn to cook this way yourself. Virginia Willis’s Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, is the perfect first step: you likely won’t need to take many more. Whether you cook the elegantly simple Sweet Potato Grits or go with the transformed souffle-like Sweet Potato Spoonbread, the result will be incomparably delicious. Virginia covers every category of recipe and offers tips throughout (how to check a steak for doneness and how to make an emulsion, whether to truss a bird, and why you may want to keep those leftover bones for yourself instead of throwing them to the “yard dogs”). A wonderful bonus in this cookbook is that she provides two-for-one–“basic or brilliant”–versions of every dish. AND I have permission to take shortcuts (e.g., use bagged greens, as in the featured recipe, even though I agree with “Mama” about the stems).
Ready to try one of these refined southern recipes?
We suggest that you start with this recipe for a kale omelet.
There is no way I can gush enough about this cookbook (my pick for the best of 2011), so instead I’m ordering a copy to give away to one lucky Cooks&Books&Recipes reader (see below, following the featured recipe).
Author’s website: http://www.virginiawillis.com
Basic to Brilliant, Y’all Giveaway
Because we’re big fans of this cookbook and want to spread some Southern hospitality, we’re sending one Cooks&Books&Recipes contest participant a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company–free!
To enter the contest:
1. Simply comment here, saying that you want to win a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y’all.
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[Contest will close on Wednesday, January 25, at midnight PST. The winners will be chosen via List Randomizer (www.random.org) and announced the following week. The contest is open only to those with U.S. mailing addresses. Cooks&Books&Recipes will send the cookbook to the winner.]
And the winner, as identified by Random.org, is Jason, who won with his comment below. Thanks to everyone for entering!