By Rekaya Gibson
According to the Oprah Winfrey Show, Chef Delilah Winder won the title for cooking “America’s Best Macaroni and Cheese” in 2003. She shares this recipe along with more than 100 others in her cookbook, “Delilah’s Everyday Soul: Southern Cooking with Style.” At first glance, the photos and text seem intimidating, but readers will soon realize that they complement each recipe—defining the woman behind the apron.
Chef Winder adds elegance and flair to her dishes and table settings the way her mom and grandmothers taught her. It, too, will inspire the inner chef. In addition, the idea that no special occasion is required to spoon up fabulous food will excite those who love to eat. This describes Chef Winder perfectly. She has a serious love affair with food. She started young while visiting Richmond, Virginia and King Queen County for the summers. Between her mother and her grandmothers’ daily spreads, she learned to incorporate love and tradition into her cooking.
She suggests getting ready by equipping the kitchen with the “Essentials of Soulful Southern Cooking.” Chef Winder mentions items such as oils, cookware, and tableware. It highlights everything needed to start “Cooking for Friends.” This titled chapter will motivate the novice host to create a spread that is “to die for.” Guests will enjoy the Sweet Potato Cheesecake (p. 63). It combines two favorites—sweet potato and cream cheese. The nutty graham cracker crust adds a nice touch to the delicate cheese. The sweet potato resembles the pie, only fluffier. The test kitchen omitted the sour cream topping in fear of a bitter taste; however, no love was lost. It still pleased the palate of those visiting for the evening. Make Jerk Shrimp and Grits (p. 71) for the main course, and visitors will linger around the table.
The “Bountiful Seasons” gears everyone up for the winter with Braised Oxtails (p. 100) and Braised Beef Short Ribs (p. 102). For springtime, she satisfies the seafood lover with Fried Soft-Shell Crabs (p. 111). Even though it can get hot in the summer, she still serves up Summer Cornbread with Strawberry Butter (p. 130) or Barbecued Beef Briskets (p. 144). Life gets better in the fall with a large helping of Dirty Rice (p. 163).
Chef Winder dedicates “Catherine’s Table” to her paternal grandmother, Catherine Howard. This chapter has traditional southern favorites such as Fried Chicken (p. 176), Buttermilk Biscuits (p. 179), and Pound Cake (p. 192). Don’t forget to make the Grape Jam (p. 190) that she ate at every meal. Then, she graces the audience with something new—Pineapple Sherbet (p. 187) and Peach Wine (p. 195).
“Food from the Country,” would not be the same without Peach Cobbler (p. 222) and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (p. 223). Of course, most of the ingredients come straight from the backyard. Chef Winder’s recipes are flexible enough to allow for canned ingredients, but she promotes seasonal fresh produce.
As an added bonus, check out “Fanciful Celebrations.” It displays menus and recipes from a variety of events that Chef Winder has catered. Some choices include the Bluezette’s Buffalo Wings (p. 263) and Hot Rolls (p. 272).
This cookbook offers simple recipes while preserving the keepsake tradition and grace of the South. Share the experience with someone—bring out the “Ah, Ha! Macaroni-and-Cheese” moment in the kitchen by getting Delilah’s Everyday Soul: Southern Cooking with Style.” Bon Appétit!