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Classic Pimento Cheese, Oats & Bacon Meatloaf and a Cookbook Review of "Quick-Fix Southern" by Rebecca Lang

Posted Feb 17 2011 5:00am
I confess that I don't know much about Southern cooking or do much any Southern cooking at home so when a review copy of " Quick-Fix Southern: Homemade Hospitality in 30 Minutes or Less " by Rebecca Lang showed up at my door my first instinct was to put it aside and choose another volume from the large stack of cookbooks waiting to be reviewed. Then those biscuits on the cover slowly drew me in, as well as the promise of quick and easy recipes instead of the time-consuming cooking normally associated with recipes from the South.

Author Rebecca Lang is a contributing editor for Southern Living magazine and, a long-time food writer, and accomplished cooking instructor who credits her mother and grandmothers with her appreciation for Southern food. This small (7 1/2' x 9", 178 pages) paperback packs in 115 recipes divided into 10 different themes--Rise and Shine, Sipping on the Screened Porch, Appetizers and Snacks, Picnics and Packables, Salads, Soups & Sandwiches, Tailgates and Gatherings, Busy Weeknight Suppers, Comforting Casseroles, Girls Night In, and Southern Sweets--it's enough to make a girl swoon. ;-) The book also includes a section on The Basics of Cooking Quick in the South, sources for key Southern ingredients, and has lots of cooking tips and bits of Southern history sprinkled in for flavor.

With many delicious dishes to choose from like Three-Cheese Grits, Lime and Mint Juleps, Ribeyes with Bourbon Pecan Butter, Mama's Baked Beans, Chicken Boudine, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Double Chocolate Scoop Pie, it was hard to pick a couple of recipes to "road test." I knew for sure that I needed to try some pimento cheese since I have heard so much about this Southern staple. There were two to choose from in the book--White Pimento Cheese and Classic Pimento Cheese. Since this would be the first pimento cheese I have tried I decided I should start with the classic.

Lang says, "Every self-respecting Southern cook has a pimento cheese recipe. From slathering it on a sandwich to serving it as a dip or a stuffing for celery, no Yankee can get far down South without falling in love with this signature combination of simple ingredients. The one rule is to remember is to always grate your own cheese. Preshredded cheese simply will not do. This classic version is best served between two slices of soft white bread."

Classic Pimento Cheese
"Quick Fix Southern" by Rebecca Lang
(Makes 1 3/4 Cups)

1 (10 oz) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (2 oz) jar diced pimentos, drained
2 Tbsp finely diced white onion
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Grate the Cheddar cheese using the large holes of a box grater. Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, onion and Worcestershire sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Notes/Results: So the South may have something here--the first few bites I took, I thought it was pretty good but then after it sat overnight I found this interesting tangy combination of flavors kind of addicting. Not something I would normally make or think I would enjoy (cheese, mayo & pimentos?), I liked it more than I wanted to. It was an easy little appetizer to toss together and something I would make again for a Southern themed party.

The second recipe I tried was Oats and Bacon Meatloaf--yes, I know meatloaf is not really the most classic Southern dish out there, but the heart wants what the heart wants and mine really, really wanted a meatloaf sandwich. ;-)

This is a relatively basic meatloaf with old-fashioned rolled oats to bind it, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to season, and a little bacon cooked on top. (Never a bad thing in my book!) It resulted in a moist, meaty loaf that held together well, was good warm and even better cold in a sandwich--my favorite way to enjoy meatloaf.

Speaking of enjoying a meatloaf sandwich--I may have created my new favorite Southern dish by making a sandwich with the meatloaf and a layer of pimento cheese. A very flavorful combination--total yum in fact. Although Lang recommends the pimento cheese on soft white bread, I felt my combination needed a little more substance and my body needed more fiber, so I used a whole grain bread instead. This made for a delicious lunch--I guess I should have whipped up some Classic Sweet Tea to enjoy with it.

Overall "Quick-Fix Southern" is an enjoyable cookbook with a good variety of fast and easy, delectable Southern recipes and clear, simple to follow instructions that make it appropriate for all levels of cooks. It would be a good book for cooks and foodies wanting some delicious Southern charm but without putting forth a lot of fuss, time and effort. I tagged several additional recipes to make so I will pull this book off of the shelf again.

Obligatory Disclosure Statement: I was sent "Quick-Fix Southern" by the publisher free but was not compensated for my review and of course as always my thoughts, cooking experiences with the book and opinions are entirely my own.

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