If you've read the book, you know good ole Southern cookin' is central to the story. My mouth was watering thinking about the fried chicken they ate. I know that fried chicken. It's cooked in Crisco and it's extra crispy which locks in the juiciness of the meat. You need extra napkins—or a towel—to catch the juice as it runs down your chin. I know that smell of frying chicken. When you're hungry (or not), I'm not sure there is anything that smells better. I can close my eyes now and be in my grandmother's kitchen watching her deft hands commanding those chicken pieces in the skillet like a general while I wait for them to cool down enough to eat.
While I love fried chicken, it's not something you just whip up. It's rather involved and takes some practice before you perfect it. Clearly my grandmother has had a lot of practice. In fact, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I've never even made fried chicken before! I'm happy just eating my mom's or my grandmother's. It's like if someone sews you beautiful clothing, like my grandmother also did, why bother to learn to sew yourself? That was my rationale anyway, which I realize now is quite short-sighted. So I'm planning to master fried chicken (or at least start trying) this year. It was one of my 2011 cooking resolutions, which may seem a bit off the New Year Resolution track of eating healthier, but it's not an every day dish so I'm not going to feel too guilty about it. So stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, though, let me share with you this Easy A (as in appetizer) recipe that is perfect for summer and has nothing fried in it! I made it as an appetizer while in Palm Springs this summer for a girl's weekend. It was a wonderful treat and easy to polish off poolside with a an adult beverage in hand, which are both required when it's 110 degrees.
I love cherries. They seem like such a quintessential summertime fruit. I can eat them by the bowl full. They always remind me of my dad too. The Colonel, as he's known, has two tricks. One is "The Quarter Trick." I will spare you the description, but if you've ever met him, there's a 99.999999% chance he's done The Quarter Trick for you.
The second trick, which I haven't seen him do in a while but remember it fondly from my childhood, is he could take the cherry stem in his mouth and somehow tie it into a knot using his teeth and tongue. As a 5 year old, that was fascinating stuff! Anyway, if you've got any Easy A cherry recipes, please send my way while summer is still here! This year is flying by. . . .
Prosciutto and Cherry Crostini
Adapted from Cooking Light
Note: I made this as a crostini but you can easily make it into a sandwich if you wanted a larger serving. It would also hold up well for a picnic. You can certainly change out the meat (salami, turkey, etc.) and the fruit (plums, peaches, cherries). I kind of don't think you can mess it up.
1/4 cup fig preserves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
5 oz soft goat cheese
baguette, sliced on the diagonal
2 cups arugula
2 cups cherries, pitted and sliced
5 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto
Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Spread cheese evenly over bread slices; divide arugula, cherries, and prosciutto evenly over bread. Drizzle with fig preserve mixture. And plan to make another batch 'cuz these go fast.