This cookbook delivers on what the title promises – a big dose of Southern comfort, in both the dishes and in the personal story of the chef authors.
Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing signed copies of their new cookbook at Pepper Place Farmer’s Market in Birmingham on Saturday, October 13th. Although these star New Orleans chefs of MiLa Restaurant have cooked in some of the finest restaurants in New York City and San Francisco, they retained a love of the South and the foods of the region they call home.
Their cooking philosophy, Slade explained, is to take what they’ve learned from other chefs and cuisines and blend those lessons and flavors with their Southern background. The result is unique dishes that show the refined technique of their culinary training but are also familiar. Among 99 others, the book contains the recipe for a MiLa staple, Sweet Tea-Roasted Duck, that’s reminiscent of the Chinese Peking duck the Rushings dined on in Chinatown, but with a Southern twist.
“Southern Comfort” is full of photos and stories from the chefs’ childhood backgrounds, to how they met and later married, to the opening of MiLa in New Orleans. Slade says they tried working with various authors on writing the book, but it was hard to find someone who could capture their personal story with the right voice. So they wrote the book themselves.
When asked about her favorite recipe in the book, Allison mentioned the Red Snapper with Satsuma Chili Sauce, an elegant dish that’s simple enough for a home cook. Taking Slade’s advice, I bought some fresh collard greens from the market to try out the Fregola with Collard Greens and Lemons, another dish that transforms a humble Southern staple into a chic and impressive meal.
Slade said that during the long months of writing and testing recipes it was hard to guess how the finished book would be received. There’s no doubt in my mind that Southerners will embrace Allison and Slade and their cookbook as a sincere and personal reflection on life and food in the region we call home.