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Thursday, Nov 27, 2014
Food & Dining

Villas blends best of Southern cooking

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James Villas is one of my favorite food writers. His books on Southern food are full of traditional ingredients cooked in unique ways to bring out the maximum amount of flavor.

His latest book, “Southern Fried” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $29.99), is another enjoyable read about the great Southern art of frying food to a delicious crisp.

Along with recipes for such items as Catawba Pecan-Crusted Catfish and Fried Deviled Eggs (yes, that’s a thing), Villas has a great recipe for Fried Rosemary Zucchini that I wanted to share. You can even sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese to make them more irresistible.

Orange slice cake found

Two weeks ago, A. Domingo of Tampa wrote to request an orange slice and walnut fruitcake mix made with buttermilk. Mariella James of Hudson was kind enough to e-mail her favorite version of the recipe.

Looking for bread

Marie Pound of Brandon says she had a recipe for homemade bread years ago that called for stone-ground whole wheat flour and a little bit of bran. The recipe called for putting the yeast in warm water, then adding some molasses or honey to the water. The bread was dark in color and had great flavor.

“The best part when you ate this bread, you never seemed to get hungry,” Marie writes. “It really stuck with you. I have looked and looked for a good bread recipe. I would love to find this one again.”

Leftover requests

A. Domingo of Tampa wants to make date and walnut bars. The recipe she wants includes orange juice while cooking the dates for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Beth Mainello of Tampa wants to make the salad dressing that was made tableside at Tio Pepe’s restaurant in Clearwater. She also wants to know what type of lettuce was used.

Susan Stevens wants to make the spaghetti sauce and salad dressing recipes served at the now-closed Gus’ Italian restaurants in Tampa.

Eva Ebert wants the recipe for the mixed greens salad with vinaigrette and grilled chicken she used to enjoy at the now-closed El Pilon Restaurant in South Tampa.

Fried Rosemary Zucchini

From “Southern Fried” by James Villas

3 medium zucchini, trimmed and sliced into §-inch thick rounds

Salt to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup dry bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Lemon wedges

Place the zucchini rounds in a large colander in the sink, sprinkle lightly with salt, tossing, and let stand for 20 minutes to drain. Pat the rounds dry with paper towels and set aside.

Place the flour in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, garlic, rosemary and pepper until well blended. In a third bowl, place the bread crumbs.

In a deep fryer or heavy saucepan, heat about 1 inch of oil to 365 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer and fry the zucchini in batches until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes, turning once with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels, season with extra salt and serve hot or warm with lemon wedges.

Orange Slice Cake

1 cup margarine

2 cups sugar

5 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 8-ounce package chopped dates

1 pound package orange slices cut into small pieces

2 cups chopped pecans

1 4-ounce can coconut

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt (mix flour, soda, salt together and sift)

¾ cup buttermilk

Cream margarine and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix fruit and nuts and coconut with ½ cup flour.

Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with buttermilk. Fold in nut/fruit/coconut mixture. Grease and flour tube pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 2½ hours. (Check at 1½ and 2 hours.) Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to cake plate and pour glaze over cake.

For the glaze:

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1§ cup confection sugar

¾ cup orange juice

Mix together until confection sugar dissolves. Pour over cake making sure to glaze sides of cake.

Wrap cake in foil and let stand in refrigerator for 1 day.

Recipes Lost & Found runs every other Sunday in Baylife. Seeking a recipe? E-mail jhouck@tampatrib.com, or write to Jeff Houck, The Tampa Tribune, P.O. Box 191, Tampa, FL 33601.

For more fun with cooking, watch Jeff chat each week with celebrity chefs and cookbook authors on the “Kitchen Party” video hangout on Google+.

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