Title: Southern Plate
Author: Christy Jordan
272 pages; Hardcover $27.50 US
Publisher: William Morrow/Harper Collins, NY NY 2010
Reviewed by, Precia Cooper, November 2010
Christy Jordan’s “Southern Plate: Classic
Comfort Food that Makes Everyone Feel Like Family” is a
heartfelt compilation of some of her most near and dear family
recipes. Her recipes are comfort foods, traditionally cooked in
southern homes. Coming from a home rooted in southern cooking
myself, I quickly grew fond of Christy’s style of cooking and
communication. Her tender childhood anecdotes, and warmth jumped
right off the pages; I felt like I had known her for years
through these recipes.
The recipe I chose to execute was “Mama Reed’s tea cakes” (p.216). To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this recipe without prior experience with tea cakes or picture from the author. I was also a bit nervous about the end result given that Christy prefaced the recipe by saying “if you’ve never had a southern tea cake, they are rather difficult to describe.” Despite my apprehension, executing the recipe was just as simple as Christy described and the steps were clearly mapped out.
The final product was a soft, pleasantly un-sweet hybrid between a cake and sugar cookie. Although, I found them to be a bit plain and I believe they fall flat without frosting. However, they are a great treat and can be easily produced; the recipe could probably be memorized. I would definitely recommend these tea cakes to others and will make them again.
mama reed's tea cakes
If you've never had a Southern tea cake, they are rather difficult to describe. I can assure you, though, despite appearances, it is nothing like a cookie. This tender little cake is soft and pillowy, with just a touch of sweetness. A very simple and comforting flavor, they are generally only iced for company or special occasions, at other times getting only a light sprinkling of sugar as they come out of the oven.
This recipe is from my great-grandmother Mama Reed. I never got to know her, but my mother can't help but smile every time she speaks her name.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix again. Add the flour and vanilla and mix well. Roll thin on a floured board and cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Sprinkle with sugar while still warm or ice with simple icing (recipe follows), then cool.
In a large bowl, cut the butter into the confectioners' sugar. Add the milk and stir until any lumps are gone. Add the vanilla and food coloring, and stir until combined. Spoon onto cookies or tea cakes and spread with the back of a spoon. Top with sprinkles while still wet, if desired. Let dry before stacking and storing.
approximately 3 dozen tea cakes