‘Savor the South’ with recipes from NC cookbook authors

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On today's Recipe Wednesday, we feature two North Carolina cookbook authors who are part of the "Savor the South" series.

Andrea Weigl, author of "Pickles and Preserves," and Debbie Moose, author of "Buttermilk" will share some southern secrets with FOX8's Shannon Smith at Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem.

Both books are part of the UNC Press "Savor the South" series.

Here are some of the featured recipes:

Refrigerator Sweet Potato Butter

This recipe was shared by Sue Langdon, president of the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission. North Carolina produces almost 50 percent of the country’s sweet potato crop -- that’s 960 million pounds of sweet potatoes a year on 64,000 acres, mainly in eastern North Carolina.

Makes 3 half-pints

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups orange juice
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork or a knife several times. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about an hour, until easily pierced with a knife. Let cool until you can use your fingers to peel off the skin.

Purée the sweet potatoes in a food processor until smooth. You want to end up with 2 cups of puréed sweet potatoes.

Combine the sweet potatoes, orange juice, corn syrup, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon in a large stainless-steel stockpot or enamel Dutch oven. Mix well. Cook uncovered, over low heat, until thick and smooth, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Ladle the sweet potato butter into hot, sterilized jars or clean freezer jam containers. You can freeze this butter or keep it in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Joe’s Blue Cheese Dressing
From “Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook” by Debbie Moose, published by the University of North Carolina Press

1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon (About 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic-flavored cooking creme (see Note)
8 ounces crumbled blue cheese, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cooking creme and half of the blue cheese in a blender. Add a generous grinding of pepper. Puree until smooth, Remove the mixture from the blender and stir in the remaining blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Makes about 2 cups

Note: If the cooking creme is not available, substitute an equal amount of unflavored Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder (do not use garlic salt).

Jan’s Buttermilk Pound Cake
From “Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook” by Debbie Moose
Published by the University of North Carolina Press

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Grated lemon or lime zest

Prepare a 10-inch tube pan by coating the inner surface with nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil and dusting it with flour. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until creamy and pale, about 5 minutes. Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk gently to break the yolks. Add the eggs to the butter mixture in two additions, beating well after each and scraping the sides of the bowl between beatings.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt and flour. On medium speed, beat 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk. Turn the mixer on low to prevent spatters and beat for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk, the vanilla, and then the rest of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl periodically to incorporate all the ingredients. The batter will be thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan and rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. The cake may crack on top, but this is OK.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to continue cooling.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon or lime juice until smooth, then stir in some grated zest for color. Brush it on the cooled cake.

Pear Honey
Makes 5 pint jars

7-8 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
5 cups sugar

Wash five pint jars, lids, bands and tools in hot soapy water and dry with a clean kitchen towel. Place the jars inside the water-bath canner and fill canner with enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Place canning pot on the stove.

Place the self-sealing lids in a small saucepan with enough water to cover the lids. Cover with a lid.

Make the pear honey: if you like smooth preserves, blitz the pears, lemon juice, and pineapple in a food processor and then place the puree in a large stainless-steel stockpot or enamel Dutch oven. Otherwise, use a potato masher to smash the pear slices and pineapple chunks with the lemon juice in the pot. Add the sugar to the fruit. Stir to combine. Cook on medium-low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours. Adjust the heat if necessary and stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Thirty minutes into cooking the pear honey, turn the heat on high under the water-bath canner. Turn the heat on medium low under the small saucepan with the lids. Adjust heat if necessary under the small saucepan to maintain a simmer.

When the pear honey is as thick as you like and the water in the canner is boiling, get ready to can. Remove the jars from the canner, pouring out any water. Place the jars on a towel-lined countertop. Ladle the pear honey into the jars, leaving
1/4 inch of headspace. Use a thin spatula to stir the contents of the jar to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean damp towel. Place a lid on each jar and then twist on a screw band until tight.

Place the jars back in the canner and process for 10 minutes. When done, remove jars from the canner and place on a towel-lined countertop several inches apart. Let cool to room temperature. You should soon hear the "pop" of the lids, signaling a job well done. Pear Honey can be enjoyed immediately.

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