Each month, our cookbook club gathers to celebrate the recipes of a book they love. Scroll through the posts and you'll find love letters to favorite dishes, helpful kitchen tips, newly acquired tricks, lots of photos (that'll make you hungry if you weren't already), and personal stories—all of which make this little virtual corner a true community.
Their pick for June? Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, a newly minted James Beard Award winner from journalist and community activist Toni Tipton-Martin. The selection is a timely one.
"This book broadens the African American food story," Tipton-Martin writes in the introduction. "It celebrates the enslaved and the free, the working class, the middle class, and the elite. It honors cooking with intentionality and skill, for a purpose and with pleasure." All to say: "It is a culinary Jubilee!"
"As you cook these recipes," she continues, "engage all of your senses the way my ancestors did when they cooked." She encourages the reader to let their taste buds guide them as they learn, and feel free to make adjustments where needed. "...You will feel empowered by the skills you have mastered," she says. "...Make these recipes your own."
These past few weeks, that's exactly what our community has been doing. They've cooked and baked their way through dozens of recipes—from fluffy Baking Powder Biscuits (Tipton-Martin suggests serving them with honey butter) to the very popular Caribbean Roast Pork.
Here are just a few of the highlights they've shared—we'll be adding more to this post throughout the month. We hope that they inspire you to pick up your own copy of Jubilee and discover its rich collection of dishes (that we bet will quickly become staples).
"Waiting for this book was like waiting for Christmas. The first recipe I tried out was the Extra-Light Buttermilk Cornbread (p. 99). I'm not from the US but my boyfriend is, so I've tried to make him cornbread for years now and it always, always comes out dry and crumbly and disappointing. To be honest I kind of thought that was just what cornbread was like and maybe it's something you needed to have grown up with.
So, two things happened this week: One, we live in the UK and freshly ground cornmeal is hard to come by, but this week I discovered that I can just make my own cornmeal by grinding popcorn kernels in my Vitamix. So that probably helped a bit. But the second and the true credit for this cornbread really goes to this book and recipe—truly extra-light, I ate half a skillet of it. And now I'm even more thrilled to dig into this book." — Julia Fabrin Jakobsen
Peanut Soup: "I was intrigued by this one. We have several traditional South Indian peanut curries. Especially popular in Andhra. Those are heavily spiced and occasionally have a contrasting sweetness from jaggery with a sharp tartness of tamarind. This is soo very different. It's definitely rich but very mild, the flavours of peanuts are more well defined." — Bindhu Joseph
"I love the timing of being able to cook from this book right now. Food is such a connecting, comforting language! Everything we made for Sunday dinner was amazing. Caribbean [Roast] Pork, Baked Mac and Cheese, Wilted Salad, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Creole Green Beans (I have the Kindle edition so I don’t know page numbers). Oh. My. Goodness. The way everything worked so well together—this was an incredible meal." — Rebecca Woolley Price
"Toni Tipton-Martin makes a strong point that African-American cuisine is NOT just about fried chicken. But if you know me, if there’s a fried chicken recipe, I’m going to make it. The Creole fried chicken is fantastic. It’s a four-hour labor of love, especially if you cut up your own chicken, but fresh fried chicken is worth it. I used buttermilk marinade instead of evaporated milk but besides that I kept close to the original recipe. I love the technique of adding milk and egg and spices and using it as a marinade. It saved some time." —Kathy M Smith
"As they say in New Orleans, “Babyyyy!” The Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp was so flavorful. I grew tired of drooling at all your posts so I decided to pick up a copy of Jubilee at the bookstore a couple days ago. I turned to page 258 and then the magic happened. The only substitution I made was seafood stock for fish stock." —Tai Lashawn
"Normally, I don’t go for a dish like this when it’s over 80 degrees outside. But I had leftover rotisserie chicken and once I saw this chicken and dumplings recipe in Jubilee, I knew I had to make it! Used the carcass from the chicken to make the stock for this dish. Subbed out heavy cream with whole milk and leftover rotisserie chicken. Will brown it a bit more next time to get some more color to the gravy. I was happy that it wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. And it was just comfort in a bowl!" —Mei-i Zien
"When I was a kid, Friday was my favorite day of the week because we would get treated to Ice Cream outings at Baskin Robbins. After dinner we would all pile in the car and head to our neighborhood Baskin Robbins and get ice cream cones! One of my go to flavors was Pralines & Cream! Tender bits of Chewy Caramel and Pecans enrobed in a rich Vanilla Ice Cream, it was scrumptious! When I saw this recipe for Pralines in Jubilee, I knew I’d have to make these, not only to relive childhood memories, but to challenge myself by making something new while #sip." —Bebe Black Carminito
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