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Grande Dame Edna’s Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have a sneak peek at the new illustrated book,  by  and . It’s an informative and captivating collection of brief biographies and stories, some with recipes, about badass women by badass women! There were so many women to feature whom I thought might best represent the spirit and mission of Design*Sponge, but I kept coming back to Edna Lewis’ pages featuring Herb Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Sage Buttermilk Biscuits. I knew we could not wind down the In the Kitchen With column without having featured , one of America’s first and finest ambassadors for African-American Southern cuisine.

The greasy, unhealthy stereotype of the cuisine was transformed by her use of fresh produce and vegetables, earning her the title of “Grande Dame of Southern Cooking.” When I think of someone who has had the farthest reaching impact on how we cook and eat everything in the US today, not just Southern cuisine, Edna Lewis tops the list. Though she passed away in 2006, her strong influence continues unabated. —

Deepi Ahluwalia is a food writer and photographer, and a columnist for Life & Thyme magazine. She has worked with such brands, companies, and publications as American Airlines, Nestlé, JCPenney, the Dallas Morning News, Jacques Torres Chocolate, and Walmart. She holds a degree in pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute. Stef Ferrari is senior editor of Life & Thyme magazine. She is an Emmy-winning, James Beard Foundation Award–nominated producer on the documentary series The Migrant Kitchen, which explores the influence of immigrant culture on America’s foodways. Her recipes have been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living, and she has appeared on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and Unique Sweets. You can find Deepi on Instagram , and Stef .

For a chance to win a copy of A Woman’s Place, respond in the comments section below by April 18, 5PM EST to the following question: Who is your cooking icon and why? We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: A Woman’s Place, cover. Illustrations by .

Image above: Deepi Ahluwalia

Image above: Stef Ferrari

 

Image above: Edna Lewis preparing signature dishes

Herb-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Sage Buttermilk Biscuits

Serves 4

Equipment: Roasting pan, baster, meat thermometer, sheet pan or baking sheet, parchment paper

Ingredients

  • Herb-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken
  • 1 medium lemon, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved, or baby potatoes, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine or sherry
  • Sage Buttermilk Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoons ground sage
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation

1

Make the Herb-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables:

Preheat oven to 500ºF.

Pat chicken dry and place in roasting pan greased with olive oil. Stuff lemon quarters and 3 cloves garlic inside cavity of chicken. Coat outside of chicken with melted butter, using hands to rub butter into all crevices. Generously season outside of chicken with half the salt and black pepper, followed by herbes de Provence.

In large mixing bowl, combine remaining garlic (3 cloves) with fennel bulbs, shallots, potatoes, and carrots. Pour olive oil over vegetables and thoroughly mix until all ingredients are coated with oil. Transfer vegetables to roasting pan, arranging them evenly around chicken. Pour white wine or sherry over vegetables and sprinkle with remaining salt (2 teaspoons) and black pepper (½ teaspoon).

Roast chicken for 25 minutes until skin turns golden. Reduce heat to 350ºF. Rotate pan and baste chicken and vegetables with liquid in pan. Continue roasting chicken for 40 more minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Chicken will be fully cooked when internal temperature of thigh reads 165ºF and juices run clear. Vegetables will be fork-tender. Remove pan from oven and cover with tinfoil. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with vegetables.

2

Make the Sage Buttermilk Biscuits:

Line sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl and whisk together. Chill mixture in freezer for 5–10 minutes. When dry ingredients are thoroughly cold, dump mixture onto clean work surface. Using dough cutter, pastry cutter, or knife, work quickly to cut cold butter into mixture, until butter is pea-sized. Create [a] well and add buttermilk in two additions, mixing by hand until dough just comes together in shaggy ball. If dough is too wet or dry, add flour or buttermilk in tiny amounts. Don’t knead or overwork dough, as this will create excess gluten and warm up butter. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and pat into ¾-inch-thick square, roughly 7 x 7 inches. Fold dough in half and pat down again to ¾-inch thickness. Repeat until dough has been folded five times. After last fold, pat dough into ¾-inch-thick square. With sharp knife, cut dough into nine squares. Transfer squares to parchment-lined pan and brush tops with melted butter. Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes or fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place pan on middle rack in oven and bake for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until biscuits are golden brown. Transfer biscuits immediately to wire rack to cool. Pair warm biscuits with Herb-Roasted Chicken or enjoy cooled with a drizzle of honey.

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Comments

  • Marion Clark, who just turned 103 in July, is my icon for kitchen arts. She taught me everything I know about putting good food on the table. She and her husband, Bill who also worked as a chef in big dinner houses,, had a small neighborhood diner in Del Paso Heights, California and were celebrated for the good food and reasonable prices, but mostly for the love they put into every meal. I am grateful that I had such a good teacher.

  • This book looks amazing. Thank you for sharing!
    My favorite cooking icon is Vivian Howard. She’s from my home state, and it’s been incredible to watch the little town of Kinston, NC explode because of her presence and influence. I appreciate she doesn’t try to fancy up classic southern cuisine with the end goal of making it “popular.” She really tries to research and acknowledge the deep history linked to each flavor and dish, and every creation is a celebration rather than a commodification of culture. Plus, she only uses local, in season ingredients which is always a win in my opinion.

  • Antony Bourdain & Nigella Lawson…Bourdain took my fancy by storm like never before inspiring me to be fearless and deeply inculcated a love for travel that has food as a big motive..And Nigella literally made me get my ass into the kitchen and just cook not being afraid of failure of experimentation without being daunted by recipes and instructions!

  • Ina Garten was the first woman I saw who was a fat woman on television unapologetically eating real food, so I will always love her for that. Icon status for sure!

  • This book looks great! And who better than Edna Lewis?! She was an incredible woman and chef, and is one of my all-time favorites. She took her Virginia roots to New York and showed them seasonal and Southern fare was so worth celebrating. All the other women chefs mentioned in comments (and yes a big shout-out to my fellow North Carolinian Vivian Howard) are wonderful in their own right, but y’all were spot-on to go with such a pioneering and influential chef as Ms. Lewis. And her cookbook, In Pursuit of Flavor, was just reissued in March. Get it if you don’t have it. Whoop whoop!

  • Well now, doesn’t this book look fantastic?! My cooking icon is Ruth Reichl. Her book, My Kitchen Year, is my eternal go-to. I heard her speak in Nashville when it first came out, and I lost my mind in the signing line; I must’ve said her name 12 times. Every recipe is a total, yummy delight. (In fact, I had her eggplant, arugula and baguette sandwich yesterday and today.)

  • My mother, Atia Hasnat, who migrated to the US from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1970. She did not speak a word of English, yet a few years later she would teach Indian/Pakistani cooking at a local community college. In the early years there were not many IndoPak grocery stores, so she would make do with similar items from Chinese and Latino stores. She would also buy meat from Jewish butchers as kosher meat closely resembles halal. She taught me everything I know about food, cooking, and also how to improvise and make great meals with whatever I have at hand.

  • Julia Child. The two things that can win someones heart….Good food and good sense of humor. The first she mastered beautifully and the later she was born with.
    She was , is and always will be a delight to watch.

  • My grandmother was raised on a farm and lived to 103. She raised livestock and grew vegetables and fruit and walnuts and everything was made from scratch, from soap to her delicious homemade rolls and huckleberry pie (that she picked in the wild sometimes encountering bears).

  • For a kitchen icon, I’m torn between Julia Child and my paternal grandmother Irene. Julia brought fine cooking into our homes when we really needed it. She made us see that it could be fun. We also needed that.

    My grandmother Irene was a Hungarian immigrant who came to New York in 1920. By the time I was four, she’d had a stroke and couldn’t speak, but she ran a restaurant to support the family and made a mean apple strudel. My English, non-cooking, mother was amazed at watching Nana stretch the pastry sheets out on the dining room table!

  • I didn’t grow up with any cooking phenom’s in my family, but my grandmother did cook with love which made each of her recipes taste significantly better they they may have been had others replicated her techniques. From fudge to scrambled eggs to baked beans she just made everything yummy and would shake her head in humble dispute if you tried to tell her so.
    But I confess, I no little to nothing about women through history and cooking a would LOVE to win a copy of this book!

  • My favourite cooking icon is my mother, Saroj Chugh. Most people love their Ma’s cooking but mine had a special ingredient, “love”. She made the food with pots of love. Her mantra is, “our feelings pour into the food as we stir the ladle and nourish our soul as we eat”.

  • My grandmother and mother taught me a lot and wish my grandma was still alive cuz I want her recipes and would love to win this book

  • I love this concept for a book! And I’d have to say my 11 year old daughter…I am watching her discover the joy of cooking and she is sloppy and fascinated and learning every step of the way and it is pure love!

  • My icon is my husband. I never knew any men who loved to cook for their families as I was growing up. Bruce just opens the fridge door, assesses the contents (or lack thereof) – and makes something fabulous. While also being a great dad/stepdad to six now grown kids (his day job was school music teacher), he makes all meals with fresh ingredients, and rarely looks at a recipe. We never have had the same meal twice, even when we begged, since it was made up on the spot. He was – and still is – always trying something new. Our children have benefited the most; they all love to cook, and like him, they are unafraid to try new things. He’s the one they call for all cooking questions – not me!

  • I love all of the women mentioned previously and have many of their cookbooks. But it was Martha Stewart who got me hooked on cooking and entertaining while I was in college.

  • My Favorite cooking icon is Sylvia Woods of Sylvias Restaurant in Harlem USA..I was a kid whose Mom didnt allow in the kitchen while cooking only to be a Sous chef, chopping, washing chitlins , whipping egg whites for banan pudding etc..I bought Sylvias cookbook and went to her Restaurant one Thanksgiving with my hubby and a family friend and she was so gracious , she autographed my cookbook and gave me extra recipe tips on her recipes. Also when I was trying to cook one of her recipes I called the restaurant and she actually helped me figure it out..I’ll never forget that wonderful lady.

  • This book looks fantastic! My favorite cooking icon is Cat Cora! Seeing her compete and win on Iron Chef was so inspirational to me – she always seemed so relaxed and like she was enjoying herself. In 2005 it was also really exciting to see queer, female representation on television!

  • Lynne Rosetto Casper, founder of The Splendid Table, is hands down my cooking icon. Her soothing voice brought me comfort during some of the hardest times of my life, and any time I needed to learn how to make anything from Thanksgiving Turkey to the best brownies you’ll ever taste, I turned to Lynne’s recipes for guidance. I used to listen to TST on my way home from late shifts at one of many jobs, or on the way to class in college, and I listened to archives when I was pregnant with my daughter and cooking an abundance of meals to freeze for those first scary days of motherhood. Her zeal for life and cuisine alike have inspired me time and time again, and have always given me comfort when I need it most. Her successor, Francis Lam, seems pretty awesome too. But Lynne has to be my vote for icon status!

  • My favorite icons in food are those who you feel you can relate and see the passion in what they do. Like Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Oliver, Lidia Bastianich, Gordon Ramsay, Sunny Anderson, and many more!!!^_^

  • Rick Bayless. We studied the same thing in school (anthropology-linguistics) and his lens of food as a means of discovering a culture really resonates with me. I love hearing from him why a dish is made the way it is, what it represents to the people consuming and enjoying it, and gleaning from that the story of who has been making it.

  • My maternal grandmother is my cooking idol! In an era when women weren’t working away from the home, she worked every day and still found time to put dinner on the table every night. She (and my grandfather) prepared the most beautiful meals, and more than just being a wonderful cook she knew how to be the perfect hostess. She always made everyone feel warm and welcome.

  • My great-grandmother, Hattie Battie (nee Monday). She moved up north at the age of 3 from Blackville, SC. She always had delicious meals for us and I’m not talking about when we’d be over her house for the holidays. She’d whip something up for us every time we stopped by for a visit (unannounced sometimes) and it was always plentiful. I remember her coconut cakes…yum or her creamed corn or baked chicken… She would most times have sweet potatoes on hand when I was around and made sure to pop one in the oven for me.
    Around the holiday time she’d make at least 4 pies from scratch and all the fixins that one would have for a holiday dinner. My cousin (who’s is not related to her) came with us to visit her once, and from then on she became known as the lady who fed you a lot. She just wanted to make sure that you had something on your stomach before leaving her house.
    I don’t have any of her recipes, but when I do cook I do try to match her. I haven’t come close, but one day I hope to be close enough.

  • My aunt Liz is my food icon. She has lived in a lot of places and you can taste this in her food….Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, USA, Swaziland…Kenya and home, Uganda. Her cooking is easy relaxed..effortless..lots of roasting…the flavours…O my goodness! She bought me my current set of pans and I hope to cook half as good as her.

  • My nani (grandmother). As a young woman in India, she married at 15. Cooking became a form of connection for her and her daughters (and sons!). She instilled this fierce love of family and cooking into my mother. There isn’t a moment where I’m not craving kofta or biryani my mother makes as I have moved away from my family, and have found solace in the kitchen as I’ve grown older. More special is how I’m able to connect my traditional Pakistani cooking with my roommate and her Tanzanian traditional dishes.

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