Ironically, I recently raved about how lucky I’ve been with cookbooks lately. It seems that every single one I’m sent becomes an instant favorite in my house. I’d no sooner written (well, typed, actually) those words when I was sent another wonderful cookbook to review. I have an outrageous cookbook collection, numbering in the hundreds. Some of them call a shelf in the pantry their bedroom while others live on shelves in my dining room or inside an heirloom hutch in my kitchen. My favorite cookbooks – the ones I return to again and again are kept on a baker’s rack, always ready, like little Minute Men. Normally, it takes a cookbook a while before it “works” its way up to this position, but Southern Living Off the Eaten Path: Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes that Made Them Famous) earned a spot within a day.
Easily. I looked through the book, and with each subsequent page, found myself saying things like, “I’ll make that this weekend” or “I’m making this tomorrow night!” I ran out of days in the week before I ran out of recipes I planned on making.
I’ll say this for myself, though, I’ve given it my all.
Take a tasty tour along the highways and unique back roads of the South with author Morgan Murphy as he uncovers the best eateries and unique recipes this region has to offer. Part cookbook, part delicious journey through the South, Southern Living Off the Eaten Path is a discovery guide for people who love Southern food.
Readers will accompany former Southern Living travel and food editor Morgan Murphy as he winds his way through the South to discover the restaurants and watering holes that showcase the true flavor of the region. Full-color photography takes readers inside these community landmarks. Prized recipes are pried out of secretive restaurant cooks and vetted in the Southern Living Test Kitchens so they can be replicated at home when readers can’t hit the road for their roadfood fix.
Helpful tips accompany each recipe and explain how to up the flavor ante of classics like mac-n-cheese or country-style coleslaw the way the best diners do. Recollections and reflections from owners, patrons, and employees of these “off the eaten path” spots round out this book of travelers’ tales and delicious food finds. Southern Living Off the Eaten Path features:
- 75 “dives” in 18 Southern States: from Texas to Florida to Maryland, and all points in between
- A feature on each restaurant, including two recipes, location information, fun facts, and a “Don’t-Miss” tip about their signature dish
- Rubbernecker Wonders: reviews of kitschy roadside attractions worthy of gawking, such as Solomon’s Castle in Ona, FL, and South of the Border on I-95 in Dillon, SC, where Dixie meets…Old Mexico
- Food Finds: blurbs about food purveyors along the route (cheese shop, dairy, sausage processor, etc.), local products produced in the area (honey, barbeque sauce, dressing, spice blend, etc.), and more
About the Author:
Morgan Murphy is the former travel and food editor for Southern Living magazine. He has also written for Forbes, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar. Morgan’s diverse background includes an M.B.A. from the University of Oxford and a love of vintage American cars. This passion led to his lauch of the world’s first online social network for classic car enthusiasts, Motorpool.com. He lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama.
My version of Loretta’s Stuffed French Toast
I’ve only had this wonderful cookbook for a few weeks, but I’ve already made:
- Famous Fried Shrimp, courtesy of Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar in Orange Beach, Alabama (page 14)
- Watergate Salad from Fenders Diner in Cornelia, Georgia (page 79)
- Strawberry Lemonade, courtesy of Pie Lab in Greensboro, Alabama (page 21)
- Coleslaw, courtesy of Ezell’s Fish Camp in Lavaca, Alabama (page 23)
- Colonial Stuffed French Toast, courtesy of Colonial Pancake House in Hot Springs, Arkansas (page 41)
Tonight, I’m making Loretta’s Bread Pudding, courtesy of Big John’s Shake Shack in Marion Arkansas (page 35) and Thursday night’s supper will revolve around Pollo Santa Fe, courtesy of Rosie’s Cantina in Huntsville, Alabama (page 27). Dessert for that meal will be Miss Isabel’s Secret, courtesy of Rumor’s Deli in Cullman, Alabama (page 29).
This is, literally and honestly, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. The recipes, very often (like Loretta’s Bread Pudding), call for ingredients you already have on hand – and with gas prices like they are, that’s always a bonus.
I’ve told you some of the recipes I’ve already made from Southern Living Off the Eaten Path: Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes that Made Them Famous
Below are some of the recipes that I’ll be making in the coming weeks:
- Hush Puppies from Ezell’s Fish Camp in Lavaca, Alabama (they call for buttermilk, which floats my culinary boat)
- Chocolate Pie from Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets in Keo, Arkansas
- Pineapple-Coconut-Pecan Pie from Ed & Kay’s in Benton, Arkansas (the picture’s making my mouth water!)
- Shrimp and Grits from Blue Heaven in Key West, Florida
- Mee Maw’s Crab Po’ Boy from Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida (The author, Morgan Murphy, says that the food in Stinky’s Fish Camp rivals any white-tablecloth restaurant he’s ever tried and one look at the Crab Po’ Boy tells me he’s surely onto something.)
- Crab and Shrimp Cakes from White’s Fish Camp in Orange Park, Florida.
- Black-eyed Pea Cakes with Cajun Re’moulade from B. Matthew’s Eatery in Savannah, Georgia (can be served on buns as “flavorful veggie burgers” or served as appetizers or a side)
- Hummingbird Cake from Fenders Diner in Cornelia, Georgia (if this cake is anywhere as delicious as their Watergate Salad – which was the first recipe I made from this cookbook – I may have to make a trip to Georgia)
- Oven-Baked Mac-n-Cheese (also from Fenders Diner…. the trip’s on)
- Crab Cakes with Tomato Relish and Basil Oil from The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (From my home state of Kentucky, so it’s gotta be great!)
- The Hot Brown – also from The Brown Hotel. If you’ve never had a Hot Brown, you don’t know what you’re missing. They are extraordinary.
- BLT Hash Browns from Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Pecan Chicken in Woodford Reserve Maple Cream Sauce (I’m two seconds away from eating the picture, itself – you SO have to see this picture!) also from Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville.
- Farm Boy Southern Style Meat Loaf from Farm Boy Restaurant in Morgantown, Kentucky.
- Peanut Butter Crunch Pie from Farm Boy Restaurant in Morgantown, Kentucky.
- Steak Salad from Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky.
- Oyster Stew with Brie and Spinach from Lola in Covington, Louisiana
- Corn and Crab Chowder from Richard’s Seafood Patio in Abbeville, Louisiana
- Beignets from Cafe’ Beignet in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Shrimp and Crab E’touffee from Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf in Henderson, Louisiana
- Bel-Loc Rice Pudding from Bel-Loc Diner in Baltimore, Maryland
- Macaroni Salad from Faidley’s Seafood in Baltimore, Maryland
- Crab Meat Omelet from Obrycki’s in Baltimore, Maryland’ (also, their Crab Dip)
- Sweet Potato Casserole from Ajax Diner in Oxford, Mississippi
- Mississippi Mud Cake from The Castle at Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi
- Country Smothered Pork Chops from The Dinner Bell in McComb, Mississippi
- Mammy’s Chicken Salad from Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi (also their Broccoli Cornbread)
- Frites and Spicy Ketchup from Terrene in St. Louis, Missouri (Frites isn’t a misspell! These wonderful-looking fries are served with their own special spicy ketchup. The ketchup recipe calls for, among a few other things: ketchup, Dijon mustard, honey, horseradish, hot sauce, and sherry vinegar!)
- Mint Syrup (for sweetening tea) from Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (also, their Green Tabasco Chicken looks incredible!)
- White Beans and Ham from The Ham Shoppe in Valle Crucis, North Carolina
- Chicken and Dumplings from The Jarrett House in Dillsboro, North Carolina
- Jarrett House Apples, as well as Jarrett House Biscuits (which call, thank you very much, for buttermilk)
- Crispy Fried Pickles AND Jalapeno Hush Puppies – both from Okie Dokies Smokehouse in Swannanoa, North Carolina
- Pork Chop Sandwich AND Coleslaw from Snappy Lunch in Mount Airy, North Carolina
- Green Beans AND Country Fried Steak with Country Gravy from Brothers Houligan in Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Coconut Cream Pie from Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Sunday Apple Fritters and Lucille’s Pot Roast, both from Lucille’s Roadhouse in Weatherford, Oklahoma
- Spicy Cajun Boiled Peanuts from Carolina Cider Co. in Yemassee, South Carolina
- Southern Fried Catfish (with Creole seasoning!) from Grits and Groceries in Saylors Crossroads, South Carolina
- Black Bean – Artichoke Cakes from Roz’s Rice Mill Cafe in Pawleys Island, South Carolina
- Banana Split Pie from Wade’s Family Diner in Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Hash Brown Casserole, Carol Fay’s Famous Meatloaf, and Pecan Pie – all from Loveless Cafe and Motel in Nashville, Tennessee
- Cornbread and Candied Yams from Southern Hands Family Dining in Collierville, Tennessee (this cornbread recipe, like all great cornbread recipes, calls for buttermilk – and I just decided, I’m making these tonight!)
- Pimento Cheese from Highland Park Pharmacy in Dallas, Texas
- Chicken Tortilla Soup with Rice from Henry’s Puffy Tacos in San Antonio, Texas
- Buttermilk Biscuits from The Roanoker Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia
- Pink Cadillac Chili from Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, Virginia
- The Aaron (grilled chicken sandwich with pesto and bacon slices) from Stardust Cafe in Lewisburg, West Virginia
As I said, I’m blown away by the recipes in Southern Living Off the Eaten Path.
The Watergate Salad disappeared entirely in one setting. Leftovers? What leftovers?
Perhaps the biggest hit, however, has been the Colonial Stuffed French Toast (shown above). The recipe calls for Cherry Pie Filling but since a few of my family members detest cherries (what’s wrong with these people?!), I used Blueberry Pie Filling and the results were beyond amazing. I topped it with homemade whipped topping and we all said very little as we enjoyed this amazing recipe.
I feel like I’ve spent hours on this cookbook review! Trust me, if I didn’t LOVE (madly love) this cookbook, I wouldn’t put this much time into the review. However, I KNOW this is one special cookbook and I know it’ll blow you away. You need this cookbook, friends. This colorful, fun-to-read, entertaining, and unique cookbook is filled with 150 wonderful recipes you’ll make again and again. The book has a warm, larger than life personality that’ll make you feel like you’re on a road trip alongside the wonderful author.
As an extra bonus, the images and stories of Americana will touch your heart as the faces of people across this part of America make you proud to call this land home. Few things are as beautiful as the human spirit and this book is just filled with it.
To order and read more about this very special cookbook (if there is any more to be said!), click the following link: Southern Living Off the Eaten Path: Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes that Made Them Famous (Amazon link).
I’m exhausted from all of this typing, I’m going to sit down and have some of the Strawberry Lemonade (page 21) before I get started on the Loretta’s Bread Pudding (page 35).