Favorite Cookbooks


“A cookbook is only as good as its poorest recipe.”

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve
got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”

– Julia Child

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook  in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” – the late novelist and food-writer Laurie Colwin

     That sentiment has never been more true than when applied to those favorite, decades-old, often handed-down cookbooks we turn to over and over again. You know the ones—they’re on your shelf next to the shiny new beauties (no disrespect to new cookbooks) that are regularly passed over when we need dinner-time inspiration. Invariably, you’ll choose that stained, dog-eared compilation that is packed with favorite recipes you’ve made for years. And there is always the bonus of notes you’ve scratched in the margins over the years, or better yet, tips or advice in your mother or grandmother’s handwriting. 

     We asked our readers to send us photos of their favorite dishes from their favorite cookbooks—and, no surprise—Delta Magazine readers love to cook! We had a great time going through photos and recipes from cookbooks— old and new—which we now bring to you. True to form many had wonderful notes and tips written on the stained, well-used pages from years and generations past, proving Colwin was right—”No one who cooks, cooks alone.”



5 ounces white chocolate

4 egg yolks
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large loaf of sourdough bread (crust cut off) cut into 1-inch cubes, approximately 5 cups of cubes
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed (reserve juice)

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. In another double boiler over moderate heat, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, whipping cream, milk, and salt and stir well to prevent eggs from scrambling. When the cream mixture is warm, add melted chocolate and stir well. Fold bread cubes into custard mixture. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then mix on low speed in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment (or mix with your hands, squishing the bread mixture between your fingers until it is completely incorporated and all of the bread has been broken up—wear rubber gloves if the mixture is too hot). Remove the paddle attachment and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the thawed raspberries into the bread pudding mixture. Pour into a buttered 2.2-quart Pyrex baking dish and cover with parchment paper. Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with 2 inches of hot water. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove paper and cook an additional 15 minutes to brown the top. Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding can be held in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. When cooled completely, scoop out individual portions (or use a cookie cutter for unique and interesting shapes—hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc.) and heat to just warm in a microwave. Top with the warmed sauce.


8 ounces white chocolate

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, warmed
2 tablespoons raspberry juice
2 tablespoons Framboise liquor

     Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Add heavy cream, raspberry juice, and Framboise and blend thoroughly. This sauce will hold in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave until just warm.


Amy Patterson, Mobile, Alabama (originally from Vicksburg)
Southern Seasons by Robert St. John and Wyatt Waters




For the cake:

1 cup firmly packed sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 tablespoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
1/4 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)

4 large eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk

For the filling:

2 large yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cream of coconut
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup simple syrup

For the icing:

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups sweetened coconut, toasted

   To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round size cake pans and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper, then dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set the pans aside.

   Finely grind the coconut in a food processor, then transfer it to a bowl. Add the pecans to the processor, along with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and finely grind them. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the ground coconut and pecans, set aside.

   In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a larger bow and a handheld mixer), beat the butter, cream of coconut, and the remaining 1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the coconut extract. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the coconut milk, starting and ending with flour mixture.

   Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the top of each with a spatula. Bake until the cakes are golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake, invert onto a wire rack, and remove the parchment. Let cool completely.

   While the cakes are cooling, prepare the filling. Place the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Combine the condensed milk, butter, and cream of coconut in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until hot. Whisk one-third of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Transfer the egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the consistency of pudding, about 4 minutes. Do not allow the custard to become too thick, or it will be difficult to spread on the cake.

   Transfer the custard to a bowl and stir in the shredded coconut. Let cool completely. (The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; let it sit at room temperature until it is soft enough to spread before assembling the cake.)

   To assemble the cake, cut each cake horizontally in half. Build the layer cake in a cake pan: Place one layer in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Moisten the top with some of the simple syrup. Spread ½ cup of the coconut filling in a thin, even layer with an offset spatula. Repeat to make 2 more layers of cake and filling, then place the last layer on top. Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour.

   To unmold, run a spatula around the edges of the chilled cake, invert a cake plate over the top, and flip the cake over onto the plate.

   To make the icing, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and coconut extract until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: To toast coconut, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread out the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, shaking the pan every 5 minutes or so, until aromatic and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.


Michie Cotton, Cleveland, Mississippi
Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef’s Love Affair with Italian Food 





1/4 cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons sherry wine
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can beef consommé
1 (6 ounce) can mushrooms, stems and pieces, and juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash garlic salt
1/4 pound medium noodles
1 cup sour cream
chopped parsley

     Sauté onion in butter. Add meat and brown. Stir in sherry, consommé, mushrooms and juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic salt. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in uncooked noodles and cook for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Stir in sour cream. Top with parsley to serve. Serves 6. If prepared in advance, it may be stored in Pyrex casseroles and heated at 325 degrees until hot. It may also be frozen, thawed and reheated.


Lucy Baird, Birmingham, Alabama
Southern Sideboards, The Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi





2 cups croutons, toasted
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2cups grated sharp cheese
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons minced onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

     Combine half of the croutons with all the remaining ingredients. Turn into baking dish and cover with remaining croutons. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. May be prepared ahead, but if so, do not put in croutons until baking time. 

Sandra Goff, Ridgeland, Mississippi

Southern Sideboards, The Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi






2 egg whites
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

     Beat egg whites to a stiff froth. Continue beating and adding sugar gradually. When all sugar has been incorporated, sift the flour and salt over egg white mixture and fold in completely. Fold in nuts. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake in 325-degree oven about 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Camden Batte, Oxford, Mississippi (originally from Inverness)
Southern Sideboards, The Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi



2 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter
6 eggs
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 pounds raisins
1/2 cups molasses
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 wine glass of wine
1 pound pecans, chopped

     Cream sugar and butter and add eggs. Sift flour with spices and add. Add molasses and dissolve soda in 2 tablespoons warm water and add to cake. Save ½ cup of flour out and mix with pecans and raisins, and add last to cake. Batter will be very stiff. Bake in stem pan that has been lined with wax paper in slow oven about 3 hours.

Deborah McLeod, Austin, Texas (originally from Isola)
The Inverness Cookbook




1/3 cup olive oil
1 (1-ounce) package Ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 (16-ounce) packages bite-size Cheddar cheese  crackers (such as Cheez-It)

     Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Drizzle over crackers in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool on pans 30 minutes. Store in large ziplock plastic bags on in airtight containers.


Amy Callahan, Brandon, Mississippi
What Can I Bring? by Elizabeth Heiskel





1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan halves (4 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

     Beat egg white and water until frothy. Fold in pecans. Mix cinnamon, sugar, and salt in plastic bag. Add pecans and shake until coated. Bake on cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times. Pour on wax paper and separate while warm.

Lisa Vickers, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Easy Hospitality by Patti Roper



1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick or less butter
1 egg
1/4  teaspoon cinnamon
Dash nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
2 cups raw grated sweet potato
Grated rind of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 an orange

     Melt butter over slow fire. Mix everything, adding sweet potato last. (Sweet potatoes tend to turn dark when grated, so blend immediately.) Bake in casserole 325 degrees for 55 minutes. Good hot or cold. 

Nathan Hicks-Poe, Winter Garden, Florida (originally from Inverness)
Gourmet of the Delta




Medium white onions, 1 per person

Soy Sauce

     Remove the outer shell from onions and place each on a foil square. Core the onions two-thirds deep. Salt and pepper generously. Pour soy sauce over the onions and top with butter. Wrap well in foil and bake in a 350 to 375-degree oven for 1 hour or until tender. The onions make their own sauce and take the place of a baked potato.


Paige Hayes, Clarksdale, Mississippi
The Cotton Country Collection






4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
6 cups homemade beef stock or canned broth
2 tablespoons ruby port
4 large thick slices French bread, toasted
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

     Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onions and wilt over medium-low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle sugar over the onions, toss, and cook, uncovered, until caramelized, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 3 cups on the stock and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes. Then add the remaining 3 cups stock and the port; cook until the broth is rich in taste, another 30 to 40 minutes.

     Preheat the broiler, or the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the soup among four ovenproof bowls. Top each with a slice of toasted French bread, and sprinkle the cheese evenly on top. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts, or bake until the cheese has melted and the soup is bubbly.

     Notes: I reduce sugar to 1 tablespoon. Add about ½ cup red wine if you don’t have port. Instead of toasting bread—spread with butter and saute’ in skillet until brown.

Cindy Coopwood, Cleveland, Mississippi
The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins





1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pkg Ramen Noodles, uncooked, broken up (discard flavor packet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, washed, broken into pieces
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup Sweet and Sour Dressing

     Brown walnuts and noodles in butter, cool on paper towels. Combine noodles and walnuts with broccoli, romaine, and onions. Pour Sweet and Sour Dressing over and toss to coat well.

Sweet and Sour Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup wine vinegar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

     Blend all ingredients.

Cindy Coopwood, Cleveland, Mississippi
Come On In! Recipes from the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi


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