At the Table

Recipes for Distraction

By: The Local Palate

TLP friends: While weekends don’t quite have the same feel that they did just a few weeks ago, they can still offer a bit of freedom from the ping-pong of Zoom meetings, home-schooling, and the 24-hour news cycle. I, for one, plan to spend it in the kitchen because nothing calms the mind like a good cooking project. From Chex mix to sourdough starter to ramen, we’ve got project recipes for all levels of ambition and energy. So, check your provisions, find a recipe, and dig in. (You’ll notice many of our recipes come from chefs, whose work is critical in keeping Southern food culture alive. If you’re able, please join us in standing by them by donating to one of the many funds out there that support the food and beverage community, such as the Lee Initiative.)

First things first. Sheltering in place should mean snacks on demand. Make a big batch of Chex mix or sorghum granola for munching throughout the week. Tip: Put little hands to work mixing, baking, and bagging.

There are many reasons folks flock to Alon Shaya’s restaurants, but the hummus (and pillowy pita) are undoubtedly among them. Making his hummus at home is a labor of love, but the silky-smooth result is well worth it.

Have you noticed that yeast is a hot commodity these days? No surprise there: bread-baking is one of the most rewarding tasks in the kitchen. That’s why having your own sourdough starter on hand is like a gift to your future self—the foundation for many loaves to come.

More of a special occasion bread baker? Chocolate cranberry bread is a holiday staple at Lionel Vatinet’s La Farm Bakery in Cary, North Carolina, but nothing is stopping you from starting it now to eat for breakfast tomorrow.

The ultimate comfort food, atole de arroz is a porridge that field hands in Mexico have traditionally eaten in place of a large supper. Maricela Vega, chef of Atlanta’s 8ARM, tops her version of this soothing rice pudding with—here’s where the project part comes in—candied squash.

No question that this is elevated hoppin’ john Austin’s Olamaie is fussy, all five sub-recipes of it, but it will knock the socks off of all who partake.

And what is more satisfying in this time of uncertainty than noodles and broth? Quite possibly the projects of all projects, this shoyu ramen recipe came to us from Nashvillian Sarah Gavigan, who turned her frustration over the lack of ramen in her new hometown into a second career as a chef. Inspiration for us all.

Keep cooking,
Peggy Loftus

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