Recipe (and Cookbook Review): Vidalia Spread

I am terribly embarrassed to admit that my Amazon cookbook wishlist contains 149 items. No small feat, considering the number I already own. Yet I continue to buy them, and still, I never seem to have enough. My mother calls it an addiction; Walt sees them as a pesky nuisance slowly taking over our house. Personally, I see the collection as an opportunity to learn and read, cook and grow. (And last time I checked, nobody judged doctors or lawyers for having too many medical journals or case studies lying around.)

For lovers of the written (food) word, December brings hundreds of new offerings just in time for the receiving giving season. Sadly, nobody seems to want to buy me a cookbook out of fear that I may already own it. I guess I can see where they're coming from, but it means my Amazon Prime account stays pretty active.

In the spirit of Christmas, I thought I'd tell you about a few new cookbooks worthy of giving. Ones that, in fact, I have already gifted myself. The first up, Around the Southern Table, is the latest from Athens, Georgia-based cookbook author Rebecca Lang. Lang paired up with the experts at Southern Living to produce what I think is her best book yet.

Lang's approach to Southern cooking is modern yet approachable; her recipes are precise and impeccably written. To be honest, I don't think I could have written a better cookbook myself. Around the Southern Table is packed with classic, seasonal dishes using fresh ingredients and no funky additives or cans of crap. It's the type of Southern cooking that I like to rally behind. It's what Southern cooking was meant to be.

If the other recipes are as good as this Vidalia Spread (and I'm sure they will be!), my copy will be dogeared and splattered for years to come. Go ahead and save yourself some trouble—buy two copies of Around the Southern Table. One for your favorite cook, and the other for yourself. You know you deserve it...

 

VIDALIA SPREAD

I tried this recipe for this year's SEC championship game, to sit alongside some of my entertaining heavy hitters. It was the first cleaned plate, and I'm not lying when I tell you, it went fast. I have sampled a lot of onion dips before, and this was definitely the best I've ever had. The welcome additions of goat cheese and fresh rosemary really took the flavors to the next level. This dip is definitely a welcome addition to my list of greatest hits.

Source: Southern Living's Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang Serves: 6-8

4 bacon slices 2 Vidalia onions, diced (about 4 cups) 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise 4 ounces goat cheese 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish 1/8 teaspoon salt Crackers and crudités

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

Sauté onion in hot drippings over medium heat for 6 minutes or until translucent. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in cream cheese and next 5 ingredients. Spread into an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and top with crumbled bacon. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish, if desired. Serve warm with crackers and crudités.

Recipe courtesy of Southern Living's Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang. Reprinted with permission from Oxmoor House 2012.