Some of my favorite memories revolve around the kitchen. Truth be told, neither of my grandmothers were very good cooks. In fact, my father’s mother once boiled a pot of carrots until they completely dissolved. But one of my first memories with that same grandma are making the boxed mix of cornbread muffins. I burned myself something terrible because at five or six, I probably shouldn’t have been the one baking, but what did I know? I wasn’t the adult. Regardless, it’s a fond memory I still have, and something I don’t think I will ever forget.
My mom is the one that taught me to cook. My mom, whose dad came from a big Italian family made sure our family of six always had plenty to eat, and is the one who really has always inspired me to love people through food. If you’ve been a friend of Casa de Crews a while, you already know this, since I talk about my Italian momma often.
When I met my husband, a fourth generation Floridian, I teased him often because he ate foods like collard greens, grits, and pole beans (and this one time Jason’s granny cooked a turtle, that’s a true story, and I have heard it at least 100 times. You guys, there are photos of this turtle. I swear it). These were not dishes I had ever encountered. And when my husband’s grandmother passed away last summer, everyone from the church my husband grew up in, in Thonotosassa, Florida, gathered for a meal. And my gosh…the food! There were at least six different varieties of macaroni and cheese, a ham salad with peas, and a few other signature southern meals, I didn’t grow up having. My husband tells me, as a kid this kind of food was something they had each Wednesday at church.
The way my husband and I were raised could not have been more different, but we both have childhood memories that revolve around food.
I first met Whitney in 2014 at the Food and Wine Conference, as she was one of the keynote speakers that year. Okay, so I didn’t “meet” her, so much as was in awe of all that she had already accomplished. I was also drawn to her stories of growing up in Mississippi and learning to cook with her grandmothers and mother. I may not be from the south originally, but I could certainly relate.
The Epicurean was the perfect spot to celebrate Whitney’s new book – rustic touches, with modern flair. That pretty much sums up the book, as well. We were able to sample bites from New Southern Table, re-created by the chefs at Epicurean. I can’t decide if the Mississippi Banh Mi, or the Spiced Lamb Kabobs with Mustard Greens-Feta Pesto were my favorite.
So to pay homage to my favorite new cookbook, I knew I’d have to make a recipe from New Southern Table. The problem was which one would I make in my own kitchen? With recipes like Buttermilk Ricotta Cheese, Crawfish-Pimento Mac ‘N Cheese, “Fried” Green Tomatoes (a dish I never had until I met my husband, p.s.), it was hard to choose just one to showcase…
In the end I settled on Whitney’s Stuffed Bell Pepper Pizza. It’s low-carb, filling, and has some of my fave veggies with ricotta, and cheeeeese. Plus, it’s the perfect meal to make on Sunday when you’re meal-planning for the week. At least, that is what I did for Jason and me.Make these Stuffed Bell Pepper Pizzas from @WhitneyMillerH's new cookbook, #newsoutherntable! Click To Tweet
- 4 large green bell peppers
- 4 oz bulk breakfast sausage
- 1 cup Buttermilk Ricotta (page 43 of New Southern Table)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped eggplant
- 1/4 cup finely chopped zucchini
- 1/4 cup finely chopped baby bella mushrooms
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- 2 cups of tomato sauce
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cut tops of green peppers. Remove the seeds and membrane. Place the peppers in a jumbo muffin tin or casserole dish. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the breakfast sausage in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, breaking the sausage into pieces. Cook until brown and no pink remains. Spoon sausage onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Spoon 1/4 ricotta into the bottom of each pepper. Add a fourth of the cooked sausage into each pepper. Add 1 tablespoon eggplant, 1 tablespoon zucchini, 1 tablespoon mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon olives to each pepper. Pour 1/2 cup tomato sauce into each pepper.
- Bake the peppers for 18 minutes. Top each pepper with a slice of mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.