Martha Hall Foose was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. She attended the École Lenôtre pastry school in France before returning to Mississippi, where she opened Bottletree Bakery in Oxford, then the Mockingbird Bakery in Greenwood. Martha was also executive chef of the Viking Cooking School. Martha’s first cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, won a James Beard Award. She lives in Tchula, Mississippi, on a farm with her husband and their son.
“I really enjoy the flavor of sweet potato and fennel. If you’re not a fan of the latter’s licorice-like taste, substitute caraway seeds. I love the way seafood’s sweetness is enhanced by them. These individual casseroles bring the flavors of Mississippi’s hills and Gulf Coast together quite nicely.
“For those who really dig that licorice flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon aniseed. Another variations is to sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds if you have fennel around.”
For the non-American among us, half-and-half is a mixture of whole milk and single cream.
Yield: Serves 6
- 4 cups (1/2-inch) Diced sweet potato
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) Unsalted butter
- 1 Cup Half-and-half, or more if needed
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- ½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
- ¼ cup Chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup Chopped green onions, white and green parts
- ½ teaspoon Fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- ½ pound Fresh crabmeat
- Sprinkling Paprika
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the sweet potatoes until soft, about 8 minutes. Drain well and return to the pot.
- Add the butter and let it melt over the hot potatoes.
- Add the half-and-half and mash it with the potatoes, mixing until they are smooth and not stiff and adding more half-and-half if needed.
- Add the garlic, cheese, parsley, green onions, fennel seeds, and cayenne.
- Fold in the crabmeat.
- Put the mixture into greased individual ramekins or a single baking dish and sprinkle the top with paprika.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through and beginning to brown.
Southerly Course: Recipes & Stories from Close to Home will be released on April 12th 2011.