Today's Community Cookbook: Charleston Receipts and Charleston Receipts Repeats (Copyright 1950; 1986; The Junior League of Charleston, Inc.; Charleston, SC)


Charleston Receipts, first published in 1950, is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. By all accounts, it remains the doyenne of the spiral-bound South. It's remarkable not only for the lasting quality of its recipes, which inspire new generations of cooks and celebrate the natural bounty of the region, but for embracing the closely woven culinary heritages of the elite Lowcountry aristocracy and the Gullah people, descendants of the slaves who worked on the rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. Charleston Receipts Repeats, published in 1986, continues the tradition with more community favorites, including menus and recipes from local restaurants. Both cookbooks were inducted into the Walter S. McIlhenny Community Cookbooks Hall of Fame.

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Mrs. Ralph Izard's Awendaw

Sherry-spiked Chicken Tetrazzini, rumored (somewhat falsely) to have been created in Charleston for the great soprano Luisa Tetrazzini, has always topped our list of company-perfect casseroles. That is until we tasted Mrs. Izard's Awendaw. A creamy, richly flavored fusion of grits and spoonbread with a soufflé-like texture, it's astoundingly good, any time of day, with everything from panfried breakfast sausage to molasses grilled pork tenderloin. So good and versatile, in fact, that our Test Kitchen developed three irresistible twists. From Charleston Receipts.

  • 1 1/2 tsp. table salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked regular grits
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup plain white cornmeal

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Bring 1 tsp. salt and 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, whisking often, 15 minutes or until thickened.

2. Remove grits from heat, and whisk in butter. Whisk about one-fourth of hot grits mixture into eggs; whisk egg mixture into remaining hot grits mixture. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisk in cornmeal and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Pour grits mixture into a lightly greased 2 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 375° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and set.

Cheese Awendaw Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded smoked Gouda cheese and 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper after cornmeal.

Garlic-and-Herb Awendaw Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese; 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, basil, and chives; 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon; 3 garlic cloves, pressed; and 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper after cornmeal.

Fresh Corn Awendaw Cut kernels from fresh ears of corn to equal 2 cups, and place in a bowl. Using the dull side of a knife blade, scrape milk and remaining pulp from cobs into bowl. Prepare recipe as directed, increasing salt to 1 tsp. in Step 2 and stirring in corn kernels after cornmeal.

Makes 6 to 8 servings