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Southern Voices: Nathalie Dupree, Southern cookbook author and television personality, Raleigh, NC
By Stephanie Burt, The Southern Fork
Nathalie Dupree is a best-selling cookbook author who also has more than 300 television shows for The Food Network, PBS, and The Learning Channel under her belt. She has been in numerous publications, won James Beard Awards, helped found the Southern Foodways Alliance, and was the founding chairman of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. But as she will tell you, “the longest I ever had a job was at Rich’s.”
In 1975, she founded a cooking school in Rich’s Department Store on Broad Street in Atlanta and taught there for 10 years. It was a very unique cooking school, with 18 stoves and plenty of other wonderful equipment, well promoted by the store and offered at a reasonable rate. And it was a dream for hand-on learners.
It was all about participation,” she recalls. “I could assign two students per stove and could monitor them all, and it was great for the students because they could see the same recipe made 18 ways, you see, with everyone’s individual spin on it.”
Both at Rich’s and earlier at her restaurant in Social Circle, Ga., she made it a point to use local ingredients, “and certainly pecans and peaches were available all over.” She fell in love with both since she could purchase them from roadside stands or other independent vendors and used them often in her classes, spreading the “locavore” message before it was a social media hashtag.
“Toasted pecans have a flavor that no other nut can parallel,” she says. “It’s easy to change a recipe with the addition of nuts, and I think pecans can go with nearly anything.”
But the cook and author who’s been teaching Southerners techniques and tips in the kitchen for more than 40 years does have a soft spot for the combination of summer peaches and pecans. She does warn that “the trick, though, is not to eat the cookies by themselves before you make this dessert for company.”
Better make a double batch.
Pecan Cookies (with Peaches and Whipped Cream)
from Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree & Cynthia Graubart, Gibbs Smith, 2012.
10 tablespoons butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups finely chopped toasted pecans
But we at Schermer suggest you try this summer variation that Nathalie provides and go a step (or two) further!
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon peach brandy or schnapps
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups peaches, sliced
Thirty minutes before serving, sandwich a portion of the whipped cream and a slice or two of peaches between 2 cookie rounds and move to the refrigerator. Immediately before serving, decorate the top with additional whipped cream or sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.