A Georgia native puts her spin on Southern cuisine, reflecting contemporary lifestyles without sacrificing the flavor and comfort of the tastiest traditions in the Add A Pinch cookbook.
By Elizabeth Bonner
Photography by Helene Dujardin
Raised on a family farm outside Bowdon, Georgia, Robyn Stone learned from an early age that some of the finest meals come from freshly grown ingredients, transformed into old-fashioned delights. Drawn to heirloom recipes from seven generations of Southern cooks in her family, Robyn found herself reimagining these classics to create lighter, more streamlined versions better suited to modern lifestyles. She began a blog, Add A Pinch, to record her growing collection of recipes and the memories behind them, but, once discovered, the site quickly became more than a personal database, attracting a following of others inspired by this novel take on Southern cooking.
Now, Robyn is bringing the best of her blog to its namesake cookbook, Add a Pinch, filled with more than 100 innovative dishes grounded in beloved Southern flavors and techniques. Employing her family as taste testers, she compiled a lineup of go-to favorites and new spins on traditional fare, with chapters that range from Starters & Snacks to Sweet Endings and special extras in a section called Southern Pantry.
“I knew I wanted the cookbook to include classics I’ve updated and new recipes that are easier and more approachable for today’s busy families,” Robyn explains. “Each is deliciously Southern but has a modern twist, while keeping its roots.”
Some recipes are distinctly regional, such as Grandmother Earlene’s Creamed Corn, Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Mimi’s Pecan Pie. Other conceptions range from Oven-Fried Green Tomato Caprese Stacks and Chicken and Snap Pea Skewers to Strawberry Shortcakes with Sweet Cream Cheese Biscuits and a convenient Sweet Tea Concentrate.
In organizing the book for ease of use, Robyn incorporated sidebars that offer tips for inventive ways to repurpose leftovers, ideas for serving with utmost Southern hospitality, and more. Helpful icons denote recipes that are freezer-friendly, can be made in the slow cooker, use 10 ingredients or less, or require just 30 minutes to put together. “Many people today don’t feel they have the time to prepare home-cooked meals,” she says. “My recipes are all made with fresh, whole-food ingredients, and they’re faster and easier.”
Ultimately, Robyn hopes, Add a Pinch will encourage families to get back in the kitchen and savor the time together that such a commitment bestows—something she’s come to cherish. “Time spent reading handwritten recipes scrawled on envelopes, thoughts of learning to cook some of these from my Mama, and recipes I’ve developed for my own family and made with my son caused so many emotions to come flooding back to me as I worked on this book,” she says.
“I’d love nothing more than for this cookbook to be splatter-stained from use with dog-eared pages. It would thrill me to know that the recipes become family favorites for others like they have been for mine. But, most of all, I hope it inspires people to cook.”
Enter for your chance to win the cookbook, and continue reading for a couple of our favorite picks from Robyn’s scrumptious compilation. Get more on Add A Pinch, in our May/June issue on newsstands April 18.
Published by Clarkson Potter, Add A Pinch, is available at booksellers nationwide.
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- Pinch kosher salt
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed
- 5 tablespoons frozen salted butter, grated
- ½ cup whole milk
- Perfect Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 475°.
- In a small bowl, toss together strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in cream cheese and butter. Add milk, and stir just until combined.
- Dust a pastry cloth or paper towels lightly with flour. Turn out dough onto floured cloth, and knead gently until smooth, about 3 turns. Fold each side of dough into the center. Lightly flour a rolling pin, and roll dough to ½-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut dough without twisting cutter. Place biscuits on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until light golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
- To assemble, split open biscuits. Top bottom halves with strawberries and some of their juices and a dollop of Perfect Whipped Cream. Place a biscuit top on each stack, and repeat layering of strawberries, strawberry juices, and a final dollop of Perfect Whipped Cream. Spoon more strawberry juices over Perfect Whipped Cream, and serve.
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer in freezer for 15 minutes before whipping cream.
- In the cold bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the cold whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla, beginning at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overmix, about 5 minutes.
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ½ cup Mint and Parsley Pesto (recipe follows), divided
- 48 sugar snap peas
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
- Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or glass bowl. Add ¼ cup Mint and Parsley Pesto, and toss to coat well. Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal (or cover the bowl with wrap), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Place oven rack in second-highest position, and preheat oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Thread chicken, snap peas, and onion layers onto 8-inch skewers, alternating as you go. Place skewers on prepared pan.
- Broil, turning halfway through, until chicken has cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 3 minutes. Serve with remaining ¼ cup Mint and Parsley Pesto drizzled over top.
- 1 medium clove garlic
- ¼ cup raw walnuts
- 1½ cups packed fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh mint, packed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In the work bowl of a food processor or the container of a blender, place garlic and walnuts. Process until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. With processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream. Process until pesto is completely puréed and smooth, scraping down sides as needed, about 1 minute.
- Add Parmesan, and process for 1 minute to incorporate. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The color of the pesto will darken slightly in the refrigerator, but it will still taste delicious.