Tuesday, February 7, 2023 Feb 7, 2023
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Easy Southern Cookin

A cooking lesson on sides, salads, and desserts from Rooster.
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One of the great local sights is dolled-up Dallas women enjoying a good meal.

Unlike their counterparts in New York and LA, Dallas women—slim, if not slimmer, in their “dressy casual” St. John and Chanel suits—actually eat. They don’t treat breadbaskets as inherently invisible. Dessert menus are not a cue to say “no, just the check” and offer a kindly smile. Creamed spinach? No problem. Double-chocolate cake? Sure, bring two forks; we’ll share.

How do they do it?

I really haven’t pursued the answer to that question because I am afraid it might involve exercise, but I think I know why they do it. Dallas women eat because this is the South and the food is simply delicious.

Southern food is not so much about the main course as it is about the starters, vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts. That’s why I went to Rooster, a cozy but elegant neighborhood restaurant in Uptown, for a cooking lesson with chef Jorge Cruz. I was looking for a new version of Southern, some easy dishes I might serve to my beautiful Dallas women friends—for casual dinners and moms’ luncheons. After a couple of visits to the restaurant where lots of happy ladies—and their gentlemen guests—were observed ordering dessert, I knew I had come to the right place.

My guide was co-owner Amanda Tracy, who with her mother Randa and husband Todd have owned and operated Rooster since 1997. In any case, after some serious sampling, we gathered some recipes that would work for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Herewith, from Rooster, some delicious recipes for bona fide new Southern food.

Rooster Cobb Salad with Creole Mustard Vinaigrette
This salad would be an excellent main-course for a luncheon or Indian summer porch supper. 

 8-10  ounces Southern field greens
 2  ounces cubed Virginia baked ham
 2  ounces cubed hickory-smoked turkey
 1  ounce crumbled bleu cheese
 2  ounces spicy roasted pecans
 1/2  avocado
 1  ounce diced tomato

Place field greens in the bottom of your favorite salad bowl. Add ingredients in
sections as shown in the picture. serves 2

Creole Mustard Vinaigrette

 1/2  cup vinegar
 1/2  teaspoon finely minced garlic
 1/2  cup coarsely chopped herbs
  (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme,
  and cilantro)
 1/2  cup honey
 1/2  cup creole mustard
 1  quart olive oil

Combine all ingredients. Drizzle lightly over salad greens. makes 1/2 gallon; lasts in refrigerator up to one month

Rooster Fried Asparagus with Jalapeño Jack Cheese Sauce
At Rooster, this is a starter, but I would serve it as a main course for a luncheon, after, perhaps, a cup of tomato basil soup. The jack cheese sauce is out of this world and would be great with broccoli, spinach, even grilled radicchio.

 20  spears of jumbo asparagus
 1  cup flour
 2  eggs, beaten
 1  cup buttermilk
  Salt and pepper, to taste
  Peanut oil

Preheat the oil to 350 degrees. Add the flour, buttermilk, eggs, and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Dip the spears in the batter. Deep fry the asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. 5 servings

Jalapeño Jack Cheese Sauce

 2  cups heavy whipping cream
 2  cups jalapeño jack cheese,

Heat the whipping cream in a pan on high for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the jack cheese. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until blended, stirring constantly.

For presentation, place a handful of your favorite salad greens on a plate and lay the asparagus around the salad. Drizzle the cheese sauce over the asparagus and plate.

Rooster Biscuits
Homemade biscuits earn big points and they’re easy to make. At Rooster, the biscuits are made fresh each morning. These are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

 6  cups flour
 1  cup sugar
 1/3  cup baking powder
 6  eggs, beaten
 2  cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
 3/4  pound melted margarine
 2  cups buttermilk
 4  ounces diced apple-smoked bacon
  (reserve the grease)
 1  tablespoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; whisk the ingredients well. Turn dough out of the bowl. Use a 11/2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a greased sheet pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. makes
1 dozen

Rooster Sweet Potato Chips
The secret to great sweet potato chips is oil temperature—it must be 400 degrees—and the quality of the sweet potato, which is harder to control. Amanda says that fresh sweet potatoes make the best chips.

 6  large sweet potatoes
 Peanut oil
 Salt to taste
Preheat the oil to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes very thin. Soak slices in cold water for 3-5 minutes. Dry well and deep fry for 3-4 minutes. When chips are golden, remove and drain.  serves 16-18

Rooster Hominy Cakes
The restaurant serves these as an accompaniment to chicken, but they could also be paired successfully with ham or a pork roast.

 1 2/3  cups white hominy
 1/3  cup flour
 1  tablespoon baking powder
 1  teaspoon fresh
  chopped garlic
 1  teaspoon fresh Italian herbs
 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
 1  tablespoon olive oil
 1  egg, beaten
  Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Use a small measuring cup to make 2-ounce hominy cakes. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Cook hominy cakes for one minute (or until brown) on each side. Place the sauté pan in the oven for five minutes. makes 10 cakes 

Rooster Barbeque Sauce
All good cooks know the power of a great barbeque sauce, and this sauce earned raves from D Home tasters. Rooster uses it to great effect on a pulled pork sandwich topped with red-cabbage slaw.

 5  cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
 2  ounces sliced apple-smoked bacon
 1/2  cup diced shallots
 1  large carrot, diced
 3  Bay leaves
 1  teaspoon crushed red pepper
 1  teaspoon hot paprika
 1  teaspoon Tabasco sauce
 1/2  cup Port wine
 1/2  cup light brown sugar
 1/2  cup ketchup

Sauté BBQ sauce, bacon, shallots, carrots, Bay leaves, red pepper, and paprika on low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook for 30-35 minutes on low heat. Strain sauce before serving. makes 6 cups



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