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Tomatoes, pound cake and a summertime tip of the hat to Lewis Grizzard
Crevolyn Wiley columnist
It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
Lewis Grizzard

For those who aren’t from around here, Lewis was a syndicated columnist, author and comedian who loved to discuss all things Southern. Well, Lewis sure knew what he was talking about here. Summer in Georgia is rough with all the heat and humidity going on but we do have one thing to look forward to this time of year — homegrown tomatoes. 

There are a lot of good ways to use them but one of my favorites is in a caprese salad.

No offense intended to my ‘mater sammich lovers out there because I definitely am a fan of such a delicacy. But if you want to mix it up a little, give this a try. 

Traditionally, caprese salad is made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The following recipe bumps it up a little by marinating the tomatoes first to enrich their flavor and then adding the other fresh ingredients. It takes a little more effort than a sandwich but it’s delicious. 

Marinated Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)

  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, plus additional for garnish

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 16-ounce package of fresh mozzarella cheese, diced

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes and arrange in a single layer in a shallow dish. In a jar, combine oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine and then pour over the tomatoes. Cover and marinate for 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator. Bring chilled tomatoes to room temperature before serving and add mozzarella. Garnish with basil.

If you want something sweet, order the pound cake. Anybody who puts sugar in the corn bread is a heathen who doesn’t love the Lord, not to mention Southeastern Conference football
Lewis Grizzard

I just can’t stop with these quotes. Lewis had opinions about a lot of subjects -- UGA football, marriage and Atlanta among them -- but his strongest opinions might have been about Southern food. 

Among the list of his favorites is the Southern pound cake. Not sure the South can claim the pound cake? According to the What’s Cooking America, the pound cake gained popularity in the late 1800’s through the first known cookbook written by an African-American, Abby Fisher. Mrs. Fisher, born a slave, couldn’t read or write so it is said her friends wrote her recipes and helped her to publish her cookbook, “What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking.” Reprint editions of this cookbook are still available. 

While this isn’t one of Mrs. Fisher’s pound cake recipes, it may be one of the best pound cakes around. I’ve included a chocolate icing recipe, but honestly I rarely make it with the icing. The cake is so moist and rich I let it stand alone.

One last quote from Lewis because this one may be the best: “There is no such thing as being too Southern.”

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Ingredients for Cake:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, warm
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for Cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream together butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into a greased and sugared tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions for Icing:

Beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the salt and vanilla; mixing until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the heavy cream a tablespoon at a time, mixing slowly until desired consistency. Beat for 1 minute until smooth and creamy. 

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at cookingwithcrevolyn@gmail.com.

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