cover image Back Home with the Neelys: Comfort Food from Our Southern Kitchen to Yours

Back Home with the Neelys: Comfort Food from Our Southern Kitchen to Yours

Pat and Gina Neely with Ann Volkwein. Knopf, $27.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-3079-6133

The Neelys (The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook), stars of the Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys, set their sights on Southern comfort food in what proves to be a lackluster collection full of updated but nevertheless tired dishes. Among rehashes of pickled peppers, fried okra, grits, and cornbread, there are a few creative entries such as a breakfast pot pie made with bacon, potatoes, eggs, and cheese and topped with puff pastry, and adult-worthy homemade fish sticks. Their 100 recipes span jams and bread through appetizers and side dishes to casseroles and cocktails. Memories of significant childhood moments in Mama Rena’s kitchen, with Daddy Milton and the pig roast, and hanging out in the kitchen with Mama Callie reinforce the important role food has played throughout their lives. Roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh herbs, grilled sausage and pepper sandwiches, and chicken pot pie are some of the staples they include. Desserts such as lemon meringue pie and summer fruit cobbler and cocktails including green tomato sangria round out their offerings. The multitude of Neely fans will enjoy the authors’ personal touches, especially the glimpses into their childhood memories, but fans of Southern cooking will have to work to find much that’s new here. (Apr.)