A Full Plate
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Rambo Elliott
When it comes to soul food, Scotty Scott adds a dash of humor, a seasoned dose of history and a hefty portion of good eating
When we ran into Scotty Scott at a local farmers market last spring, he was a bit stressed out by searching (unsuccessfully) for fresh peaches. Focused on a hush-hush project at the time, the part-time chef and food blogger behind the social media juggernaut Cook Drank Eat whispered, “I’m working on a cookbook.”
We didn’t pry too much but made a mental note to follow up later. Having spent time with Scott in the compact kitchen of his Fort Worth apartment for a 360 West story that ran in 2019, we had no doubt that the project would be funny, interesting and worth the wait.
That “later” is finally here with the release of Fix Me a Plate: Traditional and New School Soul Food Recipes from Scotty Scott of Cook Drank Eat, including dishes such as Black Garlic Skillet T-Bone, Almost Momma’s Mac and Cheese, Blueberry Corn Pancakes and Tomato Pie. While Scott grew up in Detroit, went to college in Houston and moved to the Fort Worth-Dallas area to work in the oil and gas industry, his roots run through the South to Savannah, Georgia, where his mother was raised. In Houston, he grew to love Creole cooking thanks to friends who introduced him to crawfish boils and more.
The book project, which began in November 2020, turned into equal parts cooking extravaganza, research project and history lesson as Scott dug deep into his family history and the backstories of specific dishes and ingredients. He wrote not only the recipes but the witty and humorous introductions to each chapter and dish, but admits the project presented fresh challenges.
“It definitely went beyond my expectations in several different ways,” says Scott. “I was blessed and a bit lucky. I was used to creating recipes on the fly, but I had to perfect 60 for the book.”
Scott, who made all of the dishes and supervised all photography at his home, says that the “Sweet Tooth” chapter kicked his butt, especially the recipes for Red “What is This Velvet?” Cake and the Praline Pecan Sweet Potato Pie. “The cake wasn’t red, and the pralines didn’t set up. I was making a bunch of pies for Thanksgiving, and people were supposed to pick them up at 8 a.m.; I pulled an all-nighter and finally got the pralines the right consistency. Making candy definitely is a science.”
Scott also admits that his significant other, Sandra Clark, was a bit dismayed by all the baked goods in the house. “She’s more a fan of kale and healthy smoothies.”
While cooking comes naturally to Scott, he’s thrilled he got to fulfill his middle school dreams of becoming a writer (he recently penned a piece on the history of Gullah red rice, a regular at family dinners when he was growing up, for the February issue of Saveur).
As Scott gears up for a book tour, including local appearances, he and Sandra also are prepared to welcome a second child in April. We look forward to a second cookbook, too.
Buttermilk ranch is cool and all, but sometimes you need something a bit jazzy to go with the flavor profile of the dish. Unlike your typical ranch, this sauce adds ricotta for an extra little twang, mayonnaise to help smooth it out and then hot sauce for a nice kick that brings all the flavors together. Enter Creole Buttermilk Ranch.
Creole Buttermilk Ranch
Makes 1 cup
- ¼ cup ricotta
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth. This sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
During the first drafting of the recipes for this book, I had several cakes that, after comparing the ingredients, seemed to be variations of one another. My buttermilk lemon pound cake, marble pound cake and hot milk cake all seemed to be cousins, if not siblings, of one another and seemed a bit redundant to include in a book that wasn’t just about cakes. I chose this one because it’s delicious (of course), but also because I found it thumbing through my mother’s old cookbook. Handwritten on a tattered piece of Detroit Public Schools pink stationery from my mother’s many years as a high school counselor, this cake brought back many great memories of my mother in the kitchen. I do have to warn you, though: This cake is incredibly addictive. The crispy glazed outside and crumbly moist interior will have you cutting your first slice and then coming back for one more little piece and one more little piece and one more little piece.
Kentucky Butter Cake
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon rum extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ⅓ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.
Cake In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until very creamy (almost white). Add the rum and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend at low speed until moistened, about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift the flour before measuring, and then measure and resift with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour, a small amount at a time, to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending up with the flour mixture. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Butter Sauce Place the sugar, water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, and cook until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the hot cake and enjoy.