Cookbook Review: Love Welcome Serve by Amy Nelson Hannon

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Little known secret--I'm from the South! And even though I may have spent my formative years in New England, I sometimes like to whip out the southern card whenever I'm feeling proud of my roots. Amy Hannon's beautiful cookbook made me come out hootin' and hollerin' for my home state. She set out to create a cookbook that not only celebrates southern recipes, but also captures the essence of the south--hospitality, warmth, and community. As a preacher's wife, she knows a good deal about all three, and it is evident in the recipes and stories she shares.

The recipes range from appetizers and mains designed to please a crowd to comforting casseroles to decadent desserts. There are southern classics, like Hannon's signature shrimp and grits to chicken and dumplings, made the real southern way, with the kind of dumplings rolled out like thick pasta. This was my personal favorite dish growing up so it was especially exciting to see a recipe for this. She also puts her unique spin on classic dishes such as iceberg salad, which she dresses with a homemade herbed ranch and garnishes with marinated tomatoes for added flavor. She's also inspired by memorable restaurant dishes, which she whips out replicas of at home, something I found very relatable.

If I had any complaints about this book, it would be that some recipes rely too heavily on store-bought ingredients that I am hesitant to buy and serve, such as jarred alfredo sauce (I've had too many gross ones), ranch seasoning packets, and jarred pasta sauce. Of course, this is staying true to her assertion that these are actual recipes she makes at home. Some of these are church recipes, which are expected to rely heavily on the semi-homemade, so I won't fault her for that either.

Also for the health nuts, be forewarned that this may not be the ideal cookbook for you. The first few recipes alone involve cheese balls and saltines soaked in a cup of oil. The use of mayo, cheese, and butter is copious. Long live the South!

The book itself is very pretty, with a photo to accompany every recipe, though they don't always demonstrate the dish in the exact way it would be served. The book is organized, and there are little personal touches in the blurbs she writes before each recipe. My own personal message to Amy Hannon though: "Stop trying to make "y'all" happen!" Whether or not she uses it in her everyday conversation, it just seems over-the-top to write it out in every recipe. It was maddening when Paula Deen used to do it, and I still can't stand it.

Personal annoyances aside, I quite enjoyed this cookbook and would definitely purchase it. There's actually a good percentage of the recipes that I'm excited to try in my own kitchen. Now to whip up some chicken and dumplings. Mmmm....

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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