A Taste of What I've Written Lately
A selection of favorite essays and recipes that I have written, co-written, or contributed to.
Southern Living | There's Nothing Sweeter Than Junior League Cookbooks and Citrus Desserts
Our State | Smoke Signals Bakery in Marshall In the hills of Marshall, a small bakery — with a very special wood-burning oven — draws bakers to the warmth of its hearth and the wisdom of its owner.
Our State | The Baker’s Basics: The Meringue Mastering meringue is a baker’s rite of passage. Those sweet golden peaks don’t always come easily, but they sure can turn any pie — from lemon to chocolate — into an event.
Our State | All Rise Heirloom grains are enjoying a renaissance, as are the traditions of the people who bring the taste of the past back to life.
Southern Living | All We Want for Christmas is Oyster Stew–Here's Why Oyster stew isn’t all that pretty, but it sure is a beautiful sight to behold on some family Christmas tables. Why Christmas? These days it’s often a nod to family tradition, but for many of our grand- and great-grandparents, both Christmas and fresh oysters came along only once each winter.
Southern Living | Secrets to Making Gravy Like My Grandmother Gravy-making is alchemy. It can stretch the sticky leavings in the bottom of the skillet into a hot, rich, delicious meal that’s better able to satisfy a hungry family. Can anything more be made from less
Southern Living | Why Southerners Have an Obsession With Duke’s Mayonnaise
Southern Living | Why the Best Cookbook in Your Collection is Your Community Cookbook
Southern Living | Only Southerners Know the Right Way to Make This Sandwich
Southern Living | The South's Most Beloved Appetizer Starts With a Sleeve of Saltines
The Kitchn | Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin The best thing about pork tenderloin is that it is very lean and cooks quickly. The trickiest thing about pork tenderloin is that it is very lean and cooks quickly.
The Kitchn | How To Make the Best Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker
The Kitchn | You've Got Rhubarb All Wrong Too many people regard rhubarb like a beloved, sassy elderly aunt. She comes to town each spring and wears a lot of hot pink and bright green. Everyone is thrilled to see her, but after sharing a couple of pies and a pot of coffee, what are they going to do with her the rest of the time?
The Kitchn | Fish Tacos With Rhubarb-Pineapple Salsa When paired with acidic ingredients, such as pineapple and lime, raw rhubarb holds it color and crunch in this fruity salsa. It's great in fish tacos, but it's equally good served with crisp corn or sweet potato chips.
The Kitchn | Rhubarb and Tomato Dumplings Even without the rhubarb, tomato dumplings are a mystery to those who didn't grow up eating them. They are an old-fashioned favorite of some grandmas and meat-and-three diners.
The Kitchn | Lucky Is As Lucky Does: A Brunch Menu for New Year's Day, with lucky New Year's Day recipes for Hoppin' John Risotto with Collard Pesto and Fresh Grape Cake with Luscious Lemon Sauce.
The Kitchn | How long to cook vegetables Few aspects of Southern country cookery are more maligned and misunderstood than the issue of how long to cook vegetables, such as fresh snap beans.
The Kitchn | Grilled Bread Dressing with Cranberries and LeeksTurkey gets the talk at Thanksgiving, but many of us are all about the dressing.
The Kitchn | Appalachian Beans. When a Southerner Tells You How to Cook Green Beans, Shut Up and Listen. Give us our Half-Runners, our Greasy Cut Shorts, our Pink Tips, and Rattlesnake Pole - for we are masters of their ways. And ours. 2016
Our State Magazine | The Curb Appeal of Roadside Produce Stands Maters! Corn! Cukes! Follow the hand-painted signs to a whole meal's worth of fresh produce, right on the side of the road.
Our State Magazine | Pop Goes The Cake: Soda-Infused Recipes North Carolina's favorite sodas add a sweet twist to three classic cakes. Load up your picnic table with these irresistible treats.
Our State Magazine | Summer Tastes Better with Campfire Cooking The height of fine (outdoor) dining: threading an entire meal onto sticks and dangling it over the flames.
Our State Magazine | Essay Recipe Boxes You don't need a treasure map to find the most valuable item in any home cook's kitchen. Just look for the family recipe box - a link to loved ones, and a peek into the past.
Our State Magazine | The Taste of Right Here By showing us why these specific foods in these specific places are special, this delicious dozen reveals something wonderful about North Carolina foodways and proclivities.
Our State Magazine | Grits They may serve as a culinary sidekick rather than the star of the show, but make no mistake: Grits are the canvas on which a good meal is painted.
Bitter Southerner | The Seven Essential Southern Dishes The Bitter Southerner never shies away from grand pronouncements, but when we make one, we try hard to make sure it's based on substance. As the holidays - that special time of year when calories don't count - approached, we wanted to challenge a great (and when we say great, we mean great) Southern food writer to do the impossible: Define the most essential Southern dishes, the ones that speak most clearly about who we are. Today, North Carolina writer Sheri Castle - the only person alive who can legitimately claim to have read every recipe ever published in Southern Living magazine - takes the big leap. Named one of the Best Stories of 2015.
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | Thanks a Mint This story first appeared in issue #57 (fall 2015) of Gravy quarterly. Hospitality Mints in my hometown of Boone, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, makes a prodigious number of mints.
Our State | Sweet Season I am delighted that one of my favorite magazines chose my story for their Christmas issue cover. This piece is full of hometown pride and homemade candy!
Yahoo Food | Watauga County Chicken Stew with Fluffy Dumplings This dish is so comforting that it feels restorative, says food writer Sheri Castle. It would be lovely for someone who is under the weather, but it's fantastic when you're well, too. This has some steps, but not one of them is difficult or finicky, and the results repay you for every moment and each effort. Such beautiful soup - bubbling up around the fluffy dumplings, perfuming your kitchen, evoking grins from everyone at your table.
The Kitchn | Buttermilk: The Peerless Dairy Queen. Imagine a liquid that tastes indulgent, but is lean. A ready-to-use brine that renders proteins from fried chicken to grilled steak tender and juicy. An elixir that adds soft and tender crumbs to cornbread and chocolate cake, and makes perfect biscuits a possible dream. A tonic that adds tangy zip to salad dressings, milkshakes, and soups. Friends, that's no genie in that bottle - that's buttermilk.
Southern Living | Classic Sweet Tea We love this recipe because it's got strong tea flavor without being bitter, and it's sweet but not cloying.
Southern Living | Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake Our Most Popular Chocolate Recipe... Ever
Southern Living | Triple-Mini Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound CakesOur Most Popular Chocolate Recipe... Just Smaller
Southern Living | Buttermilk-Vegetable Curry
Southern Living | Chocolate-Buttermilk Pudding
Southern Living | Mango-Buttermilk Shakes Frozen diced mango helps keep preparation to a minimum for this anytime smoothie. Blend with buttermilk, sugar and vanilla. Substitute other frozen fruits, like peaches, for fun variety.
Southern Living | Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Southern Living | Avocado Ranch Dressing
Southern Living | Lemony Ranch Dressing
Southern Living | Spectacular Fresh Butter & Buttermilk We all love butter. But have you ever tasted homemade butter? It is creamy and sweet with a hint of tang that puts grocery store sticks to shame. This mostly hands-free technique yields the same results as an old-fashioned butter churn (minus a workout) and yields amazing butter plus its built-in bonus: fresh buttermilk.
Southern Living | Classic Pimento Cheese
Southern Living | Creamed Onion Tart. This recipe makes classic creamed onions seem inventive and stylish. A generous wedge is an appealing side dish, but it'll make a nice first course, if paired with a salad. 2014
The Kitchn | Pumpkin Slab Pie It's been said that whomever coined the phrase "easy as pie" had never made one from scratch. Perhaps, instead, they were talking about this pretty slab pie.
The Kitchn | Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole Mashed potatoes are a requirement on most Thanksgiving tables, and we set a high bar. They must be lush and creamy with enough flavor to stand on their own, but not so assertive that they clash with the turkey gravy.
The Kitchn | Smoky Creamed Kale You know what's even better than creamed spinach? Creamed kale.
Our State Magazine | I wrote the article "A Carolina Cake Tour," featuring cakes representing the various food traditions of North Carolina: Cheerwine Pound Cake from the Piedmont, Appalachian Apple Stack Cake from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Black Walnut Pound Cake with Old-Fashioned Penuche Frosting from the mountains and foothills, Muscadine Cake from the Sandhills, Coastal Plain, and Outer Banks, Fig Preserves Cake with Buttermilk Glaze from the Outer Banks.
The Local Palate | Cider Revival In the last decade or so we've seen a reawakening in the world of craft cider and we're making progress. Americans are rediscovering their taste for great soft and hard cider.
The Local Palate | In the Soup When the weather turns cold, our cravings turn toward the warm and comforting side of the menu. We want substantial and soul-soothing soup, and plenty of it. Big bubbling pots of homemade soup make a kitchen smell prosperous.
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | A Helping of Gravy: Soup Beans A Cake of Cornbread, a Jar of Chow-Chow, and Thou
The Local Palate | A Field Guide to Field Peas Field peas have flourished in the South for over three hundred years and summertime Southern farmers' markets are brimming with them, and yet fresh seasonal field peas are all too rare on contemporary Southern tables and practically unheard of elsewhere. Folks might not know what they're missing.
Southern Living | Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette A family favorite, with us. Be sure to drain the ricotta before mixing with the goat cheese. Spread it gently into the delicate crust so it won't pull away from the pan.
Southern Living | Sliced Sweet Potato Pie We love the layered look of this ever-so-sweet streusel-topped treat.
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | Pass the Gravy: Thanksgiving Edition, featuring Rich and Redeeming Turkey Gravy
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | Tomato Pan Gravy, highlighting the alchemy that transforms leavings in the skillet into tomato pan gravy
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | No Flour? No Problem, a discussion and a recipe for cornmeal gravy
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | Pass the Chocolate Gravy, including a short history of chocolate gravy and a recipe
Gravy: Southern Foodways Alliance | Eyes Wide Open, the story of Red Eye Gravy plus a recipe
The Kitchn | Savory Bread Pudding & Citrus Salad: A Citrus-Inspired Brunch for Any Time of Day, with recipes for Citrus Salad with Honey & Bitters Dressing, Inspired Toast with Sweet Citrus Butter, and Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach, Chèvre, Smoked Ham & Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
The Kitchn | Sticky Buns & Baked Eggs: A Holiday Breakfast That's Easier Than It Looks, featuring recipes for Creamed Spinach with Baked Eggs and the life-changing Caramel-Pecan Sticky Buns.
Epicurious | Epicurious.com article sings the praises of two Southern cookbooks: The New Southern Garden Cookbook and Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen. The article included three of my recipes from the book: Ozark Pudding, Peach Iced Tea Sorbet, Real Skillet Cornbread. Quoting author Esther Sung, "I appreciate Castle's ingredient-first philosophy, and as a lifelong Northeasterner, she helps breach the gap and makes Southern cooking approachable and even more universal."
Southern Living | Pancetta Crisps With Goat Cheese and Pear Top Bartlett pear slices with baked pancetta, crumbled goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey for an easy, salty-sweet appetizer recipe that tastes delicious and looks gorgeous.
Southern Living | Rum-Glazed Sweet Potato Cakes This mini Bundt cake recipe features pureed sweet potatoes, raisins, rum, and toasted pecans along with cinnamon and nutmeg and is a perfect pick-up treat for a holiday dessert party.