Virginia Willis Blog

Potato Salad Recipes for Labor Day


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Picnic Side Dishes

Ah, potato salad. The absolute wonders of potato salad. So many choices, so many styles! Different kinds of potatoes. Different drippy dressings. Different shapes. Wildly different potato salad flavors include the pungent pop of vinegar; creamy concoctions comprised of mayonnaise, hard-cooked egg, and sour cream; the salty, smoky kiss of bacon; and the crispy, crunchy bite of finely chopped onion and celery. All very different — and all very, very delicious. (more…)

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Barbecue Ribs: Five Great Recipes

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Barbecue Ribs

Barbecue ribs are one of the great recipes of summer. I cook them on the gas grill, the Big Green Egg, and I even roast them in the oven when it’s a rainy day. Barbecue ribs are always a big hit. First of all, being from Georgia, when I say Barbecue Ribs, I mean pork. And, when it comes to deciding what type of pork ribs to barbecue, there are essentially three choices –  baby-back ribs, spareribs, and country-style ribs. (more…)

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Peachy Keen Chicken Salad

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Chicken Salad Days

A few weeks ago Julia Moskin wrote an article in the New York Times about chicken salad and Southern luncheons. I love chicken salad — as do many Southerners. It most often contains mayonnaise, which is not merely a condiment in the South. Mayonnaise is more like a food group for my people. However, I got the feeling while reading the article that some folks outside of the South have perhaps forgotten about just how great chicken salad can be, that there’s a slight retro vibe to chicken salad.

I’ve been on blog hiatus for a bit working on the photography for the Secrets of the Southern Table cookbook with Angie Mosier. She and I were driving in South Louisiana to see a rice harvest (check out this short video on my Instagram page) when we started up a conversation about our mutual love for chicken salad. We both travel a lot both together and separately and try to stay away from fast food. Grocery store-bought chicken salad and a handful of saltines or a few spears of Romaine as a scooper often saves the day. (more…)

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How to Make Biscuits

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How to Make Biscuits – and MORE!

Want to learn how to make biscuits? How about crispy fried chicken, tender whole grain cornbread, and chef-quality shrimp and grits? Of course, you do! I’ve recently partnered with to create an online video series called Southern Classics at Home. Subscribers will receive recipes, step-by-step instructions, and watch me as they learn how to make Biscuits, Crispy Fried Chicken, Whole Grain Stone Ground Cornbread, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Classic Stone Ground Grits, Cheese Grits Casserole, Shrimp and Grits, Okra and Tomatoes, Mustard Greens with Smoked Turkey Neck, Low Country Boil, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Weeknight Pulled Pork Tenderloin, Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce, AND Classic Pulled Pork Shoulder! Phew!

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I have to admit I was a little dubious when they first asked me. After all, we live in the age of YouTube where how to cook pretty much anything is simply a search away. But, think about it: We all know you cannot believe everything you see on the internet. The Craftsy folks are the real deal. My team consisted of TV food professionals that previously worked at Food Network and Martha Stewart Living, editors and producers that made long format video for food television before Food TV became contrived competition and game shows. My director produced the video that won a James Beard Foundation of Excellence Award for Raghavan Iyer. The quality of the production is top-notch.

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Online Community

Students will be able to ask me questions, post their own photos, and follow community members progress. It’s really pretty cool and the lessons are currently 50% off for an introductory price of $19.99 which includes:

  • 6 HD video lessons with anytime, anywhere access — even your phone!
  • Class materials, including all the recipes
  • Detailed instruction, explanation, and demonstration
  • Answers directly from me in the Craftsy virtual classroom

I’m really excited to be a partner and looking forward to interacting with people about REAL Southern cooking. You can click here to see the new look of my homepage and access my Craftsy videos Southern Classics at Home. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Bon Appétit Y’all! 

Virginia Willis

how to make biscuits on

Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes 9

2 cups White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour, or cake flour (not self-rising), more for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 500°F. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat 8 or so times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.) Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/2 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 2 1/4-inch round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.

Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet or in an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan. If the biscuits are baked close together the sides will be moist. If the biscuits are baked further apart, the sides will be crisp.

Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. Serve warm.


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Copyright © 2016 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Nut Cake

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Passover Dessert

Yesterday we sat down to review the menu for Passover and I requested that we make Lynn Shapiro‘s Chocolate Nut Cake from her book Food, Family, and TraditionHungarian Kosher Family Recipes and RemembrancesWhile I am not Jewish, I have grown to love the celebration — and the whole new world of food traditions, too! Family is coming tomorrow and we have guests coming, as well. I am on a crazy deadline for my next book (and forthcoming TV series), Secrets of the Southern Table and taking a break from my blog. This week I am sharing her recipe for a delicious Chocolate Nut Cake.

Bon Appétit Y’all! 


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